USGA Pace-of-Play Initiative: What's your take?
06 Feb 2013
by Benjamin Larsen of AmateurGolf.com

USGA President Glen D. Nager
USGA President Glen D. Nager

As part of its annual meetings and along with the re-election of Glen D. Nager as the association's president, the USGA released it's key initiative for 2013: pace of play.

It's an agenda item that impacts each and every golfer. It's an item we all have a say in.

It's also an issue that weighs heavily on the game's growth. Heck, golfers already interested and invested in the game have to clear six hours for a round of golf, how will the game attract newbies?

To reiterate, here are the details on the USGA's Pace of Play Initiative, taken straight from USGA.org:

Analysis of Key Factors: Factors known to influence pace of play include course design (overall length, green-to-tee walks, location and number of hazards); course management and setup (green speed, hole locations, height and location of rough); player management (most significantly, the proper distribution of starting times); and the effectiveness of player education programs.

Research to Produce Pace-of-Play Modeling: A major study is underway at the USGA’s Research and Test Center to create the first- ever dynamic model of pace of play based on quantifiable data – a model that will be applicable to both competitive and recreational golf. Previous models and programs addressing pace of play have been based largely on observations and anecdotal evidence, while the new USGA model will draw from large-scale real-world inputs, including data from the PGA Tour’s Shotlink system. Once completed, analysis of the model should greatly increase understanding of the key factors affecting pace of play and allow recommendations for improving pace of play on a course-by-course basis.

Pace Rating System: The Test Center model will drive improvements in the USGA Pace Rating System, first developed in 1993 to help players complete a round of golf at an optimum, reasonable pace. The USGA Handicap Department will utilize data from the Test Center model to better customize the Pace Rating System for individual courses.

On-site Assistance at Golf Courses: New programs to help golf course managers assess and improve pace of play will be delivered by the USGA Green Section through its Turf Advisory Service. The group will expand its educational efforts about aspects of course management that impact pace of play. The on-site visits will evaluate the overall playing quality of a golf course, of which pace of play is a central component. Recommendations provided by the USGA may also generate economic and environmental benefits, providing additional incentives for course managers to implement new practices.

Player Education Programs: Nager said the Association needs to “double down” on its efforts to educate players on the fundamentals of how to play faster. To this end, the USGA will use its communication channels to reach its Members and the larger golf community with messages on improving pace of play, such as picking up one’s ball on a hole once a player’s Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) limit is reached. Other efforts could include promotion of alternate formats such as match play, foursomes and Stableford scoring that are popular in other parts of the world and that take less time to play than the standard individual stroke-play format. The TEE IT FORWARD campaign, developed in conjunction with The PGA of America, will continue to be promoted as a way to speed play and provide more enjoyment. The Association will support these educational efforts with an online resource center at www.usga.org that contains information to help golfers improve their pace of play.

We want to know your thoughts. Will the USGA's initiative make a difference? Will it take time? How would you change the pace-of-play issues plaguing the game? Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.

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