Slow play in golf is one of the sport’s biggest concerns, and the United States Golf Association is trying to improve the often frustrating situation with its new “While We’re Young” campaign.
The slogan is borrowed from the famous line uttered by the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield in the classic 1980 film “Caddyshack.” Dangerfield’s daffy character (the obnoxious Al Czervik) is annoyed by Ted Knight’s (Judge Smails) fidgety movements off the tee, and he finally yells the phrase to pick up the pace of play.
The USGA announced its campaign to remedy slow play this week. In a recent study by the National Golf Foundation, 91 percent of serious golfers are bothered by slow play and say it detracts from their golf experience; more than 70 percent believe pace of play has worsened over time; and half acknowledged that they walked off the course due to frustration over a marathon round of golf. USGA research shows that the golfer is just one component within a complex, integrated system that determines pace of play in the game. Golf course design, course setup and player management also contribute to longer playing times.
“Pace of play has become a strat-egic priority for the USGA, and part of a larger leadership agenda to address the issues that threaten the long-term health of the game,” said USGA president Glen D. Nager in a press release. “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.”
The USGA will debut a total of five public service announcements, featuring three-time U.S. Open champion Tiger Woods, 1960 U.S. Open champion and golf icon Arnold Palmer, Academy Award–winning actor/director Clint Eastwood, three-time U.S. Women’s Open champion Annika Sorenstam, 2010 U.S. Women’s Open champion Paula Creamer, and famed Amer-ican golf instructor Butch Harmon. The series of PSAs can be viewed at www.usga.org/whilewereyoung.
“Pace of play is a big issue. Rounds of golf take too long, and no one enjoys it,” said Woods. “ ‘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.”
“I think this campaign will have a huge impact with golfers because the message is fun,” said Creamer. “But the issue of slow play is ser-ious, and in reality, we all want to say, ‘Hey, while we’re young.’ ”
The GolfChannel is also running some funny skits lobbying against slow play, starring Charlie Rymer, who suggests ways of speeding up the game, like tapping in short putts instead of marking them. He’s constantly chiding his playing buddy by calling him “Knucklehead.”
Mohawk Golf Club head pro Jeremy Kerr has a few suggestions that he uses at his club to speed up the game.
“Slow play is often tolerated, but it shouldn’t be,” he said. “If a group behind you is going faster, and if you have more than a hole open ahead of you, let the group behind you play through. You should also pay attention to the group behind you. If you are having a bad hole, let that group play through. Don’t let pride get in the way.”
Kerr also suggests not talking too much when it’s your turn to play, taking a few clubs with you when you leave your cart so you are prepared for any shot, and preparing for your next shot while the others in your group are already playing theirs.
Two other ways of speeding up play are to play ready golf when possible — not waiting for the player who is away to hit — and to park your cart and/or your golf bag on the correct side of the green so that you can make a quick getaway when the hole is over. Playing from the correct tees that match your skill level will also help move the pace along.
“Ignorance is not bliss. It’s frustration,” said Kerr.
Meanwhile, it’s also important not to let the new pace of play campaign spoil your game.
Van Patten Golf Club head pro Bob Kennedy wants his customers to enjoy themselves.
“If there was one thing I would suggest to our players, it’s to keep score on the next tee box rather than on the green,” he said. “But we don’t want people feeling rushed when they come to play here. We’re lucky that we have three different nines. We try to keep the pace of play moving, but we don’t want to jam it down their throats. We try to put slower players in one area and put faster players in another. We want all of our golfers to enjoy the golf course. It’s not a race course. I know that several courses have a strict pace of play policy. We try to move people along, but we won’t hassle you. We want you to have fun.”
SYMETRA TOUR UPDATE
The Symetra Tour’s Credit Union Challenge, set for July 12-14 at Capital Hills at Albany, needs volunteers to help in a variety of positions for the tournament. Volunteers can sign up online at www.thecreditunionchallenge.com or contact the volunteer coordinator, Casey O’Brien, at Cjobrien@thecreditunionchallenge.com. Each volunteer receives a golf shirt and lunch while at the golf course.
The tournament also needs hosts to house players. Many of the players rely on host families in the area to stay with during the week. The players generally arrive on Monday during tournament week and leave the following Monday, a day after the tournament’s final round. Interested families can contact local tournament director Jim Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For people interested in playing in a tournament pro-am, there are three available: July 8 at Normanside Country Club and both Wednesday and Thursday at Capital Hills at Albany. All pro-ams start at 1 p.m. The format will be a scramble, with three amateurs competing with a Symetro Tour professional. Again, contact Miller for more information.
Good news for members of Shaker Ridge Country Club.
The private club, located near the Albany International Airport at 802 Albany Shaker Road, recently completed a $500,000 bentgrass greens makeover, and club officials gave local media members a tour Wednesday.
According to a recent press release, bentgrass greens are easier on golf course budgets and the environment, since they require fewer pesticides to fend off troublesome bugs and weeds, as well as less water and fertilizer than annual bluegrass to keep them alive and well.
Bentgrass is also extremely durable. It can handle extreme temperatures and a higher volume of traffic than annual bluegrass.
“These bentgrass greens will have a significant impact on the club’s bottom line,” said Shaker Ridge golf course superintendent Jim Seaman. “The reduced maintenance time will free up our staff to take on other important projects around the grounds.”
According to Seaman, the grass was put down in rolls using a unique technique in which the sod is washed prior to installation. This process, which is relatively new to the area, makes the grass more adaptable as roots are able to penetrate deeper into the soil.
The decision to install bentgrass greens came as a result of an infestation of plant-parasitic nematodes (microscopic worms) on its putting greens last year.
WHITEFACE OPEN NEARS
One of the Adirondacks’ most challenging and scenic golf courses will host the Whiteface Open Championship July 13-14 in Lake Placid.
The par 71 Whiteface Club and Resort, now in its 115th season, will welcome a field of men and women, amateurs and professionals, in a variety of age groups, including seniors and super seniors.
The senior division is for players 50-65 years of age, while the super seniors is for players 66 and older.
Golfweek Magazine recently ranked the layout 12th best in New York state among courses you can play.
The entry fee of $150 includes a practice round on July 12 after 1 p.m., 36 holes of stroke play competition and a camp shirt for each competitor. Entry fee includes golf carts for the tournament rounds. Carts may be rented for the practice round.
Several thousand dollars in prizes will be awarded in gross and net divisions for the amateurs, highlighted by free 2014 golf membership for the single low gross score of the tournament (men and women). There will be prizes for both low gross and low net scores, in each division.
The event is hosted by PGA club professional J. Peter Martin, who has spent the last 36 years at the Whiteface Club and is a member of the Northeastern New York PGA Hall of Fame.
“We always want to invite golfers to play one of the great classic courses in the east,” said Martin. “We wrap the experience with our hospitality and the natural beauty of Whiteface Mountain and the shores of Lake Placid.”
Whiteface, designed by John Van Kleek in consultation with Walter Hagen, has hosted both the New York State Women’s and Senior Women’s Amateur Championships, and for the past three years, remains a stop on the Sunbelt Senior Tour, a developmental circuit for players 47 and older, many with PGA Tour experience, who aspire to play on the PGA Tour’s Champions Tour. It will re-visit the Whiteface Club, with a pro-am format, in late August.
For more information on the Whiteface Open and to enter, contact the Whiteface Club and Resort Pro Shop at 523-7888, or the main office at 523-2551.
u Steve Quillinan Jr. of the host club will defend his title in the 70th annual Troy Invitational Friday through Sunday at the Country Club of Troy. Most of the top amateur players in the Capital Region will be competing in this prestigious event, which is the area’s largest three-day event without a cut.
u Local pros and top amateurs will head north to compete in the New York State Open local qualifier Friday at Massena Country Club.
u The Edison Club hosts the next Capital Region Amateur Golf Association classic event on Wednesday.
u The Eastern New York Golf Association’s next weekly event will be Wednesday at Cobleskill Golf & Country Club.
u The 14th annual Airway Cup will be played July 4 at Airway Meadows Golf Club. Partners will take on other two-person teams of similar handicaps in a Ryder Cup format. Each golfer will receive an Airway Cup visor of their team color (blue or red). Entry fee is $79 for non-members and includes prizes, snack on the turn, and a London broil and chicken barbecue under the tent. Call Airway Meadows at 792-4144 for more information.
u Although there is a full field of 264 players in the 23rd annual ALS Memorial Open to be played June 26 at Van Patten Golf Course, there are still raffle tickets available to win a spot in the Lexus Champions for Charity at Pebble Beach. Tickets are $100 for one or $250 for three. Call 482-4433 for more information.
u Entry deadline for the New York State Mixed Team Champ-ionship, to be played July 1 at The Edison Club, is June 25 at 5 p.m. Each team must have one male and one female — you don’t have to be married to your partner. The format is modified Chapman stroke play. Entry fee is $160 per team. There is an open and a senior division. For more information, contact the NYSGA at 315-471-6979.
Joe Muscatello collected his third career hole-in-one and second in less than a month on the 144-yard ninth hole at Van Schaick Island Country Club.
Bob Albee aced the 213-yard eighth hole at Amsterdam Munic-ipal while competing in the Thursday Morning Traveling Hackers league.
Also at Amsterdam Municipal, Mike Iannotti hit a 9-iron for a hole-in-one on the 148-yard 16th hole.
At Saratoga Lake Golf Club, Chris Lesson wielded an 8-iron for his hole-in-one on the 135-yard fifth hole.
Debbie Porter’s 8-iron found the cup for a hole-in-one on the 18th hole at Brookhaven Golf Club.
Ray Vacca eagled the par-5 second hole by sinking a pitching wedge for his third shot at Schen-ectady Municipal.
Ross Leblanc eagled the par-5 18th hole at Stadium Golf Club by holing out with an 8-iron.
Also on the 18th hole at Stadium, Stan Norman’s wedge shot found the cup for an eagle.
Vic Pellegrino eagled the 510-yard first hole at Hales Mills Country Club.
Bob Weiner is a Gazette sportswriter. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and not necessarily the newspaper’s. Reach him at wein@dailygazette.-com. Read his blog at www.-dailygazette.com/weblogs/weiner.