It takes a long time to play 18 holes. Golf has been a slow game for decades — from the amateur game to the pro tours. And it’s no secret that due to the grueling, hardest test of the year, the U.S. Open moves at a sluggish pace. Well, change is coming! (But almost certainly not this week at Merion.)
After its year-long study (slow-playing slow play!), the USGA announced on Wednesday their pace-of-play awareness and public education campaign, which will include a series of new PSAs featuring Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Clint Eastwood, Annika Sorenstam, Paula Creamer and Butch Harmon.
There will also be a dedicated microsite and online resources center to help players and facilities expand their knowledge of the causes and solutions to slow play, according to the press release.
You can watch all the ads — which are witty and fun — here.
Why did I call it the “slowest (and longest) week of the year”? Because it is. Plus, this year the logistics will make it especially taxing because of the routing of the course, among other factors. For example, to get from 13 green to 14 tee, you have to walk across the fairway on no. 1. Then, to tee off no. 14, you have to clear the guys on the practice putting green. And those were just two instances that I came across in six holes yesterday.
PGA Tour pro and U.S. Open contestant Ed Loar tweeted:
Not sure with all the crisscrossing holes & extra walking this is the right week for the usga to launch their slow play deal #longdays
— edward loar (@BigEinBigD) June 12, 2013
And Bo Van Pelt added:
30 years ago – every tee was right next to the last green – now we have to walk 50-70 yards back to tees – that’s 100-150 extra yards a hole
— Bo Van Pelt (@bovanpelt) June 12, 2013
Well, time will tell how things play out this year! (Cheesy pun intended.)
More details from the USGA press release below:
Ardmore, Pa., (June 12, 2013) – The United States Golf Association (USGA) today unveiled a new public education campaign around the theme of “While We’re Young,” a new positioning to raise awareness across the golf community of the challenges and solutions to the pace-of-play issues in the game of golf. Borrowing the iconic line from the character played by Rodney Dangerfield in the classic 1980 film Caddyshack®, the campaign takes a lighthearted and comedic approach to encourage golfers of all skill levels and golf course facilities to join a movement to improve pace of play and reduce the time it takes to play the game.
According to industry research, the time that it takes to play golf is a principal driver that adversely impacts enjoyment of and discourages participation in the game. In a recent study by the National Golf Foundation (NGF), 91 percent of serious golfers are bothered by slow play and say it detracts from their golf experience; more than 70 percent believe pace of play has worsened over time; and half acknowledged that they walked off the course due to frustration over a marathon round of golf. USGA research shows that the golfer is just one component within a complex, integrated system that determines pace of play in the game. Golf course design, course setup and player management also contribute to longer playing times.
“Pace of play has become a strategic priority for the USGA, and part of a larger leadership agenda to address the issues that threaten the long-term health of the game,” said USGA President Glen D. Nager. “Our new campaign underscores a commitment to educate golfers and golf facility managers in a fun and engaging manner about all the factors that contribute to pace of play and the role they can have in implementing practical solutions to the problem.”
The USGA will debut a total of five public service announcements, featuring three-time U.S. Open champion Tiger Woods, 1960 U.S. Open champion and golf icon Arnold Palmer, Academy Award®–winning actor/director Clint Eastwood, three-time U.S. Women’s Open champion Annika Sorenstam, 2010 U.S. Women’s Open champion Paula Creamer, and famed American golf instructor Butch Harmon. The series of PSAs can be viewed at www.usga.org/whilewereyoung.
“Pace of play is a big issue. Rounds of golf take too long and no one enjoys it,” said Woods. “‘While we’re young’ is part of the golfing vocabulary, and Caddyshack is iconic in our sport. This campaign is lighthearted, but it also shows that we need to pick up the pace of play.”
“I think this campaign will have a huge impact with golfers because the message is fun,” said Creamer. “But the issue of slow play is serious, and in reality we all want to say, ‘Hey, while we’re young.’”
“We’re losing a lot of players because it takes too long to play, and it’s something we have to address,” said Harmon. “This campaign is going to have a great impact on the game. We made it a lot of fun, but slow play is not funny. It’s a serious issue and I hope the golfing public gets the message.”