By John Strege
Finally, there is some good news on the pace-of-play front, and from Bandon Dunes, no less.
Rounds on Bandon Dunes’ four courses averaged four hours, 18 minutes last year, the resort reported, a pace that qualifies as fast in these languid times.
Bandon Dunes’ director of golf Jeff Simonds said that to arrive at the 4:18 figure, it charted the time groups teed off and again when they finished.
“There are a couple of things we’ve got going for us that really help us,” Simonds said. “We have a starter on the first tee who talks about pace. Our goal is four hours, 20 minutes or less. We have rangers on the golf course, too. We’re proactive with our staff out there.
“Number two, everyone is walking, so the spacing is much better. You can walk straight to your ball as the crow flies. A lot of our tees are just off the green. The courses were designed with the walking-only concept, so there aren’t a lot of next-tee commutes.”
Another factor is that Bandon Dunes tends to attract hard-core golfers. “So many of our golfers here are looking to play 36 holes a day or more, which is great motivation,” Simonds said. “They want an early tee time. It helps so much having golfers specifically looking to play in under four hours.”
It does attract those who dawdle, those playing only 18 holes who want to enjoy the scenery and take photographs. “We can put them at the back of the morning pack,” Simonds said. “If they’re teeing off at 11 o’clock, there’s maybe a 40-minute gap before the first wave of replays start.”
Put it all together and it adds to less than four hours, 20 minutes, a veritable sprint by today’s standards, though the Scottish might take exception. The Royal & Ancient’s rules note that “four-balls [should take] no more than three hours, 50 minutes.”