The 2013 #Masters: Continuous Flow of Golf Player Groups

Posted on April 13, 2013 | in 2013 Masters, Continuous Flow, Golf, Lean Tools, Sports, Waiting | by
Augusta national masters Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy after his tee shot on the first hole at Augusta National.

Masters Week is finally here! All of the golf world has descended upon Augusta, Georgia for April 8-14 for the 2013 Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club.

The Masters, just like most golf events (pro, amateur, charity, fun, etc), utilizes an excellent example of continuous flow of players out on the course during the tournament.

The first two days of the tournament (First Round and Second Round) consist of three-player groups (“threesomes”) spaced eleven minutes apart based on their tee times from the first tee.

Every ten or eleven threesomes the schedule institutes an “open” slot. This break between threesomes provides a couple of benefits. First, it allows the workers operating the first tee box (schedulers, announcers, materials gatherers, etc) to have a chance to pick up lunch or use the restroom. However, it also serves as a bit of a buffer for absorbing any fast threesomes in a later section to not be affected as much by slower threesomes in an earlier section.

The Third Round and Fourth Round of the tournament consist of pairings of two players. They are spaced ten minutes apart as a twosome should complete holes a little faster on average.

The threesomes and the pairings with the schedule demonstrate continuous flow because the groups are (for all intents and purposes) balanced – same sized groups, same process being followed by each group. In addition, later groups cannot move any faster than the group in front of it – earlier groups must complete their tasks before the next group can move forward. There is no working ahead and building up of WIP in golf on the course during the tournament.

Will there be waiting for later groups who move quickly? Sure. However, their wait won’t be particularly long (unless something breaks down in the process, such as a rules violation that requires closer examination of the incident…going to the gemba!).

Sometimes the cut line between the Second and Third Rounds of The Masters leave an odd number of participants for the Third Round – a whole bunch of pairings and a partner-less player left in the competition. The players’ tee times for the Third and Fourth Rounds are set in reverse order of scores – the last place players go first. Odd numbers of competitors leaves imbalance – the last-place finisher starts off by himself and finishes way early ahead of the field or the first-place finisher from the Second Round has a whole lot of waiting around for the pairings in front of him to finish.

Augusta National Golf Club employs what is known as a “marker” to make up for the imbalance. This marker is a designated player from the club’s membership who will play alongside the odd golfer so that he can maintain his ten-minutes-per-hole pace. This year, Bubba Watson teed off first in the morning (the last-place finisher from Friday) and he was paired with ANGC’s marker player.

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