Slow Play on the golf course is usually a habit acquired over time, with the accumulation of many bad habits.
Or it’s the result of the golfer never having been taught proper golf etiquette, meaning a slow player can usually be encouraged to play quicker.
Of course, that golfer has to be aware they are being slow; and that’s where your golf partners have a part to play.
We often take a look at other golfers on the course and notice the little things they do on the course but when we take an honest look at ourselves, we would probably discover we’re all guilty of doing some of the same things!
Why is Slow Play an issue?
When ‘Monty’ got me into golf, he started me off with golf etiquette and stressed that other golfers don’t really mind if you don’t play well but they will if you avoid Slow Play.
I enjoy playing at a reasonable pace and like to ‘walk’ a round a golf in 3 & 1/2 hours or less, if possible.
However, before we run down a list of suggestions for keeping up with play, it’s important to note that many of these tips have nothing to do with ‘rushing’, but rather with simply being ‘ready to play’.
With common sense and good etiquette on the course, social golf can be enjoyed by all.
And of course, it is also good manners and courteous to your playing partners that you are ready to go and not holding up the course.
Just think how many extra tee times course would have available IF everyone kept pace and a result would be a reduction in green fees for all.
Tips for addressing Slow Play and for keeping pace on the golf course …
• Leave your mobile phone in the car (or at least put it on silent) unless it’s your Golf GPS device
• Be ready to play when it is your tee time (having executed your practice routine beforehand)
• Don’t discount the value of adequate nutrition on the ability to keep up
• Try playing ‘Ready Golf’ where order of play is based on who is ready and not on ‘the honour’
• Take off the driver head cover before you get to the first tee and leave it off until the final tee shot
• Choose the correct tees to play from – if you’re a high-handicapper, you probably shouldn’t be playing off the Championship tees
• Play the game you can manage, keep control and not try to over hit just because your playing partners are longer than you
• Work on a concise pre-shot routine – limit practice strokes to one or two at the most
• Pay attention to your partners’ drives – if they lose sight of their ball, you can help direct them to it
• If you plan to hit the ball 180 yards and the group in front is 250 yards away, don’t wait for them to clear the fairway/green
• Members of a group should not travel as a pack – each member of the group should walk directly to their own ball
• If you are unsure whether your ball has come to rest, out of bounds or lost, immediately hit a provisional
• If you are searching for a lost ball and are willing to spend a few minutes looking for it, allow the group behind to play through
• Don’t ask playing partners to help finding a lost ball until they have played their own shots first
• Use the time you spend getting to your ball to think/visualise about the next shot – the yardage, the club selection
• Approach the ball from behind – along your line of intended play
• When two players are riding in a buggy, drive to the first ball and drop off the first player with a choice of clubs
• If using a buggy on a path-only day, take more than one club with you when you walk from the buggy to your ball
• Park your buggy/trolley/bag close to where you will be playing your shot
• Never delay making a stroke because you’re having a conversation with a playing partner. Put the conversation on hold
And if that doesn’t do it, there’s even more tips to avoid Slow Play …
• Leave buggy/trolley/bag at the side of the green on the way to the next tee
• Begin reading the green and lining up putts as soon as you reach the green. Make this part of your putting routine
• If you are not in the middle of a matchplay/medal think about not marking lag putts and putt out
• After putting out, don’t stand around the chatting – leave the green quickly so the group behind can play
• Leaving the green, don’t ‘faff’, move to the next tee, put away your club away, then mark your scorecard
• If you’re the type who likes to offer tips to playing partners, save it for the range or the 19th!
• Walk at a good pace between shots – speeding up your gait a little is good for your health
• Carry tees, ball markers, divot repairers and an extra golf ball in your pockets so you never have to return to your golf bag
• When chipping around the green, carry both the club you’ll be chipping with, and your putter
• Consider putting with a glove on (if you wear a glove)
Slow Play is an issue on the Professional tours as well at the local golf course…
Over the last few years, many of the Tour professionals have been penalised for slow play and it’s becoming an even bigger issue as the TV companies start to complain that it is effecting the schedules.
But do the Pro’s care about slow play? If you’re making $100k per tournament (and that’s just the sponsors money) do you care if your making your playing partner wait or indeed the audiences at home?!
All of us have seen a golfer who appears oblivious to what’s going on around them, who wastes time, who ‘faffs about’ on the course and slows down play. And if you haven’t seen that golfer … IT’S PROBABLY YOU!
The bottom line is, slow play is the responsibility of everyone, as soon as it’s your turn to play, you should be READY to make the stroke.