In Defence of Slow Play. Why am I being pressured to rush the one part of my week I’d like to last as long as possible?
The slow round of golf has copped somewhat of a bad rap lately.
Actually, the first reported complaint of slow play in a tournament is believed to have occurred in 1872 when, after winning his fourth straight Open Championship, Young Tom Morris complained to the Prestwick Chronicle that if the issue wasn’t urgently addressed by the Royal and Ancient, rounds of golf would soon exceed three hours in length.
Now before I begin to defend the indefensible, I want to state for the record that I hate being stuck behind a slow fourball almost as much as I hate having the young ‘superstars’ of the club drive right up my arse in a golf cart.
Yes, well done, you hit it to 12 feet on the par 4 I just made six on, but do you need to race up and park at the back of the next tee, screeching in the gravel as I’m trying to work out whether my drive will turn left or right on this next hole?
We know you’re behind us, we can hear your cart from three holes away!
But I also despise the slow poke. If we’re in a comp round and you’re not ready to play, if your entire group walks to everyone’s ball to watch them hit or you try to tally your score for the last hole from the middle of the green, you’ll be getting death stares from me from 220 metres.
I don’t consider myself a ‘fast golfer’, but I do try to cut down time where I can. I’ll walk ahead of my playing partners down the fairway so that I’m ready to hit my shot, and if I’m ready to pull the trigger as they weigh up whether to hit 6 or 7-iron, I’ll just go ahead and hit.
Perhaps – by the standards set by the fine gentlemen who founded this great game. But after golf I’ve got to drop by Coles to restock the cupboard, get home to relieve the good wife of the chaos that comes with two young children, finally mow that jungle of a lawn and then think about whether to do steaks on the barbie or have spaghetti bol for dinner.
So much of my life seems to be spent worrying about how long I’ve got before I have to go on to the next duty. So I did something last Friday that was refreshing and rejuvenating – I had a leisurely round of golf with three mates.
We had a 7.15am tee time in the Friday Stableford comp at Burleigh Golf Club, although truth be told it was probably closer to 7.20am by the time we teed off on the 10th.
The group in front of us was leaving the green as we teed off and there was no one behind us eyeing off their new GPS watch.
Groups did eventually follow us, but they never got within a hole of our group and not once did we run up the back of a group in front.
Such was the feeling of time and freedom, that on a couple of occasions I even had a look at the break of a putt from the other side of the hole.
That is a luxury I’m not usually afforded without fear of an impatient 6-marker behind me piping a 5-iron to the front of the green as a little warning shot that they want to get this over and done with as quickly as possible.
This all led to something of an epiphany: Why am I rushing the one part of my week that I would like to last as long as possible?
Life’s pressures can wrap around your lungs like a boa constrictor if you’re not careful, so taking time to weigh up the wind direction or simply take three deep breaths after a three-putt is good for your health. If not for your social standing in the club.
A recent report by Golf Business Advisory Services commissioned by Golf Australia states the average time for a Stableford competition round in Australia is currently four hours and 25 minutes, with an ‘ideal time’ of four hours and six minutes.
When our group – with a mix of handicaps from 11 to 30 – finished 18 holes, we clocked in at four hours and 10 minutes as five groups waited on the first tee to play in the afternoon comp, already looking surly at the prospect of not finishing before darkness set in.
We’re all busy, so play ‘ready golf’. Don’t get hung up on tradition and be conscious of your place in the field.
But just don’t rush me, that’s not what I’m here for.