News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 21, 2007

On and Off the Course: Pace of play shouldn’t be snail’s pace

By Jennifer Myers

TERRE HAUTE — Golf is a wonderful game but it can be very trying. Not only is it often a daunting task to hit that little golf ball with accuracy and athleticism, sometimes your playing partners or competitors can make a round of golf about as much fun as getting your teeth pulled.

The main reason (besides lack of ability) for stress on the golf course is slow play. If you have played more than one round of golf in your lifetime, odds are that you have been subjected to slow play. If you’ve only played one round in your lifetime, odds are that you were the cause of it! That is excusable though. People new to the game have a lot to learn and a lot to think about. It’s the habitual slow players who have played the game for a long time that should really know better, and speed up their games.

Slow can be a relative term, so for the sake of clarification, slow play is when someone takes longer than the time stipulated by the course that it should take to play nine or eighteen holes. For most courses, eighteen holes should be able to be played by a foursome in four or four and a half hours. Some treacherous courses expect play for a foursome to take up to five hours. Anything longer is what I would consider a death march!

Ability, or lack thereof, is not the main cause of slow play. If your score is in the 100s, you would think you’re going to take longer than someone who shoots in the 70s or 80s. That’s not always the case though. I have seen low handicappers play painfully slow, and high handicappers zip right along. It doesn’t really take all that long to hit a shot, it’s the time taken between shots that can add up to an exorbitantly long round.

Obviously searching for a lost ball is going to take some time. If you have to search for lost balls often, use that opportunity to motion the group behind you to play through. Having the next group waiting on every hole adds stress to your game that you could do without. To avoid hunting for lost balls all the time, pay attention when other players are hitting, to be able to help spot where their ball lands.

Tournament play usually takes longer than your typical just-for-fun round because the players are concentrating and they have to try to make every putt. Also, they have to play within the rules, which might send someone back to the tee after they find they have hit their ball out of bounds. Tournament play has recourse though; there are rules of golf that have to do with Pace of Play. Rule 6-7 “Undue Delay; Slow Play” stipulates that players must play without undue delay and in accordance with guidelines set by the rules committee. The penalty for breaching rule 6-7 is loss of hole in match play, or a two-stroke penalty in stroke play. The committee may modify, in stroke play only for the purpose of preventing slow play, the penalty for a breach of rule so that the first offense is a one stroke penalty, the second offense two strokes, and any subsequent offense would deem disqualification.

The USGA just released an e-mail this week regarding the pace of play and they made some suggestions on how to speed up play. One way to quicken things is to hit a provisional ball if there’s any chance that your ball might be out of bounds or lost. Also, players should always plan the next shot while walking to their ball or while they’re waiting for other players to hit. When it’s your turn to hit, you should be prepared to take aim and hit the ball, after taking maybe one practice swing. Multiple practice swings aren’t usually necessary, and only serve to make you more nervous to hit the actual shot. Occasionally a pitch or chip shot might require more than one practice swing, especially when hitting out of the rough, to get an idea how the grass is going to affect the club head. When it comes to putting, line up your putt if you can while others are putting, as long as you do not get in their way. Then when it is your turn, hopefully you can step up to your ball, take no more than two practice swings, and putt your ball into the hole.

Beginner players and young players should establish a pre-shot routine that is efficient and timely. If they learn to feel comfortable only after having taken three practice swings, stepping away from the ball, restarting and taking three more practice swings, they’re going to be annoying to play with, to say the least. I watched a boy in a junior tournament this summer who would set up at his ball, look at his target, look at his ball, back up at the target, back at his ball, etc, 13 to 18 times! He even did it on putts. The poor kids that had to play with him got so frustrated they just stopped watching him.

You will get a lot more enjoyment out of golf — as will everyone else on the course behind you — if you are prepared to play when it’s your turn, and you limit your practice swings. Cutting down on the number of shots per round would help too, but that’s something that can be addressed by your golf pro!

Speaking of fast play:

Check out the new GPS added to the carts at Oak Ridge Golf Course in Brazil. The system has an 11-inch color monitor that gives yardage to the pin, all carry points, and an aerial enhanced graphic of the hole being played.

Quote of the day:

“If you ever get a tee time in hell, there will be two certainties: 1) You will be playing behind Bernhard Langer, and 2) The course will include Hazeltine’s 16th.” – Rick Reilly, writer.

Upcoming event:

The Ladies City Match Play Golf Tournament (68th annual) is scheduled for July 27th through 30th at Rea Park Golf Course. To be eligible you mush have lived in Vigo County for six months prior to the closing date, or must be an active member of a Vigo County Golf League or Club. Entry fee is $40, which includes green fees and luncheon. Carts are extra. Entry forms are available at area golf courses.

Vigo County Golf Leagues

Rea Park First Financial Ladies 9-hole — Standings: Shepard’s Gas 482, VFW No. 1 403, VFW No. 2 394, Elliott’s Jewelers 387, Bratt Animal Hospital 380, Tabco 344. Low gross: Stipanuk 49. Low net: Stipanuk, Miller 38. Play of the day: Stipanuk (41). Chip-ins: Anderson (14), Foster (12).

Rea Park Wednesday Evening Ladies — Week 10 results (team points): Honselman-Long 24, Cannon-Bocard 20, Hamilton-Hiatt 20, Durand-Petty 18, Meyer-Atterson 17, Padgett-Johnson 17, Mann-Mahalek 17, Anderson-Spurr 17, Newton-Bedwell 17, Harden-Snow 15, Lanke-Pair 15, Hyde-Rusk 13, Horrall-Mozley 12, McCord-Clements 12, Swalls-McAleese 12, Ugo-Whitaker 10. Low gross: Sharon Horall, Renee Honselman, Stephanie Meyer 42. Low net: Stacey Bocard, Madonna Johnson 34. Chip-ins: Linda Snow (4), Susan Clements (6), Brenda Anderson (8).

Mark’s Par Three Senior Men — Low gross: Jim Lindsay 36. Low net: Lindsay 29. Closest to pin: Darrell Morning (12). Longest drive: Jim Lawson (18). Longest putt: Larry Jennings (17). Standings: Mattingly Collision 268, Midwest Gas 227, Fuson Cadillac 223, Vigo Bowl 218, Old National Trust 216, Dew Drop Inn 214, Tabco 201, Don Wills Cash Register 193.