‘Ready Golf’ is going to form part of the Rules of Golf from 2019, but the LET Access Series has wasted little time in introducing the initiative to speed up play one year early.
The LET Access Series recently successfully introduced the concept at the Terre Blanche Ladies Open in France in early April.
“It’s a discussion that we have had with the LETAS Player’s Council, who are completely on board to look at ways to improve the pace of play,” explained LETAS Director Di Barnard. “A round of golf can take anywhere from 4 hours 20 minutes to over five hours, which is a long time to be out on the golf course. If ‘Ready Golf’ improves the pace of play by just a few minutes a round, it’s a step in the right direction.”
‘Ready Golf’ is part of The R&A and USGA’s Rules modernisation process that began five years ago, to fit the needs of the game globally.
The concept of ‘Ready Golf’ could not be simpler: it’s a case of play when you’re ready, rather than when the rules decree, namely ‘the farthest from the hole plays first’.
David Rickman, Executive Director – Governance, commented:
“The R&A is delighted that the LET Access Series will be adopting ‘Ready Golf”. Since we started to promote ‘Ready Golf” at the time of the release of our Pace of Play Manual, it has undoubtedly proved to be the most effective way to cut rounds times at all levels of the game.”
The directive has been well received by the players. The 2017 LET Access Series Order of Merit winner, Meghan MacLaren, who earned her first Ladies European Tour title in the Women’s New South Wales Open in March, commented: “Without doubt it will help. We played ‘Ready Golf’ most of the time in college and it was of definite benefit to us. There’s no need if people are ready for them to wait if they don’t need to, so I think it will definitely help to progress things along. It’s a good move from the LET Access Series.”
The 2012 Crete Ladies Open champion Christine Wolf, who represented Austria in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, agrees.
She said: “I think ‘Ready Golf’ is great and most of the players on Tour are definitely up for it. In some sort of way, we have been doing it for years. If someone is struggling, you usually ask your playing partner: ‘Do you want me to go? I am ready’, or if the person holding the honour isn’t in position yet or ready to play, you usually just hit off. I think if everyone does it, it will help the game and make it faster. No one wants any more five-hour rounds.”
In terms of the speed of play, some improvements were observed at the tournament in Terre Blanche but the true impact of Ready Golf will be measured at the end of the season.
The Golfing Union of Ireland (GUI) and England Golf have been implementing the concept since 2016, although generally only as a safety net, when a group is not keeping up with the group in front, to get them quickly back into position.
“We’ve found that’s when it’s most useful. It’s astonishing how quickly a group can get back into position when they adopt ‘Ready Golf’,” said James Crampton, championship director, England Golf.
The LET Access Series has taken it one step further in encouraging its players to adopt ‘Ready Golf’ all the time, so that it is adopted into their routines from the beginning of their professional careers.
The next tournament where ‘Ready Golf’ will be implemented will be the VP Bank Ladies Open, in Gams, Switzerland, which begins on Friday.
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