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Local courses trying to help golfers pick up the pace

  • From left to right, Ron Watt, of Texas, Josh Woodburn, of Texas, and Pat Brown, of Long Beach, wait for the green to clear on the par-3 third hole of the Foxtail North Golf Course on Friday. The time it takes to complete one round of golf is pushing players away, according to a study. (JOHN BURGESS / The Press Democrat)

The commercials played frequently during the telecasts of the U.S. Open last month. They played off the line from the movie “Caddyshack” in which Rodney Dangerfield's character tells a fellow golfer, “Let's go ... while we're young.”

The commercials featured Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer and Clint Eastwood, among others, and they signaled the U.S. Golf Association's declaration of war against slow play.

According to USGA research, more than 4 million golfers have given up the game in recent years and the primary reason cited is the tedious pace of play.

Around the Redwood Empire, the managers and club pros are well aware of the issue and its impact. They report that weekday rounds are still played at an acceptable pace, but the weekends are another story.

“From 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, it's going to be slower. That's kind of how it is,” said Nick Frisk, operations manager at Foxtail Golf Club in Rohnert Park. “So I think some people try to play at other times when it's not as busy.”

Santa Rosa Golf and Country Club professional Jeff Ogden doesn't see an ongoing drop in the number of players but acknowledges that slow play is something courses must address.

“Our numbers have been about the same the last couple of years, but down from our peak numbers from some years back,” Ogden said. “Slow play is definitely an issue. We're always conscious of pace of play. We're a private club, so we do pretty well. On a given day, it'll take players between four hours and 4 hours, 15 minutes to play a round here. If it's much longer than that, they get understandably irritable.”

Jeff Schmuhl, the pro at Windsor Golf Course, mentioned that there's more than slow play impacting people's decision to leave the game. He points out that players know going in that golf is a sport that requires an investment of time.

“We're down from our best years back in 2000,” Schmuhl said. “Things were really cranking back then. Butthe economy slowed and people had to make choices. If you don't have the money you once had, what the first thing you're going to sacrifice? Golf.

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