Jun 1st, 2020
The positives of post lockdown golf
Maybe some lessons can be learned?
Words: David Adair Photography: Andy Hiseman / GP
Blimey, that was quick, said the Missus as I walked in the door after my well-earned 18 holes of golf. Everything is relative, as I had left her kipping in bed as I grabbed the sticks and headed off at 8 o’clock that morning and was returning almost four hours later! In the past, I would not have been home for at least another hour or so.
I have to admit I am somewhat enjoying post lockdown golf. Helped slightly by the weather I drive the roughly half-hour to my course pull on my shoes in the car park and a few minutes later I am teeing off.
All tee-times are booked in advance and so there is no roll-up or queues on the first tee and its two balls only sent off at ten-minute intervals. The pace of play has been way better with an average round so far taking roughly 2 hours and 45 minutes – as it should be.
Once the round is complete putters have been clunked together in place of a handshake, it is back to the car park and I’m on the road home. Lockdown has also helped keep the traffic light with only the odd tailback resulting from the hoards looking to stave off cold turkey in the queue for the McDonalds drive-thru!
There is no pre-round banter and gathering on the putting green and no drink in the bar afterwards but do I miss that? I have almost three hours in the company of a good pal, a bit of healthy competition and I also get back to the family a lot earlier.
If I lived close to the club and did not need to drive I might loiter for a post round pint or two but as like most I have a reasonable drive home I do not like to have any more than a soft drink.
I have always played at clubs with no tee booking system other than for competitions but I now see the attraction of having more certainty of a tee time when playing with friends. It may not be popular with the regular roll-up brigade who like to gather on the first tee at the weekends, but it makes for a more equitable allocation of the prime tee times and does away with the pre-mentioned queues.
I usually only play two ball golf in competition with the majority of my golf being in friendly fourballs; however, my reintroduction to social two ball golf has been somewhat of an eye-opener. A competitive fourball with your pals can be fun but over the years the pace of play of the field has slowed markedly to the point where some days it is purgatory.
The word on the fairways is that many clubs are now looking at implementing more two ball golf. I am sure there will be much debate but I am for one am in favour. Add to it compulsory booking of peak tee times and I’d be a happy camper.
The playing habits of the younger golfer are changing and many don’t feel able to commit a huge chunk of their day to a game of golf. Clubs need to look seriously at the pace of play and not be dictated to by the vocal few who prefer the status quo.
And another thing...