The never-ending problem of slow play at club level? Solved

The Scoop

In this week's Notebook Mark Townsend outlines his slow play manifesto at club level and it might help your waistline too

It always comes down to slow play. People are now writing POP (pace of play) as though it’s normal, flagsticks are being kept in, on Sunday Haotong Li received the most absurd of two-shot penalties in the brave new world of the 2019 Rules of Golf because we always want to speed things up apparently.

In this clip we are let into the strange but brilliant world of Bryson DeChambeau, a 25-year-old who does things all his own way. Someone who was written off as being a bit gimmicky but now someone who is the World No. 5 after winning four of his last nine starts.

He’s the most unique golfer on the planet and, over the past 12 months, the most successful in terms of victories and all anyone cares about, judging by the hundreds of comments, is how slow he is. Barely a mention of what a superstar he already is or what we might all take from this fascinating exchange, more just a collection of snail GIFs and other such rubbish.

I sadly seem to be in a minority of one given I think the tour pros are quite quick. Whenever I go to a tournament I can barely keep pace with them as they hare from one hole to the next (I’m exaggerating a bit now) but, given they’re playing courses maybe 1,500 yards longer than the ones we’re used to, courses that are set up to make most of us look very silly, often have vast walks between holes and are playing for their livelihoods most of them generally do OK.

We’re the clueless ones, we’re the ones who walk too slowly and are rarely ready, at any stage in the hole, scrambling around for tees and ball markers. So I’ve compiled five handy time-saving tips to help get us all round in a respectable time…


1. Befriend your laser

If you feel the need to get dialled in on a shot-by-shot basis, and who doesn’t, then it’s not really enough to repeatedly inform everyone in the group, week after week, that you’re ‘still getting the tree at the back’ so could anyone give you a number?

If front, middle and back isn’t enough for you then you’re going to have to learn how to use your laser and that means keeping those hands steady and having a bit more awareness of what’s going on around you than normal.

There is a school of thought that you could arrange your own yardage book and get a few numbers in the bag from certain landmarks on the course – eg the fairway bunker you repeatedly find at the 3rd – so there is less doubt in your easily-swayed mind.

If you really want to deep dive into things then also keep a note of how far each iron goes and doesn’t go and then factor in things like wind and your own initial lies about how far you hit it.

2. No half measures

If you’re hoping to get round in 3:20 then you might want to reconsider the weekly 20-minute pie and soup stop at the halfway house, quickly followed by a hurried request for the code to the gents.

I love a pit stop as much as I enjoy a leisurely round of golf and the chance to re-visit the horrors of everyone’s front nine, what box set we are currently enjoying, a welcome Ofsted report and Dave’s winter coaching programme is a welcome one.

It pretty much always gets in the way of any forward progress in terms of the round but it’s a perfect excuse for when we sit down again to have the same conversations at the 19th.

And, whatever time it is in the day and whatever I’ve eaten before the round, I will fail to show any self-restraint and say no to a combination of bacon, sausage and bread, by which I mean all three.

Stewart Cink

3. Bifurcation, bifurcation, bifurcation

This word pops up every now and then and is just a clever way to say we’re not as good as the people who are paid to play the game and therefore shouldn’t kid ourselves.

Some would like to see us using a different ball to the pros, the new flagstick ruling has thrown up some more bifurcationeers and many would like to see anchored putting still play an active part in the amateur scene.

I’d like to see some sort of stamping down on what goes on before we pull the trigger. If you like a bit of a pre-shot routine then lovely, we all like to feel comfy and, if this helps, then great.

Hold the shaft of the club out like JR, shut your eyes like JDay, puff out your chest like Karlsson but try and get it down to around the 30-second mark.

A tee box can be a very suffocating and claustrophobic space and, when you’re forced to watch a fellow member channel his inner Keegan Bradley, it can make for a very slow Saturday morning.

Greg Norman

4. No need for rough justice

If you want to get round in a reasonable time then you might want to stay at home in June and July as this is when some courses provide their own version of Carnoustie ’99 with knee-high bund and plenty of lost balls and minds.

This is when the three-minute search rule is going to come into its own as thousands of club golfers walk round in ever-decreasing circles, mumble something about not ‘getting all of it’ before returning to the tee to do it all again.

5. Re-re-load

I know, I know, it’s horrible. You’ve just put everything into snapping one into the undergrowth and then you have to do it all again and that includes the pre-shot routine.

But it has to be done, nobody wants to see you turn on your heels with just your driver in hand and begin the 210-yard walk back to the tee. They want to play through, your playing partners are now up by the green and you’re stuck in a very awkward no man’s land.

Save yourself the bother and just hit another one. It can be strangely stimulating to announce what ball you’re playing before, sadly, over-compensating and blocking one into the opposite trees.

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