19th Hole

Greg Wolf
Head Golf Professional
TPC Scottsdale
Scottsdale, AZ

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The Course CAN be Blamed for Slow Play!

It’s been five years since I wrote the article for Arizona Golfer titled, “Who’s to Blame for Slow Play?” I put the blame on the golfers and not the course. I would still agree that golfers do play a huge part in slow play, but some of the blame does have to fall back on the golf course. Over the past few years, we’ve really tried to analyze and improve our pace of play. We’ve determined there are four factors that severely effect pace of play. The Midway Grills/beverage carts, tee time intervals, course setup and the golfers.

Food & Beverage is a necessary evil for any golf course. People like to drink on the course and get something to eat at the turn. We’ve had a few discussions about eliminating the roaming beverage carts and have them stay stationary in a permanent location. We’re not ready to do that yet, but I’m sure you will see more of this over the next few years at courses.

This may sound crazy but the less people on a golf course, the faster it plays.

We’ve switched to 10 minute intervals on our Stadium course and are going to 9 minutes on our Champions course in 2014. We still have those golfers that don’t play ready golf, look for golf balls WAY too long, etc. They end up playing in 4 hours 30-45 minutes. In the past, if a group played in 4 hours and 45 minutes and it was a sold out day, we never had a chance at making up that time. In fact, it would get slower and we would end up around 5 hours. Now the course plays around 4 hours 20-30 minutes for the groups that tee off later in the day.

Course setup is an easy one. On busy days, the long par 3’s play shorter and we stretch out par 5’s to avoid the guy who thinks he can hit a 275 yard 3-wood for his second shot. This helps the flow of the course.

In the end, pace of play still falls on the golfers. Too many people don’t play ready golf. Forget about honors, use continuous putting, line up putts or figure out yardage while others are playing and accept your ball is lost. Be respectful of the people behind you and keep up with the group in front of you.