Slow play is one of the main things driving people away from golf, as people don't have the patience or the time to put up with rounds that take nearly five hours.
Lichfield Golf and Country Club decided to tackle the problem head-on by producing a set of 'Ready Golf' guidelines designed to improve pace of play.
The guidelines state:
- Tee off as soon as the group ahead is clear.
- The player who is ready should hit, not necessarily the one with the honour.
- Don’t all ‘cluster’ at one ball, go to your own ball.
- Hit when ready without delay.
- Take your practice swings immediately if it does not disturb the player hitting. Watch their shot land to guard against the possibility for a lost ball, and then go through your own routine and swing away.
- If you are the first one at your ball and you’re ready to safely hit, let the others know that you are hitting.
- Limit lost ball search to three minutes, except under competition rules.
- Study your putt while others are putting.
- Continue putting until holed out. Don’t mark unless you will step on someone’s line or it’s a really tricky putt.
- If you can’t score, pick up your ball and move on.
"Players must still prescribe to the Rules of Golf, with this just being a slight tweak to the sport’s traditional etiquette," Lichfield's director of golf Simon Joyce told Golf Club Management.
Joyce says that improving pace of play should not require anyone to rush or compromise their performance.
"If someone says you need to play faster, it does not mean you need to abbreviate or eliminate your pre-shot routine; it just means to better manage yours and your group’s time between shots."
The initiative has seen a positive response from Lichfield members.
"It’s just so simple to see through," says club captian Rob Taylor.
"I now hear comments on our course such as: ‘If you are ready just play’, ‘I am not ready yet, play your shot’ and ‘I will just play my shot and come over to help you look for your ball’.
"Playing Ready Golf at our club has improved the pace of play and players do not get offended by playing out of turn."
Gareth Shaw, county development officer for the Staffordshire Golf Development Group, has welcomed the initiative.
"I believe Ready Golf goes hand in hand with our shorter formats’ focus and how we can improve the enjoyment of the sport and attract new players to golf."