We all love to walk 9 holes on a beautiful afternoon, rolling in a birdie putt or crushing a drive down the fairway. We love many things about golf – but slow play is not one of them.
Golf pace of play has been a problem for many years. So big in fact, that the USGA (United States Golf Association) launched the 2013 campaign “While We’re Young” to combat it.
This effort included commercials (our favorite included Clint Eastwood) and tips for golfers to play quicker, in the hope that by drawing attention to the problem, golfers will start to take their pace more seriously.
Far too often a round of golf takes more than 4 and 1/2 hours – but if we want to continue to grow the game, we need to reduce the time it takes to play.
The biggest challenge related to golf pace of play is that very few golfers realize they are slow.
In 2018 Golf.com did an anonymous poll of PGA Tour players and asked them about golf pace of play. The results were shocking.
78 percent of the respondents complained about golf pace of play, but none thought they were slow players themselves.
So, to do our bit in improving the golf pace of play situation, in this article we’ll explain the importance of golf pace of play, plus give you 7 valuable tricks to help you improve it.
Let’s get into it.
Why Is Golf Pace Of Play Important?
There are several reasons why you should consider golf pace of play the next time you visit your local course.
First, it can prevent new players from taking up the game. If you love the game of golf, you want it to grow.
The best way for it to flourish is by getting new people to give it a try. Trying to get someone involved in a new hobby that might take 5+ hours of their weekend is a hard sell.
Second, you don’t want your golf buddies to whisper behind your back that you are too slow. You don’t want the nickname “the human glacier”.
Do you want your golf pace of play to be the reason you don’t get an invite the next time your friends head to the course?
Finally, golf pace of play can ruin an otherwise perfect afternoon. It simply isn’t fun standing around and waiting on the foursome in front of you to finish putting.
It can lead to frustration and impact your score. Don’t snap hook your next shot because you had to stand on the tee box for five minutes waiting to hit.
Plus, the less time a game takes you – the more you can fit into your week. A win-win.
7 Ways To Improve Your Golf Pace Of Play
Now you’ve got some motivation to improve your pace of play – it’s time to start looking at the ways you can achieve this.
#1: Are You A Slow Player?
As they say, the first step is admitting you have a problem. Think about your time on the golf course. Do a self-assessment. Are you slow?
Are you typically waiting on the group in front of you or do you always feel like the group behind you is breathing down your neck?
Do you have a normal group of players you play with? Who is the slowest player in your group? If you don’t know the answer, it might be you!
Be honest. Being a slow golfer doesn’t make you a bad person and we can help you improve your golf pace of play.
It is far easier to play quicker than to reduce your golf handicap.
#2: Play Ready Golf
To put it simply, if you are ready to hit your next shot go ahead and make your swing.
This is one piece of golf etiquette that has changed over recent years. The idea of waiting for the player furthermost from the hole to hit is no longer required.
Did you know that in 2019 the USGA changed this rule for tournament play? To help improve golf pace of play in competition there is no longer a penalty for playing out or turn.
The other example of “ready golf” is on the tee box. For hundreds of years, golfers have used the “honors” system.
The “honors” system dictates that you tee off in order of score from the previous hole. The best score from the previous hole tees off first.
This is another way to speed up your group’s golf pace of play. Tee off based on who is ready to hit the shot.
If you are playing with people you don’t know well, you may want to ask if they are ok with this approach. A simple “you guys good with playing ready golf?” will work.
#3: Make Your Club Choice While Others Are Hitting
Golf pace of play often comes down to what you do when it is not your turn. How do you spend the time waiting on other players in your group?
There are several steps you can perform while your buddy is hitting their approach shot.
You can walk off the yardage or use your rangefinder to determine the distance. You can toss some grass in the air to measure the wind.
You can determine the type of shot you need to hit (low draw or high fade, etc.). You can pick your target.
If you complete these steps while other players are hitting shots, once it is your turn, you can fire away.
This might sound like small things that won’t make that much difference. You might save 15-30 seconds, but how many shots do you hit in a round?
Being ready to swing as soon as it is your turn can reduce your golf pace of play by 30 minutes or more.
#4: Consistent and Efficient Pre-Shot Routine
Your pre-shot routine is how you prepare for each shot. This could include practice swings and/or visualizing the shot.
Extended and inconsistent pre-shot routines can hurt your golf pace of play and your score.
The first piece of advice. Don’t learn your pre-shot routine by watching professional golfers on TV.
Keep your pre-shot routine short. Our favorite: stand behind your ball, take one practice swing, take your stance and make a confident swing.
Avoid multiple practice swings. Avoid changing your routine on every shot.
Just like shooting a free throw in basketball, a consistent pre-shot routine will help you execute when you feel pressure.
We recommend you practice your pre-shot routine at the driving range. Improving your pre-shot routine can lower your golf handicap.
#5: Think Before Renting a Golf Cart.
You would assume the answer is yes. A golf cart must improve my golf pace of play. Instead of walking to my ball, I get to drive.
This can be true, but you need to make sure you don’t “fall in love with sitting in the cart“.
Instead of walking directly to your golf ball, you might drive the cart to your buddy’s ball first. You sit in the cart and watch him hit his shot before going to your ball.
You are losing time while sitting in the cart and watching. During this time you could be picking your club and planning for your next shot.
Renting a golf cart when you play should help your golf pace of play, but you need to be actively working your next shot. Grab a couple of clubs and walk to your ball while your playing partner is hitting.
As soon as they hit, you can hit your next shot. Now you can both hop in the cart and ride to the green.
#6: Always Be Reading Your Putts
The green is where many foursomes struggle with golf pace of play. Similar to #3 above, it is all about using the time while others are putting.
Don’t wait until it is your turn to start reading your putt.
Pay attention not to bother the player that is currently putting, but start your process. Check out the slope of the green. Get an idea of the direction your putt is going to break.
When it is your turn to putt, take one last quick look, and roll the rock.
If you first putt finishes close to the hole, finish up. No reason to waste time marking a short putt.
#7: Pay It Forward: Let Faster Groups Play Through
Your golf pace of play might be fine, but the foursome behind you might just be quicker. That doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or a poor golfer.
Find a convenient spot (par 3s are best) and let them play through. Simply waive them up.
This simple act will make your day and their day more enjoyable. They get to play quicker and you won’t feel the pressure of them breathing down your neck. It’s a win-win.
No reason to try and rush if you feel your pace is fine. You’ll be much happier once they have moved on.
Your Golf Pace Of Play Is Quicker – Now What?
We can help you improve all facets of your game. Learn how to hit a beautiful flop shot!
Find the perfect game for your foursome to play. Regardless of what you work on next, keep grinding! Good luck and play well.