There’s been much discussion about Copper Creek (a course in Kleinburg, Ont.) and its so-called 4.5 hour guarantee that will offer players breaks on green fees for future games if there rounds take more than the prescribed time. The program is ambitious and being led by executive golf professional (I can use that phrase now that I know what it means…) Chris Neale. Chris answered some questions to give G4G readers clarity on the plan.
G4G: How long had you been considering the issue of slow play at the course? What led to this step?
Neale: We have been talking about this type of program for some time. Slow play has always been an issue at premium daily fee courses. Some of this is warranted but most is perception (see below). Only in the most extreme cases (ie: absolute beginner) does a golfers ability have a detrimental effect on pace of play. It is all the things in between hitting shots that slows things down. We intend to make our guests aware of those things that will help improve pace. We wanted to come up with a program that would have a lasting effect (consistent pace under 4 ½) and to be able to give something back to our clients if we fail. All of this is designed to create client loyalty in an increasingly competitive market.
G4G: Had you considered a program aimed at faster players?
A program aimed at faster players was actually our first scenario. The only problem would be the fights you would have between slower and faster groups. We didnt want to be referees. In fact in our current program we do have rewards for faster players.
G4G: Why is golf at most so-called corporate courses so slow? What are the causes?
Part of your comment is fact and the other is perception. Shotgun events tend to play slower. The perception part comes when players who play in shotgun corporate events take 5 “ 6 hours to play and suddenly your course is labeled Ëœslow. In fact for straight tee times our pace is pretty decent. However we want it to be even better.
G4G: What can be done to remedy this? What will you guys do if slow play continues?
The pace of shotgun events is predicated by a number of things such as number of groups, on course competitions and format. Most events that have limited fields and no on course competitions play under five hours. Also competition itself is a factor. People take longer when there is something on the line. We will continue our program regardless. We are committed to keeping our pace under 4 ½ hours. If we are successful who knows¦¦maybe next year it will be 4 hours!
G4G: What do you think the impact will be on Copper Creek?
Of course there has been some feedback saying it is just marketing. Well of course it is however there is an end goal. I think there is a definite degree of customer loyalty that we can create by having a pace consistently under 4 ½ hours. The golfers that have been to Copper Creek this year have all expressed their approval of our plan.