Slow play and the way it’s policed in pro golf has long been a hot and controversial topic among players, fans and media, but apparently it’s a problem at the younger levels of elite golf, too.
GOLF.com recently conducted its first-ever Anonymous Junior Golfer Survey, in which 64 competitive junior golfers (boys and girls, ages 12-18) in four regions of the country were asked about their game, practice habits, parents, the pros and more.
Some of the most interesting results surrounded pace of play. For example, 86 percent of the juniors polled answered “yes” when asked if there is a pace-of-play problem in competitive junior golf circles, yet only 3 percent of them considered themselves to be slow players. The other 97 percent said they didn’t consider themselves slow. Additionally, almost half of those polled (44 percent) said they or someone they were playing against had been penalized for slow play. That’s a huge number when contrasted with the PGA Tour, where slow play penalties are rare.
Slow play in golf is a topic that’s been around forever and won’t go away soon. The stigma has a trickle down effect that can influence younger generations — If my favorite pro is taking this long to hit a shot, why can’t I? — which won’t do the game any favors in bucking the trend.
Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau were the centerpieces of a debate surrounding slow-play on Tour toward the end of last season, and that essentially pushed the Tour to start monitoring the pace-of-play of every player on the course using ShotLink data. (According to DeChambeau, that’s already started and players have seen the results.)
Last month at the BMW PGA Championship the European Tour rolled out another step of its previously announced action plan to tackle pace of play. Every group had a tracking device attached to one golf bag in the group, and on-tee video boards let groups know if they were keeping up with the players ahead.
The complete Anonymous Junior Golfer Survey will be unveiled later this week on GOLF.com.