Speeding Up Play

Are you normally “behind the group in front” or “in front of the group behind”?

I have been around golf courses since I was born – my first home as a baby was in the clubhouse of the course where my Dad was the Golf Pro & Head Greenkeeper and my Mum was the Steward. In all that time I don’t recall anyone moaning about how a round was too fast or play too quick. Meanwhile moans about slow play are all too frequent.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. Dr Alister Mackenzie (the architect of Alwoodly, The Eden at St Andrews, Moortown, Burnham & Berrow, Lahinch, Royal Melbourne, Cypress Point, and Augusta National amongst others) wrote the following.

“Twenty years ago we played three rounds of golf a day and considered we had taken an interminably long time if we took more than two hours to play a round. Today it not infrequently takes over three hours”

From “The Spirit of St Andrews” by Dr Alister Mackenzie – published 1934

A 3 hour round is a distant memory now, but it was the standard expected of a 2 or 3 ball when I was a Junior. 3 and a half hours was the “time par” for a four ball, while 4 hours or more was outrageously slow.

When I started playing my Dad passed on his knowledge of etiquette and generally how to play and move round the golf course without wasting time. With todays slow expectations many golfers are simply unaware of how to play at a reasonable pace, so here is a list of hints and tips gleaned from my Dad’s vast experience of golf:

  1. Be aware of where you are going next
    • leave your clubs at the side of the green towards the next tee
    • if, for example, the next tee is behind the green take your driving club and putter with you
  2. Two balls in your pocket at all times – in case you need to hit a provisional
  3. When you have the honour, hit your tee shot first and then mark the scorecard
  4. Put your glove on before it is your turn to play
  5. Check your distances, the wind, any other conditions, and choose your club while others are playing
  6. Get a good line on any ball hit into the rough and walk down that line – you’ll find it more quickly
  7. Check out pin positions on future holes as you play the course. At Brokenhurst you can check at least 6 pins as you go round:
    • 7th from the railway bridge if you drive in from the south
    • 18th & 17th from 1st tee
    • 5th & 4th from the 1st green
    • 15th from the 10th tee, 14th from the 11th tee
  8. Check out general slopes on greens as you approach them – this will often give you a better general read than when you are on the green itself
  9. Pull your partners trolley if they otherwise have to leave it in an awkward place
  10. If in doubt – hit a provisional
  11. Hit your shot first and then chat – don’t delay play to finish an anecdote
  12. Walk at a good pace. No need to rush but don’t dawdle
  13. Let faster games through

Please do add your own hints and tips into the comments below – it will help all of us to enjoy our golf that bit more.

2 thoughts on “Speeding Up Play

  1. Tip: Do not spend more than 3 minutes looking for a ball !!!
    Tip: If you are a 3/4 ball do not all go looking for a ball, someone can normally hit and then go help if required
    Comment on Tip 2: Make sure the 2 balls are marked differently…, you fetch your titleist 3 (no markings) out of your pocket only to realise the other ball in your pocket is a titleist 3 (no markings) ! You could be substituting your ball accidently on the putting green if you cant identify it, thereby incurring a general penalty 😦


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