Pace of play is a focal point of the USGA’s continuing efforts to improve the health of the game, but it is not an issue that can be remedied easily or by one organization alone. To that end, the USGA in January hosted 125 industry experts for the Association’s third Pace and Innovation Symposium, at Brookside Golf Club in Pasadena, Calif.
The two-day symposium featured representatives from the USGA, The R&A, the American Society of Golf Course Architects, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, and The First Tee, among others.
“The USGA is committed to bringing the industry together to share ideas and foster collaboration in order to find solutions that address sustainability and viability of facilities,” said Rand Jerris, Ph.D., senior managing director of Public Services for the USGA. “We recognize that change needs to happen for our industry, and it needs to happen sooner rather than later. The symposiums offer a substantive opportunity to strengthen the game’s future by creating a more compelling experience for golfers through technology and enhanced facility operations.”
The first day of the symposium focused on the golfer experience and potential solutions to improving that experience, as well as the manner in which resource management can affect pace of play. The session provided some important takeaways, including:
- Golfer experience is determined by flow, not round times.
- Studies show an increase in round times of as much as two hours between the first group on the course and later groups. Most of that time is spent waiting.
- On average, golfers would pay 9.1 percent more in green fees for a 15-30-minute improvement in pace of play. Golfers under age 40 would pay 14.2 percent more; golfers between ages 40 and 49 would pay 11.5 percent more.
- A large number of golfers ages 25-44 have expressed a desire to cut 60 to 90 minutes off their typical round time, creating a market for shorter formats such as three- and six-hole loops.