After the 2011 season the AJGA took a survey of the membership regarding the pace of play system that we enforce. Through this we were able to ask people what they liked, disliked and what they would change if given the opportunity. This is a continuing example of the fact that the AJGA does not stand still when it comes to junior golf. We always are making an effort to improve and progress. And to the best of our ability we try to do that in coordination and alignment with the wants and needs of our membership.
In general terms, when the survey came back 74% of respondents rated the current AJGA pace of play system as either excellent or good; and of those about 70% added additional comments that were positive and supportive of the system. Furthermore, when asked how the AJGA could improve the current system, 10% responded that it was perfect the way it was; no changes necessary.
To show a little further detail, when given the chance to comment on the AJGA pace of play program over 430 comments were registered as positive. Some excerpts are listed below:
· “It keeps the players moving and the tournament’s timing more predictable.”
· “It teaches the kids to keep moving and play efficiently.”
· “It is the only real effort to fix one of the largest problems in junior golf.”
· “It gets the kids out of the heat faster.”
· “A proactive effort to do something about the worst problem in golf.”
· “It keeps the kids moving and makes them conscious about their pace of play.”
· “It is refreshing to know that if you play an AJGA event it will finish on time.”
Contrastingly, there were some respondents who did not have the same viewpoint. Just over 50 comments were received that were either negative or partially negative. Some excerpts are listed below:
· “… part of the program seemed a little stringent.”
· “I wish there was a way to single out the one child usually slows down the group…”
· “I think that the players in these tournaments are good enough, and don’t have a problem with pace of play.”
· “I do not like players leaving the green before play is done… I did not find it helped with the pace.”
· “It does decrease time, but at the expense of golf etiquette and violation of the rules.”
The next step after the survey is to communicate and clarify this information to the membership. First, the program works and it is also not universally disliked. There are in fact many more supporters of the program than vice versa. Secondly, some of the negative comments merely need clarification and/or better understanding of the program:
· The AJGA DOES single out a junior in a group if they are in fact the cause of the delay and there is evidence to support that fact. The entire group will get the warning, but if a penalty situation arises, all information will be evaluated before any penalties are distributed.
· While the players in the AJGA have great ability and are at a high skill level, without proper monitoring, that does not equate to a fast pace of play. There are plenty of examples of this from college golf all the way to the PGA Tour, where slow play is an incredible problem with the most skilled golfers in the world. Thus the skill level and pace of play are two unrelated issues which are separate and should be treated as such.
· The AJGA understands people’s hesitancy towards leaving the green before play is done on that hole; however its results are undeniable. In 2011 the AJGA’s overall pace of play for the year was 4:21. That was a 10 minute improvement over 2010, and the majority of this improvement can be contributed to this new guideline that the AJGA enforced.
· The pace of play program does not violate any rules of golf. Having players move forward to the next tee to be PREPARED to play when their competitors arrive does not contradict the rules of golf. Similarly, playing ready golf and not by whomever is farthest from the hole, merely speeds up play within the Rules of Golf.
For more information on the AJGA's 'Setting the Pace' educational series, or the AJGA Pace of Play Policy, please contact Tournament Coordinator Samantha Hirshberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.