The key element is establishing a distinctive Time
Par for each course. This allotted time, which is based on actual duration of
rounds, is the reasonable standard that all customers are expected to meet. The
course reinforces this expectation through tee time confirmations, scorecards,
range balls, staff clothing and signs throughout the facility.
“Time Par is at the heart of what we do,” said Ryan
Walls, senior vice president of operations, sales and marketing for Troon Golf.
“We wanted to start defining the time expectation for our customers and get them
out of the mindset that every round should take four hours, because courses are
For golfers who prefer faster rounds, numerous Troon
courses offer premium early-morning tee times – called Pacesetter Times
– that have an expected pace that is at least 20 minutes under the Time Par.
While the initiative is company-wide, each
Troon Golf facility adds its own touches. At the Golf Club of Estrella in
Goodyear, Ariz., the starter explains the overall Time Par (4:30) for the
course, as well as the individualized Time Par for each group, based on when they
“The starter writes the projected pace times for
when the group reaches the fifth, ninth and 13th holes on a card that gets
placed in the cart,” says Tom Cortabitarte, Estrella’s general manager. “Golfers
can see for themselves if they are on pace rather than having a player
assistant constantly reminding them and interrupting the round. It shows we are
committed to maintaining the pace of play, and if they accept the card, then
they are all in as well. It has decreased confrontations on the course and some
have even taken the card back to their home clubs for use there.”
The facility also places pace-of-play suggestions
on the fifth, 10th and 14th tees. About three times a week during the peak
season (January through March), player assistants give golfers a four-question
survey card. Customers who fill it out and return the card to the golf shop receive
Other strategies for reducing duration of
rounds include bringing food out to groups at the turn and increasing tee-time
intervals, which spreads out play and alleviates on-course bottlenecks.
Other Troon courses have created their own
incentives. At Indian Wells (Calif.) Golf Resort, golfers who play the
facility’s Celebrity Course within the Time Par of 4:33 can order from a
special menu of items priced at $4.33 in the clubhouse restaurant. The result
has been a decrease of 11 minutes in the average duration of rounds and an
increase in restaurant revenue.
Troon Golf has yet to receive a complaint about
its program. In a recent survey, 94 percent of Estrella customers said they
would be more likely to play at a facility that clearly communicates and
enforces expected pace of play with shared accountability.
“That helps our operators understand that if
they get behind this program and uphold it, they are going to win more
customers,” said Walls. “That’s a message that our company has made crystal
clear. We believe golfers will choose to play one of our facilities because of
our pace-of-play program.”
Mackin is a freelance writer based in Scottsdale, Ariz.