One of the most common complaints that I’ve heard on the golf course, especially when I have been serving as a marshal or ambassador is: “Why is it so slow?” Here in America we are envious of the Scots and Irish who get around in three hours–no more than three and a half–while we sometimes take five or six hours.
It’s not always the fault of the golfers as some courses still like to schedule their tee times too close together, using seven and eight-minute intervals. A wiser course of action based on my experience as a starter and tournament administrator is intervals of nine, or maybe even ten, minutes.
Allowing fivesomes, even during the week, doesn’t help with the pace of play and each one takes an additional golf cart that might be needed later on a busy day.
For shotgun starts, I’ve found that you add five minutes per group to the time it takes for the round when you get more than 20 groups. Tournament organizers need to understand that, especially for charity events, and not try to attract fields of 36 teams.
Yes, slow play is a problem. With that in mind, here are some of the thing you can do this year to help the pace of play.
*Warm up and do your stretching before the round.
*Do not take a mulligan off the first tee.
*Select tees appropriate to your golfing skill.
*Then make sure your group maintains its position on the course–where you can see the group in front of you. If you can’t do it, let the trailing group to play through.
*Play when ready and don’t wait for the player who is away, making sure that no one is in your way.
*Plan your shot while walking or driving to your ball while others are playing.
*Begin lining up your putt and reading the break when you reach the green.
*If you are riding and play is restricted to the cart paths, take three clubs with you—the one you think you need plus one more and one less–so that you do not have to walk back to the cart.
*Drop off your cart partner and then go to your ball instead of waiting for him to play.
*New range finders and GPS systems on the carts have helped eliminate the need for it, but do not spend a lot of time stepping off yardages for each shot.
*If necessary, take a practice swing, but not several.
*Hit a provisional ball if you think the original might be lost outside of a hazard or may be out of bounds.
*Don’t waste a lot of time looking for your ball either, especially if the group behind you is already waiting.
*With soft spikes reducing the problem of spike marks on the greens, go ahead and putt out instead of marking the ball and waiting until you are away, especially if you are not playing in a tournament.
*Leave your golf bag or the golf cart on the side or back of the green in the direction of the next tee whenever possible.
*Write down your score when you reach the next tee.
One thing to remember, however. If you are playing a twosome, do not expect to play through every foursome either. The pace of play at most courses is established for foursomes. Actually, allowing twosomes takes away revenue and is not permitted at some courses. Just be patient and enjoy that extra time with your wife, if that is who you are playing with.