As we head into the heart of the spring golf season, pace of play will become a topic of conservation.
Let’s get a couple things out of the way upfront: 1) golfers tend to slow down on vacation and that’s okay; and 2) the fact the pace is more leisurely on a trip doesn’t mean it should be slow.
Every group – no matter the skill level – can finish in under 4:30 and do so without sacrificing the camaraderie that makes the game enjoyable for so many of us, assuming they do the following things:
— Go directly to your ball. Put another way, nobody should be sitting in the cart waiting for their partner to hit, wipe his club off, and put it back in the bag before moving to their ball. One person gets dropped off at his or her ball while the other player takes the cart to his ball. That way you can have the proper distance and club selected and be ready to hit when it’s your turn. You’d be amazed at how much time is wasted sitting in the cart watching someone else play.
— Play ready golf, especially on the tee. If Joe made birdie on the last hole, but it takes him a little time to record scores and think about what club he wants to hit off the next tee, there is no need for everyone in your group to wait. Pull your club, put the peg in the ground and hit the ball. Make it clear to everyone that they are empowered to hit the ball when they are ready to do so. Your trip is important but it’s not the Masters and hitting “out of order” isn’t a big deal.
— Golfers pride themselves on following the rules, unless they are looking for an errant shot. Per the rules of golf, you have 3 minutes to find your ball and you shouldn’t take a second more. Nothing does more to slow pace of play than guys who spend forever searching for a ball that was launched in the woods. I’m not telling you not to look for your ball; I am telling you to declare it lost before you grow a beard traipsing through the pines. (As an aside, spare me the talk about the price of a Pro V1. Golf balls are purchased to be lost, and if it hurts you that badly to lose a $4 ball, play with something else!).
— The reality is we all have slow holes. That’s okay. When your group has a hiccup, be aware of your situation on the course. If you fall out of position, make an effort to catch up. If there is a hole open in front of you, it’s not good enough to say, “We only had one bad hole.” The time you lose echoes through the course, so try and pick up the pace when you have a “slow” hole.
— It’s almost cliche but play from the right set of tees. Pride requires many men to play further back than necessary. Trust me, if you move up a set of tees your ego will survive and any bruising will be salved by better scores.
Golf is at its best when played in 4:30 or less and you don’t have to be a scratch player to do so. If you follow the five steps above, your group will have a great time and be in position to play another round in the afternoon!