I’m curious to see what the USGA comes up with in their recently-announced study on slow play.
The golf industry itself is guilty of slow play on this issue, but stop wasting money.
There are certain aspects of this issue that the USGA isn’t going to be able to change, including golf courses that aren’t built to play quickly. Good luck changing that, unless they want to pay for course redesign.
The only option is to deal with slow play at the golf course level and I’ll give you a good example of a golf course that was willing to better its pace of play.
The University Golf Club in Vancouver used to have eight or nine minute tee time intervals. The average time was five to five-and-a-half hours. It was always packed and people were going out from early in the morning until well into the evening.
University went to10 minute tee times straight across the board. Over the course of the day, the average tee round went to about four hours, 25 minutes and they enforced it. They had a starter and you couldn’t hit off that first tee until 10 minutes had passed since the previous group went off.
What they found through customer surveys was that more people came back to the golf course. In the end, they might have lost tee times during the day, but they gained more repeat customers, which means more word-of-mouth and likely, more a couple more corporate tournaments.
In the long run, they gained and they had the courage to know they night lose short term, but they went ahead and did it anyway.
I think a lot of it was the fact that they enforced it. A lot of places will go to 10-minute intervals, but if they get a wait list, that 10 minutes quickly becomes eight because the temptation is to cram more people out there. University stuck to its guns.
When I first broke in at an executive course, the first hole was a par three that, on average, took 11 to 12 minutes to play, but we had seven minute tee times, so how often do you think we were on time?
We would wave people up on the first hole to get tee times back, but by 10 in the morning, we’d have three or four groups on the second tee.
I think the USGA study will just prove that people are slow. Everybody knows that already. The time has come to actually do something about it.