How best to tackle the problem of slow play?

Mon Feb 29, 2016 1:06pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Frustrating bottlenecks on certain holes; having to wait constantly on slow groups playing ahead; rounds of golf that can take a total of five hours or more.

Amateurs around the world can certainly identify with these problems as the prospect of a tortuous pace of play has turned more and more golfers away from the game in recent years.

Many factors are impacting golf's health, from lower participation and course closures to environmental demands for reduced water use, and the United States Golf Association has targeted pace of play as one of three barriers to participation.

"Considerable industry research points to the cost of the game, the time it takes to play and a general feeling of whether or not golf is welcoming and accessible," Rand Jerris, the USGA's senior managing director for public services, told Reuters.

"Those three factors have to be given fairly equal consideration when we talk about some of the challenges that golf needs to resolve if it is going to thrive and grow in the future.

"There is also a distinction between slow play and pace of play and we are very deliberate in the language that we use to talk about the issues. We focus on improving pace of play, or improving flow on the golf course."

In February 2013, the USGA launched a multi-faceted program in partnership with golf industry leaders, allied organizations, media partners and golf course managers in a bid to resolve the game's growing pace of play problem.

"What we have come to learn after studying this pretty intently is that there are five areas that we need to focus on in the industry when you consider the issue in order to improve the quality of the experience," said Jerris.   Continued...