Lee Trevino ‘declared war on slow play’ in 1973. Would his 10 solutions help now?

Lee Trevino had ides in '73; do they still hold up now?

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Don’t judge, but one of my favorite new hobbies is scouring eBay for old GOLF Magazines, buying those magazines and then reading those magazines. There’s so much good stuff in there, and for a golf history nerd, a fascinating look back in time.

My latest purchase was a 1973 edition of GOLF Magazine which features an annoyed-looking Lee Trevino (who was serving as GOLF Magazine’s Instruction Editor) with the cover line: “Trevino Declares War On Slow Play.”

Trevino is the undisputed fast-playing king of golf, and while the snarkier above us say that Trevino clearly lost this war on slow play that he waged in 1973, I prefer thinking that it’s a war that’s still being fought. Especially because his suggestions that he offers up in his scathing article still hold true. In many ways, you could publish the article right now and it would still pass the smell test.

“There are some places you’d better carry a lunch and a razor,” he writes. “The trouble is that waiting on every shot may cause you to use the razor for something besides shaving.”

So, without further ado, here’s what Trevino said golf should do to encourage faster play.

1. Shorter courses

Here’s a suggestion of Trevino’s we should still head: Make the courses shorter, which will be more fun and help everyone play faster.

“There has been over the past few years a trend toward longer and tougher golf courses, which has contributed vastly toward the longer, time consuming process of getting in 18 holes,” he writes. “Enough is enough, when you consider that the average national handicap is 16.”

2. Fewer bunkers

He alludes it there, but a big theme of Trevino’s cover story (which you can read below) is that average courses are too hard for average golfers. This is especially true when it comes to bunkers, which Trevino writes should be fewer in number and less penalizing.

“These courses have enough sand to wear out a corps of camels,” he writes. “There are some architects around to whom I have talked who are leaning more towards the 6,400- and 6,500-yard courses with traps that the average hacker can putt out of, fewer traps and the accent on trees as hazards.”

3. More rangers

But if it’s bunkers Trevino wants less of, it’s on-course rangers he wants more of.

“The use of more rangers also is a great aid in speeding play. In most cases, the ranger will not find it necessary to say anything to a lagging group. His mere appearance is a psychological spur reminding them they are falling behind,” Trevino says.

4. An end to ‘honors’

Interestingly, one of Trevino’s biggest slow play pet peeves is the concept of honors. It should be ready golf all the way, he says, as long as you stay safe.

“As far as I’m concerned, one of the greatest of all time wasters is honors. Waiting until the guy hits first; waiting until the guy who’s away putts first, even though he may be parking his cart 50 yards away,” Trevino writes. “By the time everybody has figured out what everybody else has had it takes longer than a truce meeting … but honors have been satisfied, so the guy with the six finally gets to hit first. The first guy ready should be able to hit first.”

5. Park your cart at the back of greens

Trevino says part of the issue of slow play is golfers not knowing golf cart etiquette. He wants every golfer to know the best place to park their golf cart is behind the green.

“A majority of golfers simply drive them to the front of the green, pitch up, leave the car and proceed,” he says. “Then, when they have holed out, they must walk straight back into the line of fire for the next group.”

6. Fewer practice swings

Two themes that stand out in this article: Trevino thinks golfers simply take too many practice swings, both on the greens (we’ll get to that) and for their full shots. They’re unnecessary and exhausting, Trevino says.

“They not only waste a lot of time but they also have to kill you off eventually,” he says. “You hit the ball 85 times and you swing 400 times, all you’ve done is knock yourself out.”

7. Stop marking your ball

Another habit golfers need to shake, Trevino says, is marking your ball, which he thinks is excessive and often done unnecessarily.

“The marking of balls on the green is tremendously overdone, you’ll act like a Supreme Court judge when he marks his ball two clubheads to the side. Then, nine times out of 10, when it finally comes his turn to putt he puts the ball down wherever the coin happens to be and putts out,” he writes.

8. Two waggles

File waggles in the same category of practice swings: Trevino thinks golfers take too many of them. Instead, they should use the same amount, every time.

“You’ll see these guys all over the place,” he writes. “They’ll waggle three, four or five times, but never the same number. You begin to wonder: ‘God, isn’t he ever gonna hit it?’”

9. No more television’ acting on the greens

At one point Trevino relays a story about a playing partner who took an inordinate number of putting strokes, inspired by what the golfer sees on television.

“I played with a fellow recently who before each putt took a half dozen practice strokes before he’d step up to the ball. Finally I pointed out to him that all those practice strokes didn’t seem to be doing him much good since he couldn’t hole anything longer than Pancho Villa’s mustache,” Trevino quips.

Along those lines, Trevino said golfers are simply wasting time on the practice green. Not just with their practice strokes, but even before they step into the ball.

“I’d estimate that 75 percent or more of the average players waste too much time green reading,” he says. “Reading a green is simple: Bermuda grows towards the setting sun, bent grass grows downhill, that’s it.”

10. Allow partial par-3 play through

Finally, Trevino has an interesting idea for par-3s. Allow the group behind you to hit into the green once you’ve reached the green, then putt out as they’re making their way up.

“The par three is one of the chief roadblocks, thus a sign advising players to wave on the next group’s tee shots once they reached the green permits that group to move toward the green while the group putting is holing out,” he says. “Little things, but important in the race against the clock.”

Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Director of Service Journalism at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees the brand’s game improvement content spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University and in 2017 was named News Media Alliance’s “Rising Star.” His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.