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USGA Sponsors Symposium on Pace of Play in November


Pace of play, an issue that has challenged golfers and facility operators, will be the subject of a day-long symposium hosted by the United States Golf Association.

"While We're Young: Golf's Pursuit of a New Paradigm for Pace of Play" will be held Thursday, November 7, at USGA headquarters in Far Hills, N.J. The forum will feature some of golf's leaders in discussions intended to bring new ideas and pace of play solutions to all levels of the game.

"This gathering represents an extraordinary group of individuals coming together at an important time in the game," said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis. "We won't solve pace of play over the course of a single day, but we will hopefully come away with a clearer path for our industry to collaborate and make progress on this important issue."

Davis will open the day's proceedings, which will include presentations, roundtable discussions and networking opportunities. Speakers and panelists will share insights and best practices that have improved the time it takes to play the game, and discuss how facilities and organizations can better serve today's players and future generations of golfers through improved pace of play.

"It is important for the long-term health and growth of golf to take steps to make the game more enjoyable, and one of those steps is an improvement in pace of play," said Tyler Dennis, the PGA Tour's vice president of competition. "The USGA symposium will be an excellent opportunity for the golf industry to examine this long-standing issue and work toward pace of play solutions for both competitive and recreational golf."

The symposium will include presentations given by USGA Technical Director Matt Pringle and Green Section Education Director Jim Moore, who have undertaken a continuing study of pace of play based on real-world data. They will outline the fundamental causes of poor pace of play and offer concrete advice that course managers can employ to improve pace of play at their facilities.

The USGA's findings will present the case for accurate measurement of the factors that most influence pace of play, and will set a road map toward achieving the goal of effectively managing the duration of rounds at courses around the country.

In addition to representatives from the USGA, other leaders from across the golf industry participating in the symposium include:

Paul Cushing - GCSAA Class A Member and Assistant Deputy Director, City of San Diego's Golf Division Operations and Maintenance
Heather Daly-Donofrio - Senior VP Tour Operations, LPGA
Tyler Dennis - VP of Competition, PGA Tour
Stephen Hamblin - Executive Director, American Junior Golf Association
Kevin Heaney - Executive Director, Southern California Golf Association
Mike O'Donnell - Senior Director of Player Development, PGA of America
Lou Riccio - Senior Lecturer, Columbia University
Jerry Tarde - Editor-in-Chief, Golf Digest
Ryan Walls - Senior VP Operations, Troon Golf
Bill Yates - President, Pace Management Systems

"I'm thrilled to represent the LPGA and take part in the symposium," said Daly-Donofrio. "This issue is a major focus for our organization and I look forward to sharing our successes and also the challenges we face in working to improve in this area. Events like this are a terrific way for the key organizations to learn from each other as we work collectively to build a stronger game."

"With pace of play consistently being the core concern from our guests, we recently put our stake in the ground with Troon Values Your Time," added Walls. "We needed to establish and maintain a viable program that will improve the enjoyment of the game for everyone and redefine the expectation on pace of play. Equally important, this symposium will allow industry leaders to come together to develop programs that work for all involved in changing the perception and reality of how long it takes to play a round of golf and ultimately overcoming a key concern for the growth of our game."

The symposium is part of an ongoing, multi-year pace of play initiative announced by the USGA in February, when the association publicly identified pace of play as a significant threat to the game's health. It caps nearly a year of measurable progress toward addressing one of golf's long-standing challenges - one that impacts participation in, and enjoyment of, the game.

In 2013, the USGA - with input from several collaborators - identified and analyzed some of the key factors known to influence pace of play. In June, the association unveiled the "While We're Young" campaign at the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club that included public service announcements by Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Clint Eastwood, Annika Sorenstam, Paula Creamer and Butch Harmon.

In July, as part of the USGA campaign, a series of educational videos was introduced to the pace of play resource center (www.usga.org/whilewereyoung) to highlight pace-of-play factors and solutions.

The USGA also focused on its own championships, adding new player notifications designed to raise awareness; adding on-course officials to help track and enforce pace-of-play guidelines; and experimenting with adjustments to course setup and spectator/player operations around the golf course to learn how such factors might influence pace of play.

A recap of the pace of play symposium, including the reporting of research findings, photos and video clips, will be available after November 7 on www.usga.org.