Hurry up and wait…” is the opening line to the song ‘One step at a time’ by Jordin Sparks.
That line describes the golfing scene in many clubs during corporate golf days.
We, as good golfers, will be at the tee at the prescribed time but then we shall find that there are delays either due to the draw not being followed or the fact that the draw is packed with more people than the course can accommodate.
We hurry up to get to the course and we wait on every shot.
When sponsors spend their money to entertain golfers, I am sure that the last thing on their mind is that their brand may just be associated with feelings of frustration.
This is the reality in a number of golf tournaments when each shot is followed by long periods of waiting.
Instead of enjoying the round, the result is a five-hour round that can only be described as painful.
I have written about the starting intervals but committees at most clubs are not taking heed.
Just look at the draws in this paper today and you will see what I mean. It is recommended that three balls have an eight to 10 minute starting interval.
Four-balls on the other hand should have 10 to 12 minute starting intervals. This is not what happens though. Four-balls are given eight minute starting intervals then the committees send out marshals to push players to move faster.
This makes golfers feel, in the words of Jordin Sparks, “… more and more frustrated and you are getting all kind of impatient, waiting…” I know that some may think that the delays are only as a result of slow play and that short starting intervals don’t have an effect.
Let me just put some numbers out there to demonstrate…
Let us assume that the course starts with two par fours followed by a par three.
Let us also assume that when played by four-balls, it takes 14 minutes each to play hole number one and two and 11 minutes to play hole number three:
•Game one tees off on hole number one at 9am. They have no problems and complete hole number two at 9.28am. They take the prescribed 11 minutes to complete hole number three. It is now 9.39am.
•Game two tees off on hole number one at 9.08am. The also don’t have any problems. They complete hole number two at 9.36am and walk to hole number three. They will have to wait three minutes to play hole number three.
•Game three on the other hand will wait six minutes to play hole number three and the effect will only get worse with subsequent games.
Did I hear someone say that we should make hole number three a call-hole?
Let the group on the green call those that are waiting on the tee you say? Now, instead of playing the hole in 11 minutes, Game One will take 15 minutes.
How did I arrive at that? Let us assume that they take half a minute to mark their balls and clear the green. Then Game Two take three minutes to tee off and add another half minute for them (Game One) to get back into their positions.
This will effectively add a minute to the three of allocated to a four-ball teeing off on the hole.
That may not sound like much, but one hour into the game, the ripple effect will be immense.
Now let us use a 12-minute starting interval instead of the often-used eight for the same course.
•Game one tees off on hole number one at 9am and complete hole number three at 9.39am
•Game two tees of hole number one at 9.12am and completes hole number two at 9.40am. This is one minute after Game One completes play of hole number three. Game Two don’t wait at all before teeing off on hole number three.
Instead of having 230 golfers on a course, 200 of who are totally frustrated, why not try having a smaller number of golfers who play the round in less than four hours?
It is even more frustrating to have marshals on the course urging one to speed up only to wait at the next shot.
Instead of telling golfers to hurry up then wait, it will do everyone in the ecosystem (golfers, committees, sponsors and course managements team) some good to improve the pace of play.
We can get there one step at a time. The first step is to increase the starting intervals. Otherwise we shall remain so close but so far from golfing utopia.
The author is a KGU Executive