What factors contribute to Pace of Play?

By Le Ann Finger posted Nov 17, 2014 17:12


Ask any golfer what contributes to a slow round of golf and he or she is likely to point out the slow play comes from other golfers.  This is partially true, but other factors contribute to a less than desirable pace of play.  Having just attended the USGA Pace of Play Symposium last week, I want to share those factors so you are better prepared to "keep pace" on the golf course.   

The three factors that contribute to Pace of Play are 1) The Players; 2) The Course Architects and 3) Course Owners/Operators. 

The Players are usually the first ones to blame for slow play and can back up an entire course – turning a 3 hour and 30 minute round into an all-day outing of five and sometimes six hours.  Dr. Lou Riccio, from Columbia Business School who has researched and written about Pace of Play for years suggests the 3/45 solution.  That means you should walk or ride at a pace of 3 miles per hour and then take no more than 45 seconds to play your shot.  If you follow that suggestion, your round should also take 3 hours and 45 minutes.

The Course Architects may have been tasked with designing or re-designing a course with difficult layouts.  It’s pretty obvious, the more difficult the course, the higher the slope rating will be.  This means the average golfer will reach more trouble (i.e. water hazards, bunker complexes, tough putting greens) and will take longer to play.  This coupled with longer distances from greens to tees also add to more time spent on the course.  When visiting a tougher than normal course, take enough club on longer approaches or play from the forward most tees.

The Course Owners/Operators are challenged to create revenue to sustain the facility, which is passed along to the golfer, in the form of a green fee.  Many facilities tend to utilize seven or eight minute intervals for starting times to maximize more golfers on the course and increased revenue.  Facilities that have ten minute tee times generate less revenue, however, they create a better “flow” of golfers on the course, by having fewer players. Most players agree their best rounds include little or no waiting and are more enjoyable. 

During your next round of golf, remember the U.S. average pace for an 18-hole round of golf is four hours and 17 minutes.  Do your part to keep up with the group directly ahead of you and you’ll enjoy your round.

Visit the Golfweek article for more information on the recent USGA Pace of Play Symposium.   

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