Golfers, competition organisers and club staff may have differing views on what constitutes an acceptable pace of play but slow play can detract from the enjoyment of the game for many golfers. Few golfers are heard to complain about play being too quick!
There are three factors that influence pace of play:
- The players
- The management of play
- The course
There is a responsibility on players, administrators and greenkeeping staff to ensure that golf is played at a good pace and at a pace that is appropriate for the course being played.
Tips to speed up play
Watch your ball until it stops
After every shot – especially from the tee – keep an eye on your ball until it comes to rest. If it has wandered into the rough or the cabbage, get a clear sight onto a marker or reference point near it – a tree, bush, mound…anything. If there is even the slightest chance that it could go walkabout, play a provisional — resist the rarely-accurate urge to say “Nah, we’ll probably find it.”
If it’s lost, it’s lost
I realise that your brand-new Titleist ProV1 wasn’t cheap (believe me, I empathise with you), but when your five minutes is up, it’s up. Declare it lost and move on. (You DID play a provisional back on the tee, right?)
Always think ahead
As you approach the green, determine where the next tee is, and then park your cart/buggy/bag between the hole and the next tee. That way, when you are done with the hole, you can clear the green quickly. And for heaven’s sake, don’t loiter around the green discussing the scores — record your scores at the next tee!
When on the green, in the fairway, or anywhere else, get prepared for your shot while riding or walking to your ball.
Read the break, check the wind, estimate the yardage or do a pre-shot routine ahead of time, so that when it is your turn, you’re ready to go. (In this case, a GPS device or yardage book is a must). And whenever you have the opportunity, play “ready golf”.
Go directly to your ball
Each member of your group should go directly to their ball. Avoid travelling from one ball to the other (unless helping to search for a lost ball.) When sharing a cart, drop off one player and then proceed to your own ball while he/she does their pre-shot routine.
Take Multiple Clubs
If you need to leave your bag/buggy/ cart away from where your ball is positioned, take a couple of clubs with you. This will save you from having to go back and forth in case of indecision.
Watch the groups around you
If the group in front of you is more than one shot ahead (i.e. if they are on the green of a par-4 before you even tee off) you need to speed it up. Conversely, if there is no one ahead of you, but the group behind is constantly waiting for you to hit, either let them play through, or pick up the pace.
Hold that club
When playing in a cart, do not put your club back in the bag until you arrive at your ball for your next shot. Especially with two players in a cart this practice saves a significant amount of time over the course of a round.
If your foursome have fallen behind for whatever reason, the first 2 players to putt out should immediately head over to the next Tee and hit off. This saves time, and can really help you catch up. Filling in score cards for the previous hole can be done as the last 2 players are preparing to Tee off.