We continue to read and hear the endless stories of players complaining about “slow play” at our golf facilities. Just have a look at some of the online golf forums and you read the same story over and over again. “We did not see a Marshall”, “we called the pro shop to tell them about the slow group ahead of us, but they never came out to help”, “the group ahead of us were beginners and were really slow” and on and on…
So who is to blame, the golfer or the facility?
This is a management issue much more than a player issue. If your staff were behaving in an inappropriate way, you would do something about it. If your players (especially members) are not behaving to your expectation you must also do something about it.
Yes, players do need to be educated on pace of play and etiquette best practices, like the need to keep up with the group ahead of them and not ahead of the group behind them, but at the end of the day it is up to management to ensure that everyone has a respectable pace during their golf round.
The strategy lays in three key areas- education of golfers and staff, management of golfers, and general course set-up.
The two concepts that you must also fully understand to properly manage this issue are Pace and Flow.
Pace basically is the measurement of time it takes you to play your round. I.e. it took you 4 hours to play. Pace issues are primarily caused due to lack of player education and improper course setup.
Flow has to do with the consistency of the time it took to play. I.e. it took you four hours to play, but with several delays due to a group ahead of you. Flow issues are primarily caused by improper course setup and overall lack of management of the process.
Early in my career, I managed facilities in California that were generating 100,000 to 120,000 annual rounds on a single 18-hole facility. Due to the extreme amount of demand to play golf, especially on weekends, 5-somes were the norm as was having 60 to 70 people playing 9-holes early in the morning before the 18-hole players made the turn. We had daylight savings so the summer months allowed players to tee off until 5pm each day. Needless to say, it was busy.
It was critical to proactively manage the large number of players each day, most importantly starting with the first groups out each morning. You can envisage the 18-hole round like two spinning wheels, with each nine being a separate wheel. Try to get the early groups to get the front wheel spinning at a great pace, which ultimately will get the second wheel spinning at a greater pace. One group can slow the pace of either wheel, so the quicker you identify this group, the better you will keep the wheels spinning.
Here are some of the strategies we used:
Manage the course
Ø Par 5’s -Extend the length to as long as possible, so most people are not waiting for the green to clear and to try and reach in two shots.
Ø Par 4’s – Set to 330-350 metres maximum, so most players can reach or get close in two shots.
Ø Par 3’s – Keep at a maximum length of 150-160 metres, so the majority of players can reach the green in one hit.
Ø Green speed – keep at 9-10 on the Stimpmeter, so players are not regularly 3 and 4 putting or generally spending to much time on the green.
Ø Rough – lower height, so the majority of players can fully advance the ball if hitting from the rough.
Ø Pin positions – put in the easiest green position on busy days.
Ø Competitions – Set up the course to accommodate the format of the day. i.e. Don’t have the course play the longest and toughest if your conducting a stroke play club championship.
In collaboration with Pace Manager Systems®, Golf Industry Central (GIC) is excited to offer a variety of ‘on-line’ as well as ‘on-site’ consulting and improvement training services, facilitated by international “guru of pace of play” Bill Yates.
The world leader in improving pace of play and your operational bottom line, Pace Manager Systems is now for the first time available as an on-line training and course analysis package for golf courses and clubs in Australia, New Zealand and Asia.
The on-line service packages, including virtual course pace rating and face-to-face coaching via Skype, aim to leave you and your team with the ability to diagnose the probable causes of slow play on your course, and with the custom-designed tools to measure and monitor an improved pace and flow of play for your playing guests.
In addition to providing you an Unofficial Pace Rating unique to your course, Pace Manager Systems also has the only computer simulation program in the world designed to provide information regarding the proper starting interval for your course. This is never-before-available data that will help you to both optimize the smooth flow of play on your course (greatly reducing or eliminating the frustration of always “waiting to play”), and increase throughput (increasing your inventory of high value and high quality starting times and your revenue).
For more comprehensive program options that are guaranteed to generate immediate improvements, Pace Manager Systems also offers a range of on-site training and improvement packages where all of our work is done for, and on, your course. These successful solutions are built on the foundation of providing both education and hands-on experience to you and your golf operations team, through:
- Classroom training to build a knowledge base about pace of play
- On-course activities that build a practical skills base
- Direct team involvement in designing and implementing improvements
- The experience of seeing immediate positive results
- The tools and skills to maintain your successes into the future
Training packages start at A$1,000 plus gst
For more information on all our services and prices of our on-site services, contact Mike Orloff on Mike@golfindustrycentral.com.au OR call (+61) 0415 682 259.