Almost 30 years ago, when Deer Run GC was a baby, I used to give free golf clinics to get people to come out here. We were a funny little place (though charming) out in the country.
Those clinics quickly grew huge (free) … and so I directed those people into our newly formed leagues, giving us a base to build on.
However, these were not the most sophisticated players, and the pace of play was slow. Very slow. One evening I went out to Ranger the Mens League and there were 4 groups on hole #6 … and the pace of play was a fun 3 1/2 hours … for 9 holes! Seriously.
Weekend play was typically 6 hours.
So, a change in culture was needed. Thus was born FastPlayFriday.
The rules were simple: you had to play the front nine in 1:55 or go home. We had Rangers every 3 holes who were keeping me informed via walkie-talkies. If we had a slow group who wouldn’t respond to rangering, I would meet them on #9 tee box and give them the option of going to hole #10 or going home.
The responses were seldom good. Fortunately, I was young and could duck pretty quickly … no one ever landed a punch. Though they tried. When the word got out that we actually enforced fast play … slow players avoided us and fast players loved us.
Now, a four hour pace is not fast – not really. Actually, it should be normal. I equate it to driving 60mph on the freeway. Golf holes are a one-lane freeway. No one has the right to go 40mph and back it up. And no one has the right to go 80mph and run over people. A 60mph pace is just right.
Though we started Fast Play Friday way back in 1997 … it changed the culture and we’ve been 4 hours every day of the week ever since then.
However, last week we had a foursome who played the first 3 holes in one hour … a nice 6 hour pace. By the time they were in the fairway on #4, there were already 3 foursomes waiting on #4 tee. So, I went out and explained the situation to them, and asked them to catch up to the group in front of them (who was already on #6).
They were agreeable and promised to catch up.
Well, they never got closer than 2 holes behind and finished the front nine in 2:20 … obviously, a 4:40 pace. Not acceptable. Not fair to everyone behind them in this unnecessary traffic jam.
When I talked to them again on #11 tee box, they got hostile. They believed they had a “right” to play at their own pace. I explained that they paid for a slot on the golf course … not the whole golf course. If they wanted to play at whatever pace they wanted, they could rent the course for the day – but it would be a very expensive round of golf.
So, I went back to the Clubhouse and got enough cash to refund their round … which I offered to do on #12 tee box. Then they went crazy.
However, they also sped up. Finally. Not to do the right thing … but to make me look bad. Now their goal was to play as fast as possible and then claim at the end of the round that they weren’t slow.
So, they finished in 4:20 and couldn’t wait to jump all over me. Of course they lied about how fast (or slow) they played the front nine … now they were motivated – motivated to be the victims in this ridiculous situation.
Obviously, if they hadn’t been talked to … they would have played in at least 5 hours. The only reason they made it in 4:20 was they were racing after hole #12 to make me look like a jerk.
They weren’t motivated earlier about unfairly backing up the course … they paid their green fees and felt entitled to play at any pace … even if they wrecked the round for everybody behind them.
Then of course they tried to bait me … attacked me personally to get me going. I have to keep it professional. It can’t be about me – no matter what they say. I have to do what’s best for DRGC. And that means standing up for the golf course – not letting people abuse it … and yet not get sucked into their petty and personal attacks.
So, 30 years later … the fun never stops. But actually, this kind of stuff is pretty rare. Most people get it, and realize that they are sharing the course … that they didn’t rent it all day only for themselves.
And, I haven’t had anyone take a swing at me in years!
GM/Head PGA Professional