Golfers satisfied with pace of play

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – Amid all of the hand-wringing about golf’s slow play and how it is killing the game, the R&A has released survey results from golfers worldwide that conclude something else.

More than two-third of golfers are satisfied with the length of time that it takes to play golf, the R&A found in answers from more than 56,000 respondents, most of whom were from outside of the U.S. The results were released during the U.S. Golf Association’s Media Day on Monday at Chambers Bay, site of the 2015 U.S. Open.

Most respondents were happy with the pace of play and did not cite the time that it takes for a round of golf as the reason why they didn’t play more frequently on an annual basis. The survey found that 68.9 percent of the respondents were happy or happy most of the time with the pace of play versus 31.1 percent that were sometimes happy or never happy.

The time to play golf varied depending on geographic location, with most respondents in Great Britain and Ireland playing in 3 1/2 to four hours; outside of GB&I, the typical round among the respondents takes 4 to 4 1/2 hours.

Though most of the respondents are content with the pace of play, 60.1 percent said that faster play would increase their enjoyment of the game. Only 25 percent said that a significant change in the pace of play would increase their participation, but only if the change in the pace were improved by at least 21 to 39 minutes per round.

A common assumption holds that pace of play significantly affects why people don’t play golf. According to the survey, work commitments, at 33.9 percent, led the reasons influencing frequency of play, with family commitments (28.8 percent) ranking second. Pace of play (15.9 percent) was third, followed by alternative hobbies (12.3 percent), cost of play (7.3 percent), difficulty (1.2 percent) and cost of equipment (0.6 percent).

Of the 56,248 respondents surveyed from September 2014 to March 2015, only 1,536 were from the U.S. Respondents were predominantly male (82.6 percent), and 94 percent carry handicaps, with 37.7 percent playing to a 13-20 and 27.9 percent carrying a 6-12.

Other interesting results from the survey:

— 10.3 percent of respondents carry their own bag
— 3.1 percent use a caddie
— 70.8 percent use power or pull trolleys
— 15.7 percent use a golf cart
— Foursomes are favored in the most of the world, but a three-ball game is preferred in Continental Europe
— 91.3 percent prefer playing 18 holes
— A majority of respondents in Australasia, Continental Europe, GB&I and North America use measuring devices during their rounds

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