Avoiding Slow Play
Slow play will make you unpopular. It can put your playing partners off their game (little will annoy players than feeling they’ve been put off their game!) and it can cause delays and annoyance to others on the course.
Getting round a golf course in an acceptable length of time doesn't mean you're in a race! It is mostly about just not wasting time. Being efficient, shaving off a few seconds here, a few seconds there, can accumulate to a decent chunk of time over a whole round.
Be ready to play when it’s your turn.
Think about your shot when it’s not yet your turn. You can assess all kinds of things – wind, distance, where you want to hit it, etc. long before it’s time for you to play your shot. However, do NOT indulge in practice swings or anything else that could distract your playing partners.
Keep pre-shot routines in check.
Keep your practice for the practice ground! When playing in a club competition, you should not be going through lengthy routines, lots of practice swings, multitudes of alignment procedures, and so on. These are all well and good when working on your game but once playing in a club competition, you really should not be spending a lot of time on these things. Sure, have a swing thought in mind, make a practice swing or two, but keep it in check. Definitely develop a “routine” for your shot preparation but avoid it becoming lengthy
If in doubt, play a provisional ball
There is absolutely no point in having return to the tee to play again if your ball is lost. If you think there’s a chance you will not find it, play a provisional ball. That’s why the rules allow it! That applies on other shots too, not just drives.
When playing a provisional ball, make sure you remember to declare clearly before playing it that you are playing a provisional!
Wave people through sooner
If you lose ground on the group in front and you notice those behind you are waiting to play, call them through. If you’re looking for a ball and the group behind are waiting to play, call them through.
Of course, if you are continually calling other groups through, this should be a wake-up call: someone in your group is plying slowly! Maybe more than one. Is it you?
Be efficient around the green
We can waste a lot of time around greens. It is particularly frustrating to players waiting to play to a green if they can see unnecessary delays. The number one “criminal” is the card-marker. Never, ever, stand on the green marking your card when everyone has holed out.
However, there is much more we can do to cut down wasted time around the greens. As you’re approaching the green, just think a little about where you’re going next and leave your clubs where you can easily collect them on your way to the next tee. Be aware of where everyone’s ball is so nobody has to waste time moving clubs or the pin, and you won’t hold hold anyone up by being in their way when it’s their turn to play.
Don’t leave the last person to hole out to replace the pin. Another player in the group should be ready to do that.
Got the honour? Use it!
If you have the honour, do not spend time marking your car before playing. Instead, be ready to tee it up and play as soon as you reach the tee. There is plenty of time to mark the card while others in your group are playing their tee shots.
However frustrated you are at playing a poor shot, when you do, that’s when you most need to watch carefully where it goes. Try to spot something near to where your ball went that you can use to help locate it Failing that, look for something that will give you a very good indication of the line from you to the ball.
It’s worth taking your eyes off that scorecard you’re marking just for a few seconds to see where your playing partners’ balls go. If they’re heading for trouble, do as you would when trying to get a fix on your own ball’s location. If they smack one down the middle of the fairway, you can safely get back to marking that score!
Golf is a sociable game but don’t engage in long conversations at times that will hold up either you or others in your group. There’s plenty of time to be sociable when walking between shots.
If you start thinking about how long it’s taking you to get round a golf course, you will be more aware of any time you’re causing slow play. An average of 10 minutes per hole should get you round an 18 hole course in 3 hours, which should be plenty time for a short course like ours. Just 3 hours for a longer course might be more challenging for some players. However, 10 minutes per hole is not a bad target to set yourself, and it makes it quite easy to keep an eye on your own progress too.
When playing with someone who is physically less able to get round the course at a quick pace, help them out whenever possible. Obviously it’s very helpful to watch where wayward shots go, but if a ball goes out of bounds and is retrievable, maybe you could be the one to hop over the fence to help out.
One intended benefit of Stableford competitions is that players do not need to hole out on every hole to return a score. In fact, once it becomes impossible to score any Stableford points on a hole, you ought to lift your ball. If you notice your pace of play in medal competitions is particularly slow, consider playing more Stableford competition and fewer Medals until you feel able to play at a quicker pace.