How to Help Control your Pace of Play

How to Help Control your Pace of Play

I recently attended the USGA Pace and Innovation Symposium - the annual conference where golf industry leaders discuss new and innovative ways to help address Pace of Play issues.  We have all heard the proper place to be on the golf course is directly behind the group in front of you and not to worry about the group behind you.  There are some things we as golfers can control to help with pace of play and some things that are out of our control.

The things on the golf course that affect Pace of Play that we can't control include course design, course set-up, maintenance practices and tee time intervals.  If a course has a par 3 hole early in the round, this is where bottlenecks and slow play tend to occur.  Add in a few hazards - water or bunkers - and this leads to extra shots on the hole and more time.  It would be great for the course set-up to include forward tees and hole locations in the center of flat greens - but we all know this is more of a dream than reality.  Many courses also have small landing areas in fairways for tee shots and longer grass in the rough, which makes looking for golf balls a bit harder.  Maintenance practices such as mowing the rough three times a week lead to longer roughs.  Also hard and fast greens add more approach shots and more putts to a round and therefore also add time to a round for the average golfer. 

With golf courses wanting as much revenue as possible, they have reduced their tee time intervals to six or seven minutes.  Think of a funnel with water - if you pour too much water in at one time, the water backs-up and doesn't flow out the bottom of the funnel properly.  This is a prime example of tee time intervals that are too close.  Many courses have gone to nine, ten or 11-minute intervals to better control the flow of golfers on the course.  When you do incur a backup on the course, golfers many times blame it on what they see - the group directly in front of them - when it can actually be a number of outside factors we can't control.

 Here are some things you can control...your group pace, being ready to hit when it's your turn, by having your glove on (if you wear one), taking one practice swing then hitting your shot.  If you are walking and it is safe, walk directly to your ball.  If you are riding, walk to your ball rather than riding to your cart-mates ball, then waiting for a ride to your golf ball.

You can also keep the head cover off your driver or 3-wood until the last hole.  It helps save 15-20 seconds per person per hole, which ends up saving a minute per hole or 15 to 20 minutes per round.

 On the putting green, be ready when it’s your turn by lining up your putt when others are putting.  Also putt-out whenever possible to avoid having to mark and re-position your golf ball.

 Try the "one in - one out" idea suggested by PGA Professional and host of Golf Channel "Golf Fix" Michael Breed.  When riding, every time you put a club in your golf bag, take out the club you plan to use for your next shot.  This saves time as you aren't going to your bag for every shot.

Next week we’ll explore additional ways to help with Pace of Play, including the new flag stick technology being introduced by the USGA.

Course Management Ideas to Play Your Best Golf

EWGA Forecaddie Course Management

The key to any golfers’ success is how well they navigate around the golf course – planning and executing golf shots and letting go if there are bad shots.  I had the opportunity to serve as a walking scorer this past weekend at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and observed up-close, how Tour Professionals execute shots and manage their missed opportunities.  I realized even though for Tour Professionals this is their job, all golfers can learn from their course management strategies.

While for most of us, our livelihood does not depend on perfectly executed shots or missed putts, we still go to the course every time we play expecting to hit some great tee shots, pitch the ball close to the hole and to make a few putts.

You key to successfully managing yourself around the course begins with a quick review of your mechanics – check your grip, stance and alignment with your teaching professional to make sure you have sound mechanics.  If you notice you consistently hit the ball to the right, a tweek to your grip or alignment may be needed.

The quickest way to achieve immediate results in golf is to improve how you play (in addition to sharpening your short game).  A key to successful golf course management is to play to your strengths and avoid your weaknesses.  Begin by setting an achievable goal – to break 100 or 90, to have 36 or fewer putts per 18-hole round, to bogey every hole and avoid double or triple bogey, etc.  When you transition to the golf course create a game plan to keep in mind how you will meet these goals.

If you are playing your home course, chances are you can stand on the tee of any hole and play that hole backwards in your mind – from the green back to the tee.  Where is the best place to putt from on the green?  To get to that spot on the green, where are you most comfortable hitting your approach shot?  50-yards?  75-yards?  Perhaps you prefer a full swing with your approach shot rather than a half-swing.  Think about your ideal approach shot distance and try to be near that spot for your perfect yardage.   

If there are hazards like bunkers and/or water hazards, think about the best way to avoid hitting in them.  This may mean you need to lay-up short of that hazard – and remember to account for roll after your ball hits the fairway.  Many times a golfer see a hazard is 110-yards away and hits a 100-yard club not remembering that once the ball hits the fairway, it will roll.  Can you think of a time you hit a “perfect” lay-up shot, only to have it end up in the hazard anyway?  Take one club less and swing easy to avoid the hazard.

Now as you stand on the tee and plan to play the hole, your goal is to give yourself the best chance of hitting the fairway.  Again, look for hazards you may be able to reach with your tee shot.  Since you are trying to get your golf ball in the best possible place, maybe you need to hit a fairway wood, hybrid or iron to achieve that result.  Have a target in mind – to get your drive inside the 200-yard marker or even with a bunker in the rough and play the rest of the hole in a manner to avoid trouble.

A key to a good game plan is to know the distances you hit your clubs.  Standing on the tee of a 340-yard hole you may be thinking, “I hit my driver 150 yards, a good 3-wood goes 125 yards that leaves me with 65 yards to the green.”  If you play the hole in your head before you hit, you are likely to “manage” your way around the course better.

If you do have a bad shot or even a bad hole, the best thing to do is to let go, move on and remember that the next hole is a new opportunity to hit great shots.  You will find that playing with a plan in mind leads to greater confidence and lower scores. 

New for 2016: A Recap from the PGA Merchandise Show

The PGA Show Recap

The annual PGA Merchandise Show is the launching ground for new golf equipment, balls, accessories, apparel and more every year.  With more than 1,000 vendors on the Show floor, it’s hard to cover all the latest offerings, but here are a few to watch for this spring:


Callaway:  New Women’s XR16 Driver and fairway clubs – designed specifically for women to produce a faster club head speed and ball speed.  The fairway clubs feature larger heads with a sole designed to move quickly through the grass.  Both are designed for more spring and forgiveness.

Cleveland:  While Cleveland is typically most known for their variety of wedges, they launched a new line of putters designed to help you line up correctly and avoid missed putts. 

PING:  New from PING for 2016 is the G Crossover club – a new club that provides the workability and control of an iron with the ball speed and forgiveness of a hybrid.  The club has a higher launch for ball flight and is much more forgiving, making it a great addition to anyone’s bag.

TAYLORMADE:  Due to the success of the TaylorMade M1 clubs, they have added new M2 irons to their list of latest clubs.  These irons have a lower center of gravity and promote a higher ball launch, designed to help golfers get additional distance.

TITLEIST:  Titleist makes enhancements to the Pro V1 golf ball line in odd-number years – so that leaves even-number years for updates to the DT, NXT and Velocity golf ball line.  Titleist also launched the new Vokey SM6 wedges – with a variety of lofts to help produce shots with distance and trajectory control.

GOLF BALLS:  In addition to the new updates from Titleist, look for enhanced golf balls from Bridgestone, Callaway, Nike, Volvik and Wilson.  Many golf ball manufacturers make golf balls for slower swing speeds that are made to provide extra distance along with soft covers for better feel on short shots. 

APPAREL:  Apparel manufacturers continue to make improvements to clothing worn by golfers on the course.  Look for moisture wicking fabrics, some event with sun protection capabilities for the spring 2016 line.  The bright floral and tropical prints (i.e. Hawaiian prints) are making a come-back this spring as well.  Bright bold colors continue to appear in almost all manufacturers spring and summer apparel lines. 

SHOES:  Spikeless shoes continue to be offered by more shoe manufacturers with additional design and color options.  FootJoy launched the new men’s Freestyle shoe – inspired by a tree frog – to create the shoe with mobility and traction.  On the women’s side, look for new shoes in the Tailored Collection, the Casual Collection and the D.N.A. (DryJoy’s Next Advancement) collection.  All FootJoy shoes provide comfort, enhanced designs, waterproof capabilities and fashion styling.    

#THXPGAPro:  :  PGA Professional Le Ann Finger with Jock Olson, PGA Master Professional who taught Le Ann how to play film a segment for #ThxPGAPro

As a kickoff to the PGA of America Centennial celebration for 2016, the PGA of America unveiled #ThxPGAPro, a special grassroots commemorative program, designed to pay tribute and showcase the extraordinary impact of PGA Professionals. 

The #ThxPGAPro campaign shares stories from golfers – including PGA Tour professionals, amateur golfers, PGA and LPGA Professionals and junior golfers – who have shared how their PGA Professional made a difference in their golf game or in their life. 

Golfers of all ages and abilities are encouraged to upload videos, photos and messages throughout the year to tell their story in support of their favorite PGA Professional at or via social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) using #thxpgapro.

The Biggest Week in Golf

PGA Merchandise Show - The Biggest Week in Golf

This is the biggest week for people in the golf industry as thousands of people converge on the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando for what is referred to as the “Major of the Golf Business” - the 2016 PGA Merchandise Show.

The week begins today with the 14th Annual PGA Show Demo Day at Orange County National Golf Course.  This huge demo day provides a great opportunity to see, feel and test in real conditions, the latest in technology advancements by the leading manufacturers in the golf business.  Golf equipment companies are all in one place; showcasing the newest drivers, woods, irons, wedges, putters, balls, shafts, grips and the latest in club fitting.

During the PGA Merchandise Show days, Jan. 27-29 at the Orange County Convention Center, PGA and LPGA Professionals, retailers and industry leaders will discover the latest trends, the newest golf merchandise, test the latest equipment, attend industry presentations, learn proven business best practices, network among peers and move forward the business of the game. The Show welcomes more than 1,000 of the top golf companies and brands along with more than 40,000 industry professionals from around the world to the industry's annual global summit for golf.

Follow us on Twitter live from the Show floor @EWGA and @LFingerPGA for the latest updates.  Check back next week for a full recap of the Show and learn about the newest trends in equipment, training aids, apparel, golf carts, hats, etc. and everything associated with the game of golf.

(Photo Credit: Twitter/@pgaofamerica)

Add this to your Pre-Season Checklist - Get Fit for your Golf ball

Golfball fittingMost of us know it's important to have our golf equipment properly fit - using the correct clubs that are fit for your swing and body type can make a vast improvement in your game.  Do you stop with club fitting or do you continue and ask your local PGA/LPGA Professional for a ball fitting?  Many people don't stop to think that the golf ball you play can help improve your game as well.

If you think about an average round, most scoring opportunities happen around the green.  Many women have difficulty reaching the green in regulation, so when looking for more distance, they select a low spin golf ball that helps with additional distance, but isn't designed to hold shots into the green.  Most golfers can benefit from a softer ball that is designed to land softly and stop on the green rather than hit and skid off the green.  (This also happens since most green complexes are designed to hold a shot from a higher-lofted club, rather than the lower trajectory shot from a longer iron or hybrid).

Many ball manufacturers offer golf ball fittings.  Some may be an online fitting – where you answer questions and the computer determines the best ball “fit” for your golf swing, shots, etc.  You may be lucky to participate in a ball fitting at a local demo day – where you can actually hit and compare golf balls.   

Most companies have moved away from "compression" golf balls and offer two and three-piece golf balls designed to help players score better.  When you are shopping for golf balls, look for a ball with more spin and stopping power.  Go through a golf ball fitting and you will find and be able to tell the softer feel of the ball coming off your clubface. They are designed to offer more stopping power and to help you shoot better scores.  Have your local Professional help you find the best golf ball for your game.

Get Ready for the Golf New Season

New spikes for your shoesIf you are in a part of the country where golf is seasonal, one of the best ways to get ready for the new golf season involves some simple maintenance.  Take a look at your golf grips and your golf shoes – if the grips are worn or haven’t been changed in the past six months, it’s time to get new grips.  The same is true of your golf shoe spikes – if they haven’t been changed in the past six months, it’s time for new spikes as well.

If your grips are slippery or appear worn, you need new grips.  If your grips are slippery, you will hold the club with more pressure and this interferes with making a good golf swing.   A general rule of thumb is to re-grip your clubs once a year, so the beginning of the season is a great time to re-grip.

Visit your LPGA or PGA Professional for help in getting the proper size grip for your hand. Grip manufacturers now offer new grips designed for a number of variables - some with cushion under the grips and some designed to absorb moisture (perspiration, rain, etc.). They also come in a variety of fun colors - which allows you to add some color as well. Once you have new grips, your clubs will feel new again and you will notice an immediate improvement, which leads to better shots and lower scores.

Now look at your golf shoes – most golfers will walk anywhere from three to five miles during an 18-hole round.  So if you are lucky to play two rounds of golf a week, you would walk more than 500 miles a year.  Due to swinging, twisting, torque, balance and walking on all kinds of turf and pavement, the need to replace your soft spikes increases even more.

Here are some helpful hints for taking care of your golf shoes and more importantly, your feet.

  • Keep a minimum of two shoes in your rotation of “favorite” shoes and never wear the same pair back-to-back for consecutive rounds.  That means alternate between a minimum of two pairs to keep your feet comfortable plus it adds to the overall life of the shoe.
  • Change spikes (if wearing shoes with replaceable spikes) after every 10-15 rounds or when they show signs of wear or cause your feet to slip when swinging or walking.
  • Purchase replacement spikes before you need them.  With many manufacturers and shoe varieties, there are multiple types of replacement spikes available and many golf shops have stopped carrying replacement spikes since there isn’t just one uniform replacement spike.  Plan ahead!
  • If you wear spikeless shoes (sometimes referred to as “nubby” shoes) try to resist the urge to wear them to the course, driving the car, going to the grocery store, etc.  While they are marketed to be more versatile, the more you wear them for non-golf activities, the more wear you are putting on the shoes off the course.  If you wear spikeless shoes for every round, make sure you have two pair of these shoes in your rotation as well.

An advantage of two pair of shoes allows you to have waterproof shoes if you tend to play early morning when the dew is still on the ground or to have a “nicer” pair of shoes that you can wear to guest day events or for tournaments.  Plus, most women golfers I know are experts at having multiple pair of shoes that “match every outfit!”  Technology has come to golf shoes as well - designed to keep your feet comfortable and dry - while still looking good. 

Golf Resolution Goals for the New Year

We are already five days into 2016 and with each New Year usually comes the list of New Year’s Resolutions.  Common resolutions include the typical things like exercising more, eating smarter, losing weight, etc. and can sometimes be golf specific like playing more, practicing a specific part of your game (short game or putting), taking additional lessons or maybe shooting a specific score or achieving a certain handicap.

Golf, unlike most sports, involves a new start and reset at the beginning of every year.  The professional Tours reset with the official money earnings starting over and the golf manufacturers launch new equipment, new golf balls, new apparel, etc. all designed to help golfers improve.  

While many golfers like to wish they will play more golf, a better golf resolution for a new year should focus on game improvement.  Start with a realistic goal of practicing your short game or even practicing once a week.  Many golfers prefer to play vs. practicing – when in fact, the best way to lower your score is to actually practice.  Establish a one-hour time frame to practice your short game – spend half an hour chipping, pitching and practicing shots from the bunker, then practice putting for half an hour.  You will gain confidence in your short game as well as save a few strokes each round.

Other common golf resolutions include working on your game by taking additional golf instruction from your local PGA/LPGA Professional.  You may have specific things you want to work on with your Professional (not hitting a slice, gaining more distance, hitting hybrids better, etc.) so be sure to explain your goals and have them incorporated in your lesson plan from your Professional.  By seeking additional golf instruction, practicing and playing, you will be on your way to lower scores and meeting those 2016 golf resolutions.