A “pace of play” initiative was recently introduced at Riffa Golf Club in the Kingdom of Bahrain, which is managed by PGA Golf Management, with the assistance of Krazy Kevin, a Radio Bahrain DJ and regular player at the Club.
“The speed in which a golfer can complete 18 holes of golf is a very controversial subject,” explained general manager, Michael Braidwood. “Generally, a reasonably experienced golfer would be expected to complete a round on a standard par 72 course in around four hours. When this drags into five hours or even more, it can be very frustrating for other golfers on the course.”
With this in mind, Michael, along with fellow PGA professional and golf operations manager Phil Jones attended a two-day “Managing Pace of Play” workshop in Dubai earlier this year. The workshops are the initiative of St Andrews Links Trust in association with the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.
“We found the workshop very informative and returned to Bahrain with some exciting new initiatives to implement at Riffa Golf Club,” continued Braidwood. “First we established a “pace par,” the ideal time for completing a round which is calculated taking into consideration the length of the course, the distance between tees and greens, relative difficulty of each hole and so on. The results of this research showed that a time of four hours and four minutes is a reasonable time to complete a round in normal conditions.
“Since establishing this ideal pace time, we have been issuing a pace of play card along with each score card. This shows the expected length of time a player should take to complete each hole. Our course rangers are charged with keeping an eye on all golfers‘ speed of play and our starters, based at the first tee box, now brief all new players to the course on the need to keep up their pace.”
Another light-hearted new initiative introduced to the Club and designed to remind people of the need to play within the guidelines, is the use of Toby the Tortoise.
“We have purchased a number of large toy tortoises, now all fitted with Velcro along their undersides,” explained Phil Jones. “Golfers taking too long to play the course during busy periods are requested by the course rangers to try to speed up a little. If there is no improvement in their pace within the next few holes, they are presented with a “Toby Tortoise” to stick to the roof of their cart. Such players usually receive enough joking from other players around them to ensure that they are more mindful of their speed of play within a very short space of time!”
“The purpose of these initiatives is not to put pressure on players,” concluded Braidwood. “The guidelines we have set represent a very reasonable timeline for getting around the course and we simply wish to introduce the concept of keeping an eye on your pace to all our golfers, whether members or visitors to the course. Importantly, from a management point of view, speeding up pace of play not only improves the quality of experience for golfers at Riffa Golf Club, but it also maximises the tee times available each day, thus allowing the club to maximise revenue potential”
PGA Golf Management is currently involved in providing management and marketing services to projects in Bahrain, France, Spain and Ireland.
PGA Golf Management www.pgagm.com
Riffa Golf Club www.riffagolfclub.com