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Nicklaus blames equipment for slow play

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http://www.espn.co.uk/golf/sport/story/226373.html

 

Jack Nicklaus has contended that golfers are not the reason for the slow play currently blighting the game, but the advancements in the game's technology.

 

Nicklaus, a record 18-time major champion, believes new golf equipment - particularly the ball - that is designed to go further is forcing clubs to lengthen their courses.

 

"The main culprit in slow play, to me, is the golf ball and the distance the golf ball goes," Nicklaus confirmed.

 

"It's the difficulty of the golf course, the length of the golf course and the distance the golf ball goes, and you're playing a lot of golf course, and it takes more time.

 

"Golf used to take three hours, three and a half hours. At the Open Championship, you used to play the last round in three hours or less. Today they take close to five hours.

 

"The more time it takes to play it, the harder it is on the public to watch."

 

Nicklaus, speaking to the PGA of America, also believes the problem will filter down to the grass roots game.

 

"It is harder for the pros to become role models for the young people watching who are going to emulate a pro and copy what he does. And all of a sudden that kid takes five hours, five-and a half hours, and it just sort of escalates right through the game," Nicklaus said.

 

And when asked what he would do to solve the issue, Nicklaus added: "If we went back and left equipment alone but changed the golf ball and brought it back, you played a shorter golf course, not only from the Tour standpoint would it be good, but a shorter golf course all through the game would mean less maintenance cost, less cost to play the game, quicker play, less land, less fertilizer, less everything, which would make the game more economical."

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So if we make all the courses pitch and putts and play with foam balls the pace of play will pick up? Not exactly the solution I was looking for.

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No I think he just wants to see courses go back to original lengths. Probably 6500 give or take. I like the golf ball solution. What other ball-based sport out there has as radically changed the ball?

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I doubt he gave a lot of thought to this position. It strikes me as a rather simplistic and shallow view of today's golfer.

 

 

Shambles

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He makes some good points. However, technology is on their side. I'm sure the pros could get on a trackman with a few thousand shafts and find one to optimize 300+ yards out of a balata or an old wound ball.

 

Golf courses don't need to be 7,000 plus yards for them to be difficult. Look at Merion. Had they not made the rough impossible and some hole locations ridiculous we could've seen a 6 or 8 under par winner. That's from a golf course that is ridiculously short for tour standards. If the tour played on more of the old, short courses people wouldn't be obsessed with paying tips or 7,000 plus yard golf courses.

 

Golf has never been a game that was meant to be played uber quickly. People who are obsessed with clipping around at sub three hour pace know when and where they should play. I had a guy come in and ****** about pace on this past Sunday- he made the turn in exactly 2 hours and 10 minutes (they teed off at 11:30). I told him there's not a golf course in the country that would classify a 4:20 round as slow. I said he had two options 1- being finish the round in the 4:20 and be happy or 2- build his own golf course.

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No I think he just wants to see courses go back to original lengths. Probably 6500 give or take. I like the golf ball solution. What other ball-based sport out there has as radically changed the ball?

 

The only one that I know of is slow pitch softball, but then the bat manufacturers just make a new bat that works specifically for the new balls, so if you don't have the new bats you can't compete, the same thing would happen in golf, you change the ball, and the equipment guys would find something that works for that ball, so if you don't have the newest equipment you can't compete, and then it just becomes a circle.

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There are many things that have brought about greater length off the tee. The ball is a lesser contributor. I think the Internet and the ease of acquiring information might be the primary contributor for the most interested because, even with the least skill at searching, a ton of education on at least the most basic levels of the golf swing are available and for those that succeed, higher levels of knowledge that might sometimes need to be paid for but might also be found free or derived with some thinking or simply close observation of golf clips because software these days allow a frame by frame view. You need to weed out the garbage and the errors but it's no longer as difficult to gain a better understanding because you can now read and see in better detail than as a spectator of the actual event or the live lesson given. Nicklaus was fed the information he needed to grow well as a golfer, but that was not always available for many others of his generation and they also, as today, failed to recognize that even on the game of Golf, a quality instructor coupled with good practice habits, makes a tremendous difference in the growth of your game.

 

 

Shambles

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I disagree with Shambles - look at the evidence of driving distance on tour - the advent of the Pro VI brings with the single greatest jump in driving distance.

 

The ball is at least half the equation.

 

Regardless I disagree with Jack - the ball isn't the issue in regards to pace of play - people are the issue - if you want to speed up play - an absolute necessity for growing the game in my opinion and by survey the second greatest contributing factor to people not taking up the game or quitting - you need to get people under control - make rules about pace of play and enforce them.

 

I totally agree that a round of golf should take three hours and there is absolutely no reason for it to take more than three and a half other than the people playing the game take too long to play it.

 

Of course Jack may have a great point about the cost of maintaince - I can't speak to that - but if Jack's concern is maintainence why does he build such exspensive courses to maintain?

 

Again people are a factor we, myself included mostly, want green, we, myself included, want lush, lots of pretty scenary, well maintained instead of allowing nature to run its course - so we get it and the greatest factor in stopping people from playing or quitting, cost, is driven up by our desire.

 

Of course here the bigger culprit is equipment but that's not the topic in this thread.

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Regardless I disagree with Jack - the ball isn't the issue in regards to pace of play - people are the issue -

 

EXACTLY. When people are simply ready to hit their shot when it's their turn it makes a huge difference in time. Marking 2' putts is ridiculously time consuming too. Too many folk emulate what they see on TV and it can add hours to a round.

 

As far as the pros go...I get it....there is a crapload of money on the line for EVERY stroke. If the PGA really wants to speed things up, let them use rangefinders. The yardage book thing is kind of antiquated and today's pros seem to want the yardage to the foot....that takes time.

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Well it is another way of saying what he has said time and time again over the last few years. He has been on the bandwagon to cut back the ball for a few years now. If the golf governing bodies made a rule today it would be more confusing than the groove issue. Think of all the millions or billions of balls that would become obsolete or illegal. think how many years it would take to filter out the illegal balls. Then again some of those 5 gallon buckets of balls I have maybe would become gold even the Top Flites. If this happens think about a "ball of confusion"

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Revkev,

 

 

The best that I can see of today's ball as against the balls of thirty or more years ago is that they are more durable and hold fewer secret surprises like lost compression, out of round or mobile centers. Frankly, I have not seen an out of center ball in more than 30 years. These days it's not as worrisome to shoot at small landings than in the past. However distance appears to be pretty much the same where carry is concerned if I allow for improvements that were gained from superior technique gained from videos and reading the thoughts of better hitters posted on the net. Simple power can gain a couple of clubs on a couple of fairways but as far as I can see, that's not overwhelming if you don't turn green with envy. I remember Woosnam was paired with Daly in a tournament when Daly was the new wonder and Woosnam tried to challenge Daly's distance, losing a couple of strokes for the attempt before regaining his senses and settling down to play his own game. Woosnam beat Daly's score that day regardless that the press sang hosannas and hallelujahs about Daly's towering drives with serious hangtime. They were playing the same Titleist ball. The fact is, there will always be longer players but the world stays round regardless that people idolize the long hitter.

 

Comparing the old ball with the new is a difficult exercise because memory can fool you but also because they played different courses that were not geared for distance as a primary difficulty in the old days. These days they set up more fairways that let the pro display his length more often, so I blame the long fairway than the new ball which, to me has only managed to become more reliable, durable and as soft to the club as a good balata of the old days. Even amateurs hit the ball harder as a habit these days but I think it's because the new ball does not cut or deform as easily as the old balata so he strikes with more freedom and joy.

 

 

Shambles

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EXACTLY. When people are simply ready to hit their shot when it's their turn it makes a huge difference in time. Marking 2' putts is ridiculously time consuming too. Too many folk emulate what they see on TV and it can add hours to a round.

 

As far as the pros go...I get it....there is a crapload of money on the line for EVERY stroke. If the PGA really wants to speed things up, let them use rangefinders. The yardage book thing is kind of antiquated and today's pros seem to want the yardage to the foot....that takes time.

I disagree on the rangefinder thing. At the professional level, EVERYONE essentially has the skills to win... It's the mental aspect that separates the winners and loser, and part of that mental game is gauging distance.

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I disagree on the rangefinder thing. At the professional level, EVERYONE essentially has the skills to win... It's the mental aspect that separates the winners and loser, and part of that mental game is gauging distance.

I agree gauging distance SHOULD be part of the game, but the caddies aren't gauging anything. They look at their yardage books and get precise distances. Might as well speed it up electronically.

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Am I wrong in seeming to remember that the average distance gains for regular golfers has really not changed much? Maybe 5 yards more on average? Comparing what I played 10-15 years ago to now, my iron length is about the same, woods about the same and driver maybe 20-25 yards more (though everything is waaaaay more forgiving now). Yet the courses have gotten much much longer because the distance gains for the pros have been much more substantial. Most of the courses here are 7500 and up. It's ridiculous.

 

So if Joe golfer is shooting about the same length on average but the average course is.. 20% longer? More? Then it's no surprise that the pace of play has slowed.

 

I think the ball Jack is talking about is not the ball we all use on the weekend, but rather the ball used on on tour. You could make changes to that to make 6500 yard courses competitive for the pro's to play, while still keeping those same courses fun and challenging for Joe golfer using the balls made today.

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Tee It Forward, great concept for a program, and a great answer to grow the game, but too bad no one really did it! It would help a whole lot and make it much more exciting for those higher handicapped players.

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Tee it forward would work much better if there was a $5 discount for playing from the reds.

 

The ball isn't the problem. Hell, the ball is the solution IMO. Who doesn't want to see the ball fly far? Does he really think hitting 200 yard drives is going to get more people playing golf?

 

Solution is with the golf courses. They have to be smart about spacing out players and timing them as they go around the turn. Many courses have implemented these strategies and found pace of play increases.

 

For PGA, add penalty strokes for taking too damn long. Then actually follow through with handing out penalties.

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Pace of play starts with the golf course but ultimately relies on the golfers.

-proper tee time intervals

For example going 9 minute intervals rather than 7 minutes to properly gap players from the start. You lose one group of revenue every hour; however, it's much easier for all to keep pace.

-being sure that players tee off ON their specific tee time and not early

Golf courses should never be early or ahead. You'd rather them be late or behind because if they're ahead that means that people aren't going out at the proper intervals. This is super important for the starters when they have larger groups 20+ people where everyone is there and ready to go. You still need to hold them to their time.

- not squeezing groups

This is super important, especially when a group shows up late or a player shows up late. If a player is late the group MUST tee off without that person, he will join them on the course. If an entire group is late, they do NOT have the right to the tee box next. They go at the next available slot. Sometimes this pisses people off because they "rushed" to get there and now have to wait sometimes 45 minutes, but it's only fair.

 

With the golfers, they do many things that can screw it up too! There really should be no reason for rangers, but we have to have them because people are idiots

- check in with the starter at least 15 minutes ahead if time. This ensures you're ready to go at your scheduled tee time. When players are checking in at the golf shop at 1:22 for a 1:20 tee time they're going to have to wait to tee off.

- keep pace with the group in front of you and not the group behind you! If the group that teed off 9 minutes in front of you is packing their clubs in the car, you're teeing off on #17 and the group behind you is teeing off on #16 you are the group that's holding everyone up, not the guys behind you!

- don't order French fries and other food at the turn that you can't just grab and go. The restaurant staff doesn't know you're making the turn or if you're done with the round.

- golfers who go to each others balls and watch them hit rather than everyone going to their own balls and being ready to hit- I see this one a lot!

- looking for golf balls! Oh boy. My course is links with fescue way longer and thicker than British open stuff. Don't search for your ball in stuff so deep that even if you did find it, you're not going to be able to hit it. Give the area a quick once over, drop one, and go.

-playing the tees that are conducive to your game. Our facility is 6752 from the tips. It is links style so it is super tight, some fairways ten steps wide in spots. It's always windy there too and the rough is everywhere. Too many people look at the yardage and play the back two sets of tees when they have no business being back there. I feel that the starter should NOT tell you where you are allowed to play from; however, check your ego at the door p, swallow your pride, and tee it forward.

 

I could type a list of 100 things but it'll stop there!

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Seriously, these two are the biggest issues for average golfers:

 

- golfers who go to each others balls and watch them hit rather than everyone going to their own balls and being ready to hit- I see this one a lot!

- looking for golf balls! Oh boy. My course is links with fescue way longer and thicker than British open stuff. Don't search for your ball in stuff so deep that even if you did find it, you're not going to be able to hit it. Give the area a quick once over, drop one, and go.

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I think slow play comes from thoughtless and selfish people who become unaware of the time they are consuming or just do not care about the people they are sharing the course with.

 

 

Shambles

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Are you guys serious about the going to the other player's ball and watching him hit thing? Really?

 

No wonder flippin rounds take so long -

 

I wouldn't consider doing that in a million years and would freak if I saw someone else doing it -

 

I don't pay attention to what's going on in front of me other than to know that I can't hit or I can hit - I guess maybe I should although I'd probably end up super p.......ed.

 

At any rate I disagree with Jack about the ball being the cause - he's always had it out for the ball even before the Pro VI. It's the people playing the game and it starts with the guys doing it for a living on TV taking five hours to play a round in the US Open and then the USGA has the nerve to show a series of commercials with touring pros cracking on weekend players.

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