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‘If you get behind, you will run from the tee to the fairway to catch up’

Matthew Griffin explains why Japan is the best example of any country in terms of keeping on top of slow play

While many of us have been going back and forth over the whys and wherefores of slow play it seems that a very positive way forward is happening in Japan. Barry Lane and Sandy Lyle couldn’t sing its praises highly enough when it comes to pace of play.

With the eyes of the golfing world on Japan this week we spoke to Australia’s Matthew Griffin who plays on the Japan Golf Tour to hear how they actually get round in an acceptable time.

“I’ve played there for five years, it’s great. You have an allocated time to get round but you are expected to keep up with the group ahead of you no matter what time they’re playing in,” said Griffin.

“There was a time when we reached the turn in 1:59 and so were well under the time allocated but the official came up and said you need to hurry up as we had fallen a bit behind.

“I wasn’t having a great day so I said a few things and he came over after the round and explained that in Japan the rule is to be up with the group ahead of you. Sometimes that can be a little bit unfair but I’d rather it that way rather than having five-hour rounds.”

The genius of much of it is in its simplicity. While we all talk of four-point plans in Japan they just get a bloody move on.

“If you get a little bit behind then you will generally run from the tee to the fairway to catch up a little bit. When you’ve hit your tee shot on a par 4 or 5 you normally have 250 metres to have a little jog and pick up a little bit of time. It probably doesn’t look great but it shows a little bit of urgency and gets you a bit of time back.

“It’s the same for everyone, you’ve got the big names like Ryo Ishikawa but they all tend to play pretty fast. Japan has a very obedient culture, if an official comes up to you at a European Tour event the guys are a bit quicker to argue and say why they’re behind whereas in Japan no matter if it’s fair or unfair you just get a move on.”

And if you’re still not cutting the mustard then your peers will soon tell you about it.

“There are slow guys but the percentage is less. There is a bit more of a culture to almost call guys out a little bit, guys will have a quiet word and tell someone to get a move on so it gets nipped in the bud. But there are a few guys when the draw comes out that you think that’s not ideal.

“You could get a shot penalty or possible disqualification but I’ve never seen that. On the rare occasion you get put on the clock the group gets back in position pretty quick.”

Roll on next year’s Olympics…

Would you like to see the Japan model adopted at your club? Let us know in the comments below or you can tweet us.

Source: National Club Golf