USGA to combat slow play

US Open (AFP)
US Open (AFP)
Ardmore - Borrowing a Rodney Dangerfield line from the movie "Caddyshack", the US Golf Association unveiled a campaign to combat slow pace of play called "While We're Young" on Wednesday.

The move, announced on the eve of the 113th US Open championship at Merion, will include promotional videos by Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Clint Eastwood, Annika Sorenstam and others aimed at showing people slow-play solutions.

It is based on the line from the 1980 golf comedy film uttered by comedian Dangerfield, playing golfer Al Czervik, whose foursome is delayed at the first tee by the slow start of Judge Smails, played by Ted Knight.

"Pace of play is a big issue," Woods said.

"Rounds of golf take too long and no one enjoys it. 'While we're young' is part of the golfing vocabulary and 'Caddyshack' is iconic in our sport.

"This campaign is lighthearted, but it also shows that we need to pick up the pace of play."

Chinese schoolboy Guan Tianlang, who this year became the youngest player in Masters history at age 14, was given a penalty stroke for slow play at Augusta National, but still finished as low amateur in April at the year's first major.

The idea is to encourage faster play at all skill levels and reduce the length of time it takes to complete 18 holes, moves aimed at trying to boost the number of golfers worldwide.

A National Golf Foundation study showed 91 percent of golfers are bothered by slow play and say it detracts from the experience, more than 70 percent say the problem has grown worse over time and half said they had walked off a course because of frustration at the length of time it was taking to play.

"We're losing a lot of players because it takes too long to play, and it's something we have to address," said veteran golf coach Butch Harmon, whose former pupils include 14-time major champion Woods.

"This campaign is going to have a great impact on the game. We made it a lot of fun, but slow play is not funny.

"It's a serious issue and I hope the golfing public gets the message."

The USGA has created an on-line educational program with the help of the LPGA, PGA of America and golf course superintendents association and launched a website as a resource with tips, research and details on such issues as hole lengths, rough heights and green speeds.

"Pace of play has become a strategic priority for the USGA, and part of a larger leadership agenda to address the issues that threaten the long-term health of the game," USGA President Glen Nager said.

"Our new campaign underscores a commitment to educate golfers and golf facility managers in a fun and engaging manner about all the factors that contribute to pace of play and the role they can have in implementing practical solutions to the problem."

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