Too little time between groups, deep rough at driving distance limits and new technology has been blamed for the growing emergence of slow play at courses around the UK.
Golfmagic visitors have identified dozens more reasons and suggested remedies but greed and impatience may well be the dark culprits of this burgeoning problem.
Some courses have introduced ‘call up holes’ – par-3s where groups tend to concertina on the tee while those ahead putt out.
Others have brought in stroke penalties and disqualification for transgressors. One course even threatened to disqualify all competitors if one group took more than the stipulated four hours to complete 18 holes. Competitions quickly speeded up.
This year’s Open at Royal Troon produced few instances of slow play, with tee times organised at 11 minute intervals (introduced in 2002) and officials putting groups ‘on the clock.’
However, many courses are still guilty of allowing too little time between groups off the first tee (a measly seven minutes by some) in a bid to fit in more competitors while pay-and-play and resort courses are often too anxious to maximise revenue potential.
Anxiety to get started with the group ahead still in range can also cause hold-ups in social games.
As the R&A commented in its ‘Pace of Play’ investigation last year, where 60 key figures in the game debated the problem: "Individuals playing slowly is regarded only as a contributory reason for rounds of five and six hours. A whole catalogue of other causes can be identified and accepted.
And some blame can even be laid at the door of new technology. For those golfers who strike the ball in excess of 300 yards, the shorter par-4s are more like par-3s and occasionally reachable off the tee while most par fives have become 'two-shotters', again causing hold-ups.
Deep rough being allowed to form in areas where golf balls are most likely to get lost, can also be a key contributory factor.
The conference concluded that a five point plan should be introduced at every course to improve the pace of play.
1. Management policies
Overcrowding the golf course must be avoided. Starting intervals should be widened.
2. Player ability
Play from the most appropriate tee is recommended to avoid making hole positions too difficult.
Ensure that the length and location of the rough avoids numerous lost balls and that the speed of the greens is reasonable.
4. Course Design
Adopt favourable sequences of holes to avoid bottlenecks Fore example an opening par-5 followed by a difficult par-3 is a recipe for slow play.
5. Player Behaviour
Clubs and their professionals should communicate with all players and advise what is expected of them, to exercise etiquette at all times and be ready to play when required.
If you have any better ideas, join the discussion on the forum.