Slow play is slowly killing the game I love and I've had just about enough. Five-hour rounds are becoming the norm and six-hour rounds are all too frequent. As a result, even avid golfers are playing less often and enjoying it less when they do.
I'm sure my fellow contributors on the site will weigh in this week with more on the reasons why we're crawling around the course at a snail's pace and what we can do about it. But for now, it's my mission to pass along some observations on equipment that can save time wasted on things other than thinking about the shot and hitting it.
Learn to Use the Damn Cart
You've all seen them… the cart partners who ride between both shots no matter how short the distance. How about dropping off one player and driving to your ball? How about walking from the cart to your next shot if that's faster?
If you are walking to your ball, take two or three likely clubs with you so you have what you need and don't need to wait for room service from your cart mate.
Better Still, Carry or Push
Nothing slows down play like cart-path-only days as players spend more time walking laterally than making progress toward the hole. On days like this, why not consider carrying a very light Sunday bag and getting a little exercise. If this is too strenuous, how about using one of the nifty motorized carts like we reviewed here. Believe me, walking really is faster than riding, and better for you.
Ditch the Cell Phone
OK, carrying one is sometimes essential. And as somebody in the forum pointed out to me some time ago, you'd be very happy to have one in a medical emergency. But for heaven's sake don't be making or taking calls while playing a hole. It's not only rude; you're holding up play and wasting time for everyone on the course with and behind you.
Consider a Yardage Device
There's no question a rangefinder or GPS device is going to help you speed up your game. Instead of driving the cart in circles or roaming aimlessly looking for a yardage marker and then pacing off the distance, get to your ball, grab your gadget and shoot the pin or look at the screen, and draw your club. It really is faster.
A Towel You Actually Use
Forget those towels you clip to a bag. Be your own best caddie and use one you can carry with you to the green to clean your ball, clean your club after a shot, and keep your grips dry when you lay your clubs on the ground. You should never have to spend time at a ball washer on the tee.
Headcovers That Work
I once wrote a Bag Drop devoted to headcovers. What I failed to mention is so many of them today are impossible to put on without a major two-handed struggle. That's ridiculous and another sneaky waste of time. Get some that go on and off easily… or go without.
I'm talking pants and bag here. It makes me crazy to watch somebody rooting around in their bag looking for a tee or a ball or whatever. Same thing happens on the green when they frisk themselves trying to come up with a coin to mark the ball. Absolutely maddening.
If you're wearing those fashionably tight pants that don't allow you to get your hand in your pocket, then for goodness sakes consider one of those ball marker clips that fasten to your hat brim.
The Boy Scout Ball
That's what I call the extra ball I carry in a back pocket. I make sure it's numbered or marked differently than the ball I have in play. So when I launch one out of bounds, into the water, or somewhere where it may be lost, I have my reload or provisional ball with me. There's no marching back to the cart to pull another out of the bag. Be prepared.
In the End…
None of these suggestions are earth-shattering revelations and none will save hours of play. But they all save seconds and minutes that can add up and help you and your game get a move on.
Answers to Last Week's Quiz
Based on the resounding lack of response to last week's Bag Drop trivia quiz I'm guessing everybody got them all… or just didn't care. But if you didn't… or do, here are the answers:
1. b. Julius Boros; 2. b. Davis Love III; 3. c. 392; 4. b. 332; 5. a. Fred Ridley; 6. b. Walter Travis; 7. c. Charlie Owens; 8. a. MacGregor; 9. b. Jim Simons; 10. c. Ability to display elevation data; 11. b. Cobra; 12. b. Nike; 13. c. Delta; 14. a. January 1, 2009; 15. b. Napkin ring; 16. c. Callaway and TaylorMade; 17. a. Callaway; 18. b. 2° and 4°; 19. c. Model 5; 20. b. Big, Ugly, Long