After slow play brought the Farmers Insurance Open to a slow crawl last week, the USGA has made plans to focus on pace-of-play issues that have caused significant problems at every level of the game of golf.
According to ESPN, USGA president Glen D. Nager talked about a “five-prong approach” to speeding up the game at USGA’s annual meeting this week:
The cry that pace of play has become one of the most significant threats to the game's health has become only louder over the last year. Industry research clearly shows that slow play and the amount of time it takes to play a round of golf detract from the overall experience and threaten to drive players away from the game. This problem touches every golfer, from the professional to the elite amateur to the collegiate player to the millions of recreational golfers at both public and private facilities.
Pace of play affects the game of golf at nearly every level, and the idea that slow play may be causing disinterest is cause enough for the USGA to make some changes.
USGA Executive Director Mike Davis also spoke on the matter at the meeting, as quoted by USGA.org:
It is appropriate for the USGA to examine pace of play issues in part because we experience them at our own championships. Six-hour rounds are just not good for the players, our championships or the game. Slow play is also incompatible with our modern society, in which our personal time for recreation is compressed. This is an issue that demands our complete attention.
The USGA’s five-prong approach will involve analysis of key factors, research to create a model, a pace rating system, on-site assistance at golf courses and player education programs (via USGA.org).
Pace of play is an issue that has long lacked uniformity in a broad sense. While quick play has always been expected at the professional level, slow play continues to be a problem. Golf Digest Senior Editor Mike Stachura offers an interesting idea for speeding up pace of play at all levels:
USGA/slow play. One idea: $15,000 fine for taking longer than USGA pace of play rating; same idea for recreational golfers but $15 instead.— Mike Stachura (@MikeStachura) February 2, 2013
While the USGA is still in the research stage, there is plenty of indication that golf’s governing body will be implementing changes to curb these issues going forward. The pace-of-play issue has been looming for some time, and after players needed almost three hours to complete 11 holes at last week’s Farmers Insurance Open, it seems the USGA finally has enough reason to push the matter forward in a more immediate fashion.