played Raspberry Falls on Sunday, half of it any in 2 hours and 40 minutes. I had to abandon my round, because there was simply no way I was going to come even close to completing the back 9 in a reasonable amount of time to meet my commitments at home which were predicated on completing my round in less than 5 hours. Its really sad that under 5 hours is now the benchmark for the amount of time I allot to a round of golf. My friends finished the round in 5 hours and 20 min.
At the first tee, I was greeted by a very friendly and cordial starter who assured me that, "players will be pulled off the course at any point, if they are not moving at a 4:20 pace". Those were his exact words and I found them to be music to my ears, unfortunately there was no follow through, what so ever. Quite frankly, I wish courses would do this, even occasionally, because the only thing worse than local golfers are local courses when it comes to issues of slow play.
On the 4th tee, after nearly an hour on the course I called the pro shop to alert someone to the problem. I explained the manager who answered the phone that I was going to be waiting on the tee for some time and that 3 holes per hour was an unacceptable pace of play. I don't feel that the issue was taken seriously by the manager in the club house who eventually assured me that he would come out there and check out the problem. One of the rangers appeared at the 4th green while we were putting out. He seemed to be about as unfriendly of a ranger as I have come across. At other courses I play, the rangers are proactive in talking to groups in these kinds of situations. He offered no explanation as to the situation behind the delay. I would later find out that the ranger was not the person whom I spoke to at the pro shop. This same ranger turned up as we were waiting on the 9th tee. The group in front of us cleared the fairway and as I was over the ball to tee off, he came cutting across the elbow of the fairway to take up a position to observe play. I was able to sort of able to abort the swing and topped a ball into the hazard, in order to avoid putting a ball in play that might endanger someone who was riding out close to my intended line of play.
I got back to the clubhouse and went to vent to the manager on duty. He was apologetic and generous with an 18 hole replay and an midweek buy one get one. The manager told me that his ranger informed him that there was nothing wrong with the on course conditions or pace of play. The on course rangers obviously are not paying attention to the groups/tee times or it would have been obvious that something was wrong before I phoned in from the 4th tee. The clubhouse manager was also quick to point out that we were a threesome so thats why we were waiting a lot, but 2 hours and 40 minutes to play 9 holes is still easily half an hour too long, no matter how many golfers are in the group. He went on to lament that the course had sold a lot of Groupons to lesser golfers who don't know the etiquette and while I can appreciate the problems associated with that, its incumbent upon the golf course to enforce pace of play, especially one as expensive as Raspberry Falls. I stopped playing Bull Run last year after successive 5 hour rounds. I drove 45 minutes out and hour back to the course from my home in Arlington. The rest of our group comes from Rockville and Gainesville. It was a similar commute for me to play Bull Run. Its roughly the same drive to Blue Mash, Whiskey Creek and less of a drive to Westfields who all charge about the same amount of money and haven't had the same pace of play problems as I have experienced at your courses.
To be blunt, I expect better from one of the most expensive courses within 50 miles of DC. Especially when the putting green is closed and the rest of the greens have been verticut. I play all around the country and almost every place I go, I find better courses and better values, from Bethpage ($120), Harding Park ($120), Cog Hill #4 ($150), Tiburon Gold/Black in Naples ($90 summer rate when its cooler in FL than it is here in DC). Last week in LA, I played a no name course in the suburbs that was every bit as nice of a layout as any DC course with similar amenities for a whopping $50 with a cart at 8am on a Sunday.
I've given the midweek buy one get on to a co-worker, because I simply don't have that kind of room time in my schedule and when I do, I am playing as close to home or the office as possible. And I am not likely to get back in the next 90 days to use the 18 hole replay so thats down the drain too.
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