How to Avoid Slow Play in Golf

Slow play has become a large prob­lem for the game of golf. Unfor­tu­nate­ly it is not uncom­mon for an 18 hole round of golf to take over five hours. I’m not a speed golfer but I can play a round in three hours with no traf­fic on the course. The golf indus­try would love for golfers to be able to com­plete rounds in four hours. Slow play is not direct­ly relat­ed to being a high hand­i­cap golfer. It’s not the num­ber of strokes that one takes but instead all of the activ­i­ty in between. Look at the pro­fes­sion­al golf tours. These golfers have their liveli­hoods on the line with every shot so they have a rea­son to take their time. Still, pace of play on the pro­fes­sion­al tours is ago­niz­ing­ly slow. So while you can glean some tips from watch­ing pros on TV, don’t mim­ic their slow play.

So what caus­es slow play and what can golfers do to speed up the pace?

A big rea­son for slow play is not hav­ing a con­sis­tent, time­ly pre-shot rou­tine for all of your shots, includ­ing full swings, pitch­es, chips and putts. Hav­ing a time­ly rou­tine involves select­ing the right club. This requires judg­ing the dis­tance, wind, lie of the ball and ele­va­tion change to the hole. Once you have the right club, take one prac­tice swing,line up to a tar­get and take your shot. One prac­tice swing is plen­ty. The time for prac­tice swings is on the dri­ving range.

Putting is arguably the most impor­tant part of your golf game. More strokes are tak­en with your put­ter than any oth­er club. This makes read­ing putts very impor­tant to your suc­cess. How­ev­er, many golfers take way too long to com­plete their pre-putt rou­tines. I believe read­ing putts requires get­ting a side view to judge ele­va­tion and a view from below the hole. I view from above the hole is also ben­e­fi­cial but only when time allows. But like the full swing pre-shot rou­tine, many times some of the reads can be com­plet­ed before your turn while oth­ers are read­ing their putts. While walk­ing up to the green, get a look at the gen­er­al slope of the green. Then, if oth­ers are play­ing before you, get a read or two on your putt while they are read­ing theirs. Be sure to be out of the way and qui­et as they line up over their ball and putt.

Iron­i­cal­ly, anoth­er source of slow play is the rid­ing cart. Many times golfers in the same cart will ride over to one of the player’s ball on one side of the fair­way and the oth­er per­son will wait there the whole dura­tion of the pre-shot rou­tine and shot. They will then dri­ve over to the oth­er player’s ball and do the same. This is too time con­sum­ing and the wrong way to play cart golf. For times when two play­ers in a cart are on oppo­site sides of the fair­way, the dri­ver should dri­ve the pas­sen­ger to their ball. The pas­sen­ger should quick­ly deter­mine their club to use. If they are in between clubs, the pas­sen­ger should take both and the dri­ver should go to their ball. This way both play­ers can pre­pare and take their shots with­out a lot of unnec­es­sary wait­ing.

Search­ing for lost golf balls is also a source of slow play. By rule you are allowed five min­utes to search for a lost ball. Dur­ing casu­al play, the only time you should take five min­utes is when your ball is lost in an area where you have a next shot if you find it. For exam­ple, many times your ball can get lost in the rough. If you hit your ball in the thick woods, by all means take a minute to look for it (after all they’re expen­sive), but then take a drop since you wouldn’t have a real­is­tic next shot even if you found it. One more thing about search­ing for lost balls. Oth­er mem­bers in the group should hit their next shots before help­ing the play­er search for their lost ball. Do not have your entire four­some look­ing for a lost ball before they have tak­en their next shots.

Keep an eye on your pace of play next time you are on the course. If the course is busy and the hole in front of you is com­plete­ly open, you’re prob­a­bly play­ing too slow. Make sure you are using the ideas we dis­cussed and speed up your play.

Leave a Reply