Fossil Trace Golf Club in Golden, Colo., has strict but
realistic expectations when it comes to pace of play. The staff of the
municipal layout expects all its customers to finish their rounds within the “maximum
This maximum pace is not an unreachable goal, but rather a
reasonable duration based on data recorded from more than 100,000 rounds logged
on GPS-equipped carts over the 6,831-yard layout designed by Jim Engh.
“The key thing for us is that we don’t make these numbers up,”
says Jim Hajek, Fossil Trace’s director of golf. “We have the average time to
the second for each hole.”
Based on these average times, Hajek and his staff have
determined that four hours and 40 minutes – including an eight-minute break at
the turn – is the longest that a round should take.
The staff of Fossil Trace takes plenty of steps to ensure
that all players are aware of the maximum time while also providing tips to
make sure all players keep pace. They send emails about the expected pace of
play to customers after they have made tee times, talk to them on the first
tee, place cards on carts, and display reminders on the cart’s GPS screen.
In addition, the course relies on well-trained player
assistants to keep play moving. While the interaction between golfers and
roving rangers can be tense or even confrontational at many courses, their
relationship at Fossil Trace is amicable.
As they drive around the course, Fossil Trace’s player
assistants offer candy, bandages and cold towels to patrons. In addition, they
are armed with a cache of balls that they give freely to players who have lost their
Player assistants have reported that it is easier to manage
pace of play after establishing a friendly atmosphere. When a group falls
behind, a player assistant engages the golfers, informing them that they are
out of position and allowing the group to get back into position.
If the group remains out of position after a reasonable
opportunity, the player assistant remains friendly while providing a final
warning – that the golf shop staff will move the group back into position by
having them skip a hole.
“It takes a special person to be a player assistant,” says
Hajek. “Normally, the golfer only interacts with marshals when there’s an
issue. Hopefully, we’re changing that attitude and there’s a light atmosphere.
That makes all the difference.”
If the group has not improved its position after two
conversations with the player assistant, a member of the golf staff will move
the group ahead or offer a rain check.
“If done correctly, the second conversation works about 99
percent of the time,” says Hajek. “The response to our policy has been
Because the tee sheets at Fossil Trace are full most days,
players won’t play the course in less than four hours. But rounds won’t take
five hours either. Pace of play isn’t a problem at Fossil Trace because the
course managers have set reasonable expectations and meet them consistently.
“There’s no reason we can’t play in 4:40 if our staff does
their jobs,” says Hajek. “There’s a great deal of pride among our regulars that
we’re doing something about pace of play.”