Slow play is a hot topic at the moment on the LPGA and PGA Tours, but as I reflect on so many of my own experiences on the golf course, slow play has always been a big issue for recreational golfers as well . . . but not in the way you might assume.
I had an all too familiar reminder during an experience with a group of friends a few weeks ago. Ten of us traveled out of town to play a new golf course. Given our size, we couldn’t play together in foursomes, leaving two of the women in our group to be paired with other golfers. Fortunately, we’re a friendly group who happen to be comfortable playing with new people, so we saw no issues breaking up and meeting other golfers.
The Starter set our two ladies up in the tee time just ahead of the rest of our group with two men. Unfortunately, it was obvious from the gentlemen’s body language that they were less than happy to be playing with two female golfers.
It became clear after the first hole that our friends, and the balance of our group for that matter, would be in for a long day on the golf course. The two men were high handicap golfers, which typically isn’t an issue; however, they each took an incredibly long-time making practice swings and reading putts. By the third hole, the foursome was already two holes behind the group in front of them.
Being a busy day at the resort, the Ranger approached the group on the fourth tee to notify them that they were behind pace and suggested they split up into twosomes. The group agreed, but what happened next took our friends by surprise.
The Ranger sent the two male golfers off in front of our friends to continue.
After waiting for the gentlemen to hit their tee shots, our friends addressed the situation with the Ranger, expressing that they, in fact, were the faster and more skilled players of the foursome and, as such, should have been sent off first. Sadly, the Ranger completely dismissed their claims, responding that he’d check back in after a few holes to see how each group was progressing.
Our friends pressed on for an agonizing next few holes of hitting and waiting. When the Ranger did finally make his way back, our friends were patiently waiting on the 9th tee box for the men ahead of them to clear the fairway. Surprised, the Ranger drove ahead to watch the men finish the hole. From the green, he could also clearly watch our friends’ tee off, both nearly driving the green. Poetic justice at its finest.
The Ranger quickly realized his mistake. But rather than asking the men ahead to allow the two women to play through, he politely asked them to pick up their pace.
When our friends finally made it to the 18th hole, they were met by the Head Golf Professional who greeted them, apologized for the slow round, and presented them each with a dozen golf balls to make amends. It was an exasperating experience, and when our entire group reunited at the 19th hole for lunch, we all traded stories from similar experiences feeling discounted of our abilities or brushed off all together by the staff at a golf course.
Despite being better (and faster) players, the Ranger made the assumption that the two women in the group were the reason for the slow play. It’s this kind of subtle bias that frustrates so many women on the golf course.
There are no doubt slow golfers out there, but generalizations about how women play are both unfair and keep many women away from this amazing game. Perhaps, next time the ranger will at least watch the group to see which of the four golfers are the slower players.
We can only hope.