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While We're YoungNO.  Tim Geary has chosen life’s ultimate challenge, something even more daunting than climbing Mt. Everest or filling out a perfect NCAA men’s basketball tournament bracket.

He thinks golfers can learn to play golf faster, which if it ever happened, would increase enjoyment of the sport by those of us who play ready golf and don’t think too much before taking the next swing.

Apparently, Mr. Geary suffers from a chronic condition called ignorance. In a perfect golf world, there would be three-hour rounds and a time limit on amateur players between shots. Plumb-bobbing on greens should be a penalty and plumb-bobbing (yes, some players still do it) from the fairways would be grounds for immediate eviction from the golf course.

According to the U.S Golf Association three million golfers quit the game every year, and it’s safe to say slow play is the leading culprit. It takes roughly 90 minutes to walk a course at a leisurely pace at 3 mph. That’s 90 minutes for a pro to think about 35 – 40 swings and a 20-handicapper to think about 50 – 60 swings, putting excluded.

So why does it take a three-some of Tour pro’s and foursome of weekend hackers to play five hours? The problem with increasing pace of play and the lack of three-hour rounds is that amateurs copy the pros. The pros need to be better at it.

“Slow play is a problem on the PGA Tour, and I think it’s our biggest concern,” Bubba Watson recently told Golf Digest. “We are worried about putters and golf balls and all these things, but I think we should be more concerned about slow play and speeding the game up, not just for the pros but for amateur golfers as well. Nobody wants to play a game that takes five and a half hours to play.”

I believe golfers want two things: pace of play and conditions of the green. Think about it. If you play a course with beat up greens or the round takes six hours, you’re miserable, right? Everything else can be bad and it won’t totally ruin your day, but those two ugly golf experiences can make it much worse.

Here are some interesting statistics to consider the next time you play with a 30 handicapper and you watch helplessly as he tosses grass in the air, takes time to laser his distance to the flag, takes three or four practice swings before every shot and does a 360 degree prance around his 30-foot putt.  This is the “as seen on TV mentality.”

Since the Tiger era the overall pace of play has slowed, and at times Woods’ pace seems blatantly slow, and he is never penalized. He averages 40 seconds for every shot including putts. Consider that Ricky Fowler, the fastest player on Tour averages 15 seconds for each shot, while the Tour field average is 30 seconds, and 37 seconds for putts. Did you know the Tour has a 45- second rule and that the rule is broken 20 percent of the time?

Golf needs to be faster, plain and simple. To its credit the USGA has coined a new slogan this year to make slow players more aware of the problem. “While we’re young” seems is having a positive impact on those 20-plus handicaps who take time to laser their shot distance, then proceed to miss the target by 30 yards. Playing with hackers for five hours is a hell no one should be subjected to. The five-hour player is the same clown that drives 60 mph in the fast lane and spoils the fun for everyone else.

Public courses can do a better job by having rangers that are forceful and by spending more money on maintenance. If the courses spent more money, the rough, fairway and greens would be better manicured to help find balls faster, which in turn will speed up play. Also, better signage would direct players to the next tee more quickly.

Slow play is here to stay. Slow play is taught in high schools, colleges and private lessons. When’s the last time you played a round and did not hear the phrase “take your time.”

(Tom Gorman, on occasion average 42 putts per round, would like to see a rules change limiting a player to a maximum of three putts per green.) 

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