The SCGA and the Southern California PGA hosted a Pace of Play Symposium earlier this month, bringing together golf industry leaders in Southern California to discuss the challenges of slow play. Attending the event were golf course staff, city officials and USGA representatives, among others.
The event included both guest presentations and breakout discussions.
Guest Speaker Nikki Gatch, player development regional manager for the PGA of America, emphasized the importance of programs like the PGA’s Tee It Forward. She examined the success the program has had at The Westin Mission Hills facility, which has incorporated the Tee it Forward concept to play from the appropriate sets of tees a couple of days a week, saving 30 minutes per round and creating $45,000 more in revenue during a recent 10-week period. The facility made more money and feedback showed that rounds played averaged just 4 hours and 15 minutes.
La Costa Resort and Spa’s Assistant Director of Golf James Hochrine spoke to the crowd of more than 50 industry professionals, describing La Costa’s unique emphasis on customer service and awareness. “The Golf Squad,” La Costa’s golf course ambassador program, monitors pace of play amongst other player-friendly tasks. Their role is not to read how a putt is going to break or rake a bunker in order to have groups play faster, but to instead instill fun and encouragement in every golfer’s round while also teaching pace of play best practices. The nine members of the squad even carry business cards, creating an “at-your-service” mentality with resort guests, who are reminded that these ambassadors are truly there to assist, not police.
The group of speakers, which included Pat Gross of the USGA Green Section who spoke on the impact golf course set up and design, expressed the importance of keeping the pace conversation going. During break-out sessions, the table groups identified several main challenges with the pace of a round of golf:
- Lack of education and awareness among golfer and golf course
- Minimal enforcement techniques
- Intervals of tee times
- Distractions, such as food, beverage and cell phones
- Negative perceptions about acknowledging the issue
The group also identified potential solutions:
- Facility education
- Customer service training
- Improved golf etiquette
- Commitment to consistent policy reinforcements
Pace of play has surfaced multiple times during 2013 PGA TOUR events, with Tiger Woods speaking out about the pace during the Farmers Insurance Open and Guan Tianlang being penalized for falling behind during the Masters.
The SCGA and SCPGA will continue to host similar symposiums to engage and challenge industry professionals. In addition, the SCGA has developed a Pace of Play Program aimed at the individual golfer. Head to scga.org/pledge to learn more and pick up tips about what you can do to speed up your play.