Questionable Play is GolfWRX’s version of a mailbag from the perspective of a millennial who also happens to be a purist, which is to say, I’m a twenty-something who often practices with a persimmon driver and walks most of the time. For the first edition, we will pull a question from the forum that seems to spark serious debate, and I’m going to riff for a few paragraphs. 

As with any other piece on this site, we highly encourage comments, but would also like you to email us with questions and comments about this feature at mailbag@golfwrx.com. Let’s do this!

Today’s Question: Is the pace of play argument hurting our sport?

We’ve heard the debate on the pace of play for what seems like ages now. It’s been around since the game was invented. In the early days, courses were designed as 12 holes, or at least that’s what they played in the first iterations of the Open Championship. The argument has always gone toward the side of speeding up the game. People shout, “There’s no reason a round of golf should take more than four hours! The snail’s pace of the game is driving people away!”

I want to share a quick story with you.

A GolfWRXer from the forum (we’ll call him, Tim) described a situation with him and a buddy (whom we’ll call, Bob). Bob had never played golf before and wanted to try it out. So Tim took Bob to the range and Bob really enjoyed the challenge of making that little white ball go where he wanted it to go. So Bob went out and bought a set of clubs and continued to go to the range. After a few times, Tim took Bob out on the course.

Bob and Tim teed off as a twosome behind a threesome and in front of another group. For the first nine holes or so, Bob was really enjoying his time, but somewhere on the early part of the back nine things started to slow down. Bob and Tim had to wait a couple holes on the group in front and it was starting to get backed up. When they came to a par-3, the group in front was still on the green. By the time Bob and Tim were able to tee off on the par-3, the group behind them was driving up. Bob (who’d never played before) hit a poor tee shot and lost his ball. So he hit another. When Bob and Tim were walking off the green of the par-3, they could hear grumblings from the group behind them as they got in the cart. Bob immediately felt demoralized and embarrassed. Tim, as any good friend would, tried to let Bob know that it wasn’t his fault and that they had to wait on the group in front of them.

On the next hole, the grumbling continued. The group was visibly frustrated and it made Bob feel like he was unwelcome. Tim described Bob’s change of mood as going from a 10 to a one. It’s been several weeks since they went out, and Tim says that Bob has no interest in playing the game.

Now, I don’t know about you, but the fact that one group being rude on a golf course shouldn’t deter the entire argument about the pace of play. It should make you think a little bit about how we go about enforcing it, however, and the truth is that it’s really hard to do. I think a lot of it burden should be on golf coursea and how they schedule tee times. Eight minutes between tee times probably isn’t enough for your typical muni. I understand why they do it (they’re trying to get more play throughout the day), but it hurts the experience when groups get bunched up, especially for beginning golfers.

It’s sort of a paradox. We want people to play the game, but many won’t because it’s so slow. But many times beginners are slow because (NEWSFLASH!) golf is hard. So we try and pick up the pace, but then ridicule people who are slow (who are often beginners) and then they don’t want to play again.

There are many proposed solutions. “Tee it Forward” was a huge campaign a few years ago, and many clubs play the “double par pick-up” as a rule. I think the solution is much simpler; don’t be a jerk.

Golf is a leisure sport. Yes, we could all probably pick up the pace a bit, but this ain’t racing, and if you’re playing on a Saturday morning then the people in front of you probably worked all week and don’t need you complaining behind them. It’s just rude.

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  1. Why has 4 hours become the magic number for a round of golf? It should be 3. If groups have troubles keeping up, the should be forced to skip ahead to keep up pace. Part of the problem is the 4 hour suggestion–that’s a snail’s pace! Nearly 14 minutes per hole is nuts. Pick up the pace!

    • Is that why the pros on tour take 4,5-5 hours for a round?
      The 4-hour myth started in the fifties, and was based on the pro players average time playing a round on hard British links courses.
      But, of course, if you are so eager to run through the course, you can come to Sweden and be my caddy.

  2. Any course where people nearly come to blows over this issue should have a starter who time-stamps your card on the 1st tee . As you leave your last green , it gets another stamp . You pay by 15-minute increments . Bet slow-play vanishes ( COME ON BOB , YOU’RE COSTING US MONEY HERE ! )

  3. If you were able to view a golf course congested with slow play from above in a helicopter, you would likely see what traffic engineers call “accordion effect” typically found on a busy highway and cars are speeding through in sections and jammed together in other sections.
    Read:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accordion_effect
    Unfortunately, there is no way to eliminate this phenomenon on a golf course without the assistance of course marshals actively informing playing groups to move on and stop continuously looking for lost balls, excessive number of practice swings and then switching clubs, or endlessly gossiping and blathering nonsense.
    Golf is infected with a slow play virus and it’s virtually untreatable because most golfers are incompetent clowns…. soooo negatively obvious

  4. Slow play is only caused by poor golfers. I have started people in the game shooting 120. He shouldn’t have been on the course. He wasn’t really enjoying himself, wasn’t improving. If you can’t hit semi solid shots with a general idea of the direction they are headed, you don’t need to be out there. You need to practice on the range, short game tine, putting green, and lessons. Your enjoyment of the game would improve to where 4 hours on the course will be fun and using your creativity to improve. Slow play is by poor players. Bogey golf is 90 shots, of it is a foursome of 90s, that takes a long time. Nothing spends that up and that’s bogey golf, which really isn’t terrible.

  5. No, pace of play isn’t the problem. People not letteing faster people play through is the problem. If you’re a foursome, you should automatically yield to all smaller groups and allow them to play through. If you’re a new player or unfamiliar with the game, you should always let others play through. Just like those with the “rookie driver” magnets. They are usually taught to yield to the other drivers, simply because they’re new.
    If a foursome is letting a foursome through, all 8 tee off and then the faster group proceed and the slow group proceed. The faster group just needs to be off the green before the slower group. And at a maximum, there should only be one or two foursomes allowed to play throw per round (from your group’s perspective).
    Seriously it’s just slow players and fast players. Skill has nothing to do with it. It only has to do with allowing others to play through when youre playing slow.
    To the guy saying you should play it in 4.5 hours, that’s not true. That’s just the suggested time. Playing it 4.5hrs to a tee doesn’t equal golf. That equals time management. There is nothing wrong with playing faster and playing through. People just need to be polite about it.

      • This is wrong. Keeping up is not the same as playing fast. A single and double can “keep up” with a foursome, but if they’re playing fast, the foursome ought to let them play through. Again, all 6 would tee off and the single/double can go to their balls first and proceed. Playing fast is being able to play fast, not trying to keep up with the people in front of you. The only hold up is when groups don’t let faster players through. The only ones slowing the play down are slow players. There is a reason there is a fast lane on the highway, to let the fast drivers pass through while the slower drivers are in the traveling lane. Your argument makes no sense other than saying it’s ok to hold up the course. The fast players are obviously not the ones holding up the course, they are the ones playing through speeding things up. There should be no reason why I played as a single waiting behind a double for 9 holes and even met them at the tee boxes for 6 of those holes only to watch them run away from me instead of let me play through. I waited an excrutiating 2hrs to finish those last 6 holes. Because once they were in the fairway, they didn’t look back and took their time. Only to see me waiting right behind them again at the next tee box when they looked back at me. Mind you, NO ONE was in front of them. Not once did they let me play through or wave me up. Every time I was about to ask they scurried off. BS that you shouldn’t let faster players through. I’m not saying it’s a right, but it seems only logic that tells you one player is on your tail the entire time, either your group is playing slow or they’re playing faster than you so you ought to balance it out by letting them through instead of making everyone else behind suffer at your “I paid my money” and “I don’t care, they can wait” attitude.

        You’re thinking is the same as the person who doesn’t let someone into the lane or won’t move out of the passing lane because they don’t want to let anyone ahead of them, so they cause a slowdown and traffic.

    • Tim should have stepped up to the grumblers the second time they began grumbling, introduced Bob as a new golfer, explained how much fun he was having and how impactful those grumblers could be on Bob, for the potential negative or positive. It is incumbent on the host to be vigilant. Forget “read the rules” and all that hooey. Play the game, enjoy the round, pick up and go to the green, try again the next hole, and come back tomorrow.

      Our absolute constipation with “the rules and only the rules” is the ruination of the game. Pick-up basketball, soccer, hockey? Relaxed rules. People come back. Four square? Rules change all the time, people come back. If a new golfer wants to play by the competitive rules, that is a conscious choice and welcome to the club.

    • But if the ‘fast’ players are let through won’t that make play even slower for the ‘slow’ players? Sound like a self-defeating approach to speeding up play. The clear problem is why are slow players ‘slow’, and what can be done to help them speed up their play.
      I refuse to give ‘fast’ players a preferential status on the golf course and I tell them why… but they demand to be let through as if it is their inalienable right. Why should they be able to finish their round faster than others when all they do is slow down everybody else?

        • Exactly. They don’t do anyone a service by holding up a group of fast players. They only make matters worse. Because as you know, if your ride up on another group, they might even play slower to make you wait even longer…and for what? Because they see themselves as the golf police enforcement? Newsflash, you’re just a group of golfers like everyone else that are trying to play their round in the manner they enjoy without any hold up or fuss.

          “gee, my round went well today.” “But you shot 125?” “Yeah but I finished in 3 hrs because everyone let me through. I got to enjoy the game I paid for at a comfortable pace to me without holding anyone up or anyone holding me up. Now that’s what I call a round of golf.”

          Or is it better when you leave the course saying
          “you see that double behind us? They hit up on us for like 3 holes and then left. Serves them right, they should’ve waited while we took our time. I get 5 minutes to look for each ball. For those 5 minutes the course is mine. It’s not big enough to let anyone play through.”

      • You are wrong. The slower players tee of with the faster players, the faster players get to their ball first and hit and play through. This Is especially true of a single or double trying to play through. Your argument is invalid. It’s like saying “I’m gonna drive 65 in the passing lane because that’s the speed limit and I’m doing the right thing,” forget all those people behind me trying to use the passing lane to actually pass people. You’re the reason slow play exists and why others get held up. Let the faster players play through/with and continue at your pace…in the travel lane…

        I bet you probably don’t let people in when they’re trying to change over too, probably because you don’t like to let anyone ahead of you, regardless if they’ve signaled and made you aware that they’re trying to get through. Your logic is flawed because it’s only relative to yourself and not considering the entirety of the situation. Golfers can help each other out…by slower players letting faster players through. Has nothing to do with pride or ego or anything. It simply means, hey I see that you can run a mile in 4 minutes while I’m running it in 7, by all means I’ll move to the slower outer lanes to stay out your way or allow you to finish your full mile.

        Etiquette is PART of golf! Golf is not devoid of manners! If you’re ever in a group and you see a single/double not only keeping up with you but also behind you at the tee box and you don’t wave them up or acknowledge them to play through on the next tee, you’re contributing to the problem.

    • I fully agree – the problem with people playing slow, searching balls one-by-one, ignoring or being ignorant of golf etiquette – there are the real problems.
      Why beginners choose to play at times when the pressure on the course is high, I never understood – there are plenty of tee times off the “wonder hours”, where they can play, and learn, much better.
      Here in Sweden, we have a system, where newbies first attend a course to learn basics, then, they are issued with a “Green Card” (idiotic name), and given a 54-hcp. They are obliged to play from the ladies’ tee until they, under a “daddy”-supervision, are able to play at the highest official hcp – 36. The “daddy-rounds” are obligatory, and it works very well.
      Those rounds are not permitted to be during high intensity times, so with supervision and training, combined with actual playing under less stress, the newbie (or “duffer” as they used to be called here in Europe) come to enjoy the game much more.

      • Sven,
        I agree with what you’re saying. Recently, I was playing with someone who mentioned the same thing regarding Germany. People must learn to play and must pass a class first before they can go out on course on their own. Sounds pretty legit to me. I don’t know why it’s not adopted yet here in America. The only thing I could think of is it could end up becoming something to “make money” and then the prices get insane. It’s the same as driving, we don’t let people go out on the road and drive without first going to a class and learning all the rules of the road, driving sessions with the teacher, and then passing a road test. That’s how it is in most states at least. Why can’t golf be the same? It would give a lot of the PGA pro’s that aren’t as well known, and opportunity to put their teaching skills to use on a regular basis as well.

    • Golf was not a game intended for the unwashed masses who buy golf clubs at a big box store and then demand equality on the golf course. They are clowns only seeking clownish fun at the expense of the game.
      Look at Trump’s ritzy golf courses… I bet they don’t have slow play problems because they don’t need to jam up the courses with volume customers … just the idle rich with time on their hands… or businessmen trying to lock up a ‘deal’.

      • What a lot of total BS.
        I belong to the “unwashed masses”, blue collar, ex gunnery sergeant, and have played for 53 years by now.
        Those “clowns” might just be people trying out the game and having a good time, right?
        Muni courses – of which we have none in Sweden – may be a nice idea, but those playing should be supervised properly.

  6. Let me tell you a secret from years of working at a golf course. The guy that needs to get on here and talk about how fast he plays, how efficiently he selects his clubs, how he plays ready golf, is the exact same guy that hits 4 tee shots and can’t get off the tee. Same guy that says, “f**k em, I paid my money.” The truth is the average recreational golfer is so terrible at golf they’ll never play faster. It’s the WRXers that can’t hit the ball but have a pre-swing routine that are the worst of the bunch. All of you reading this think, “well, that’s not me.” Newsflash, it IS YOU.

    • Depends on who you’re talking about.
      When I play with my buddy and the two of us get out with the first tee time of the day, we’re done in 2hrs 30min. Maybe 10 minutes longer if we goof around. And that’s not even close to scratch golf. We shoot high 70s and low 80s, not too consistent. We play a few times a month, but don’t practice at all.

    • Wrong. I just played 72 holes alternating between the two courses of the club, in one day. First round was 2 hrs. Second was 2.5 then 3 and then 4. Only because the course started to fill up. Reason I could play fast was because people let me play through knowing I was a single. Other groups didn’t let me play through so I skipped them/hole and gave myself the average that I had been shooting on those particular holes (I’ve played full rounds on the courses, so I can get an idea of what I’d score). Then I moved on.

      The real reason pace of play is an issue is level of understanding of the game, and unwillingness to allow others to play through, and those unwilling to ask to play through. It’s the same as driving on the highway, no one wants to let anyone in front of them, but no one wants to turn on their signal until last minute right before they change lanes.

      The only solution is to allow people to play through on courses. Even foursomes. All 8 can tee off and then the obvious better players can proceed to their ball and play ready golf. The less experienced or those just there to hang out will likely be shorter hitter and would hav low percentage chance of hitting those playing through.

      Foursomes should almost ALWAYS allow smaller AND faster groups to play through. And anyone who isn’t familiar with the game or is a slow player should have a sign that notifies those behind but also means that they must allow others to play through. Just like those rookie driver magnets for those learning to drive. First thing that I learned (maybe still the same) was to just let others pass you and let aggressive drivers by, don’t try to fight for the lane or anything since I’m a new driver). Never had a problem. Should be the same in golf. “Approach and ask to play through befofe hitting up on me please.”

  7. Lets not all put the blame on the golfers. The course can be set up to play faster too. You don’t need to be hiding pins in tough positions every day. For example I play a men’s night at my local course and 9 holes takes 2 1/2 hours. Way too long. But the all mighty greenskeeper and head pro seem to think its a good idea to set up the course as hard as possible. Why? Are they afraid of some 9 hole course record being broken? Why? Set the course up easier i.e. easy middle pins, make it hard for guys to three putt (watching 4 guys stabbing the ball around from 4 feet three putting because the greenskeeper decided it would be funny to put the pin on some stupid ridge is one of the most frustrating things) Put the tees at the front or atleast in the middle of the tee box. Make it easier without telling grown men to play from the white or red tees because they aren’t good enough. Now you have less guys playing out of bunkers, fooling around with trees, chipping from short sided rough, flying long searching for golf balls. Sure there will be some better scores but who doesn’t want to shoot lower scores.

  8. NO!

    Slow play has NOTHING to do with skill. It has EVERYTHING to do with situational awareness and common courtesy. You can shoot 125 and do it quickly, or shoot 75 at a snail’s pace.

    Before I would worry about poorly skilled golfers, I’d like to see addressed:

    — Clustering, where all golfers in the party go from ball-to-ball instead of spreading out to each one’s ball.

    — Lingering on the green (tallying scores, practicing that putt you missed, etc.) instead of clearing it and doing that stuff on the next tee)

    — Taking too long looking for a lost ball (or worst, lingering around a water hazard and fishing out other balls). Keep moving!

    — Marshals who don’t move along slow groups. If you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem. Go home.

    — Closely bunched tee times, especially in the afternoons. Leave some room so the course can breathe, huh?

    — Laissez-faire attitudes from management. “Hey, it’s Saturday, what are you going to do?”

    — Taking extra shots while others are waiting. Hey, it’s not going to get any better with THAT swing.

    — And the number 1 cause of slow play: not keeping up with the group ahead of you. You’re the same people who won’t move when a light turns green.

    In almost every other sport, playing slowly doesn’t hold up the entire field. But in golf it does, and it’s rude. Get moving!

    • I like your term Clustering…it feeds with another’s comment that guys love to watch their friends hit a bad shot….being a rather large fellow and mean to boot I love to drive up on a slow group that is playing grab a… with each other on the course and ask them to pick up and move on or better yet pick up and go over to the driving range and watch each other hit…and you are right you can shoot 125 and still play ready golf and keep moving…

  9. Also, if one single thing is damaging golf the most, it’s the media.

    the golf media tells people on a daily basis: golf is too slow, golf takes too long, golf participation is down, Tiger moves the needle and the game isn’t the same without him… You’re practicing the wrong things in the wrong way. Etc.

    It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. You’re essentially telling people to stop playing. Every day.

  10. The problem with “slow play” is not necessarily the slow play itself;

    First, there are far too many golfers (as well as people who don’t play golf) who believe they are entitled to have the world to themselves. You see it in traffic every day of the year in the US; road rage isn’t any different than slow golf rage. Calm down. If you can’t spend a little longer on the course because it’s busy, then don’t effing play. If you have 4 hours to spend, you can probably afford 5 too. Take some anti-anxiety medication. Maybe breathe between shots and don’t drive your cart onto the edge of the green. You should be happy to be playing slow – your wife probably can’t stand the sight of you anymore anyway. (People say Millennials are “entitled”, but Boomers perfected it.)

    Second, capitalism has ruined golf. Courses are happy to rake in the cash from Tiger-mania – and as far as I see everywhere, golf “participation” is still significantly ahead of the pre-Tiger era. But where are the rangers??? Where is the starter who tells people how to keep pace??? When all-and-sundry took up golf in the “Tiger era”, there was no one waiting there to teach them etiquette or patrol pace-of-play, so an entire generation of golfers started playing the game on very busy courses with no knowledge of this stuff. And what they saw on TV was SLLLLOOOOOWWWWW… So you can thank all the millionaire course owners and designers for NOT setting aside enough money for starters and rangers, but instead pocketing it ALL and leaving the masses to roam aimlessly around the fairways.

    Most importantly, online discussions and Golfwrx articles AREN’T going to help pace-of-play. Because it’s mostly beginners and non-serious golfers who cause it – and they’re not here.

    If anyone, anywhere in golf is serious about increasing pace of play – and has some intelligence – they will readily realize it can only be done at the golf course. Courses need starters, rangers and other decent management to keep things moving. And, ultimately, if they enforce pace, they will lose and alienate some customers – potentially not just from their own course, but from the game itself. NOT EVERYONE takes up the game with the express intent of finishing 18 as quickly as humanly possible. When they’re escaping from their work and home lives, they may not be in a huge rush to get back.

    Another option is to build specific “speed golf” courses for the sprinters. Perhaps tee boxes can be built directly into the preceding green? If done right, 18 might be quick enough to leave your car running.

    • Right on the money. If anything slows play more than anything else, it’s the money grab that’s done away with caddies for carts. 6 minutes between tee times, no Marshalls, starters, or rangers. People want to behave like theyre at a private club at a 5 dollar muni. Bad attitudes. No slow play initiative is gonna make people better people, so…

    • Have had two friends own golf courses and both sold out after years of struggling to make it into the black…we are in Oregon and public courses are almost three or four rain out days a year from making a profit… the majority of lower priced golf courses cut out marshals and help as much as they can to get people out to play and still maintain some kind of playable course conditions….When you see a course charging $25 for less for 18 holes and cart you can bet that course is heading for a housing project.

  11. Arccos 360 or similar should be required at courses. Then charge a per stroke green fee.

    $0.60/stroke (up to par)
    $1.00/stroke (par to 9 over)
    $1.25/stroke (9-18 over)
    $2.00/stroke (every extra shot)

    And of course adjust for cheap munis or CC courses.

    Pay to play.

  12. idgaf about some hacks behind me who think I’m playing too slow. I haven’t been kicked off a course yet and you’re gonna have to call the cops if you want me off. I paid my money, I’ll play how I want.

  13. Golf courses ground to a halt because of specific individuals. They are not many and they are almost always the cause of the bottleneck. They are self-centered and compulsively obsessive. Courses need to show zero tolerance to those ones and ban them. The hard part is that few want to play with them and they often change groups and courses. A blacklist needs to be shared among all courses. We have a pace of play problem only because we allow them on our courses. It is not rocket science, every course knows who they are. The vast majority of golfers will adjust to the natural flow until they hit the wall that need not exist.

    • No this is not it. The problem is that there are certain individuals that are horrible at golf, but the way they try to prove themselves is by saying,” I play by the rules!” Well when you shoot upwards of 100 and you play by strict rules (hole every putt, two club drops, etc.) it adds ALOT of time to a round, The rules of golf are really a guideline as much as rules. They need to ammend these rules so that these people will come off of it and HURRY UP! No more than double par, free drops for hazards , no more out of bounds,etc. this will REALLY speed up the game. OH AND STOP CALLING THEM LADIES AND SENIORS TEES!!!

  14. Where’s the fire, crybabies.
    I play 6.5 hr rounds 4 times a week and I’d dare one of y’all to try and pass me. I care about my swing, my game, and my score and I’m not letting “blue jeans” mess it up

  15. The moral of this story is that Americans still obsess with playing stroke golf. That’s the problem with pace. Consider the story… Guy off the tee goes OB/shank. So what should happen is he picks up, takes his 0 point double-bogey, and not worry about it. On a par-3, in standard stableford, you get 4 shots to hole out for points. Even if the guy dunks it in a lake, hits again, and putts once, he isn’t holding up the pace. Stableford needs to become the norm in America like it is elsewhere.

    And for the record, it’s very, very unlikely that the guys behind this duo happened across this and immediately groaned. The likely scenario is that Bob was slow for a while. That’s fine; I don’t see where the story duo offered to let someone play through… granted, it may not have helped overall, but it would have diffused the situation.

      • Adam, the best thing I was ever shown as a beginner is that there is absolutely NO SHAME IN PICKING UP. Stableford scoring – the original, unmodified version – was effectively designed to solve this “pace” nonsense. Beginners should start out by picking up after their bogey stroke doesn’t go in. Beginners can play “match” with no drawn holes against the “Bogeyman”. It’s a great competition, and great for beginners when they finally beat Bogeyman. If it’s wide open, play against his cousin, Double-Bogeyman. Regardless, I think everyone, and I mean everyone should be playing Stableford. It should be how we score golf always in my opinion.

      • I agree 100 percent. Problem is to play match play effectively you have to have an established handicap. Works for private clubs or golf leagues but how do you implement it for the 75 percent of golfers who only play perhaps 10 times a year?

        • Regis, it isn’t about match. You can play match against the scorecard if you want, but the real change is that your regular rounds should be standard Stableford. That is, 1pt for bogey, 2 for par, 3 for birdie, and 4 for eagle. Everyone has seen “modified” Stableford, but really I don’t care. What we need to do is no longer provide any reward for double-bogey or higher. It’s a fail all the same, and that’s ok. Really. To me, there is nothing fun about the people ahead of me trying to grind out a 7 to avoid the snowman. You want to talk about pace? At that point, someone is trying really hard, and we’re punishing that person for grinding and doing it right (under stroke). I’m over that.

    • Or they could just enforce a double bogey pick-up rule. Anything over double doesn’t need to be played and should be recorded as such. If they can do it for tournaments, they can do it for regular play. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be a normal rule to begin with. No one “enjoys” finishing out a hole for 7, 8, or even 9 strokes.

      Another option could be to take a certain number of strokes from designated areas. For example on a par 4, tee box you only take one stroke. If you’re on the fairway/rough, great, continue play as usual. If you miss/out of bounds/hazard, you drop at the 150 marker of the fairway and add a stroke. From there you try to make it on the green in 1. If you don’t make it on in 1, then you pick up and drop at the front of the green, while giving yourself a stroke. On the green you putt in 2, if not then you pick up and go on to the next hole. Essentially you’re penalizing yourself for each bad shot and setting yourself up for where you should have escaped to out of the rough. Outside of that, there’s no reason for players to attempt to perform hero shots out of the woods or out of some shallow water hazard.

      Another option is to just put up netting around all the front fairways to keep balls from getting lost. That would save some time right there. You hit your ball from where it reflected off the net or you drop near the edge if it’s too close to the net. When it’s tournament play, the nets can be brought down to allow for true tournament style play. Simple as that. No need for anything else. That alone I believe would speed up play tremendously.

  16. The game of golf is in a sorry state now and may be in it’s final death throes!
    Participation declining precipitously, costly equipment, lack of practice, incompetence plugging up the courses on the weekends, ineffective instruction, no satisfaction due to standing around for hours on end.
    Perhaps the game of golf needs a stiff enema to flush out all the golffing detritus that calls themselves ‘goffers’ as well as reducing the number of golf courses for real estate development.
    It’s happening now and most are oblivious of the degeneration of the game.

  17. Some times it’s the people running the course. Locally, I know of a few courses that allow fivesomes and I’ve seen buddies pair up two threesomes for SIX players on the same tee box! And when we tell the ranger, he never does anything. And of course they won’t let you play through claiming the group in front of them is slow. I’ve recently gone home after 6 holes from this. Course refuses refund, I haven’t and won’t return.

    • Many golf courses contribute to the slow play problem with the way they set up the course. First of all, unless there’s a tournament that involves mostly decent or better golfers, there’s no reason to mimic pro events by using near impossible to get at pin placements which add strokes and time to everybody’s round. Put most of the damned pins somewhere near the center of the green, not five steps from the edges!
      Second, cut the rough back to a reasonable length. I play way too many courses where missing the fairway by a few yards almost guarantees a time consuming search for balls. This is one of the major causes of slow play. As a side note, the time allowed to search for lost balls should be reduced to two or three minutes. One five minute search will put a group nearly a hole behind.
      Next, golf courses should provide golfers with an opportunity to play the course at a length suitable to their skill level. The Tee It Forward idea is a good one, but it requires a reasonable options are available. As a senior golfer, I’ve played too many courses where my choice is to play from the Whites at 6200 yds or move up to Senior tees that are set up at 5400 yds. Why the huge yardage gaps that leave me with a choice of playing a course that’s either too long or too short for me? There should never be more than a 200 to 300 yd difference in course length for different tees. What our groups usually end up doing in this situation is choosing which tee we play on a given hole based on the yardage, but few people will bother to do that and shouldn’t have to.
      Lastly, when choosing which tees to play one assumes that one set of tees, usually the Whites, is supposed to be ideal for most average golfers of good to moderate skill level (10 to 15 or 20 hdcps). So why would the Whites include two or more par 4s that are over 400 yards, or par 3s that approach 200 yards?? Many if not most of the average golfer playing those tees can’t reach those par 4s in two without hitting driver and a solid fairway wood.
      All of these course setup issues result in more shots and more time to play the round, and they’re all easily corrected if the courses want to make the effort. Not only would these changes save time, they’d make the game more enjoyable.

    • A course I played recently had a group of 7 (seven) playing ahead of me with 4 ride-ons clustered around the green. I took a short cut ahead of them. Complained at the pro shop at the end of the game and was greeted with a shrug, great attitude. Since then I’ve found a resort course, a bit more expensive than the others, but on most days of the week I can have the first 9 holes to myself and playing buddy which suits me down to the ground. We still don’t dawdle but there’s no pressure either. The staff are pleasant and helpful, and this makes a world of difference. It pays to pick your course, the day and the hour.

  18. The problem of slow play only adversely affects ‘real’ golfers and not the ‘social’ golfers who are only out to have fun and get their money’s worth by playing from the tips. When you mix high and low handicap golfers on the same course you will get congestion and there’s nothing you can do about it. The social golfers play golf to spend quality time with their buddies gabbing incessantly about nonsense.

  19. In this example, Bob has no business hitting a 2nd shot. He’s out there enjoying the round, not playing competitively. Bob most likely doesn’t have an accurate scorecard, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    To me, one of the biggest things about slow play is folks thinking it’s ok to continue hitting multiple shots off the tee.

    Why don’t we, as golfers, just make it the standard that you get one chance with your tee shot. And if that tee shot goes OB, or goes less than 100 yards, you pick it up (or leave it) and just drop one around the 150 marker (or next to your playing partners…you get the idea)

    Concepts like this are integrated into most recreational games. E.g when a foul is committed in a game of pick-up basketball, no one actually takes the time to line up for free throws. You just get the ball back and move on with the game.

    To me the game is slowed up because folks take 4+ shots to even get out of reach of the next groups tee shots. Topping a ball 35 yards, then going back to the cart, putting your driver away, selecting another club to hit, take a few practice swings, then hit another ball 50 yards and repeating — that’s when I lose my patience.

    The game is hard. I’m a good golfer and sometimes I will blow a tee shot straight OB. But if the course is jammed and I’m not in any sort of competition, I’ll just walk out and throw my ball down in a reasonable spot. That doesn’t mean that after the round I feel incomplete that my scorecard isn’t 100% accurate. I was out there to enjoy myself and hit some golf shots.

    I would love for a course to incorporate some sort of penalty sticks around 100-150 from the tee that indicate “if you didn’t hit your ball at least this far, go directly to a drop zone located at a reasonable spot to hit your 2nd shot.”

  20. Holding up an entire golf course simply because you want to play a relaxed round at your own pace is plain rude to all those held up behind you, period. I am ready to bet that these players drive their cars home in the same manner, driving at half the legal limit with a train of 50 cars stuck behind them.

    Like show jumping, why not introduce penalty points for every 5 minutes above a ‘standard time’? Impossible to administer, I admit, as playing time can only be measured from tee to green and not counting the slowcoach waiting time between every hole.

    I am over 60 and have always walked courses, typically taking 4 hours for a four-ball, and 3.5 hours as a two-ball. And why does everyone have to wait at the 17th tee while the game in front wanders around on the green marking scorecards and shaking hands? Clear off the green and do the necessary so the next game can play. Throwing abuse at the game in front is inconsiderate, especially if they are keeping pace, but causing the course to slow down is even more inconsiderate.

    • Inconsiderate, impatient players, no shortage of them in the game and I blame a big part of that on those course managers who can’t be bothered sending marshalls out there to monitor progress. If frustration is the name of the game every time you play on a certain course, tell them you’re taking your custom somewhere else and find a better place to play. I did, and I’ve never regretted it.

  21. The biggest problem is people’s attitude. Primarily, as stated above by someone; I paid my money and screw the rest of the world. I am the only one that counts. As to the example of new golfers, learn to hit on a range, start with a par three course and when you move up to a full course play at off peak times until you become proficient. It will be a lot more fun for the new golfer.

    • While I agree with you, I also thing it swings both ways. Because golf is time consuming, it’s more about playing when you’re able. I have 3 kids, so I really only play before 7 am on Saturday’s or Sunday’s. It was the same when I started playing. I just think we all take it a bit too seriously. Sure, slow play can be annoying, but you can’t control the actions of the people in front or behind. There’s never a need to get upset unless someone throws caution to the wind and hits into you AND hits someone.

  22. This will sound crazy, but crazy works sometimes. You want to speed things along, start walking. If the course is walkable, pace of play will pick up if you are walking. Please exclude these monster courses that require you to drive 6 miles between holes. The last round I played was at the UGA course in Athens. Not the easiest course to walk, but in a twosome, my son and I walked it in less than 4 hours. We never saw all the groups behind us, riding in carts mind you, till the parking lot. The starter warned us at the beginning of our round because he was worried about us slowing play. He actually thanked us on the turn for a great front 9 time.

    Generally, I try to walk 9 holes during the week when I can. We can do that in about an hour and a half at our club. I realize most people won’t do it. Walking isn’t what the masses prefer. Not to mention, many courses frown upon it impacting a lucrative income stream. Give it a try some time. Aside from the health benefits, you will get the opportunity to actually talk to your playing partners. Ready golf is built into the equation. Maybe just a pipe dream.

  23. Let’s all be polite and respect each other first. Talk to the other groups and remember when we were the newbies trying to learn this extremely hard game we got hooked on. Play to enjoy the day and the company you are with. Relax and be aware that slow rounds are not something you don’t know about. I notice in all the responses no one says they play slow. Makes you wonder what the problem is? Love to golf and play.

      • Assuming you take 45 putts per your 120 shot round that means you take about 525 swings (6 practice and 1 serious swing). Perhaps it’s a little less if you dock yourself penalty strokes for lost and drop balls. Regardless, you take a hellava lot of swings that must really wear you out by the turn to the end of the golf course. That can’t be pleasant.

      • Take 6 practice swings. Just take them at your ball while waiting for the previous golfer to hit. Just don’t walk to your ball, then practice, then hit – but after the last golfer hit. “Ready ball”. But work on taking fewer – with 40 putts, 80 shots is almost 500 swings. Has to be tiring. Work with a professional on keys for a practice swing and get it down to 2-3 – for the sake of your body!

  24. Pace of play is important. If you’re playing with a newbie, explain that moving along at a steady pace is an act of courtesy to the players behind, and is part of playing the game. Make polite suggestions about how to keep up in spite of their troubles, such as picking up after four strokes and they’re nowhere near the green, where to put their clubs when they get to the green, etc. Be their mentor.

    For experienced golfers, it’s more of playing more efficiently than playing faster. Be ready to hit when it’s your turn, read your first putt when you step onto the green, etc. Last Tuesday I played nine holes in a foursome in my men’s club. We finished in under two hours, and I never felt rushed. It can be done.

  25. There a three slow behaviors that bother me the most:
    1. Painfully slow groups on the greens
    2. Groups that are disorganized on the fairway. Drop your buddy off at his ball, get a yardage, then go to your ball and be prepared to swing. I hate when Guy 1 hits his ball THEN takes Guy 2 to his ball.
    3. Groups that wait in the middle of the fairway on par 5s, 300+ yards out, waiting for the group in front to clear the green. You can’t drive the ball 250, so what makes you think you’re hitting a 3w off the deck 300?

  26. The #1 problem with slow players is if you asked 100 golfers “are you a slow player?”, you’d be lucky if even 2 out of the 100 admitted to it. No one thinks they are the problem. It’s always everyone else.

    And as mentioned in some of the comments above, if everyone played ready golf that would win half the battle right there.

    • And ready golf means what it says, hit, chip, pitch and putt when you get to your ball….putting with the flag in if your over 20 feet away..just hit when you get to your ball if in front of you is clear period…GOLF is your game not your friends stop trying to show off and hit the ball….

  27. Firstly,golf is a game not a sport.
    The biggest problem on golf courses is that too many newcomers to the game have absolutely no idea of how to behave.
    When I started out in golf nearly 50 years ago everyone was expected to know,understand and implement correct golfing etiquette.
    Always be ready to play when it is your turn.
    Leave your bag,trolley or buggy where you leave the green not in front.
    Play without delay,eat your sandwich after you’ve hit the shot.
    Mark your scorecard on the way to the next tee not on the green where you just putted out.
    Playing Stableford rules,if you cannot score then pick it up!
    Many are their own worst enemies as they show no consideration for others on the course and retaliate with accusations of snobbery and such when they are pulled up and corrected,they are happy to buy a set of clubs and pay a fee but are unwilling to invest time in learning how to behave in an acceptable manner.

  28. Many golf courses contribute to the slow play problem with the way they set up the course. First of all, unless there’s a tournament that involves mostly decent or better golfers, there’s no reason to mimic pro events by using near impossible to get at pin placements which add strokes and time to everybody’s round. Put most of the damned pins somewhere near the center of the green, not five steps from the edges!
    Second, cut the rough back to a reasonable length. I play way too many courses where missing the fairway by a few yards almost guarantees a time consuming search for balls. This is one of the major causes of slow play. As a side note, the time allowed to search for lost balls should be reduced to two or three minutes. One five minute search will put a group nearly a hole behind.
    Next, golf courses should provide golfers with an opportunity to play the course at a length suitable to their skill level. The Tee It Forward idea is a good one, but it requires a reasonable options are available. As a senior golfer, I’ve played too many courses where my choice is to play from the Whites at 6200 yds or move up to Senior tees that are set up at 5400 yds. Why the huge yardage gaps that leave me with a choice of playing a course that’s either too long or too short for me? There should never be more than a 200 to 300 yd difference in course length for different tees. What our groups usually end up doing in this situation is choosing which tee we play on a given hole based on the yardage, but few people will bother to do that and shouldn’t have to.
    Lastly, when choosing which tees to play one assumes that one set of tees, usually the Whites, is supposed to be ideal for most average golfers of good to moderate skill level (10 to 15 or 20 hdcps). So why would the Whites include two or more par 4s that are over 400 yards, or par 3s that approach 200 yards?? Many if not most of the average golfer playing those tees can’t reach those par 4s in two without hitting driver and a solid fairway wood.
    All of these course setup issues result in more shots and more time to play the round, and they’re all easily corrected if the courses want to make the effort. Not only would these changes save time, they’d make the game more enjoyable.

  29. A round of golf on a municipal golf course in Southern California on the weekend is anywhere from 5 to 6 hours and as much as 6 and a half hours to play on a few. People are packed in like sardines and nobody knows how to play ready golf or the fact that there is no way you can hit the green even if you finally uncork one, so hit the ball. It is simple, hit your tee shot, everybody moves to their own ball with a club or clubs in hand, hit your ball repeat. Do not sit next to your partner and wait for them to hit, if you are in a cart drop them off and move to your ball. It is not honor golf, if you are closer to the hole then your playing partners and they are not ready, hit your damn ball. If one of your playing partners just hit his ball from a bunker and his ball is still furthest away from the hole, it is not his turn to play because he is nowhere near his ball and is not ready to play, somebody else should be starting their routine and putt. On the putting green, if everybody is ready to play and it is not your turn you better be thinking about your putt. If your putt goes past the hole and doesn’t go in do not mark it, you just saw the line finish the damn hole and for god’s sake if it is inside 2 feet pick the damn thing up. And if you are putting for a triple bogey and it goes anywhere near the hole within 5 feet pick the damn thing up. A great many people play golf the same way they drive on the road with no sense of urgency and no plan. If NASCAR drivers can race at nearly 200 miles and hour jockeying for position then we can all drive at least 55 mph on the freeway and we can all play golf in less than 4 and a half hours. Pick up the pace people. It is not that hard. One last thing, stop looking for extra balls in the woods and in lakes. You can buy new golf balls at Costco and Sam’s Club for $1.25 a piece and if you are really that cheap you can find used balls on the internet for less than 50 cents a piece and used PRO Vs for 66 cents a piece.

  30. Yes. A slow Pace discourages a lot of players. Id like to see 2 things. 1. Marshall the golf course. Don’t drive around with the “player ambassador” sign and wave. Do something. Move groups along if they’re dallingbbwhind.
    2. Pros / staff should not accept the fact that groups are a hole behind but “on pace” for 4:15 and that’s good. You should keep up with the group in front no matter the pace. If 4:15 is good enough, 3:45 is better.

  31. If I have been waiting at a tee and the group behind catches up, I usually explain the hold up as a courtesy to them. Not only does reduce the chance of irritation, but it also mentally prepares them for the wait. Regardless of the reason, if another group acts in a way which offends others I am open to asking them to calm down.

    The speed of play argument is another thing altogether. When I play I like to enjoy my walk on the course, and it usually takes 4:15 or so. Some people like to be quicker, and others slower. As long as people are respectful and actually playing the game in a reasonable way, one which takes into account that the course is share by other golfers, then it’s none of my business how they choose to play. As a beginner I had all kinds of thoughts in my head instead of a simple routine like now so I understand – but we did let people play through if we lost the pace.

  32. Great Article and so true. I play with people who are jerks sometimes. We’ll get done with a hole and drive to the tee box to see the group in front of us just driving away and I’ll hear a comment like “They’re just now done teeing off??”. Meanwhile the group in front of them is sitting at the next hole’s tee box waiting. I especially hear these comments towards women. Which bothers me because my wife loves to golf and is well aware of the stigma that women get on the course. People in generally base everyone else’s pace off of your own, as if YOUR pace is perfect. Anyone playing slower is an idiot. Anyone playing faster is crazy and rushing. One time a group behind me hit up on me on hole #10 (after our foursome played a 2:05 9-hole). This was also after one of them yelled the obligatory “while we’re young!” on hole 4. And the ranger specifically told us not to let them play through b/c our pace was great. This is the type of jerk the article is talking about. Well even though 3 of them hit the fairway that hole (one actually went past where I was hitting), they all unfortunately had to search for their balls in the woods….

  33. Your right. I obviously meant that in an absolute. One set of tees for all?! Come on. But if you are playing to get better then going from whites to blues is going to be a better challenge which in creases the amount of difficulty. That person should also be putting in some practice etc etc, to help them acheive their goals.
    How did you get one set of tees for everyone from my comment? Just trying to figure out why you would make such a ridiculous assumption? Sounds like your the guy that the group on the green can hear from the tees grumbling and being a jerk.

  34. Just this week we ran into the “she’s a woman so she’s going to be slow” take.
    Two geezers (and for me to refer to them that way they had to be pretty old, or at least looked it) had booked themselves over the top of us. We were ready to go, but Geezer One, who still had to retrieve Geezer Two from the car park, said, “we’ll go ahead. We won’t be slow.” My reply was “no, we’ll go ahead and we’ll let you through if we hold you up.” My wife has won city and club championships, but of course he didn’t know that. Needless to say they never came close to catching us.
    There is no question that golfers themselves are one of the biggest problems the game has when it comes to hurting business and growth. However, many of them became jerks due to having to deal with “the management.”

  35. Adam – You got this one 100% right. This is, without question, the #1 reason people leave the game or simply refuse to even consider it.

    Every avid golfer knows that the game is humiliating enough on its own merits without one having to suffer the company or intrusions of some pathetic creature that has never been properly potty-trained, but unfortunately, encountering a socially inept loudmouth jerk on a golf course isn’t that rare of an occurrence.

    Tom should have told Bob that this particular brand of “speed it up” rudeness is one of the more common “I have no game” camouflage tactics practiced by many a bad golfer. You know the ones – the guys who have learned the art of hitting a lot of bad shots in rapid succession? I am especially amused when this sort of camouflage is put into use by some jerk who, due to his grossly errant tee shot, is forced to confront the group that is two parings in front of him head-on in their fairway. Since apologies are not even remotely a part of this unfortunate creature’s lexicon, he simply proceeds to dress down the opposing group for their slow play, forces them to wait while he hits down their fairway, then speeds off in his cart only to leave behind the insufferable stench of his existence for them to have to endure.

    Unfortunately, this guy’s stench is slow to wear off on most people and when you take into account that during the “golfing boom” many, many more people were exposed to this brand of bad behavior and when you couple it with the USGA’s recent ridiculously regrettable While We’re Young “initiative” – as it was called by Golf Digest – which all but justifies this pathetic creature’s existence, you end up with a current heightened state of golfer suppression.

    Oh well. . . it’s only a game. . .

  36. There are two pet peeves of mine…..and I see them over and over: 1. Groups that play respectably fast until they get to the greens….then they agonize over 1-footers. I don’t give a damn what you’re playing for, putt and move on. 2. High handicap golfers….okay, anyone……who thinks they are going to reach the green from 240 + yards….standing in the fairway waiting for the group on the green to clear. I stand there on the teebox waiting for these clowns to hit and then watch them dribble the ball 20 yards. Here’s a memo…..you’re not good enough (and neither am I) to hit the green from 240+ yards, especially when you didn’t hit your Driver that far in the first place. Pace of play is the games biggest detriment no matter how many golf scribes or guys in blazers want to deny the obvious.

      • I didn’t say my complaints were audible to the people in front of me. It all depends on who the “jerk” is as described in the article. The person being rude to new golfers or players who believe they are the only people on the course….but that concept may be too deep for you. I have no problem with and welcome beginning golfers. Yet no matter what the skill level of player is, we all have a responsibility to keep play moving. If you can’t accept that, then we can part company and consider each other to be the game’s biggest detriment.

        • Your comment about no beginner being able to hit a fairway wood 240 is just wrong. I’ve done it as a beginner, and seen many others do it too. I will certainly agree that there is a good chance the shot will not turn out how they hoped, but if it does, they have to then deal with the group in front of them, not you. I’ve been in that situation before and can see the look on the group’s face behind me while they’re waiting on the box. You just have to trust that THEY know their game better than you do. Your comment insinuates that you know their game better than they do. And your first “pet peeve” about groups playing fast until the green and spending a lot of time on the green. Well IMO that’s how good golfers should be. Putting is where you really see your scores improve or decline. I don’t disagree that slow play does suck. But some people seem to have unreal expectations and proceed to act like a jerk about it.

          • Ok..Here a newsflash. You claim you have hit it off the deck 240 plus? Umm no you have not. Take yourself to a golf shop with a launch monitor. You’ll be shocked and your ego bruised like an NFL lineman’s body to know how much less yardage you get out of your “best effort”….Now, hitting it 240 plus( and you even admitted it yourself) for an amateur or beginner is usually not going to turn out well. So we’re back to the original premise. To wait on a 240 plus shot into a par 5 with a handicap of 15 or higher or to go ahead, play smart golf show good course management and lay up”….

            • I love how you just told me (after knowing nothing about me. Not my age, height, weight, or most importantly, HANDICAP) that I’ve never hit a 3-wood 240 yards. You also assumed that I’ve never spent time on a LM.

            • I am a 2.8 handicap but sometimes on a par 5 when I want to go for the green in two, I don’t. If there are folks on the green, and folks on the tee waiting for me, burning a hole in my back from their evil gaze, I’ll just go ahead and hit a layup to make everyone happy, thus clearing the fairway and not irritating or endangering the people on the green. Sometimes I dislike myself for doing this.

              • Same. Do it way more often than I’d like. For me, it’s more about getting bored standing in the fairway not hitting a ball for 10 minutes, so I just say f it and lay up.

            • Wow. Be glad you’re not in my area and open to betting, my friend. You’d be out some dough. Maybe you’ve never hit it 240 off the deck but your comment is just plain inaccurate. I can do it any day, and did just that last week and 2 weeks prior. I’d MUCH rather someone wait to hit into a green they COULD reach than piss off a foursome by beating the odds and actually hitting the green. Also, if you’re the ones actually on the green, how much better is it to have the long amateur hit into the greenside bunker, or the cart path by the green, or spray it into the trees near the green instead of actually hitting it? Still disruptive and ‘piss me off’ material, so it doesn’t matter if the person hits the green or just comes close – they’re out of line and should have waited.

              And we’ve all just wasted more time on this particular issue than it really warrants. How about the easy things everyone can do to speed up play?
              * Write the scores at the next tee box, not next to the green
              * Don’t put your clubs away until you’re at the next shot (so you can put away and take out at the same time)
              * Take an extra club (ie, 2 clubs) for any shot you’re not definite about
              * As others have said, play ready golf, not ‘honors’, but additionally – have the shorter hitters tee off first and the longer ones last when concerned about ‘are they far enough out yet?’

          • Okay, fair enough, I see your points. It doesn’t change my mind about the general direction of my opinions but the examples could have been better. On some points we are aligned, and on others, we’ll agree to disagree.

  37. It sounds like this article has very little to do with pace of play. If you were keeping up with the group ahead of you, it’s not your fault. Make conversation with the guys behind you since you’ll see them for the next couple of tees.
    Spreading the starting times does very little for pace of play. If you start 10 minutes apart instead of 8 and the group ahead of you plays a 5 hour round; guess what, you just played in 4:58. Plus if a golf course gives up 20% of their tee times, can they charge 20% more for green fees? Most courses are struggling to stay open and need the revenue.
    If you’re taking a friend out for their first round ever, I suggest going to a par 3 or executive course. Playing a full length course is a horrible idea for anyone who’s going to shoot 120. Shorter course are more enjoyable for beginners.

    • AND PLAY Scramble with the new player, let them hit from best ball…..and big one is buy a few dozen “Cheap” balls and let the new player use them until he gets to a distance he can control the ball from, loosing a few 50 cent golf balls is better then spending 10 minutes looking for that $4 PRO V.

      • Excellent points, Preston and Gorden. Add in the ‘don’t go over double par’ and some general ‘here’s how you play so you don’t hold up folks behind you’ and this is a recipe for good pacing and fun.

  38. STOP with the pace of play garbage. Play to score not for speed. So tired of this argument. If it’s the extreme then I get it, over 4 1/2 hours is a bit much for a average round. This game takes a bit and the purpose is to score well not play fast. You should never feel pressure to speed up at the cost of actually scoring well. If you don’t have 4 1/2 hours don’t play, or play 9 holes.

    • We will have to disagree.
      First, this obsession with “score” is the most common cause of slow play.
      Next is the typical golfers over inflated opinion of his own abilities.
      There is no reason why a round of golf cannot be played in 4 hours for a foursome.
      There are three basic guidelines.
      One, if walking across a fairway is necessary, take a minimum of three clubs with. Get yardage and hit.
      Two, feel free to walk to your ball rather than sit in the cart and wait for your partners to play their shots. I call this “married to the cart”…Get out and walk a bit. Take clubs, towel and range finder with you….Easy
      When on the green, any clubs used to get ball onto the green should be lain on the edge of the green or just off on a path between the hole and the location of the golf cart. This way, one cannot forget their clubs and does not have to alter their path to the cart.
      Play ready golf. Do not ask “are you away”….Or “who is away” If you cannot tell the difference, there is no difference. Play on. BTW, in stroke play, there is no “away” rule.
      Play ready golf.

      • I agree with you on ready golf. Taking more clubs if your not sure and such. But there should be time to actually attempt to score well. I don’t get why people are having an issue with the “obsession of scoring” THATS THE POINT F THE GAME! To score well. Not play fast. I have played golf since I could walk and I agree that there are some groups that are painfully slow. 4 1/2 hours is fair so that everyone can try to score well.

        • The folks I play with are okay with the Non-Honors system. If you get to the next tee first then go ahead and rip it. Only exception is if a member of the group had a birdie or eagle… then they get to go off first.

          • Ha! That has no backing of evidence at all. I am a decent golfer and some days it just takes a bit longer to put up a good number. Sometimes it doesn’t. But saying if you take more than four hours to score well you probably won’t is ridiculous. That sounds like it’s from someone that has never played competitive golf where you actual have to make shots. Sorry, that one doesn’t work for me.

      • We do a lot of the same things. Hard to lose a club (and then waste time backtracking to find it) if you leave it half on/half off the green. I also go through sand like I own stock in it. While waiting in the fairway, I try to fill as many divots as is reasonable, and then refill at the turn. It keeps me occupied and not frustrated. I’m also always fixing extra ball marks while waiting for my playing partners to putt out. Same thing – occupied mind, and I like improving the course conditions in the process. Lastly, I absolutely hate looking for golf balls so I generally do drive-bys (or walk-bys) and if it’s not there, I’m dropping and hitting. I’ll never make a living at this game and my score does count, but not enough to look for balls for minutes at a time.

  39. I have only one problem with the article — but it’s a big one. “Don’t be a jerk,” needs to be applied to everybody, not just people who are impatient at slow play in front of them. If you are playing slower than you should be and don’t try to play faster, you are also being a jerk. If you are playing a more difficult course than you should be, and playing slow as a result, you are also being a jerk. (“More difficult course” could include tees that your game isn’t up to.)

    There’s plenty of blame to go around. This article places the blame on the group waiting for the slowpokes. Shank!

  40. As someone who gets off first at the CC most weekends and plays 18 holes with 2 balls in 2:45… this article is spot on. Tournament rounds can take 4:30 or more, especially if you’re sweating out pars on greens running 12 or more. Public course daily play obviously needs to be tightly monitored by rangers, but there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING more out-of-line and annoying than the twosome or threesome that’s up everyone’s *** on normal weekend play. First of all, golf is meant to be played in fours during busy times. Second, most of us work, and don’t want to “squeeze” golf in… we want to enjoy the day. Lastly, if your schedule is so awful that you can’t be at peace for 4:00-4:30 at a public course on a busy Saturday morning… maybe it’s time to just hit the range and go home to the wife. Either that, or work hard enough to get really rich, and join a club that doesn’t even use tee times. Problem solved.

  41. OMG! Stop! Stop! Stop!
    The pace of play argument is so far gone to the wrong side it’s crazy. I have a bunch of friends that want to get involved in golf and won’t because of the pace of play and the way it makes them feel when they are out on the course. I have played my entire life and still feel it sometimes. I would say I play fairly fast and always play ready golf unless in a tournament, but still get the feeling of being pushed from behind on a regular basis. I do agree that there should be no reason to take more than 4 1/2 hours to play a round. I hate the way people argue that speed is the only thing hat matters, the sport is to SCORE well not play fast! I would gladly take my time and actually play the game the way it was supposed too.
    My suggestion is, slow down and try and score well. If you don’t have 4 1/2 hours then don’t play 18, play none or go play tennis or something.

    • The original game of golf was played at match play. If a player missed shots and had no chance to win the hole, the players picked it up and went to the next tee.

      It is the American fixation on score that has slowed up what can be a nice, fast walk around the golf course.

      As others have said, start playing Stableford and don’t take yourself so seriously. If you really want to take yourself seriously, sign up for amateur tournament qualifiers, where you can count every single stroke and take 5-1/2 hours.

    • To reiterate, Americans have a desire to identify fellow golfers by a number. Handicap or regular score make identification easy – the American way. We don’t identify a fellow golfer as a good ball striker, or a fine short game player. We reduce it to a number. And we need to shoot a number.

      That’s too bad, because golf can be played well in a number of different ways. When we become all about score, we lose a number of other ways in which to distinguish ourselves as golfers.

      • I will play with any level of golfer and I certainly don’t stand in the first tee and introduce myself by my index number and wait to hear the index of the people I play with. The game is not reduced to your handicap. There are many ways to play ie, stableford, match, etc etc. My point is that if you go out to play well and want to count your score there is nothing wrong with taking some time or playing the back tees (within your ability of course). I have played in Europe and would say that they use a number as well. Never heard of anyone going into the nineteenth hole and saying, “well you won tofmday because you got up and down the best, or man you out putted me on the last 7 holes.”

  42. Each party should be read the riot act regarding slow play at the first tee, including the amount of time to be spent looking for lost balls. Worst case scenario is when you’re stuck with those people to go ball-hunting for extra balls to add to their shag bag.

      • As if. This is clueless.

        People like you want to hit mulligans, take drops in the wrong places (especially around cart paths and out-of-bounds shots), pick up 3-footers as if they’re good, and a host of other rules violations, yet you want 5 minutes to look for your ball? Please, just go.

          • “wow! mountain out of a mole hill scenario.”

            Not really.

            Assuming the starter schedules groups 10 minutes apart (and that’s generous), all it takes is two lost balls for you to be backing up the whole course behind you. I play with guys who can lose 2-3 balls in a single hole, easily.

            Then, inevitably when the group behind you catches up, the person looking for balls feels rushed and hits more bad shots.

            I get looking for a ball that’s just off the fairway in some long rough– that’s frustrating to lose one like that– but it’s just totally unnecessary to spend 5 minutes in the woods looking for a ball that you’re not even really sure where it landed, or what it hit.

  43. Unfortunately, there are more than your average number of “jerks” playing golf. Some revel in being “that guy” that makes a scene on the course in one form or another. I’ve played with plenty of jerks who deliberately take all day to play on the weekends so they can drink beer, smoke cigars, and get out of “honey-dos” at home. Many golfers don’t see the wrong in being a jerk – just check out your groups of drunken frat boys on any course, on any sunny afternoon. It’s not quite like moths to flames, but something about golf appeals to too many jerks, and that is part of golf’s major image problem. To outsiders, it’s a game for snobs and jerks, and sometimes it really is.

  44. Good article with valid points. I would agree in most cases that golf is too slow. However as some of the responses indicate that many of the golf courses send groups out every 8 minutes in order to maximize the number of rounds each day realizing that play will grind to a halt, especially around par 3’s. Also having a daughter who is only just starting to play I can relate to the new golfer issues mentioned in the article as she feels embarrassed when other groups come up from behind. It’s a difficult situation and frankly I instead take her out to play when the course isn’t busy to avoid this issue and allow her to play and hopefully get better with experience. But I’m also the guy on a busy weekend who is griping about slow groups in front of us making us wait on each shot. Learning basic rules of golf, and frankly etiquette, are really necessary to avoid issues where all 4 guys in a group drive into the woods to look for one person’s ball instead of finding their own ball first to keep play moving ahead (there are many other examples but that one really bugs me). I guess it comes down to learning some common sense when playing to avoid the slowdowns.

  45. Set proper tee time spacing so that when a slow down does occur (and it will) you don’t get a group right on another group.

    If there’s no buffer between groups, that’s the main problem.

  46. In your situation, you didn’t say if it was a public course or a country club. I think slow play is almost guaranteed at public courses. If people realize that then life will be a lot easier.

    I always laugh when the ranger comes up on a public course and say, “you might want to speed up a bit”. It’s not like the group and instantly turn on their PGA tour player switch and start playing like a pro.

    If a group is that pissed off you are playing slow, let them pass. Simple enough

    • If bad play was the reason, I’m fine with it.

      The problem I see is that most players aren’t slow because they are bad, they are slow because they spend way too much time not golfing. I see 25 handicaps spending a full minute reading a put, when we all know they have no idea how to read or hit a putt.

      I see so many people not reading putts while others are putting or chipping. People not choosing their club while others hitting. Seeing people flub a chip. Spend 30 seconds being mad and then they slowly regroup to hit another bad one.

      If people just realized that it’s okay to be bad, just be bad and fast. You won’t play any worse, in fact, you’ll often play better. (And I don’t mean lightning fast, just be ready to hit when it’s your turn.)

      • +1. The biggest problem with pace of play is people don’t know how to play “ready golf”. Ready Golf is not meant to be construed as running to your shots and playing in 3 hours. It’s just being ready to hit. Like you said, while your partner is hitting you should be thinking about your own shot so when you get there you are ready to grab your club and hit. Also my favorite is when i see this…Player 1 drives up the left side to his ball. Player 2 is same distance away, but maybe 25 yards to the right. Player 2 proceeds to sit in cart and wait for Player 1 to hit, clean club, get back in cart, and drive 25 yards to the right. Whereas he could have grabbed a club and walked over to hit his ball. Things like this I see all the time.

    • No. Don’t talk up golf if you’re not going to be considerate of the other golfers.

      No one benefits from slow play. But some jerks want to be excused for it.

      • “Golf is a leisure sport. Yes, we could all probably pick up the pace a bit, but this ain’t racing, and if you’re playing on a Saturday morning then the people in front of you probably worked all week and don’t need you complaining behind them. It’s just rude.”

  47. I agree, being a jerk doesn’t cut it. But if you’re feeling pressured, strike up a quick conversation and let those behind you know it’s been slow in front of you and you’ve had to wait. Maybe even tell them you’re still learning the game. Then ask if they would like to play through! … and introduce you’re new player to that aspect of the game as well. Sometimes playing through makes sense, sometimes it doesn’t, but it seems to be a lost part of the etiquette to at least ask.

    • I actually think the various rules of golf force slow play. They assume that you will only hit OB… Rarely. And are quite inflexible and slow for any lost ball situation.

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