By John Strege
The pace of play is a perpetual issue for which any number of solutions have been proffered (see the USGA's "while we're young" campaign). Here's a new one: Solar-powered clocks.
Chomko LA, a custom commercial clock company based in Pittsburgh, has developed a 24-inch waterproof and solar-powered clock for golf courses, the idea being to help them alleviate the slow-play problem.
"A few years back, my dad and I were playing golf in Latrobe (Penn.) and talking to the starter," Nick Chomko said. "He was telling us about the trouble he had getting people to the tee on time, that it was a headache."
Until then, Chomko LA's business principally was manufacturing indoor synchronized clocks for hospitals and schools and such. "We started coming up with the idea of getting a clock outside on the golf course," he said. "Say it's a Saturday, and if players start getting to the tee late in the morning, the whole day's messed up and it can cost the course money."
His customers so far have purchased only a single clock (in the $3,800 range, customized) and stationed it near the first tee or the driving range (shown above is a clock at the Villages Golf and Country Club in San Jose, Calif.). But ultimately, Chomko said, he can see courses buying a second or third clock that needn't be customized to help save on the expense and stationing them at places around the course where play might back up. They keep time via GPS, so there is no need for synchronicity.
"Maybe the pace slows down on the 12th tee," he said. "We can do more of a basic clock without a nameplate and base so it's more cost effective, if they just want functionality. The great part about solar power is that they can put these clocks anywhere. They don't have to trench up the grounds."
Whether it will work to speed play even minutely is unknown, but it can't hurt. As Chomko LA stated in a news release, "A visual display of time at golf courses creates a sense of pace and keeps golfers aware."