Four players. Four questions. One topic. In this week’s Fourball, Mark Townsend, Steve Carroll, Alex Perry and James Savage take to the tee to discuss slow play…

What do you think golf clubs should do about notoriously slow players?

Mark: I don’t know how you’d prove anything other than just going by someone or other’s word. The European Tour introduced a name and shame board of the slow players so that was quite embarrassing for the slow coaches but the players said they couldn’t care less. If that were to happen in the clubs we might not be quite as thick skinned.
Just some general education might be good as I think it’s more a group thing rather than the odd character grinding out his 89 at a slow rate.

Steve: There’s very little they can do, in reality. Every club knows who the tortoises are – we complain about them often enough. But in these times of slowing membership figures no club is going to take a paying member to serious task for holding everyone up. They simply need the revenue.

Alex: I’m all in on a name and shame board.

James: Pull them to one side and have a polite word. Then if they continue to have no consideration for others on the course then tell them they can’t be a member any more.

What is the best way to educate people on how and where to look for an errant ball?

James: I’m awful for this because I often have the attitude of ‘it’ll be alright’. I think the main responsibility is on the player who has hit the shot rather than just assuming your playing partners have been watching closely. It sounds obvious but keeping an eye on the ball all the way through its flight rather than looking in the area where you think it’s going to land seems to be the better method.

Mark: I find this element of the game fairly staggering. When one member of the group has blown one 30 yards right into the undergrowth you will then see the quartet strung out 100 yards apart looking for the ball. A good start would be for everyone to actually look when he’s hitting, the next step would be at least try and get a line on it, maybe pick out a landmark like a tall tree, and also get a line where the tee is. A bonus would be for all four of you to then look for the ball rather than one or two to catch up on their emails on their phones. I quite like it when clubs put dots on the trees to give you an idea of where your ball might be.

Steve: Paying attention would be a start but we all let our minds drift – particularly if we’re smarting over a bad shot of our own. I think the biggest thing in all this is to make sure you hit a provisional and then be prepared to let the original go when it obviously can’t be found. As important as it is to try and educate people on finding a ball, it’s just as key to accept it is lost and move on. The new three minute rule coming into force in January should help here.

Alex: I’m often guilty of not watching my ball, or others. I need to work on that. And if I’m not doing it, you can sure as hell guarantee others aren’t.

So how would you eliminate slow play? And what are your views on Ready Golf? Fourball continues on the next page…