Golf is a phenomenal and enjoyable sport, but nothing can ruin a great day on the course more than being log-jammed behind inconsiderate foursomes intent on stretching 18 holes into an all-day affair. Slow play is one of golf’s most pressing issues. Golfers should be back in the clubhouse within four hours of teeing off; it’s possible to get around in significantly less time than that. Speeding up pace of play requires attentiveness to a few basic rules and ongoing thoughtfulness towards fellow golfers sharing the course.
Kim Kleinle, a PGA Certified Professional in Instruction who teaches in both Pennsylvania and California, offers easy-to-follow tips any and all golfers should follow to speed up play and make the golfing experience more enjoyable for everyone.
As Kleinle points out, saving just two minutes per hole (30 seconds per player), shortens a round by more than a half hour.
Keep up – Your place is behind the group that’s in front of you, not in front of the group following you. If you can see the group following you but not the group you are following, YOU are the problem.
One practice swing, please – Don’t try to perfect your swing on the course. One practice swing to calm the nerves or visualize the shot as part of your pre-shot routine is plenty.
Play “ready” golf – There is no need to play honors in a friendly game of golf. If you are ready to hit but your playing companions are not, get up and hit the ball.
Don’t walk to your ball empty-handed – Estimate the distance to the hole, select two or three clubs from the cart and walk to your ball prepared. About 99 percent of the time, you will have the right club in your hand.
Save time switching clubs – After hitting, hop in your cart with your club(s) in hand and drive to the next shot. You save time by putting your club(s) away and selecting a club for your next shot at the same time. You’ll also allow the group following to hit sooner rather than wait until you’ve finished fiddling with your clubs and head covers.
Know where to park your cart – Leave your cart where you can exit most expeditiously. When at the green, park on the side nearest the next hole.
Wait to record your scores – Mark your scorecard on the next tee, not while parked next to the green with the group behind you waiting. Drive to the next tee so whoever is ready can tee off and the scorer can record the scores.
Save time when the ball goes astray – Watch errant shots and mark the location by a landmark (specific tree, bush or yardage marker). If the ball could be lost, hit a provisional. Spend no more than 5 minutes (by USGA rules) looking for the lost ball. If one of your playing partners is searching for a ball, hit your shot first before helping him look for his ball.
Save stories for the 19th hole – Few things slow down play more than the golfer who has to finish telling a story before hitting his shot…or allowing his partners to hit their shots.
Ball hawks aren’t welcome – You won’t make many friends on the golf course if you spend time adding to your golf ball collection. No matter how tempting it is to fish all of those balls out of the pond, don’t do it!
Speed up play on the greens – As you walk to the green, look over your shot so you are prepared when it’s your turn. If your playing companions are away, look over your line – don’t wait until it’s your turn to try to figure out the line and speed. Putt out when you can do so, especially those one-footers. And give your buddies those short putts – it’s good sportsmanship and will speed play.
Play the right tees – Golf is more enjoyable and much quicker when playing the set of tees most suited to your ability and handicap. There is no excuse for playing the back tees when some of your drives don’t even make it past the front tees. It is more fun to be hitting approach shots with short irons than constantly trying to reach greens in regulation with fairway woods and drivers off the deck.
For a more, well, confrontational look at slow play, read the commentary Slow Play Top 10 List: Get Your Snedeker On by Golf Daily Editor Patrick Jones