GCSAA joins USGA pace of play plan
Using the U.S. Open and the likes of Tiger Woods, Paula Creamer, Arnold Palmer and the late Rodney Dangerfield as part of its platform, the USGA launched its pace of play initiative with the theme "While We're Young" during a news conference here this morning at Merion Golf Club, site of the 113th U.S. Open.
In case you missed the 1980 golf cult film classic "Caddyshack," there's a scene in which Dangerfield implores a fellow golfer, played by the late Ted Knight, to quit waggling over his tee shot and hit the ball.
"Let's go ... while we're young," Dangerfield said.
Well, the USGA has taken that line and transformed it into its campaign theme. It also is introducing a slew of public service announcements, using Woods, Creamer, Palmer, Annika Sorenstam, Butch Harmon and Clint Eastwood to get the point across.
In one of them, Palmer urges Eastwood to hit his tee shot, tells him 'While we're young,' and Eastwood turns and delivers that Dirty Harry glare Palmer's way.
The USGA has allied itself in its initiative with the GCSAA, PGA of America, R&A, Club Managers Association of America, National Golf Course Owners Association and the American Society of Golf Course Architects.
Those are some heavy hitters. From a GCSAA perspective, can it work? "They (superintendents) don't need education. They just need permission," says GCSAA President Patrick R. Finlen, CGCS, director of golf at The Olympic Club. Finlen and GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans were in attendance at today's announcement. "Superintendents can play a big role. It just may come down to club officials allowing them to take action." As an example, Finlen was given the green light to lower rough heights by 1.5 inches at his two courses, mostly because it was so difficult. The results have been positive. "It has sped up play dramatically," Finlen says.
USGA President Glen Nager says, "pace of play has been an issue for decades, but it's now become one of the most significant threats to the health of the game. Five-hour plus rounds are common and they're incompatible with modern life."
Nager referred to a National Golf Foundation survey that 91 percent of serious golfers reported that they're bothered by slow play and say it detracts from the experience. More than 70 percent said they believe pace of play has worsened over time and over half admitted to walking off the course due to frustration over a marathon round.
The USGA says superintendents are vital to helping promote place of play. "The superintendent plays a very important role in pace of play," says USGA senior managing director of public services Rand Jerris. "Course design, course setup, is a very significant piece of it. Superintendents make choices on a daily basis about hole location, about rough heights and about green speeds. We're trying to quantify what those impacts are.
"There are some who believe, for example that every foot on the Stimpmeter adds 20 minutes to a round of golf. That's a pretty significant statement if that's true. These are types of decisions that we are entrusting to our superintendents, and a lot of times they have a lot of knowledge, they have a tremendous amount of expertise. On occasion, their hands are tied by the green committees and by other important decision makers at the club. We need to provide the proper education to all of the decision makers that are working at a facility, whether it's the owner, the club manager, the professional ... and the course superintendent is an important piece to that puzzle."
For more information on the "While We're Young" campaign, visit the USGA's Pace of Play resource center.