Why Play Golf America?

And the We Do NOT Care Award Goes to … Summitpointe Golf Club

A funny thing happened on the way to a five-plus hour round:  I found a course representative who cared less about the snail’s pace of play than the golfing mollusks causing it.

Make that several course representatives.

So with all the heartfelt respect I can muster, let me just say thank you SO very much Summitpointe and American Golf Corporation.

I recently played a portion of a round at Summitpointe, an AGC course in Milpitas, CA.  I say a portion because after  300 minutes on the course, sitting on the 16th tee with two groups ahead of us on the hole, and the gang from 15 set to arrive in seconds, we quit.  Packed it in.  Invoked the Duran Rule.

Golf is withering.  Courses are closing.  Players are fleeing the game. Kajillions of new projects stuttered, then stopped, then died.  Sure, it’s the economy, stupid.  One-time core golfers and wannabe golfers tell a different story: It’s the time, idiot.  Cost, difficulty, lingering antediluvian attitudes; toss ‘em aside — we ain’t playin’ because we can’t get out, around and done in anything less than five, nearly six sweeps of Mickey’s small hand.

Enter Summitpointe.

Sitting on the 10th tee, waiting for the 12 players ahead of us on the hole, we were approached by a course “ambassador,” the same one who previously drove by – twice, for good measure – without pausing to attempt to sort through the mess that was anywhere from 12-16 folks in various states of so-called play on the same hole.

“When did you tee off?” our caring steward of goodwill inquired.

“11:06,” I said.

“That’s impossible,” I was told, since it’s obvious I’m a miscreant and a sociopath who lies about such things.

“That would be 2:45 minutes ago,” I gently offered, thinking perhaps he’d missed the time change way back when.

“Can’t be,” he mumbled while scribbling on his time sheet before driving off … to the front nine.

It’s an American Golf Corporation facility, in case any of you missed the obvious signs.

After our roundette, I chatted up a gentleman who announced himself as other than a worker bee.  I told him of what we’d seen and experienced – and not experienced – including our finding that upon driving in we found an additional three groups on 17 and not a soul in sight on 18.

Various pleasantries aside, I was told, in so many and exact words:  “We don’t care.”

Thank you, Summitpointe.

Here’s the gist of Summitpointe’s/AGC’s argument:  I was an aggrieved visitor who obviously would never return.  If the course asked the offending glaciers to move along or, heresy of heresies, pick up, those players might not return. The difference? They were regular players. So the business model is to cater to slow play.

As I was brought up to never criticize without a solution to offer, I suggested that enforced play would lead to faster rounds, an enhanced reputation, more play and a healthier bottom line.

I’m not a PGA of America member or apprentice, I don’t have an MBA; my logic is faulty, of course.

“We understand, pace of play is a huge problem for the game, we hear it all the time,” came the retort. “But if we remove players, or ask them to speed up, they’ll get mad, and we’re not in business to offend our customers.”

Play Dead America.

TOPICS: The Golf Iconoclast Tags: , ,

ABOUT: Ken Van Vechten

A former newspaper reporter, columnist, political hack and corporate flack, golf, travel and lifestyle writer Ken Van Vechten thought the life of a freelancer would free him of the horrid memories of time-clock employment and doing the bidding of others. He hadn’t contemplated editors. A Jell-O-solid 13.6 on the course, he plays to a +6 at the table, in the kitchen and on the massage table.

2 Responses to “Why Play Golf America?”

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  1. bardolator

    The official said, “We’re not in business to offend our customers.” Isn’t that what he was doing?

    This “play it forward” concept that gets aired once or twice on each tv tournament- could course officials invoke that on really slow groups? The players might have more fun and play faster if their egos could take the idea of hitting from a lesser tee.

  2. Ken Van Vechten

    Well, that’s the idea, Jeff, but between the type of enforcement reticence shown by places like Summitpointe and that ego thing you so wisely tagged, it’s a tough row to hoe. I have a friend, a dear friend with whom I’ve played golf for eons, and he refuses to move up, though his game isn’t what it once was. It’s not a “real” course if he’s not playing 6500+ yards, and he doesn’t have that type of length; I’m a long hitter for a rec player and that’s, I’m no longer reluctant to admit, beyond my ken.

    The best test for determining if you’re playing the correct tees: Where do your good drives land in relation to bunkers, doglegs and hazards? If they’re not in play, you’re on the wrong tees (too long or even too short).

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