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FORE May/June 2013 : Page 28

Playing at the Pace of BY JUDD SPICER THE PALMS According to Ebersberger, pro golf’s time dilemma further extends beyond the ropes. “Where we really noticed the problem come to the forefront was with all the teachers and gurus and sports psychologists,” Ebersberger says. “They’re tremendous for the game, but their bit is, ‘Don’t play until you’re ready. If you lose your concentration, start all over.’” When starting his club, Ebersberger actively con-sulted with Palms’ designers Brian Curley and Fred Couples during course construction in the late 1990s. Along with creating succinct, hole-to-hole segues (“That alone saves you 10-minutes,” he says), Ebersberger also eliminated cross bunkers from the original design. “I was of the opinion that the cross bunkers only affected the average player; all you’re doing is slowing down play,” Ebersberger adds of a routing that plays tough enough without the added design element. “My feeling was the cross bunkers would only hinder the shorter-hitter from being able to run his ball in.” For Ebersberger, slow play is a disease. The cure comes both in a sweeping purview of one’s approach to a timely round, but also minutely; all the superfl uous minutes, moments and minutia add up to on-course excess – and the clock is ticking. Aptly regarded among the top “Players Clubs” in the country (and yes, there are a great many fi ne sticks here) The Palms is nonetheless more about time than talent. All members are provided a 16-point, single-SCGA.ORG I n the time it takes to read these words, J.D. Ebers-berger will have played two holes. Few golf courses in Southern California – if not the entire country – pay respect to “Pace of Play” to the degree of The Palms GC in La Quinta, Calif. Founded, designed and run with “Pace” a core tenet of club bylaws, rounds exceeding 3 hours and 50 minutes at The Palms are unacceptable – no matter your name, no matter your game. “Nobody here cares what caliber of player you are, so long as you play fast,” says Ebersberger, The Palms’ founder, COO and Director of Golf. A veteran of the golf industry for nearly four decades and recent inductee into the Southern Califor-nia PGA Hall of Fame, Ebersberger speaks toward the sport’s burgeoning problem of slow play with all the celerity of his track’s bentgrass greens. “It’s killing the game,” Ebersberger says of methodi-cal golf. “Personally, I think it’s the biggest detriment going to this great game we have. People don’t want to be out there for fi ve or six hours. You know, in Japan it’s an all-day affair. They take the day off it’s so slow. And we’re starting to trend that way.” Experience begetting his candor, Ebersberger doesn’t bag his opinions. Though he acknowledges progress being made by golf’s governing bodies in addressing slow golf, he sees the buoyant issue as a trickle-down effect rolling from what’s seen on television to what’s enacted on-course. “The PGA TOUR and the USGA have done a poor job of enforcing pace of play,” Ebersberger states. “You look at the U.S. Open: They’re playing twosomes and they think they’re doing better now because they’re down to four-and-a-half hours. You should be four hours or less with four players – all the time. What they really need to do is not fi ne them but penalize them, where it costs players standings, the whole bit.” 28 | FORE Magazine | MAY/JUNE 2013

The Palms sets the pace

Judd Spicer

In the time it takes to read these words, J.D. Ebersberger will have played two holes.

Few golf courses in Southern California – if not the entire country – pay respect to “Pace of Play” to the degree of The Palms GC in La Quinta, Calif. Founded, designed and run with “Pace” a core tenet of club bylaws, rounds exceeding 3 hours and 50 minutes at The Palms are unacceptable – no matter your name, no matter your game.

“Nobody here cares what caliber of player you are, so long as you play fast,” says Ebersberger, The Palms’ founder, COO and Director of Golf.

A veteran of the golf industry for nearly four decades and recent inductee into the Southern California PGA Hall of Fame, Ebersberger speaks toward the sport’s burgeoning problem of slow play with all the celerity of his track’s bentgrass greens.

“It’s killing the game,” Ebersberger says of methodical golf. “Personally, I think it’s the biggest detriment going to this great game we have. People don’t want to be out there for five or six hours. You know, in Japan it’s an all-day affair. They take the day off it’s so slow. And we’re starting to trend that way.”

Experience begetting his candor, Ebersberger doesn’t bag his opinions. Though he acknowledges progress being made by golf ’s governing bodies in addressing slow golf, he sees the buoyant issue as a trickle-down effect rolling from what’s seen on television to what’s enacted on-course.

“The PGA TOUR and the USGA have done a poor job of enforcing pace of play,” Ebersberger states. “You look at the U.S. Open: They’re playing twosomes and they think they’re doing better now because they’re down to four-and-a-half hours. You should be four hours or less with four players – all the time. What they really need to do is not fine them but penalize them, where it costs players standings, the whole bit.”

According to Ebersberger, pro golf ’s time dilemma further extends beyond the ropes.

“Where we really noticed the problem come to the forefront was with all the teachers and gurus and sports psychologists,” Ebersberger says. “They’re tremendous for the game, but their bit is, ‘Don’t play until you’re ready. If you lose your concentration, start all over.’”

When starting his club, Ebersberger actively consulted with Palms’ designers Brian Curley and Fred Couples during course construction in the late 1990s. Along with creating succinct, hole-to-hole segues (“That alone saves you 10-minutes,” he says), Ebersberger also eliminated cross bunkers from the original design.

“I was of the opinion that the cross bunkers only affected the average player; all you’re doing is slowing down play,” Ebersberger adds of a routing that plays tough enough without the added design element. “My feeling was the cross bunkers would only hinder the shorterhitter from being able to run his ball in.”

For Ebersberger, slow play is a disease. The cure comes both in a sweeping purview of one’s approach to a timely round, but also minutely; all the superfluous minutes, moments and minutia add up to on-course excess – and the clock is ticking.

Aptly regarded among the top “Players Clubs” in the country (and yes, there are a great many fine sticks here) The Palms is nonetheless more about time than talent. All members are provided a 16-point, single- page bible entitled, “Simple Ways to Quicken Pace of Play,” that serves as a guide toward playing under the 3 hour 50 minute mark.

Individually, with “Ready Golf” at the forefront, the rules read as rudimentary to most. Cumulatively, they work as a creative and concise declaration of time-savers. And though The Palms is indeed a private facility, the embrace of said directives is easily applicable to any course in the country. With “Quicken” rules/reminders as basic as scoring on an ensuing tee box, carrying a spare ball and clearing the 18 green immediately upon completion of play, The Palms sees an average round (which includes 20 percent walkers) timed at 3 hours and 30 minutes.

“Say somebody hits a bad shot around the green,” Ebersberger further examples. “Players on the green can putt and say to the other guy, ‘You go ahead. We’ll putt, and you take the time getting to your ball.’ While that guy is heading over to play his next chip shot, one or two players might putt. The other guy isn’t rushing and it’s actually more conducive to helping the guy that just struggled. As opposed to him rushing over there, now he’s able to take his time.”

To play at The Palms is to witness constant motion. While the sensitive may feel the pace belies some form of honors, the true honor comes via respecting playing partners with consistent preparation.

“Ready golf is the whole key. Hit when ready and don’t worry about honors,” says Ebersberger, noting that simple readiness eliminates 15-minutes from a round. “Honors are fine in tournament golf, but beyond tournament golf it’s about enjoying the game. We need to do whatever it takes to let people enjoy the game.”

Ebersberger admits that doing “whatever it takes” has alienated some former members (“And that’s OK; that’s their prerogative,” he says), just as he’s been forced to suspend certain playing privileges for current perpetrators of slow play. Should members not take note of reminder time cards he’s known to intermittently place in carts, Ebersberger ensues with a more personal approach.

“We’ll call them in and have a talk,” Ebersberger says of manifesting his maxim. “For a repeat offender, we’ll tell them they can’t play fivesomes anymore. And although we haven’t ever had to enforce the aspect of it: We’d temporarily move a member out of prime time for repeatedly slow foursomes.”

Ebserberger’s philosophy is wellfleshed across The Palms, and no player – no matter their status – is too big for the manners of the mantra.

“We had a slow play deal recently with a TOUR player here,” Ebersberger smiles. “My staff said, ‘You’ve got to pick the pace up – we play in 3:50.’ He said, ‘I can’t play in 3:50, I have a 40-second pre-shot routine.’” Needless to say, The Palms probably isn’t the place for him.

Time is the new currency. And in an ever-expedited world, the true gentleman’s gamer takes a page from The Palms and pays homage to life’s greatest asset.

Read the full article at http://editiondigital.net/article/The+Palms+sets+the+pace/1405051/159912/article.html.

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