Martin Dempster: Education is key to stamping out slow play

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Education is undoubtedly the key to golf having a brighter future with less slow play, as Walker Cup captain Nigel Edwards highlighted with a story about one of Scotland’s current top amateurs.

The Welshman talked about how Bearsden’s Ewen Ferguson was put on the clock during the stroke-play qualifying for this year’s Amateur Championship at Carnoustie and became “agitated” by that because he was “not aware of what he was doing”.

Apparently, the 2013 British Boys’ champion was then penalised during the US Amateur at Olympia Fields a few holes after Edwards had personally timed him taking 1min 45secs to play a shot. It was after Ferguson had been called up to the Walker Cup team for the match at Royal Lytham in September that Edwards was able to get the message through to the young Scot.

“Part of our preparation for the Walker Cup was helping him understand and improve his pace of play and in one of our practice rounds his average was 16 seconds to hit the ball once he’d chosen his club,” he said.

“Once he’d been made aware of this, he was able to factor it in and he wasn’t on the clock at all in the Walker Cup, where he played with great passion and was very successful. This is an example of how players can be educated about pace of play.”

It certainly is, and every swingle golfer has a duty with this 
particular burning issue. It’s part of life, of course, that we all develop bad habits. But let’s all play our part in stamping them out of golf. Be polite about it, but don’t be afraid to tell someone to get a move on or do things differently if it’s blatantly costing them time and, in turn, the rest of those on the course.