Market research indicates that Pace of Play is a critical factor in a positive golf experience. The amount of time it takes to play a round of golf is also a key driver in people taking up or leaving the game. One can only spend so much time, while waiting to tee off on the 4thhole, watching the geese trim the grass under our coyote decoys, or watching the snapping turtles lumber back into the irrigation ponds.Read More>>
The experts from the USGA and Golf Canada agree that it’s important for a club to make a commitment to members on how long a round should take – and to deliver on that promise.
To that end the Board of Governors has firmly committed to a Pace of Play of 4 hours or less. For all of 2017 the average pace of play at Niakwa was 3 hours 58 minutes. Not too bad. Of course, there were exceptions, and I’m sure most Members experienced a few of those.
There are three main elements that impact pace of play. The Club has taken steps to address each one.
The first is Course Playability. This is about things like distance between holes, length of rough, choke points on the course, and overall difficulty. Over the last couple of years we’ve done a lot to address this area. For example, cutting the fescue between 10 and 11 fairways, removal of trees on 9, removal of brush between 1 and 9, removing white lines from around the greens, cutting the long grass on the high sides of bunkers, shorter rough, more diligent regular cutting of rough. The deer have also helped by chomping down the brush in the trees.
The second element is Policy and Procedure. This involves things like increasing the gap between tee times. The ten minute interval between tee time on weekday afternoons has helped improve pace of play considerably. The Club has added three sets of blended tees and players are encouraged to play the tees that are appropriate to their game. League formats have been switch from ‘Hi Lo’ to Four Ball (best net ball) matches. More areas of the course have been designated lateral hazard and with red stakes and lines, in order to reduce the need to replay shots and to reduce time spent searching for lost balls. In most cases corporate bookings are scheduled for times when the course is not busy.
The third element, and this is the one people seem to harp on, is Slow Play. This is when golfers are standing around chatting, not lining up their putts in advance, not moving to their ball and generally not being aware of where they are on the course. The Club is endeavouring to provide feedback to individuals and to encourage the use of power carts where physical limitations warrant. League pace of play is monitored, and each week a Pace of Play Report is e-mailed to League Commissioners. Volunteer Marshalls are present on course during all busy times.
The Club is looking for our Membership to internalize the 4 hour or better pace of play and to make it a part of our culture. It’s not necessary to rush your game to play in 4 hours. Of course, there will be times when the rough is heavy and thick, and when lost balls or other circumstances result in a slower game. At times all Members will have to show patience, but in general, playing Niakwa in 4 hours or less is eminently doable, enjoyable and relaxing.
For more information, here’s a link to a helpful video on the Golf Canada website http://golfcanada.ca/article/pace-of-play-is-everyones-responsibility