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Matt Schoolfield

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What do we mean by slow play?
« on: September 08, 2023, 12:25:45 PM »
To my mind “slow play” can mean at least three different things:


1. Total round time is high.


2. Total wait time between shots is high (this is not necessarily indicative of long round times).


3. An individual’s shot set up takes a long time (this may or may not necessarily influence wait time or round time).


I only ask because I feel like we’re often talking past each other in discussions of pace, and I’m curious as to how we all think about these distinctions and conflations.
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PCCraig

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2023, 12:30:52 PM »
Waiting for the group in front of you would be the easiest definition I can think of. Or if group behind is waiting on you...
H.P.S.

Dan_Callahan

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2023, 12:40:40 PM »
If the group ahead of me is on pace for a 3.5 hour round, and my group typically plays in 3 hours, that would mean my group is waiting on every shot. But that does not mean the group ahead of me is slow. it just means they are slowER. To me, slow play is all about the length of the round. It also factors in the total number of people on a golf course. For example, on a Saturday afternoon when every tee time is full, I would not consider a four-hour round slow. However, on an empty golf course, a person playing as a single who takes four hours is a sloth who should consider taking up another sport.

John Kavanaugh

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2023, 01:10:29 PM »
Golfers arrive anticipating unhappiness which is often fulfilled.

Tom_Doak

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2023, 01:11:39 PM »
FWIW, I think the definition should be your #1, but #2 is more likely the source of customer complaints.


Also FWIW, I have read a couple of the studies on the effects of architecture on slow play, and when they try to quantify them, it never sounds like very much . . . for example, long green to tee walks might add six or eight minutes to the round.  But long green to tee walks produce annoyance in the moment and more fatigue by the end of the day, so, that again points to definition #2 as being the more operative one.

Carl Johnson

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2023, 01:17:20 PM »
Anything slower than my pace is too slow.  (Conversely, anything faster than my pace is too fast.)  It's like the difference between jogging and running.

Ben Hollerbach

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2023, 02:54:01 PM »
To my mind “slow play” can mean at least three different things:


1. Total round time is high.


2. Total wait time between shots is high (this is not necessarily indicative of long round times).


3. An individual’s shot set up takes a long time (this may or may not necessarily influence wait time or round time).


I only ask because I feel like we’re often talking past each other in discussions of pace, and I’m curious as to how we all think about these distinctions and conflations.
The USGA defines no. 1 as Pace and no. 2 as Flow.

Flow can be most impacted by tee time intervals, the larger the gap between tee times the better the flow of a round. The ability to space out groups early in a round is critical, as the space allows variance in a groups pace to not intersect and impede Flow.

I would suspect for many players good Flow is the most important, as it speaks to not being impeded by other players around you.


 

Jason Topp

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2023, 03:55:26 PM »

Thomas Dai

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2023, 04:15:04 AM »
Matt,
How many minutes do you suggest is the best tee-time interval from the golf perspective (as distinct from the money making perspective)?
atb

Sean_A

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2023, 04:18:18 AM »
To my mind “slow play” can mean at least three different things:


1. Total round time is high.


2. Total wait time between shots is high (this is not necessarily indicative of long round times).


3. An individual’s shot set up takes a long time (this may or may not necessarily influence wait time or round time).


I only ask because I feel like we’re often talking past each other in discussions of pace, and I’m curious as to how we all think about these distinctions and conflations.
The USGA defines no. 1 as Pace and no. 2 as Flow.

Flow can be most impacted by tee time intervals, the larger the gap between tee times the better the flow of a round. The ability to space out groups early in a round is critical, as the space allows variance in a groups pace to not intersect and impede Flow.

I would suspect for many players good Flow is the most important, as it speaks to not being impeded by other players around you.

For me pace is the much bigger issue. If pace is an issue, it's very rare for flow to be good. They go hand in glove for any decently booked tee sheet. That said, I played NB in four hours the other week. I thought it was slow, but playing partners disagreed. There was definitely a flow issue with waiting on the group in front for most shots.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Ashridge, Kennemer, de Pan, Eindhoven, Hilversumche, Royal Ostend, Alnmouth & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Cal Carlisle

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2023, 11:02:35 AM »
Anything slower than my pace is too slow.  (Conversely, anything faster than my pace is too fast.)  It's like the difference between jogging and running.


I'm sure slow golfers say the same thing.  ;D




Matt Schoolfield

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2023, 12:34:29 PM »
Matt,
How many minutes do you suggest is the best tee-time interval from the golf perspective (as distinct from the money making perspective)?
atb


It should be very course dependent. The idea is to look for the most time consuming single area of capacity (typically a long par 3), and base it off the time it would take a player having a bad day to play. Clubs should take time to find their courses pinch point (though most people on poorly laid out courses already know where it is).


The research suggests an absolute minimum of 10 minutes (or we invite 5+ hours), but the theoretical test course started getting consistent 4 hour rounds somewhere around 15 minutes, but again, each course is different, but things can easily be improved with data and small adjustments.


Things like tournaments consistently take longer, so again, adjustments during those (even pushing it to 20 min) could really improve the experience.
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Jay Mickle

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2023, 02:49:18 PM »
When the first group out comes in in five hours and 15 minutes, nobody has a good day. Probably not even the guys in the first group out, though I did hear a group at lunch, one day, saying that they were pleased with the pace of their five hour round as 1st out.
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Ian Cox

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2023, 03:01:55 PM »
The replies have covered much of what needs to be said (though keep them coming, no doubt there’s more to add!), this reply concerns tee time intervals and what I’ve observed that works well.


As someone that works in the golf industry I have enjoyed every type of starting configuration that I think is possible. What I’ve learned is that once you move beyond more than one group per hole waiting and four hour rounds are inevitable. If you are part of a shotgun start and there are 18 teams, one starting at each hole you have a good chance of enjoying a round with very little, if any waiting, should you move that number to 24 teams you are guaranteeing that 6 holes will have two groups at any one time, this guarantees waiting, and that is the exact number of groups that end up on a course with ten minute tee times (for four balls).
Cheers,
Ian

Kyle Harris

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2023, 04:38:05 PM »
Almost everything in this conversation is about how *insert feature here* makes slow players slower.

At the expense of interest for the fast player? Poppycock.

NOTHING will make a slow player faster other than a slow player wanting to play faster.

Stop trying to find these pathetic lowest common denominators.


I can't tell you how many "speed up play" suggestions I've received for course setup, yet, the first groups almost always finished in 3:30 or less. It isn't the setup if a group can play it that quickly.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2023, 04:39:59 PM by Kyle Harris »
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Constantly blamed by 8-handicaps for their 7 missed 12-footers each round.

Thank you for changing the font of your posts. It makes them easier to scroll past.

Kalen Braley

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2023, 05:13:17 PM »
I absolutely agree with Kyle's last post from my first hand experience.  Some type of change or pressure must be asserted.

That being said: Assuming the myth is true that most rounds in the UK are 4 hours or less, even for a 4 ball, how is this accomplished?

Do clubs over there do a better job of weeding out slow players and not letting them join?  Do UK players do a better job of applying pressure on a member of the group if he isn't keeping up?  Perhaps Marshalls are actually allowed to do their job? Are slow players shunned, as opposed to here in the states where everyone just tolerates it? or some other factor(s)?

archie_struthers

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #16 on: September 09, 2023, 08:02:59 PM »
 ;D


It's so subjective but one thing you can't do as management is set an acceptable "time" say at 4 hours. The last thing you want to deal with is a buffoon pointing at his watch while two holes behind the field at the turn. Believe me it's a tough conversation if you say that 4 is acceptable.  So care is needed in that area of communication. Stay in position is much ore effective.


 At our club other than obviously holiday crowd days the "average" time for us is 3.5 without rushing at all. Now most of us use carts in the summer and are fairly proficient players. In the winter we will walk a lot and the time is about the same .  The course is fairly empty when the snowbirds head for warmer climes which helps the cause.



If the membership buys in it makes all the difference . You will have a couple rough days on occasion but overall the experience will be much more pleasant!


GO Eagles

Erik J. Barzeski

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #17 on: September 09, 2023, 09:50:24 PM »
I can't tell you how many "speed up play" suggestions I've received for course setup, yet, the first groups almost always finished in 3:30 or less. It isn't the setup if a group can play it that quickly.
Just because the first group, never waiting on anyone, can play in 3:30 doesn't mean you can expect everyone after that to play in 3:30. The groups after the first will be waiting, at various times, on different people. Players in the first group never wait for a par five green to clear. They never wait on the tee of a par three. They never wait for anyone searching for balls ahead of them.

I think Bill Yates is still considered an expert in this area, and he concluded that a lot of the pace/flow is due to course setup and design. Have you read "Out of Time"?
Erik J. Barzeski @iacas
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Kyle Harris

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #18 on: September 10, 2023, 08:47:37 AM »
I can't tell you how many "speed up play" suggestions I've received for course setup, yet, the first groups almost always finished in 3:30 or less. It isn't the setup if a group can play it that quickly.
Just because the first group, never waiting on anyone, can play in 3:30 doesn't mean you can expect everyone after that to play in 3:30. The groups after the first will be waiting, at various times, on different people. Players in the first group never wait for a par five green to clear. They never wait on the tee of a par three. They never wait for anyone searching for balls ahead of them.

I think Bill Yates is still considered an expert in this area, and he concluded that a lot of the pace/flow is due to course setup and design. Have you read "Out of Time"?


Yes. And much of it is "golf industry apologism"


Tee time spacing, for instance, =/= setup. If we accept that density is required for revenue, then we must also accept a 4.5 hour round, too.

I'll grant you lost balls, etc. but I don't lump that into course setup. Maintenance, perhaps. Design, perhaps.

Then again, I'll also tell someone that the "alternative" was to never build the golf course in the first place if it is truly a problem that can't be overcome.
http://kylewharris.com

Constantly blamed by 8-handicaps for their 7 missed 12-footers each round.

Thank you for changing the font of your posts. It makes them easier to scroll past.

Craig Sweet

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #19 on: September 10, 2023, 10:20:33 AM »
Friday morning 8:30am....I arrive at the club house as three guys are walking out. Two have rental clubs, one has his own clubs. A woman with them is not playing.  From their dress they appear to be ranch hands.   After watching them hit on the range it is apparent they are not golfers at all, except the guy with his own clubs who might be a 25+ handicapper. They go to #1 tee with a wide open fairway and stand around chatting before they tee it up from the tips.


A few minutes later my group follows them.  It is painfully slow. The men are losing golf balls left and right. On two of the first three holes they can't reach the fairway from the tips and lose balls in the forced carry rough. The woman is driving a cart, and several times drives the cart within 5 feet of the green. To make matters worse, they pull away before we can catch them at the next tee only to watch them search for lost balls 50 yards from us.


No marshall, no screening in the pro shop.  (Hey, have you golfed before?)  Anyone can show up, play from the wrong tees, and have zero clue about golf etiquette. Just one more reason why golf can be painfully slow.



LOCK HIM UP!!!

Forrest Richardson

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #20 on: September 10, 2023, 06:16:14 PM »
As many know, Bill Yates was a good friend and taught me a lot about pace...flow.

The three questions he always asked were:

1. How long SHOULD the course take to play...pace rating, which he helped develop
2. How long DOES it take to play a course...studying tee sheets and staff "lore"
3. How long WOULD YOU LIKE it to take?

His soap box was CONSISTENCY and MINIMIZING WAITS. People endure ACTUAL time and PERCEIVED time. The two are distinct. Actual time is that Pebble Beach may take 5 hours to play. Perceived time would be the time a golfer felt they were held up, waiting, etc. It might have seemed a lot longer.  Bill's famous change at Pebble was to SLOW play at Nos. 4, 5 and 6, thus avoiding the awful situation where the group leaving No. 6 is headed to the No. 7 tee before those players take their photos after the group on No. 7 green has putted and left the camera frame. He accomplished that by recommending using the back tees at No. 6 and certain cup locations. Golfers rarely complain as long as they are PLAYING...hitting, putting, walking ahead, etc.

To get to HOW LONG WOULD YOU LIKE IT TO TAKE, Bill always suggested bringing in the golf architect to help "even out" the time pars and make the course play more fluid. He often said, "It's the golf architect who sets the stage for how long a course should play...and also where the hiccups may be...and, it's the same group who can change the course for the better..."
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Garland Bayley

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #21 on: September 10, 2023, 09:49:50 PM »
...

The research suggests an absolute minimum of 10 minutes (or we invite 5+ hours), but the theoretical test course started getting consistent 4 hour rounds somewhere around 15 minutes,


My former club used 8 minute intervals, and had no problem. If you were going to play in four hours, you were expected to play in the afternoon when the tee sheet was not full.

Seems to me the research is lacking. People and their personal practices is the problem. It's a culture thing. If you are going to do research, you need to understand that.
"I enjoy a course where the challenges are contained WITHIN it, and recovery is part of the game  not a course where the challenge is to stay ON it." Jeff Warne

Matt Schoolfield

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #22 on: September 10, 2023, 10:19:12 PM »
...

The research suggests an absolute minimum of 10 minutes (or we invite 5+ hours), but the theoretical test course started getting consistent 4 hour rounds somewhere around 15 minutes,


My former club used 8 minute intervals, and had no problem. If you were going to play in four hours, you were expected to play in the afternoon when the tee sheet was not full.

Seems to me the research is lacking. People and their personal practices is the problem. It's a culture thing. If you are going to do research, you need to understand that.


An easy thing to anecdotally state, but a very difficult thing to demonstrate. I don’t doubt a course can get folks around in under 4 hours when they tee off within a couple hours of sunrise. The research shows this is trivial. Afternoon rounds under 5 hours aren’t somehow irrelevant.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2023, 10:21:30 PM by Matt Schoolfield »
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Ben Hollerbach

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #23 on: September 10, 2023, 10:33:32 PM »
Tee time spacing, for instance, =/= setup. If we accept that density is required for revenue, then we must also accept a 4.5 hour round, too.


Between 2016 and 2020 LA City courses extended their tee time intervals from 6 minutes to 12 minutes. The resulting impact, pace of play dropped by 30 minutes and the number of round played over a year was virtually unchanged.


They reduced available play by 50% and saw little change in utilization. Why? Because before when there were more “prime” tee time players would only select those, creating large periods of condensed play that trickled down to impact less condensed play. The courses overall utilization was significantly less than full. When the number of “prime” tee times were reduced players would select any tee time available and the course utilization was higher. Which was boosted by the improved pace of play.


i.e. if before it was understood that you had to play before 9 to play a at a reasonable pace it now became possible and more acceptable to play after 10 and experience an even better pace.

Thomas Dai

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Re: What do we mean by slow play?
« Reply #24 on: September 11, 2023, 03:38:17 AM »
Matt,
How many minutes do you suggest is the best tee-time interval from the golf perspective (as distinct from the money making perspective)?
atb
It should be very course dependent. The idea is to look for the most time consuming single area of capacity (typically a long par 3), and base it off the time it would take a player having a bad day to play. Clubs should take time to find their courses pinch point (though most people on poorly laid out courses already know where it is).
The research suggests an absolute minimum of 10 minutes (or we invite 5+ hours), but the theoretical test course started getting consistent 4 hour rounds somewhere around 15 minutes, but again, each course is different, but things can easily be improved with data and small adjustments.
Things like tournaments consistently take longer, so again, adjustments during those (even pushing it to 20 min) could really improve the experience.
Thank you Matt.
The place I play most often previously operated 10 min intervals and all worked fine. No, or a least only very limited delays waiting for a group in front to play.
Sadly the spacing was then moved to 9 mins. Shambles. Delays all over the course these days.
atb

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