USGA Pace System
PROGRAMS OF NOTE
Some courses and golf associations have developed their own methods for communicating and enforcing pace of play. Here are a few programs that have been shared with the USGA. If you are having success on your course with a program that you have developed or have learned about through the manual, the USGA Handicap Department is interested in hearing your ideas and including them in future publications. You can contact the USGA Handicap Department by calling (908) 234-2300 or writing to Handicap Department, United States Golf Association, Golf House, P.O. Box 708, Far Hills, NJ 07931-0708.
PACE OF PLAY PROGRAM (POPP)
Pace of Play Program (POPP) has been installed by American Golf Corporation at facilities in California and Texas. The program relies significantly on the training of customer-oriented greeters and marshals, but also contains a strong player education element. At the first tee, a greeter explains POPP and hands each group a card containing its expected completion time for the round. On-course marshals hand out other cards if the pace lags: a green "first warning" card advising the group to catch up; a yellow "second warning" card; and a red "third warning" card that signals the group's removal from the course and refund of green fees.
The greeter observes the playing ability of the group and may radio ahead to a fairway marshal if the group appears to be beginners or otherwise slow players. The green card contains tips for speeding up play, such as continuous putting. The marshal may also advise the group to switch to a scramble or similar format. A year after onset of the program, no groups have merited red cards, and rounds have been reduced to 4:10 or less from 4:15 or more. Customer satisfaction, according to surveys, is up. A group's time is noted on its card after nine holes and again after 18. Groups that meet the expected round time are eligible for a drawing for preferred tee times and merchandise rewards.
For more information, call Mike Nix at (805) 253-1870. Or write to him at American Golf Corporation, 1633 26 St., Santa Monica, CA 90404.
SPEED UP PLAY PROGRAM
The Hot Springs Village Men's Golf Association of 48 Entrada Way, Hot Springs Village, AR 71909, displays tips to golfers in its Speed Up Play Program.
Play the right course for you. Tees are no longer identified by sex.
Keep eight eyes on the ball.
Take three clubs to the ball.
Continue putting if possible rather than marking the ball. Do not practice a missed putt.
Return clubs to your bag when you arrive at the next shot. Until then, save time by carrying them with you.
Park your cart behind the green, on the way to the next hole.
PACE SETTER TEES
Tapatio Springs Resort in Boerne, TX has experimented with a number of on-course aids in a concerted effort to reduce 5-1/2 hour rounds to rounds of under 4-1/2 hours. Among their techniques:
Extreme front tees (pace setter tees) placed in the fairway at the point at which an average player's drive would stop. The marshal directs a group that has fallen behind to start each subsequent hole from the pace setter tees until it catches up. For scrambles, all players have the option of playing their drives or dropping a ball and playing the second shot from the pace setter tees.
Computerized grids for the marshals, showing the starting time for a group on each hole.
Signs inserted in magnetic plates on the golf cart, displaying for the group its starting time for each hole; its turn time, and its finish time.
Explanation by the starter to each group about the pace of play program in effect at the course, and the expectations of the groups to keep up.
Course management removes groups <197> with a refund of fees <197> which continue to fail to keep up. More on-course reminders, such as elapsed time clocks, are planned.
For more information, call Jess Hawkins, PGA, Tapatio Springs Resort & Country Club, (210) 537-4197. Or write to him at Tapatio Springs Resort & Country Club, Johns Rd. West, Boerne, TX 78006.
PACE SETTER PROGRAM
Otter Creek, a 27-hole public course in Columbus, IN established the Pace Setter Program three years ago. The program includes these elements:
10-minute intervals between starts. These intervals, in addition to enabling the target pace of play, have reduced the golf cart fleet because there are fewer golfers on the course at one time. However, because golfers are playing faster <197> less than 4-1/2 hours per round, rather than 5-hours per round <197> the total number of rounds is up.
Greeting/explanation by starter. The starter gives a friendly explanation of the pace of play expected for the round and the features of the course. The starter writes down the name of the player designated as captain, in charge of the group's pace.
Flag the on-hour cart. The cart that starts play on the hour is flagged. Marshals can tell by the locations of the flagged carts how the following groups are keeping pace.
Visible yardage markers. The distance to green is well-marked on each hole.
Reasonable hole placements. Hole placements are selected to fit the playing ability of the groups that will use the course most that day.
Tips on speed of play. Golfers are given a brochure containing tips for picking up speed. The primary on-course tip is to keep up with the group ahead. Groups that fall behind may be given tips by the marshal. For example, the marshal may advise the driver to drop off a player and then drive immediately to his or her own ball. Other tips and reminders about the pace setter program, attractively designed and printed, are posted throughout the public areas of the course.
For more information, call Greg Bishop, PGA, Director of Golf, Otter Creek Golf Course, (812) 579-5227. Or write to him at Otter Creek Golf Course, 11522E 50N, Columbus, IN 47203.
PACE OF PLAY AT POPPY HILLS
Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, CA has experimented with several strategies for reducing playing time on this popular public course. The course has formed a Pace of Play Committee consisting of the general manager, golf operations manager, course superintendent, marshals, rangers, and a representative of the Northern California Golf Association.
The course adopted the USGA Pace Rating as its standard playing time. The committee then began to study holes on which players had difficulty meeting time par. For example, it marked the tee shot landing areas on those holes and then made changes that would help redirect drives. In one case, it realigned the direction of the tees so that drives would land in safer areas. On another hole, as an experiment, it parked a truck in the direction of a safe landing area and stationed a marshal at the hole to suggest to players that they aim in the direction of the truck. The course is now considering trimming some trees to allow one tree to stand out as a target.
The committee consulted with William Yates & Associates, of Rolling Hills Estates, CA. Yates held a training workshop and assisted the committee in making on-course observations and data collection related to pace of play. Yates also developed a computer model that showed the effect on pace of play of different starting time intervals.
In related changes, the committee:
Positioned a series of yardage markers in every fairway.
Is planning on installing a telephone at the ninth tee so that players can call in their orders to the halfway house, reducing the time between nines.
Experimented for a time with changing hole numbers and reversing the nines in order to create a series of opening holes that would permit a fast start. It later abandoned these changes, but continues to look at ways, through course maintenance, to reduce the impact of obstacles and rough on the difficult first and second holes.
The committee is satisfied that it is creating a time awareness on the course, and the actual pace of play has begun to be reduced incrementally with each improvement. A heavily-played championship course used by the PGA Tour, Poppy Hills also must contend with delays unrelated to golf: tourist players who want to stop and take pictures of their visit to the Monterey Peninsula.
For more information, call Paul Porter, General Manager, Poppy Hills Golf Course, (408) 625-1513. Or write to him at Poppy Hills Golf Course, P.O. Box 1157, Pebble Beach, CA 93953.
PACE OF PLAY AT THE COUNTRY CLUB AT CASTLE PINES
This member's club in Castle Rock, CO has put teeth into pace of play. Primary elements of the program:
A "Pace of Play" board on display at the club house, which shows the names of players in the group, the group's start time, finish time, and number of minutes behind the previous group.
First warning letter. If the actual finish time of a group is more than 10 minutes slower than the finish time of the preceding group and more than the prescribed pace of 4:10, the Golf Committee sends a slow-play warning letter to each member of the "slow" group. The group will know by glancing at the Pace of Play board that it can expect to receive a letter.
Second warning letter. If a player receives a second warning letter, his or her eligibility for morning rounds on weekends is suspended for one month.
After the first year of the program, the number of first warning letters is down 40-45%. The number of second warning letters is down from seven to one. The playing time is down from five hours or more to the club's prescribed pace of 4:10 or less. The club's program also includes:
Effective starter's presentation of the pace of play program to each group, including an announcement of the expected pace for the round.
Marshal's time matrix, showing which hole each group should be playing at any given time. The marshal quickly identifies a group that's fallen behind and gives tips for catching up or encourages the group to skip holes.
Orientation/tips program by club professional. New members are required to attend orientation and receive fast-play tips. Tips are also printed in the club's newsletter.
Appeal system. Groups receiving a warning letter can ask for a review.
After two years, most recipients of warning letters now involve groups with guests; the members know what's expected and keep to the pace. The club continues to work on orientation and tips aspects of the program. It says that, while a small percentage of members is offended by receiving a warning letter, the majority
endorses the program.
For more information, call Nigel Rouse, PGA, Golf Professional, at The Country Club at Castle Pines, (303) 688-6400. Or write to him at The Country Club at Castle Pines, 6400 Country Club Drive, Castle Rock, CO 80104.
BROOKHAVEN MAKING GOOD USE OF STARTER, MARSHALS
Brookhaven Country Club in Dallas, with 54 holes <197> one of the largest and busiest layouts in the country <197> has made a dent in the five-hour round, largely with a system that places emphasis on the starter and marshals. Brookhaven management received the endorsement of the men's, ladies', and senior's associations at the club to purchase the ATAP for Golf program (see page 18).
Signs on the courses prominently display the playing time of 4:12. An exterior sign on each cart displays the start time of the group. This sign is always visible to the marshal, who carries a grid which identifies where a group should be at any given time during a round. A sign inside the cart tells players their start time, the amount of time it should take to make the turn, and the amount of time it should take to finish the round.
If a group starts later than scheduled, the starter radios ahead to the marshal to let him know. The marshal encourages a group that starts late or falls behind to catch up. He may give the group a target: make up a certain number of minutes by a certain hole.
If, after two warnings, a group has not improved its pace of play, a golf professional comes out and asks the players to skip holes.
The program has succeeded in reducing five-hour rounds to rounds of approximately 4:15 on weekends over the three courses, according to Bill Dowling, Director of Golf. "The program has given marshals a tool with which to diplomatically enforce an overall pace of play," Dowling said. It also has given members a welcome target time for completing each hole. "Now the members stop the marshals and ask, `How are we doing?'" Dowling said. Brookhaven expects to accommodate approximately 135,000 rounds per year.
For more information, call Bill Dowling, Director of Golf, or Don Lackey, Golf Professional, at (214) 241-2761. Or write to them at Brookhaven Country Club, 3333 Golfing Green Dr., Dallas, TX 75234.
AMHERST PROVES PUBLIC COURSE CAN CONTROL PACE
Amherst Country Club in Amherst, NH has found its time pars to be attainable and believable for players. The ability of groups to play consistently to a 4:12 pace has enabled the club to attract more players, especially on weekends. Groups have confidence that they will be able to finish at the prescribed pace of play, whether they start at 6 a.m., 9 a.m., noon, or 3 p.m. When calling for weekend tee times, they often ask for assurance that the pace of play program will be in effect.
The club, a daily fee public golf course, has achieved its success with an on-course pace reminder, the Linkstime par timer (see page 17), and an effective starter/marshal system.
When every group on the course is carrying a timing device, such as the par timer, the element of peer pressure to maintain the pace is introduced. A glance at its par timer will tell a group what hole it should be playing and how many minutes it should take to play the hole.
Marshals can refer to the par timer to advise a group that it has fallen behind and needs to catch up.
The pace of play program is carefully explained to groups by the Amherst starter. The starter may advise inexperienced golfers to pick up after reaching their
handicap stroke hole limit in order to keep to the pace.
For more information, call Ted Bishop, Head Professional, at (603) 673-9908. Or write to him at Amherst Country Club, 76 Ponemah Rd., Amherst, NH 03031.
Tournament players in events monitored by the Arizona Golf Association are experiencing significant decreases in finishing times. The players asked the AGA for help in eliminating five-hour rounds, and they got it. Rounds are now closer to four hours. The U.S. Open qualifying tournament, with 9-minute start time intervals for groups of three, had average finishing times of 3:50. Here's what the AGA has implemented:
Starter's explanation. The starter for each group carefully explains tournament pace of play policy: each hole has a completion time, play will be closely monitored, and penalties will be assessed.
Hole-by-hole monitoring. The AGA uses Hoel clocks (see page 20) at each hole. A glance at the clock will tell a group whether it is on pace or behind.
Reminders/assistance from tournament committee. A member of the tournament committee approaches any group that falls out of position; that is, allows a complete hole to become open in front of it. The committee member will hear the group's explanation for falling behind and encourage it to catch up. If tournament rules permit aid for walkers, the group will be driven to its shots until it catches up.
Penalties. A player who continues to play slowly is assessed a 2-stroke penalty. Last year, about two dozen golfers were penalized.
Under the AGA's guidance, slow groups did catch up, even if they had fallen a hole behind because of lost ball, out of bounds, or other reason.
For more information, call Barry Palm, Arizona Golf Association, (602) 944-3035. Or write to him at Arizona Golf Association, 7226 N. 16 St., Phoenix, AZ 85020.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WOMEN'S GOLF ASSOCIATION
The Southern California Women's Golf Association quotes from Rule 6-7 of the Rules of Golf in advising tournament players of its "Slow Play" policy. Here is an edited excerpt from a handout to players:
"This rule states in part: `The player SHALL play without undue delay.'
We do not wish to apply penalties for undue delay. However, we insist that, in the interest of all, the pace of play be reasonable.
The first group to start will be considered out of position if, at any point in the round, the group is taking more than the USGA time par to play. Any following group will be considered out of position if the group (a) falls one hole behind and (b) is taking more than the USGA time par to play.
Any group not in position will be alerted to that fact and requested to play at a faster pace. Any such group will be monitored, i.e. the time each competitor takes to play each stroke will be recorded. Any competitor in a group out of position who takes more than 45 seconds to play a stroke on two occasions incurs automatically a penalty of two strokes. A total of 55 seconds is allowed in the case of a competitor who is the first to play (a) an approach shot, (b) from on or near the putting green, or (3) from the teeing ground on a par 3 hole.
We sincerely request your cooperation. If all competitors will cooperate, the
tournament will be a more pleasant experience for everyone."