ORLANDO, Fla. -- Golf Channel is tackling the issue of slow play head on and will direct its resources during the month of June toward a company-wide initiative titled “It’s About Time,” designed to help promote ideas and enterprises that improve pace of play in golf and assist with the growth of the game.
Golf Channel commissioned a recent study with the National Golf Foundation, part of which revealed that slow play has become an unfortunate scourge across our nation’s golf courses, where six-hour rounds are becoming commonplace and threatening to drive people from the game for good. Ninety percent of serious golfers are bothered by slow play and more than 70 percent believe that pace of play has worsened over time, according to the Golf Channel research. Half have admitted walking off the course due to the frustration of a marathon round. “It’s About Time,” which will be conducted in partnership with the United States Golf Association, will kick off on Saturday (June 1) and will tie each week of the month to concepts that will help golfers and golf course operators understand the issues and adopt new strategies to speed up play.
“As caretakers of golf and an engine that can help fuel the growth of the game, it’s our responsibility to promote initiatives that not only will make the experience more enjoyable for those who currently play, but also make golf an attractive recreational choice for those taking up the game for the first time,” said Golf Channel President Mike McCarley. “The increase in average time it takes to play a round of golf has become an issue that deserves attention and we feel a duty to help make positive changes for the future of the game. We will not only shine a spotlight on the issue but also offer solutions to golfers looking to speed up their games.”
The slow play issue touches all corners of the golf industry, and some of the most respected experts and organizations dedicated to improving pace of play will be featured in Golf Channel programming throughout the month. Some highlights include:
Golf Channel’s Jimmy Roberts will moderate a roundtable discussion with prominent members of the United States Golf Association leadership, including President Glen Nager, Executive Director Mike Davis, and Senior Managing Director of Public Services Rand Jerris, who will outline the USGA’s efforts toward pace of play.
Dr. Lucius Riccio, senior lecturer at Columbia Business School in New York and an avid golfer, will discuss using his knowledge of physics to search for solutions to help speed up the game. His research has earned him recognition from the PGA TOUR and USGA.
Bill Yates, regarded as the “Guru” of pace of play, will discuss how he developed a plan for Pebble Beach to help the golf course improve the golfing experience and increase profits.
Kendra Graham, former rules official for the USGA, will discuss how simple rules situations on the golf course can bog down play and she will offer simple suggestions for quick resolution.
With more than 1.6 million registered users and 5,000 member golf courses, GolfNow, Golf Channel’s Internet-based tee time service, will play a major role in helping to promote the pace-of-play message to golfers and golf course facilities. GolfNow will promote member facilities that are using unique strategies to improve pace of play and golfers’ playing experiences. GolfNow.com also has launched programs titled “Play. Fast.” -- geared toward encouraging faster play – and “Play. Nine.” -- which offers the alternative of playing nine holes instead of 18. There also is a dedicated place on GolfNow.com featuring playing opportunities for nine-hole rounds and singles rounds, as well as offering thousands of early morning tee times so golfers can beat the crowds.
The themes for “It’s About Time” will be promoted across all Golf Channel platforms – on air and online. The network’s daily morning show, MORNING DRIVE, and GolfChannel.com also will be the primary drivers for the messaging, utilizing features, roundtable discussions, interviews with PGA TOUR pros and other experts, tips, columns and case studies to educate viewers. MORNING DRIVE co-host and former PGA TOUR pro Charlie Rymer will serve as the primary spokesperson for the campaign, with fellow co-host Matt Ginella pitching in. Rymer and Ginella will be featured in a series of 20 vignettes that identify some of the more common causes of slow play. For example, the guy who tells a story when it’s his turn to hit, the guy that’s obsessive about yardage or the guy that doesn’t start his pre-shot routine until it’s his turn to hit. Each vignette concludes with the catch-phrase, “Don’t be that guy.” Other shows, like GOLF CENTRAL, THE GOLF FIX and SCHOOL OF GOLF also will promote pace of play appropriate to the show’s respective content.
The campaign’s first week will concentrate on slow play tips for golf course facilities, and will commence discussion about a case study of Pebble Beach Golf Links and how pace of play is affecting business. Week two will concentrate on slow play tips for golfers, featuring a set of the “10 Do’s of Pace of Play,” which include:
1. Keep moving: Proceed quickly to your ball and be ready when it’s your turn to hit.
2. Be ready to Hit: Take 45 seconds, maximum, to hit your shot.
3. See it, read it, hole it: While others are putting, prepare for your putt. Go to the next tee.
4. Use rules with discretion: Take no more than three minutes to look for balls and take relief.
5. Always be prepared: Start the round with tees, markers, balls and a ball-mark repair tool in your pocket. Replace head covers while you walk. Write down scores on the next tee. Don’t make others wait.
6. Be cart smart: Drop off your partner and drive to your ball. When you leave the cart, take three clubs, not one. Park behind greens.
7. Know your partner: Know your playing partners’ strengths and weaknesses. Help them when it’s convenient, move on when it’s not.
8. Play your tees: Choose a set of tees with a rating of 142 minus your handicap index. Or just tee it forward.
9. Speak up: Ask courses to set up the course properly and, most importantly, to manage the tee sheet responsibly.
10. Be accountable: Recognize that slow play isn’t just other players’ fault.
Week three will focus on the various alternative formats in which the game can be played, including nine-hole rounds, alternate shot, speed golf, and “Tee it Forward,” promoted in conjunction with the PGA of America. And the last week of June will reveal slow play MVPs and discuss what was learned during the month.