I have just returned from St Andrews, Scotland where I got to spend a few days with major stakeholders in the game talking about “pace of play” and indeed “the time it takes to play a round of golf”. The event titled “Time for golf” was very well done and the press so far has been excellent.
See: http://www.scotsman.com/sport/golf/golf-st-andrews-seminar-bids-to-speed-up-pace-of-play-1-3957713 and http://www.randa.org/~/media/RandA/Downloads%20and%20Free%20Publications/2015/RATFG%20Programme.ashx
I was asked to talk on the subject “Is modern golf design responsible for slow play”. I will divulge all that was said in my monthly piece for the HK Golfer – to be published in January – but I want to add just a taster:
“Today there is too much emphasis on designing features such as bunkers and water bodies to create golf course charm and strategic interest when something as simple as a bump or depression can add as much value – with the penalty being much less severe for the golfer. Also, if we were to substitute some of our man-made features for more natural ones (think of grass depressions, fairway tiers or bumps in the ground) then I am willing to bet it would go a long way in helping solve some of the pace of play issues that harm our game”
I believe ground contours are THE ideal golf feature. You see ground contours – humps and bumps, depressions and mounds etc– are not hard to negotiate (certainly not as hard as bunkers) and mow them tight as fairway and the shot options and possibilities are multiplied considerably. Give the golfer the opportunity to play the shot (with the club) they are most comfortable with and I bet the outcome is much improved all round.
Some pictures of the marvelous ground contouring at St Andrews (both old and new course)