Since the PGA and USGA seem to only be focusing on the rules of play more than the pace of play of golf it will not be long before the weekend warriors of golf will be regularly dealing with the growing slowness of the game of golf.
It would be an accurate assumption that slow play is going to be a way of life for golfers and since that seems to be the case I thought I would take a positive approach to offering some tips I have developed that work for me when playing a course that is experiencing slow pace of play. Maybe it will work for you as well.
1. Pick a Fast Game to Play
Many times you know you before you tee it up that the golf course is experiencing slow play. Sometimes you are even told what the situation is going to be for the entire day. So if you commit to playing at this facility knowing the pace is going to be slow, you need to be prepared.
One of the things I suggest to the group before we tee off is to play the course under Match Play Rules. I add to that to pick up the ball if you are out of the hole. In some cases, where the level of skill is higher I suggest that we pick up if we can’t bogey the hole.
This keeps someone who hits into the woods on their third shot on a par four from holding everyone in the world up hostage waiting on him or her to make an eleven (or 6, as they tell everyone on the next tee box they shot).
Playing games of golf that take out the concern for holing out every one foot putt will keep the tempers down from the group behind you. Playing stroke play really does not help pace of play on a crowded course.
2. Play to your skill level
I know many men golfers have this thing about only playing from the Tip’s. Not sure if this attitude they have developed is from some other deficiency they have in their life for which they are compensating for by thinking they can play back there but it sure must be something like that since many of the guys I see who play from the back tees have no business back there.
I have heard from the 30 something’s I play with who feel most golf courses built before 1995 are not long enough for their game. So naturally playing from the back tees is the place they feel makes golf more challenging for them. Again, many of them had never had a golf lesson and are only out to try to hit their driver as hard as they can but could hit a short iron to save their life. And we all know where they golf ball lands when they do hit it..or check that..most of the time we never know where their ball lands since it flew off into the fourth fairway to the right of the one they are playing.
The fact is..only about .5% of the golfers who roam the golf courses outsides the ropes of the professional arena can play the back tees efficiently. I have played with a few of that .05% and it is awesome to watch them play..but that is probably 1 in 100 rounds of golf I have played I get the pleasure to experience that level of play. This means the 99.5% of us should be playing a forward tee..even the front tees for many.
A few years ago, when playing in a Pro-Am here in Dallas, PGA Pro Brian Gay played with his amateurs from the forward tees just to show his respect to the group and to have fun. He used an iron when most of us were swinging a driver and was using a wedge when we are still in our long irons. But the fact he was playing with the everyday golfer, accepting the challenges of the course from the forward tees, was just showing everyone it doesn’t matter what tee you play, just play the course as it offers up its challenges. Of course Brian did hit from time to time from the Tips to put on a show of his golf skills..which was Awesome. But overall, his attitude was he likes to have fun with the rest of us and has no stigma attached to him having to hit from the back tees because he is a Pro.
It takes a special person to play the game of golf as it can be played instead of playing it as there is an assumption it should be played. There is no mandatory rule you have to play from the back tees to be worthy of a certain level of the game of golf. So, suck it up people and move on up a tee when the golf course is packed. Leave the back tees to days in the middle of the week or when the golf course is not crowded.
The key to solving the slow pace of play for all golf courses is for people to play the course to their level of play, or less if the need be, to let everyone on the golf course enjoy the day and their round of golf.
There is nothing worse that waiting on a fivesome of guys who are jacking around on the back tips waiting for the group on the green of a 350 yard hole to leave the postage stamp size green so they can all wale at an attempt to hit the lowest percentage shot anyone can take..even the pros.
Come on people..lets move forward when the course is crowded..will you??
3. Stay Alert
Another killer for pace of play are the players in the group not staying alert to what is going on around them. Many want to ignore the fact that there are literally hundreds of people on the golf course and seem to think they are the only ones who matter. This attitude can make the pace of play even worse and could get someone hurt by when a golfer behind them hits into their group by accident.
Knowing the distances to an object on the course or to the group in front of you should be something at least one person in the group should be staying alert to knowing. Knowing the distance you hit a particular club also is important. If every club in your bag only goes 150 yds and you are only 135 yards away from the group in front of you…take a seat in the cart and enjoy that margarita…it will make for a better day,
When paired up in golf carts one person should always be in eyesight of the tee box so the group behind can see they are still in range of their shot.
Too many times I see people on the tee hit their shots when the group in front of them is still within range but behind a group of trees or in a ditch and cannot be seen from the teebox.
This starts an even worse pace of play because it then places the players behind too close to the group in front and the golfers behind them start teeing off too soon.
If you are paired with someone who just hit into the woods, after they pull their club, take the golf cart to (or go stand in) the center of the fairway so the group behind knows you are still there.
Safety, as well as staying up with the group in front, should be on every player’s mind.
Yes, I know, it takes away from the enjoyment of the game of golf when you have to think about the group behind you, but until the USGA approves a testing system that tests golfer’s skill so a tee and length of course can be designated for each skill level, golfers are going to have to sacrifice their enjoyment of the game when playing at a facility that does not manage their tee times or, the course for the pace of play.
Think about the group behind you as much as you think about the group in front of you..the Pro’s do. So, if you are out to play like a Pro..think like a Pro ..will ya?
4. Develop an instinct for Time
Time management nowadays is something that touches everything we do..yes..including golf. You don’t have to punch a clock to get a feel for how much time you have been waiting. After the first hole or two you should get into a rhythm for the pace of play.
Once you get into that rhythm between each shot make sure to stay there. It will eventually come to you that you are playing too slow.
If the rhythm of time between shoots gets slower it might be time to suck it up and only hit a 7 iron to a spot in the fairway instead of taking time to attempt to take a driver off the deck to hit the green in two.
Yes, time management can determine what club you use since hitting the fairway or placing the ball in a spot in the fairway to insure your next shot hits the green is more time effective than looking for your ball in the woods. Smarter play equals faster play.
So keep time in mind and think about the odds of executing the shot you are going to take and how much time it will take if you miss.
5. Play Friendly
You might as well face it, you are going to sooner of later deal with slow play. So why let it change who you are as a person. Why not develop a friendly attitude towards playing golf when the pace of play is grinding to a stop. There really is nothing you can do about it, outside of leaving the course. If you can’t remain calm and friendly to the group in front and back as well as the group you are playing with maybe another day would be better to play golf.
There is no need in staying in a sand hazard hacking away at the golf ball until you hit it out. Take two strokes at it then pick it up and throw it out of the hazard..or, depending on if you are at your max for your handicap,..stick it in your pocket and go hold the flag for the others.
Playing at an amature level is not a do or die situation and if you had money on that hole suck it up and go after the next hole to get get back. Don’t take it out on the pace of play and don’t blame the pace of play as causing your game to suck. Blowing up emotionally on the golf course for any reason does not show good character.
If that is actually the case, and you are one of the many who seem to not be able to control their emotions, I can assure you the cart paths always lead to the Cllubhouse. It might be time to head that way.
Yes, slow pace of play is going to change the way we play the game so we need to deal with it and realize until something is done to manage the game of Golf better slow pace of play is just part of the game.
There is little that can be done to avoid the day’s pace of play being slow up. Unless you are able to play during the week at a private club where pace of play is tightly manage, you need to develop an understand that golf sometimes is going to take time to play.
I am not one who likes 5 hour rounds of golf when the temp is over 100 degrees and I am not a supporter of the fact that slow pace of play is to be the norm for a round of golf. But, when I am forced to play at a facility that is having a slow play day, at least I know what can be done to make the day more enjoyable. Most of the time I play better knowing that I am playing at the pace of play for the course.
So, Tee It Up and let’s play some golf people! Let me know how I can help.