On a warm but not oppressive June morning I played at Fairway Hills in Columbia. The course was, in the main, in good shape (a couple of fairways had some burned out areas but by and large the course was in great shape; the greens were rolling true and the rough was thick (our incessant wet weather is helping I’m sure) but but to a manageable level. Full credit to the course superintendent and his/her staff for keeping the course in great shape given the wild weather swings we’ve had this year.
One new thing Fairway Hills is doing- weekday mornings you can play 6 holes for $6.00 (all back 9 holes). I don’t know how many people are doing this, but full credit for them trying something beyond the norm.
If there was a hiccup, it was at the end when we came up upon the start of a scramble tournament…specifically three foursomes on/around the par 3 17th hole, playing at a pace that would make Kevin Na scream “hey…while we’re young!” It took 45 minutes to play the last two holes (I timed it). At that pace, that’s a 6 1/2 hour round, and there is absolutely no excuse for that pace of play. Watching them play (we had plenty of time) it was like watching a “what not to do” video relative to pace of play.
If you’ve played for any length of time, you’ve undoubtedly played a scramble. Get paired with a good group of your fellow golfers and it’s a fantastic event. Get paired with people who have the personality of a lawn chair, and it’s like spending five hours in the dentist’s chair sans painkillers.
Nobody likes to be told to move things along, but if your response is “I paid my money and I’ll take as long as I feel like” then you’re part of the problem.
Courses need outings- they bring in revenues, and it brings your novice golfer out. However, like anything else, they have to be managed. Shoving them in front of your dawn patrol/dew sweeper groups grinds the entire pace of play to a halt. Courses also have to take care of their core, and it is a balancing act. I’ve seen outings start first thing in the morning (especially your shotgun format like we had yesterday), or starting at noon (when the course has had time to get your morning groups around) or later. A balance has to be struck.
Amid the men’s US Open getting horrible ratings (the final round had zero excitement unlike previous years) and the FIFA World Cup getting huge ratings for the US team’s games, you’re having the inevitable “See- soccer’s going to take over!! and golf is dying out because Tiger’s not around/golf is old” dirge (I can’t bring myself to link to this stuff). I’ll admit to watching the US team’s games (the late-game drama helps as does the lack of commercials), but am I going to go watch Major League Soccer? No, and neither is the vast majority of people tuning in.
As usual, SWIRIC nailed it. She likened the World Cup to swimming in the Olympics. People love to watch swimming in the Olympics- for two weeks every four years Americans cheer like nobody’s business to watch. And when the Olympics is over, everyone goes back to whatever it is they were doing to begin with. I mean, people love to go swimming (especially on a hot summer day…few things rival that dip in a refreshing pool), but would I tune in to watch the ASL (American Swimming League)? No.
I won’t claim any science, but I’m seeing an increase of younger golfers (under 30’s) this year. Not sure if it’s being driven by the PGA Tour, marketing, or what.
Hit ’em straight, and let’s keep moving along.