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Golf pro says players 'went crazy' when he called them out for slow play

"They believed they had a 'right' to play at their own pace," the pro said.
deer run golf club

Slow play can ruin a round of golf. That's why there are rangers to keep players on pace. 

But last week at Deer Run Golf Club, a public course in Victoria, a group of golfers "went crazy" when asked to speed up their pace of play, Deer Run's general manager and PGA professional Tom Abts wrote in a blog post on Friday.

According to Abts, the foursome played the first three holes in an hour, which if they continued at that pace they'd finish 18 holes in six hours (four hours is the max it should take to play 18). 

By the time the group got to the fourth fairway, there were three foursomes waiting on the No. 4 tee box. 

"I went out and explained the situation to them, and asked to catch up to the group in front of them," Abts wrote, noting that the group was already on the sixth hole. "They were agreeable and promised to catch up."

But they didn't. They finished the front 9 in 2 hours and 20 minutes (a pace of 4 hours and 40 minutes), which is "not acceptable," Abts said, noting it's "not fair to everyone behind them in this unnecessary traffic jam."

Abts said he talked to them on the No. 11 tee box and they "got hostile." 

"They believed they had a 'right' to play at their own pace. I explained that they paid for a slot on the golf course – not the whole golf course. If they wanted to play at whatever pace they wanted, they could rent the course for the day, but it would be a very expensive round of golf," Abts said. 

He went to the clubhouse and got cash to refund their round. He offered it to them on the No. 12 tee box. 

"Then they went crazy," Abts said. 

But they did speed up their play. Abts said they did this not to "do the right thing," but did it to make him look like a "jerk." 

"Now their goal was to play as fast as possible and then claim at the end of the round that they weren’t slow," he wrote.

They finished their round in 4 hours and 20 minutes, and "couldn't wait to jump all over me," Abts said. They were "motivated to be the victims in this ridiculous situation." 

"They weren’t motivated earlier about unfairly backing up the course … they paid their green fees and felt entitled to play at any pace … even if they wrecked the round for everybody behind them," Abts said, adding that the foursome tried to "bait" him and attacked him personally. 

Abts, and Deer Run, are no strangers to slow play nor people getting angry for being told to play faster. 

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In the 1990s, Deer Run had a reputation for being a slow course. The pace of play was whopping 3.5 hours for nine holes, Abts said. 

But he worked hard to change the course's reputation. 

Abts launched Fast Play Friday in 1997, where the rule was golfers had to play the first 9 in 1 hour and 55 minutes of you had to go home. There were rangers every three holes to keep people moving, and if they failed to play quickly, Abts would meet them on the No. 9 tee box and give them the option of skipping the hole and playing No. 10 or going home. 

"The responses were seldom good," Abts admitted, but "fortunately, I was young and could duck pretty quickly – no one ever landed a punch, though they tried."

Slow players eventually started avoiding Deer Run, and fast players sought out the course. Since then, Deer Run's pace has been four hours every day of the week. 

Abts did admit that it's "pretty rare" for people to become upset at being told to play faster. "Most people get it and realize that they are sharing the course … that they didn’t rent it all day only for themselves," he wrote. 

"I haven’t had anyone take a swing at me in years," he concluded. 

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