The Committee and the Rhythm of Play

Causes of Slow Play related to the Organisation

Many clubs say they don’t know what to do to solve the problem of slow play, but it seems that other imperatives – commercial for the most part, prevent administrators openly tackling its eradication. The increasing number of members and competitions to organise highlights the consequences of these shortcomings.

Doing nothing is to allow clubs and their members to stagnate. I have never met athletes of any level who persisted in a sport where the conditions were not as stringent as the sport itself. With golf we are well served !

So, like all good Frenchmen for whom the welfare state can and should do everything, we call the federation, but what can it do? Its job is to watch over all players and all clubs and represent them for special occasions, 2018 did not come by accident … A agreement is only the collective expression of a wish translated into practice, but its implementation is the responsibility of each club. In short: everything starts with the club, only the club, and comes back to the club! To think otherwise is to want to do nothing.

Each course has a maximum capacity, based on its individual characteristics (we will discuss this later), the same as ski resorts in the United States that only have a certain capacity and close the sale of ski passes when the critical mass has been reached. We ask ourselves the question : how do we determine this critical number? The question is already the beginning of the answer and opens a major project, that of rhythm, time and play.

When we talk about a club, we talk about its members. Each course is generally designed to attract good players and then one arranges that other players come as well. A new golf club has never seen the arrival of a maximum of first class players.

As far as the organisation of competitions is concerned, the problem of the tee time of the first groups is easy to solve – if they consist only of fast players –and what follows is easier to manage. All players look forwards and make sure that they stay behind the group in front of them and they don’t look behind at the group that is following them.

If all players leave from the 1st hole, departures can be controlled with times and intervals that allow play without delay and without risk. Traffic jams come from non-compliance with the rules and the irresponsibility of players who get in trouble by wanting to try too hard.

Departures are only a problem when the rhythm of play is not defined, but having 10 minutes between each start is the solution if the rhythm of play is defined and can (should!) be followed. We have already mentioned the commercial requirements of clubs, but the pursuit of profit always backfires, especially against members who sometimes become the variable adjustment in the accounts of the club

A course has a maximum daily capacity, defined by date, weather, the time required on the course at any particular moment, the number of people accepted on that date, handicap required, times reserved for members only, clubhouse capacity, (parking, showers, restaurant, etc …). Green fees are a good thing but what place do they hold in the financial management of the club? When we talk about the club, we talk first about its members.

There is no such thing as Slow Play if we abide by the rules of Rhythm and Timing.


Some clubs believe that :

  • Obliging players to mark the time they leave each green
  • Indicating on a notice board the name of slow players
  • Indicating the speed of play on scorecards
  • Financially penalising the most undisciplined or rewarding the most orderly

could perhaps be the solution to all these problems. This is not the case and does not correspond to the respect that clubs owe to their members and clients. On the contrary, it only serves to highlight all the work still to be done so that golfers come to the club and play with the correct rhythm and in the correct time.

Any deviation from this is, unfortunately, proof of the lack of respect notorious among the sport of golf and its players. In other sports, professional clubs may behave like this, but here we are talking about amateur players.

The R&A Committee does not believe that ordinary clubs can regulate the speed of play in a club of amateur golfers in the same way as the R&A regulates professional competitions. This is completely false. And we will prove it. All regulations thattry to penalise or sanction slow players are proof of shortcomings in the education of players and in the organisation of competitions. The rules, the etiquette and the Marshal (with his method and organisation) are enough, but we have never seen them working together. And never forget that a member of a club used to be a client of that club, and could become so again.

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