Golf Gadgets Hurting Pace of Play?

I was perusing Twitter, as I’m known to do when I’m sitting around on the couch waiting for my daughter to wake up from one of her naps, and I came across this gem from The Golf Channel about speeding up the pace of play by using less “gadgets.”

The video is obviously an attempt to deliver a message in a humorous fashion and is overly cheesy, but I can’t fault them for any of that. I give them credit for trying to be lighthearted and more entertaining with their content. We all know that golf can get a little dry from time to time, so my hat’s off to Golf Channel’s constant efforts to spice it up a little bit.

But I digress, the message in the video is not how funny Charlie Rymer is (I actually do enjoy him and find him entertaining), but how too many people are using fancy golf gadgets on the course which is slowing down the pace of play. If you follow golf closely, you are well aware that pace of play has been a hot subject in the golf world for the past five years or so and everyone has their theory on how to resolve it. This Golf Channel idea is another one of those ideas and it isn’t a good one.

I’ve been playing golf for about 20 years or so now. It wasn’t long ago that I had to figure out the yardages all by myself…not that there’s anything wrong with that! It’s not like I could always take a caddy out as a kid at the local public course, not all carts had NASA’s GPS system, and I didn’t have a super sophisticated yardage book provided by the golf course. Let’s walk through the “manual” process.

First thing you have to do is find some point of reference on the hole with a yardage written on it. You just hope there’s one close to you, but this is often not the case. Once you find your sprinkler head, you need to walk off a distance and figure out how far away you are from there, then do some sort of mental calculation or guess to account for being off the straight line. THEN you have to determine where the pin is on the green and adjust your calculations accordingly. Nevermind if you have to determine carries, wind speed and direction, and other small contributing factors.

Did that last paragraph seem complicated? Ultimately it’s not as complicated as it sounds, but it takes much longer to walk everything off and factor everything in. This is where I think “gadgets” save time. I can stand next to my ball, shoot my laser at what I need distances for, check the wind, hit my shot. This is a much quicker process for me.

I think if they let players use gadgets to determine distances more often, you would see an improvement in pace of play everywhere. I understand that it make take some of the tradition out of the game, but perhaps then people shouldn’t be complaining about pace of play being a problem. After all, “golf is a good walk ruined.”

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Bill Bush

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Bill is a true golf gear nerd by definition who loves making custom club creations in his garage with tools like sledge hammers, blow torches, and his bare hands. By day, Bill is a technology manager living in the Chicago suburbs with his wife and kids. Bill plays Scott Readman Concepts putters and accessories.

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5 Comments

  1. Aotearoabrad

    The slow play ‘issue’ is an interesting dilemma Bill. This is a little off track from the golf gadgets side of things, so I hope that’s okay. I’m of the opinion that a big part of the golfing community wouldn’t ever see the ‘slow play’ ads, read about some of the tension its creating in golfing forums, magazines etc. There’s a large number of golfers who just like to get out and hit the ball around and that’s their sole connection with the ‘golfing world’.
    Nothing wrong with that, but it means that some of what we might think of as efficient or cost-effective avenues for communicating important messages are not reaching a good number of our intended audience.
    Some clubs do have ‘on course’ marshalls, and that’s great, but I think there’s a lot more to be done at the actual courses to educate patrons around what is considered slow play, and around what their responsibilities are.

  2. You know, that’s an interesting point. I often see around here that the marshalls just drive around in their carts and never say a word to anyone. If they do, it’s usually them coming down on the groups that aren’t the problem. But I agree, they need to do more AT the courses as well.

  3. Mike SLowik

    The video was funny. However, I have never come across someone that goofy. Slow play is usually the guys playing from the Black and barely getting it past the front tee box. Also, the pro putters cause back ups reading the green for 10 minutes and leaving the putt 10 ft short or long. I’m all about gadgets and think they help speed up the game.

  4. Gadgets certainly contribute to slow pace of play. It’s not just the range finders, but even around the greens. You all know the guys I’m talking about. The ones that carry a putter, a wedge, a towel, a little prop stand/divot tool to keep the putter grip off the grass, then take 5 minutes to line up a putt that they pull left, swear, reset for another 3-4 minutes to get it inside 18 inches and then pick it up as a ‘gimme’, and you are happy to let them have it because it means moving on to the next hole?

    The thing is, I think if you watch, you quickly find that your mind does a better job without you analyzing it to death with distance, pace and variances. My game has actually improved more from putting all the ‘crap’ away, and letting the body and mind do what it does. Don’t over think things, go with your instincts. If you walk up to a shot and your instincts tell you it’s a 6i, but all your gadgets tell you you can get there with a 7i, I bet 9 out of 10 times, you’ll be short with that 7i, and the 10th time, you’ll blade it trying too hard.

    This game is tough as it is, when you start over thinking things, playing slow, and slowing everyone else down, you never get into a rhythm and only make the gamer tougher. Personally, I’d love to see range finders and GPS devices simply removed from the game, but that will never happen.

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