Six hours for 18 holes? I’m sure most of us would prefer to play close to 36 in that amount of time. As if golf didn’t take enough of a commitment on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, the length of time it takes to play seemingly increases with each passing year. For single, independently wealthy, carefree people, pace of play isn’t an issue. They don’t have family commitments, jobs or worries to tend to. For the rest of us, pace of play is having a serious effect on our lives. In some cases, the worst part about it is we can’t golf as often as we want. As golfers, what can we do about pace of play? Do we really want to resort to golfing once a week instead of twice? Maybe it doesn’t have to come to that if we examine the root of the problem. Perhaps if all golfers do their part on the course, we can get back to the good old days and we’ll be zipping through 18 holes and still have time to make your nephew’s birthday party.
Faster pace of play actually doesn’t start with golfer, but with the course and its starter. Everyone understands the concept that trying to get the maximum number of groups through the course in a day is most profitable for the course. But having tee times four minutes apart or trying to squeeze a single or pair through by starting them out on the back nine are destroying any hope of a round completed in a decent amount of time. The starters are experts at how long it takes people to play each hole on a course, so be realistic about the minutes between start times.
Pace of play continues with the first group of the day and their swings from the first tee, to be specific. Golfers, be honest with yourself. Play from the tees that match your skill level. If you drive the ball in the 200 yard-range, it’s ok to step up and play from a closer tee. Play from the blue, the red, the white. If every player played from his or her appropriate tee, that would be a huge boost to improved pace of play.
Along with a four-hour round, golf etiquette appears to be dying, and that’s a problem. When golfers respect other players on the course, it’s better for the pace of play and for the game in general. If there’s a fast group playing behind you, don’t slow down on purpose to hold them up. Let them play through. It will make their round more enjoyable and your round more enjoyable. If you’re the group that’s playing slow or struggling that day, show some respect and speed up. Wouldn’t you appreciate the same from a struggling group in front of you? Another part of etiquette is keeping your cart on the appropriate side of the path when near the green. It’s no fun for anyone when you watch a group walk all the way to the other side of the green after their putts.
Lastly, amateur golfers need to realize when they’re taking too much time. I understand that the practice video said that you should take five practice swings before each shot, but there’s a time and a place for that. Monday afternoon when you’re the only one on the course? Great time to practice all of your new routines! Saturday morning when the course is packed? Step up to the ball take one practice swing and let it rip!
That’s the beauty of golf and pace of play. It would not take a lot for us to speed things up, but everyone needs to do their part. If one group decides they rule the course and can play with utter disregard for everyone else, then everyone suffers the dreaded five-hour round. So let’s step up and make a stand. Time of play will decrease, and hopefully scores will too!