Slow play is contagious. It starts with the professional golfers and ends with casual golfers. Nothing is more frustrating than spending a day waiting on the group in front. This is why the USGA launched an initiative called, “While We’re Young.” This initiative is meant to get your attention and take a stern stance on slow play.
Pace of Play at the club level is a sensitive issue. It is difficult for the golf professional to be critical and pull aside members that are slow, and it is harder for members to speak up to their fellow members about slow play. No matter what level a golfer is, pace of play will help a golfer fit into any group. I always tell new golfers that want to play social golf that golfers care about keeping up the pace of play. This is also an ideal I preach to parents of young children starting the game. When a new golfer, adult or young, starts playing golf with others I teach them to make the game fun. When a young or new golfer has had enough on a hole, they need to pick up. Also, when learning the game I teach pre-swing fundamentals. Beyond pre-swing fundamentals, just walk up and hit the dang ball. Hit it, find it, and hit it again. As a teacher I am to blame as well. I give students swing changes to work on, pre shot routines and a thought process to go through before and during the swing.
The best pace of play initiative, in my opinion, is “Tee it Forward.” Tee it Forward was adopted by the PGA of America, but created by the owner, at the time, of Adams Golf. This gentleman figured out one day that he could not reach the greens in regulation during a round of golf. As he thought about it more, he realized none of his playing partners could reach the greens in regulation. He started a study by setting up a course for a mini tour player that played over 8,000 yards. On many of the holes that were set the mini tour player hit 3 wood into the green or could not reach the green at all. After the experience this gentlemen asked the mini tour player what he thought of the course he set up for him. The mini tour player responded by saying, “if I had to do that every day I would quit.” This was the start of “Tee it Forward.” When I read the original article in the PGA of America magazine a light bulb came on. I thought, wow, this is the future. What I have found out in the last six years of pushing Tee it Forward is that stereotypes are not that easy to break.
One mistake that the powers to be made is creating stereotypes in regards to the setup of the golf course. Examples of these stereotypes are: red tees are the ladies tees, a young golfer or beginner has to tee off from a specified tee ground and calling a set of tees the “member tee.” The set of tees has no idea what gender you are. A beginning or young golfer can tee off 50 yards away from the green if it makes the game enjoyable.
I will step down off the soap box after only one more comment. If I have a student who says he has lost distance and lost enjoyment in the game my number one tip would not be a swing change; tee off from a different set of tees. Enjoy this great game. Ask your local PGA professional what tee you should be playing.
Todd Elliott is the PGA Head Golf Professional for Hideaway Beach. Todd is TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Certified as a golf professional. This gives him the ability to give golf specific physical screening to detect any physical limitation that might affect the golf swing. Todd is an active Student Mentor at FGCU; a volunteer with the First Tee program and was presented the 2010 and 2011 PGA’s President Council Awards on “Growing the Game.”