• Alistair Tait

Fast fun while it lasted


It was good while it lasted. So good there’s an argument it should be played more often.

I’m talking about two-ball golf.

Fast golf was one of the joys of emerging from the lockdown. The initial rule on only meeting one other person from a different household meant we were forced to play in two-balls. It was fast play heaven.

My first two rounds back took just three hours and 15 minutes. They would’ve been faster if I’d been able to keep the ball in play. Thankfully I did that for my third and fourth rounds and played in that magical three-hour time frame.

Now that we’re back to four-balls, my last round took four hours. There were three us, with four balls in front of us. It felt like forever after the joy of three hours.

Two-ball golf was so welcome post lockdown that I’ve heard quite a few people wondering why it doesn’t happen more often. A few fellow members have proposed Woburn designate one of its three courses as a two-ball only course and rotate the three layouts. Too be fair, the club has said one course will be designated a two-ball course on weekends until 9:30am. Some members want the club to go further.

Of course, Woburn has the luxury to institute two-balls since it has three layouts. Other clubs aren’t so lucky.

Foursomes golf isn’t as popular in the British Isles as it once was, but there are still traditional clubs which designate courses as two-ball courses either on specific days or until a certain time of the day. Those lucky enough to have two courses will designate one as a two-ball course, with four-ball play allowed on the other.

As I wrote in a previous blog, foursomes is a quick form of golf if played properly. However, we’ve seen in successive Ryder and Solheim Cups that foursomes at the top level can be slow because players don’t play it correctly. Instead of heading up the fairway or to the green as they should do, partners walk back to the tee and then discuss club selection, wind direction, how the Footsie 100 is performing and whether or not they can find a cure for cancer before actually hitting the shot. Often we’ve witnessed a committee meeting of both players and both caddies along with the team captain decide what shot to hit while time just seeped away.

Slow foursomes doesn't just occur in professional golf, but amateur level too. I’ve heard Walker and Curtis Cup captains bemoan how slow their players were taking. Last year’s Walker Cup at Royal Liverpool was a case in point. Both Great Britain & Ireland captain Craig Watson and U.S. captain Nathanial Crosby admitted play was too slow.

Club golf isn’t like that. Any time I’ve played foursomes, it’s been at a fast pace.

If we’ve learned anything about from the return to golf after the lockdown, it’s that two-ball golf deserves to be played more often. Give me a maximum time of three hours and 15 minutes every round and I’ll be a happy golfer.

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