Was play faster in the 1950s?
From the USGA Journal, July, 1950, quote:
"The pace and mode of lay by some golfers have now reached the state where they closely resemble civil engineers... One person who doesn't like the unfortunate slowness of today's golf is P.W. Furlong of Pomona, Cal., who has written the USGA as follows:
'"It now takes me five hours to play a leisurely three hour round of golf !!
"'If a few strokes were added to the scores of the professionals who take longer than three hours to complete any 18-hole competition, this deplorable situation would soon correct itself..." This and much more at http://gsr.lib.msu.edu/1950s/1950/500719.pdf
From AP golf writer Doug Ferguson May 11, 2013, via the Jacksonville Herald, quote:
"If the players at the U.S. Open this week would read David Barrett’s book, “Miracle at Merion,” on Ben Hogan’s victory at 1950, they might laugh.
"Or maybe cry.
"Joe Dey, the USGA’s executive director at the time, is quoted in the book as saying, “The time has come when we simply must act if the game is not to be seriously injured.”
"The size of the field for the 1948 U.S. Open at Riviera was 171 players. It was lowered to 162 players the following year at Medinah, but that didn’t seem to help. Dey lamented that the first group (threesomes) took 3 hours, 27 minutes to complete the opening round, while the last group took a whopping 4 hours, 16 minutes...."
Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/sports/golf/2013-06-11/story/us-open-decades-later-golf-still-struggles-slow-play#ixzz2xeNb6AkJ
From Golf Digest's Speed Bumps, 5/6/2013, quote:
"Outcries over slow play started even before Bobby Jones' address-to-impact time was less than three seconds and Gene Sarazen was missin' 'em quick. The dawdling of Ben Hogan and Cary Middlecoff would show the unenforceability of Rule 6-7, which directs competitors to "play without undue delay." In 1950, after the final second-round threesome in the previous year's U.S. Open required four hours, 21 minutes to complete its play, USGA chief Joe Dey said: "The time has come to act if the game is not to be seriously injured." After television began presenting golf regularly in the 1960s, many criticized Jack Nicklaus' interminable time over the ball for setting a damaging example. A 1965 cover story in Golf Digest headlined "Crisis in American Golf," stated in its first sentence that "the game of golf is slowing to a sickening near stop." Lee Trevino, whose brisk style recalled Sarazen, loved zinging slowpokes with lines like, "Just once, I wish I could play behind myself.".... '
Read More http://www.golfdigest.com/golf-tours-news/2013-05/gwar-golf-slow-play-jaime-diaz-0530#ixzz2xeLoR6Tj
Is the contention that play was significantly faster generations ago merely an "old oaken bucket" delusion? Possibly to a degree.
There is Speed Golf -- a neat sport btw that features few clubs and very fit competitors running the course to achieve the fewest strokes in the shortest time -- and there is golf. Golf tends to be leisurely. It can be leisurely to the point of irritation, but you don't want to speed it up too much because then golf loses its character. IMO.
As a TV viewer I could not care less how long the players take, though I don't like to have coverage cut off and to be referred to the Golf Channel which I do not receive. I like to enjoy the green expanses and the rhythm of the swings. I am not at the edge of my seat to see who ultimately wins. Enjoy seeing somebody from the back of the pack winning, like Bowditch, otherwise I don't care what the scores are. If you are obsessed with scores, try basketball or baseball. Otherwise, let's just settle back for a pleasant afternoon.
Do I play golf that way? No. Normally, no address ceremony, no waggles, just trot up to the ball and hit it. I really ought to take more time on putts. My mental model is Mich. Gov. George Romney, who, according to the Sat Evening Post back in the 60s, played 2-3 balls and ran between balls tugging on a pull cart. But really, who wants to run on a golf course?