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Golf in the Slow Lane

Golf in the Slow Lane

Slow play both in the professional and amateur ranks is killing the sport. It is time to act.

It’s the digital age, the modern world. We want things quickly. We want to fit more into every minute of every day. We want thrills; We want same day delivery; we want movies on demand; we want international travel.

Everything in life is speeding up……except golf!! which is slowing down.

Slow Play. YAWN.

How much is this at odds with the game? People can feel their life go by waiting for Bryson De Chambeau to visualise the perfect shot, work it through in his mind before hopefully playing the shot on the same day!!

There are times when you think JB Holmes has actually passed away and is no longer in this world as he visualises his next move. There are statues that could play more quickly.

In some tournaments on the PGA circuit, rounds last 5.5 hours!

Not surprisingly the cascade effect means that many of the “followers” in the amateur ranks (the guys who buy the latest branded clubs and branded golf shirts used by these professionals) take the same amount of time seeking perfection off their 18 handicap.

So, what will happen.

Well, in the amateur ranks, time poor people are leaving golf in their droves. Waiting lists for golf club membership, other than at the “Elite” end of the spectrum, have all but disappeared. Golf club membership decline has already impacted. Many Golf Clubs can’t afford resident professionals and many will, in fact, close. Innovation has been, as with most things in golf, SLOW.  Time and cost allied to the preservation of outmoded golf club membership operating rules and regulations by “The Od Farts” (as was once used in Rugby context), has distanced golf from the younger to middle aged market.

Of course, this impacts on the sale of golf merchandise by the key brands. The key brands are selling fewer of the golf shirts positioned carefully on their professional partners. Nike are now reviewing their routes to market and will next year no longer supply the “independent” stockist market here in the UK.

However, this slow play issue is now impacting on the professional circuit. Whilst golf’s governing authorities, who have overseen impressive growth of the financial stakes in the game, are loathed to make changes, the smarter professionals, who have their fingers on the pulse and can feel spectator discontent with the slow play merchants, are now becoming more vociferous. They are aware that in this digital communication era, discontent can spread very quickly and that the authorities have to set modern day standards for acceptable pace of play which will filter down to the amateur game.

Slow play has to incur a penalty. Not a financial penalty, but a stroke penalty or disqualification. The public are already demanding it. The sponsors will follow suit – and that will be when “The Old Farts” will have to act.

Fed Ex, who are a market leader in speedy logistics, sponsor the big end of year PGA competition. What damage will be done to their brand if their sponsorship is associated with the growing dissatisfaction by the golf audience with slow play. “Golf Yawn sponsored by Fed Ex”

No, it is time to take action.

Professionals should be on the clock from the time they reach their ball. Stroke penalties are obvious options.

However, following a creative thinking exercise in our office other more extreme policy options were raised. Perhaps those who are offenders should have to wear a “slow play” golf shirt sponsored by their sponsors – say in hi-visibility colours, for the next tournament. The golf shirt of shame principle.

Or the slowest player could tee off at 7pm and let them have 12 hours to complete their round!

Or their golf clubs are fitted with grips which give and electric shock after a minute of reaching their ball.

Or the galleries are given a signal to slow hand-clap after a minute of reaching the ball.

Or equip pros with buggies that can get them round more quickly and clock them.

 So, to those in authority who perceive change to be the enemy, ………. deal with slow play before the game ends up in disrepute and the bubble bursts and it is taken out of your hands.

Date: Mon, 14 Oct 2019 13:19:19 +0000 GMT

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