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Faster Greens = Slower Play


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From here, comes this:

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Green speed was shown to be statistically significant in impacting pace of play. An increase of one foot in Stimpmeter reading resulted in an increase of 6.39 seconds per green per player.  This one foot increase equates to an increase in total round time of a foursome of 7.67 minutes. In some instances, the increase in time spent per player per green resulted in an increase of as much as 30 minutes per round for a one foot increase in green speed (25 seconds per player per green).

If 6.39 is the average, and that average includes "up to 25 seconds," then there may have been a lot of players below that average, which while statistically significant, doesn't seem to be all that bad. I mean, if four players take an extra 15 seconds on a green in total, that's only 4.5 minutes per round.

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Overall, playing experience ratings decreased as green speeds increased. This decrease, although statistically significant, was small.

:hmm: That is a puzzling one and they don't give much data on it. I generally don't enjoy courses with slow greens.

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In conclusion, we found that faster greens equate to longer round times. The strength of this relationship, however, is not as substantial as we had hypothesized.

So it increases round times but not substantially, nor even as much as they had guessed/hypothesized.


The study is overall pretty weak in the sense that we don't know what the average greens are like, or anything - were we talking about massively undulated greens (where you'd want to keep them at slower speeds), or were these relatively flat greens that could take a little speed and still be very playable?

This doesn't tell us much, but it's one of the few non-broken images in the "study":

graph1_1.png?itok=xbbPpM06

I also wonder if their play is from a regular group of players. If the greens normally stimp at 9, then the players may be surprised to show up and find their greens stimping at 10 or 11, and may putt badly and thus take more time throughout the entire round because it's simply not what they're used to. Players get used to how their course plays, and if they keep smashing the ball by the hole in the first few holes, they're gonna freak out and play slower, and not really get a good feel for the speed most of the day.

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I agree that I didn't find the study so compelling that I now think fast greens are one of the biggest factors in the pace of play initiative.  

http://www.usga.org/course-care/forethegolfer/2017/the-architectural-speed-limit-for-putting-greens.html

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Some see faster green speeds as more desirable, but they may not appreciate the increased maintenance costs and slower pace of play that often accompany faster greens.

 

USGA even assumes the relationship in this article above. But I like the term "architectural speed limit." 

I think that for the study to be done effectively, they'd have to define a little better what that architectural speed limit is and ensure that no hole exceeded that limit. Did they put holes in locations where the green wasn't really designed to accommodate that much speed, given its topology? 

For example, maybe on those "25 second" holes, that is what was going on. They could've made some sort of statement about correlation (or non-correlation) between the increased pace of play of 25 seconds and the percent slope of the ground near the hole. But they didn't. 

And if they goofed up just a few holes on just one of the seven courses they analyzed, it could have a big impact on the study results. 

From that USGA article above, I'm led to think that the main issue in setting green speeds is not so much the pace of play, but ensuring that there are not too many unusable hole locations on the green. Give facility managers the full range of options of pin placements for the green topology.

I'm actually more interested in how they define that architectural speed limit- what is considered too fast for a given slope of a green, such that playability/enjoyment is reasonable for most of us?

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I guess faster greens = more break = more reading time makes sense. But IMO undulations level is probably a big factor. A flatish green stimping at 11 is actually fun since in my experience they roll much more true but is a significantly different experience if it is also greatly undulated. I can see folks stalking the hole from all angles much more than they would usually.  

 

Edited by GolfLug
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The piece I want to see from this - how significant is this in comparison to other factors that play into pace of play. I get that faster greens means slower play, but how much of an effect is it on overall pace of play? For example, what's the delay associated with higher rough, more hazards, tighter tee times, etc.? If an inch of rough adds 15 minutes per round, it makes more sense to address that than the green speed.

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I want to see them do a similar study and compare the effects of greens rolling a 12 vs an 8 to the effects of someone playing one set of tees too long for their game and a set that's the proper length for their golf game. I'm pretty sure I know which of the two will add more time to a round of golf.

What they seem to always ignore in the study of slow play, however, is the fact that nobody seems to know how to actually play ready golf. If people knew how to and truly did play ready golf, it wouldn't even be a discussion because rounds of golf would regularly be under 4 hours per round. 

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I wonder where most players would fall if you asked if they liked fast or slow greens. I would lean toward fast. Not lighting fast, but I want the ball to get there. I'm pretty sure I spend more time over a 25' putt than a 150 yard shot, but I really don't think green speed is a reason. I wonder if there are more three putts on fast vs slow greens? On fast, that four foot comebacker can be pretty scary looking.

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Where I play, green speeds above an 8 = more putts = slower play.

This is a Robert Trent Jones Sr. executive course, the greens are too sloped for green speeds of a 10.  There is just too few places to put the pin.  There are plenty of situations at that speed where from 10 feet above the hole it's really hard to leave it closer than 20 feet... I had two of those this morning.

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While my observations are anything but scientific, I can say that the steady increase in green speeds on my home course (from 7 when I first started there to 10.5-11 now) through the 90's and into the 2000's directly coincided with steady increase in playing times in our Men's Club events.  It got to the point where we had to institute our own pace of play policy, separate from the course's policy to police ourselves.  That policy (with penalties imposed for breaches) has brought our playing times down to just an acceptable range, but still not where it was when I first joined the men's club in 1989. 

On some of the hot, dry days in July and August, and some pin placements can result in regularly 3 and 4 putting certain greens.  I have seen times, fortunately rare, when every player in the group failed to hole out in less than 3 putts each.  On one par 3 hole, the course has quit cutting the hole on the back tier on men's club tournament days because it increases the difficulty for every shot, not only putting.  That hole (#4 on the course) used to back us up for 2 or 3 groups when the hole was in the back.  Now there is rarely more than a brief wait while the group in front putts out. 

It's not as significant for general public play because so many casual golfers will just give themselves that 3 or 4 foot 3rd putt after missing the first 2, so they don't get into a 4 putt or 5 putt situation.  

Edited by Fourputt
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12 minutes ago, Fourputt said:

While my observations are anything but scientific, I can say that the steady increase in green speeds on my home course (from 7 when I first started there to 10.5-11 now) through the 90's and into the 2000's directly coincided with steady increase in playing times in our Men's Club events.

That's not the only thing that changed in that time frame.

And I'm not saying you said that. Just pointing it out. A lot changed. And green speeds were likely well down on the list of reasons for a decrease in the pace of play.

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6 minutes ago, iacas said:

That's not the only thing that changed in that time frame.

And I'm not saying you said that. Just pointing it out. A lot changed. And green speeds were likely well down on the list of reasons for a decrease in the pace of play.

My anecdotal comment may point to a contributing factor.  What would you see as other changes that contributed to the general slowing of the game?

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9 minutes ago, Fourputt said:

My anecdotal comment may point to a contributing factor.  What would you see as other changes that contributed to the general slowing of the game?

Several things. More players hitting it further. Newer players not as versed in etiquette/pace of play ideas. Etc.

Not really the topic here, though.

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Faster Greens = Slower Play:

Hmmmm. Let's see. The study, I don't know has enough data points to prove this. But I will say in my case, even when playing a new course like when we played Conklin last summer, Those greens were a little faster than what I was used to... I take the same amount of time over a putt no matter how fast or slow the greens are... It's more routine for me. Sure, it'll will take me a few holes to adjust to the speed of the greens. However, I adjust that while playing.

@iacas Couldn't slower greens than a golfer is used to, also slow up play?

 

Edited by onthehunt526
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45 minutes ago, onthehunt526 said:

@iacas Couldn't slower greens than a golfer is used to, also slow up play?

This is an interesting thought. What if it's not the speed of the green that slows up play, but changes in the speed of the green from day to day? In other words, if you keep the greens always at a 10, will going to a 9 or an 11 one day slow down play? Or is it only getting faster that makes it slower?

I personally prefer faster greens to slower greens, so I admit I'm trying to find a way to debunk this study, ha.

Edited by DeadMan
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I use to play a course in Vegas, 3-4 times a week, where we had the first tee time in the mornings. 

We would usually catch the guy mowing the greens on about the 6th hole. There were two other mowers working. Basically we were playing on fresh cut, faster greens. All of our number of putts increased by 2, or 3 in those early morning hours. This from when might play later on in the day, where we usually had fewer putts. 

Me personally, I putted better from 10am to 2pm. I missed more putts in the morning, and afternoons than I did during mid day rounds. This was back when I was keeping a lot of stats. Maybe 20-30 years ago. 

I just figured I putted better during the mid day period, because green speed at that time of day, matched up better with my own, normal putting stroke. 

With plenty of desert southwest daylight to work with, I just assumed the green speed became slower after the morning mowing as the day progressed.  

Edited by Patch
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2 hours ago, onthehunt526 said:

@iacas Couldn't slower greens than a golfer is used to, also slow up play?

Of course, slower greens increase the time it takes for the ball to roll in. . .:-D

That's at least a minute a round! 

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While the study seems pretty weak, the conclusion seems to make some sense. I still think I'd live with an extra 4.5 minutes for a more enjoyable experience on the greens though.

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8 hours ago, Lihu said:

Of course, slower greens increase the time it takes for the ball to roll in. . .:-D

That's at least a minute a round! 

Actually you've got that backward, @Lihu.

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