Is it time to get rid of the halfway house?

The Scoop

One minor cause of slow play on the golf course is the halfway house. Is it time to lose them to speed the game up? The Niggle team discuss

Craig Middleton: A couple of months ago I was playing a course that shall remain nameless and after an hour and a half of a fairly decent nine holes I was looking forward to continuing that trend coming in. Or so I thought…

I arrived at the 10th tee to be greeted by two four balls sitting down eating sandwiches and drinking tea. Twenty minutes later I teed off and went on to double bogey the hole. As someone who likes to play quite quick having to wait for people at a halfway house is extremely frustrating.

Alex Perry: They didn’t let you play through? Can’t say I’ve ever had a problem with a halfway house. I don’t particularly want to eat anything more than a chocolate bar mid-round, but if there’s a group sitting there when we arrive they generally let us crack on.

Tom Irwin: I have an ongoing argument with my wife about buying unhealthy food for our house. I say if the fridge was not full of cheese and chocolate I wouldn’t be forced to eat it, and she would have a thinner husband. My wife says I don’t have to eat it and I can choose to just feast on salad.

Alex Perry: Where is this going?

Tom Irwin: I’m saying it’s not possible. If it is there I am eating it. That is the problem with the halfway house. The temptation to eat a bacon sandwich when breakfast was only 2 hours ago, or stock up on Kit Kats when lunch is around the corner. In fact I blame every halfway house exclusively for my ongoing weight fluctuations. They are the root of all evil.

Dan Murphy: In these times of stultifyingly slow play, the last thing we need is to introduce a meal halfway round. And if that’s not enough to put you off your bacon sandwich, what about the negative effects on your game?

I don’t know about you, but my first shot after a break is always sub-standard because I have lost the flow of the round.

James Savage: Agree. You’re out on the course for about four hours – not on a three-day trek in the Sahara. Just grab a bottle of water and a Snickers from the pro shop.

In America it seems there’s a drinks cart coming over to you every three holes. It disrupts the rhythm of the round while players enquire about the options and then faff about putting sugar in teas etc.

Alex Perry: But…

James Savage: I know what you’re going to say. The sausage sandwich at the halfway house at Sunnigdale is an absolute delight.

Sunningdale halfway house

Alex Perry: But…

James Savage: But I’d just made a birdie at the par-3 10th and was hoping it would kick-start my round. By the time I teed off on the 11th, 20 minutes had passed and I was still wiping mustard off my cheek. It took me until the 18th tee shot to get my rhythm back.

Mark Townsend: On a good day halfway houses are awkward, we all have to stop because Derek and Brian are having some soup in the game ahead and they guarantee a poor shot on the 10th tee.

Or, on a bad day, they are a lighthouse in the gloom and give you some respite from your inner chimp and your poor golf.

Lots of people aren’t bothered about slow play and want to be out the house for as long as possible so let them get on with their bacon and extra mushrooms but introduce some common sense to those who need to get round.

Where I grew up playing (Wimbledon Park) you could place an order for a Full English on the 9th tee and then get stuck in after completing 10. Which meant the tee shot at the short 11th was generally appalling.

Steve Carroll: Unless you are getting round in under three-and-a-half hours – which in my opinion is how long it should take to play 18 holes – then I agree a halfway house is a needless distraction.

However as more than ever golf gets slower, playing companions dawdle between shots and line up their three footers from every which way for another meaningless 8-nett-7, the halfway house comes as a great saviour, like the golden arches does on a long road trip…

Two-plus hours in for nine holes and I am generally bored and ready for a feed and distraction from the tedium of the golf.

Dan Murphy: I guess it depends on how you view a game of golf. Personally, it’s me against the elements. When I set off I pack accordingly.

I don’t want to see buildings and I’m not looking for a spot of lunch. There’s a time and a place for all that and it’s after your round. I like my golf courses to be minimalist and understated.

Ideally, my group and I would be undisturbed by anyone else from the moment we start to the time we finish our round.

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