Optimized tee time intervals are a critical piece in maintaining a fluid pace on a golf course. As discussed in our latest article on Factory Physics, a golf course is a factory that produces rounds of golf played by golfers. As guided by the principles laid out by Lou Riccio’s Pace of Play bible, Head Pros must be aware that they are not allowing more players to tee off than the bottleneck can handle. As Lou suggests, “The result is delays in several places and long throughput times. In our case that means long playing times.”
As Lou discusses in his chapter describing tee time intervals, Par 3s are generally the bottleneck on most courses. Yet, there are cases where a short Par 5 or a long Par 4 may in fact be the true bottleneck on a course. But for Lou, there are two major principles that should be followed assuming Par 3s are a course’s bottleneck:
1.) If it takes 10 minutes to play a par three and there is no waving up, then any tee interval less than 10 minutes essentially guarantees a long round no matter how conscientious the players are about fast play. An 8-minute tee interval almost certainly results in a 5-hour round on a reasonably difficult course.
2.) If the course allows groups to start as soon as the first fairway is open, they have guaranteed long rounds. This almost always puts too many groups on the course and although it may look good on the first hole, things back up quickly after that. (Lou Riccio)
For Head Pros, Lou stresses that before any serious action is taken against a player’s “slow play”, they should self-examine and definitely know that they managed this process as effectively as one reasonably can. In detail, Lou suggests that “Before any education of individual golfers is considered, the course management has to do a study of its bottleneck hole(s) and establish a reasonable tee interval policy.”