It's happened to every golfer... and if it has never happened to you... you could be part of the problem: Slow pace of play. Whether the course has scrunched together tee times, or there are three groups of four walkers ahead of you—sometimes there is just nothing you can do to keep your rhythm on the course because of slow play.
We wanted to take a bird's eye view look at the data, and see for certain if pace of play actually affected how golfers scored during their rounds—or if it was just impatience grinding our gears and not actually hurting our rounds...
If you read Golf Monthly or follow Arccos on instagram (@arccosgolf) you would have already seen the results. But we wanted to provide a bit more 'color' compared to what our Instagram post divulged by presenting this blog. To set the stage, here are the parameters we set on the data in order to try and get the most accurate overview.
- In order for a players data to be included they needed to have at least six rounds of 18 holes recorded in Arccos.
- The distribution of handicap is also the same across each bucket
- Data is not controlled for weather
- Courses played needed to be between 6000-6500 yards in length
- Course had a rating of 70.0-73.0
- Courses had a slope of 120-130
- Par 72 courses only
For each of the course attributes above, the distribution is nearly identical for every bucket you look at (e.g. The breakdown of course length for rounds that are 4.5 to 5.0 hours is the same as rounds that are 3.0 to 3.5 hours. Meaning, we simply do not have more short courses in the 3 to 3.5 hour rounds, and that is driving down scores)
At a quick glance, every level of golfer benefits from a faster pace of play with the lowest scores coming in between 3.0-3.5 hour rounds. However, higher handicap golfers are slightly more affected by pace of play than their more skilled buddies. However, the actual change in scores is not as monumental as it may feel like when you're killing 10 minutes between each shot.
"Golf is a game that is played on a five-inch course — the distance between your ears." - Bobby Jones
There is something to be said for getting into a good rhythm and keeping it, but with the average addition of between 1-2 strokes added for an additional 1-2 hours of golf could have been worse. That being said... 1-2 strokes could be the difference in winning or achieving a new lowest score.
There are a lot of variables to consider when looking at any data set as it applies to real-life scenarios. This information wasn't designed to tell you that if you take longer to play a round you will definitely score 1-2 strokes worse than if you played faster, merely that you are more likely to score higher the longer you are out on the course... on average.
- Taking more shots takes more time. Technically, yes. But it doesn't take 2 hours to take 2 extra strokes. Adversely, it's very easy to rack up extra strokes in a very short period of time (unfortunately)
- Harder courses take longer to play. Well, that's why we tried to find a segment of courses that shared enough characteristics to compare them in a valuable way.
- Correlation VS Causation: similar to the first bullet point. This is designed to be a high level perspective on time as a factor in scoring.
- How was pace of play determined: controlled by you (playing slower to your own rhythm) or by external factors like groups ahead of you. Without knowing the causes of any delays, this will typically be a subjective assessment. Could also be determined by a player's attitude under the same conditions on different days. Golf is a mental game.
The takeaway from this is to maybe go a little easier on yourself the next time you play on a crowded or slow course. Or you can keep blaming the group in front of you... that is the easiest option after all. 😉