We ourselves suffered an almost immediate setback with the untimely passing of co-founder Nick Park who had been such an inspiration in setting up the campaign and its objectives. However, we pressed on and gained encouraging support from many quarters - not least by the enthusiastic agreement of Tony Jacklin CBE to become our President.
We realised that, if we were to be effective in pursuing our objectives - to restore a game that’s Recreational, Enjoyable, Affordable and Less time-consuming - we needed first of all to establish the precise nature of the challenges causing its decline. That’s why we established our survey which has already attracted over 600 responses from all over the world - and which we are now sharing with The R&A. It’s from the lawmakers in St Andrews as well as the USGA that practical change must come, of course, and so we now enter a phase in our efforts when we must keep taking the fire while awaiting moves from them. We will stay vigilant in the months ahead!
We now invite the Golfing Authorities, the Clubs and the Golfers to take part in process of further consideration on how to solve the different challenges revealed in the survey.
In the meantime, here are the findings of our own survey so far:
The quantitative research has verified the findings from the qualitative part:
- “Pace of play/Length of round” is the overriding challenge followed and caused by
- “Etiquette/Code of conduct”
- “Recruitment” is also regarded as a challenge, but can only be solved if solutions on and removing the barriers represented by “Pace of play/Length of round” and “Etiquette/Code of conduct” are found.
A lasting solution to the problem of “Pace of Play” has to comprise the three groups:
- The Golfing Authorities
- The Clubs
- The Golfers
The golfing authorities
The Golfing Authorities have to provide the mental frame work for the clubs and players to act within. This include reinforcement of Etiquette/Code of Conduct, Rules that are easy to understand and follow, Equipment that support the players abilities and not least a Professional Game that set a standard on “Pace of Play” and “Length of Round” that could work as an example for recreational golfers to follow.
The Clubs have to provide the physical frame work. This include Course Set-up which enable a natural flow of play with penalizing but not time consuming hazards and rough and Starting Times that support the natural flow of play and don’t create hick-ups and queues on several holes on the course and may most importantly reinforcement of Etiquette/Code of Conduct.
The Golfers have to act within the mental and physical frame work provided by The Golfing Authorities and The Clubs and play Considerate and Ready Golf: being ready to play expeditiously; getting yardages and selecting clubs when others play; surveying putts before it’s one’s turn; walk briskly; clear the green, then complete the scorecard. These are some of the things considerate golfers do. Add to this a check point system and we are about to solve the problem of slow play.
Each of the three groups needs to realize they are part of the problem and consequently the solution!
The challenge for clubs and the golfing authorities is simple:
“How can a round of 18 holes be played in less than 4 hours in order to meet the golfers demands for the time they want to spend on golf?”
As for the golfers the overall conclusion is that they are fully aware that they are part of the problem and consequently the solution. The hard part is as one of the respondents puts it:
“Everyone thinks slow play is a problem, but no one admits to be a slow player”
Another respondent concluded:
“Just a real lack of awareness of one’s own behavior on a golf course.”
Our conclusion is that clubs need to strongly encourage members/golfers to look inwards and consider how each of us can contribute to Pace of Play. Golf is a social game played with others people to have fun, enjoyment and a good time. How can each of us contribute? The concept of “Considered and Ready Golf” falls in mind.
The mindset we need the golfers to take on is as one of the respondents expressed:
“Don’t ask what your fellow players can do for you, but ask yourself what you personally can do for your fellow players to speed up the game.”
We shall not accept this decline in etiquette and the poor conduct as the decay of society’s concern for other besides one’s self, but instead reinforce one of the core values of golf:
“Golfers are required to have a high standard of etiquette and considerations for fellow players.”
The golfing authorities and the clubs need to take a lead and address the issue of bad etiquette and poor conduct, if not we will see a further decline in recruitment of new golfers and retention of golfers.
Other challenges to look at when the issues of “Pace of Play” and “Etiquette/Code of Conduct” are addressed are that golf in its present form does not provide sufficient fun for kids and families and does not encourage enough women to play. Further to many recreational golfers golf has become too expensive (green fees and clubs).
The CAMPAIGN FOR REAL GOLF invites golfers, clubs and the golfing authorities to take part in this process of further considerations on what and how to solve the challenges revealed in the survey.
All inputs will be published at www.realgolfcampaign.org/Answers
The complete survey report can be downloaded as a PDF file.