The talk of this year’s U.S. Open, one of four coveted annual tournaments including last week’s Open Championship held in Scotland, wasn’t about Tiger failing to win his 15th major, although that’s always a key topic of discussion; rather, it was about speeding up the pace of play.
The United States Golf Association (USGA) opened its 113th U.S. Open with a marketing campaign focused on improving the time it takes to play a round a golf. Dubbed, “While we’re young,” the USGA has begun airing a series of comedic public service announcements featuring Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, and other known tour players, as well as everyday golfers from seniors to teens, all “doing their part” to speed up the game, even asking players to take a pledge for faster play.
Kudos to golf’s leadership body in America for taking on this contentious issue, which has plagued golfers for decades and appears to be getting worse. According to a recent survey, pace of play is the number one issue among golfers on whether or not they enjoy their round.
For many outside the game, golf can never be fast enough. But for those who continue to play a game that can ride every human emotion in a single round, speeding up play is a step in the right direction not only with existing golfers, but for sorely needed new ones too.
Apparently, not many golfers are paying attention. Fewer than 8,900 players have signed the USGA’s online pledge, a number that is relatively small compared to the estimated 25 million-plus golfers in the U.S. alone.
Watching the pros doesn’t help either. It’s hard to believe there is a faster play initiative when tour pros continue to spend an exorbitant amount of time reading putts. But heck, finding the right line may be the difference of winning an extra $150,000. And that’s not even for a top five finish.
Let’s face it, Sunday golf on TV is not the same as Sunday golf at the local golf course. Even though the average duffer may not be playing for big bucks like the pros, sinking a putt to close a round under 100 or win a dinner bet can almost feel like victory at the U.S. Open. Well, almost, maybe, probably not.
It’s all relative, however. The good news is the USGA is listening to its members, rallying the proverbial troops. Actually, there’s a small army of golfers across the country that made a pledge to speed up play. That’s one giant grassroots campaign ready to launch. Let’s see where it goes.