Editors' BlogNovember 28, 2007

Slow Play, cont'd

Following our post yesterday on the subject of slow play, I present a couple of interesting letters touching on the subject. The first responds to Stina Sternberg's Ask Stina column in December.

A two-handicap woman complained about being forced to play the forward tees (we're getting to the slow play part) and Stina advised to grin and bear it:

I agree it would be nice if rangers could give you the benefit of the doubt, or at least watch you swing before telling you to move up, but you also have to keep in mind that they're just trying to do their job....Sadly there are plenty of golfers who insist on playing from yardages that are too long for their skill level. Seeing you at the whites might give the ranger pause the way seeing a man play from the tips does....

Thomas Hamlett of Van Nuys, CA, took exception.

Stina Sternberg's response (Dec. 07) to the lady with the handicap of 2 was way off and perpetuates the male chauvinism and sexism of golf. She told her that she shouldn't be upset when the course marshal told her she had to play from the Red tees instead of the White tees that she preferred. Unless I missed something in the USGA Rule Book, the tee placement is based on ability (handicap), not gender.>

I believe we could reduce the amount of playing time if more marshals would make golfers play the tees that their handicap equates too. I have played several courses that require you to have a 10 or less handicap to play the back tees. Other courses have handicap recommendations (both men and women) for the tees.

I am a 20 handicap person who plays with one arm and scoliosis of the spine; I hit 70% of my fairways, but only hit the driver 150-170. I have played 28 years, always off the forward tees; I can't count the number of times I have played with guys who played the back tees only to dribble it past the forward tee. My belief is that if I can outdrive you from the forward teeâ¿¿.you are playing the wrong tees.

Several years ago Golf Digest tried to get more people walking with the belief that it would reduce playing time. I challenge Golf Digest to start a campaign to get courses to enforce a certain handicap for each of the tees. I think this would go a great way to reducing playing time. >

Interesting idea, Thomas. We'll discuss it. The complication is that on our "country clubs for a day" courses, many of which are very difficult from any set of tees, it's difficult for a ranger to tell a player who's paid more than $100 where he or she will tee off, even if they would have more fun.

While we're on slow play, I retrieved this letter we received on the Sabbatini piece in November from Mark Walker, in Thailand.

Your November article of Rory's lost cool over the slow play of Ben Crane was for me refreshing. Yes it was rude, but isn't slow play the ultimate rudeness or at least equally so? I for one, was secretly then openly pleased with Rory's walk off. After all this is a sport that suffers with endemic slow play. Evidenced by the statement a few years ago by Bernhardt Langer at the British Open, that 5hours and 8 minutes was not enough time for a twosome to play a round of golf! Ugh. Three cheers for Rory!

"The ultimate rudeness" says it perfectly, Mark.

A friend of mine, our international editor John Barton, suggests this simple rule change to speed play. Its brilliance is in its simplicity.

Every swing counts as a stroke. That is, whether you make a swing with the intention to strike the ball or simply in "practice", it counts as one. Play a round that way. It will be refreshingly swift.

--Bob Carney

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