Is social media affecting pace of play at your golf course? New study says yes

How do I plead?

Guilty as charged, your honor.

A recent survey conducted by Online Golf found that 55 percent of 900 golfers who were questioned about their feelings on social media while playing golf said it is slowing down the game.

The survey indicated the view was “more common among older players with 70 per cent of over 60s seeing the use of social as a cause of slow play, compared to just 35 percent of under 30s”, according to the story in The Golf Business, a United Kingdom publication.

I haven't met too many people who use their phones, and social media, as much as I do during a round. It's my job, and yes, it slows me down some. I take every photo imaginable with my iPhone, sometimes climbing up a dune or trudging through the woods to find the best angle for the shot. I'm constantly filming my playing partners to gather footage for online highlight videos of the course/courses I'm playing. At certain times, I'll ask golfers to play the shot again or stage something to get the best look. If I get a photo I can't wait to share on Instagram, I'll post it while I'm playing, but usually, I wait until I'm in the 19th hole. I'm not on SnapChat, so constant updates there aren't an issue for me.

Does all this phone use mean I play like Ben Crane? I can't recall ever forcing groups to pile up on the tee behind me because of my social media use. I'm mindful of my surroundings, and I'm sure a good percentage of golfers are, too.

Should course rangers start cracking down on use of smart phones and social media? Hardly, says Craig Booking, head of Digital Marketing and Development at Online Golf, which carried out the survey. They should be more like Palm Beach National Golf Course in Lake Worth, Fla. The course encourages smart phones by offering free Blue Tooth speakers and USB cords for every round.

“The use of social media on the golf course is only going to increase as time goes on, and clubs need to be savvy to these changes,” Booking was quoted as saying. “Young people in particular use these platforms while they're golfing, so if clubs want to encourage a younger demographic, they should use it to appeal to them.”

Five tips for making sure your social media doesn't slow down your group

* Only post to social media while you're waiting for others to hit a shot or at the 19th hole. Be ready to hit when it's your turn.
* If you've posted something online or checked in on Facebook, there's no reason to check every five minutes about how many likes you have. Save the scrolling for after the round. Enjoy the outdoors, the game and your playing partners when on the course.
* Don't slow down the group by stopping to take pictures at awkward moments. Take glamor shots of the scenery within the flow of the round, maybe after you've hit first off the tee or quickly after everybody has finished putting.
* Don't try to set up elaborately coordinated videos. If you're taking video, take real, live action shots of your playing partners. This is where I get most of my best stuff.
* If your group is falling behind, put the phone down and get back into position on the course again. Remember slow play means dead batteries, so keep up.

Matt Ginella's five best golfers to follow on social media

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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Is social media affecting pace of play at your golf course? New study says yes