One of the biggest problems many golfers face on the golf course is slow play. It's one of the most talked-about topics in the game and isn't going away any time soon
We've all had rounds when we curse the pace of play. Watching a golfer in the group ahead take their practice swings into the double digits, seemingly unaware of our existence, is far from fun.
Spending what feels like endless hours on the course watching others play can be extremely frustrating and whilst a round of golf will always take a certain amount of time, there are ways we can all help maintain a good pace of play.
The best way to tackle slow play may be to take personal responsibility for our own actions during a round. Whether you're a beginner making your way in the game or have been playing for years, follow these tips and let's speed up everyone's day on the links.
Be first tee ready
When you arrive at the first tee, ensure you have everything you need. If you've been ransacking your bag and searching for a lost glove, it holds everyone up and actually builds your inner tension. And don't even get us started on the golfer who needs to race back to the car to change his shoes (we've seen it happen).
If you've been faffing around for a few minutes before you step up to hit your opening tee shot, you may have all but guaranteed a trip to the woods. Try to set the right tone for the round ahead by being fully prepared for your day on the golf course.
Make sure you're ready to go
While your playing partner is hitting their shot, use your time wisely and decide how to play yours. Be respectful, of course, but get your yardage, make your club selection and pick out your target line. You should be ready to go when it's your turn to play.
That's not to say that you should rush or change your pre-shot routine, but if you can take steps to prepare for your shot, it will speed up the round for everyone.
We are all guilty of being ponderous at times, but if you spend more time wondering about your evening plans than you do about your next shot, we have a problem. Golf would be much quicker if we all followed this pretty simple rule.
Limit your practice swings
To avoid becoming golf snails, let's all remember that the driving range is for practice, the golf course is to play. Taking practice swing after practice swing is a surefire way to slow the overall pace of play down - and alienate your fellow golfers in the process.
If you were to ask, 'how many is too many?', we would say do whatever is comfortable - every pre-shot routine is personal. Some of the best golfers in the world will step in behind the ball, visualise the shot, take a couple of small practice swings and then they're ready to hit.
On a separate note, taking many practice swings rarely improves the quality of the strike. It leads to overthinking and can make your body overly tight before you hit the shot. If that does happen, you might have annoyed your buddies for zero gain.
Watch every golf shot (even the bad ones)
If you hit a stinker of a golf shot, one of the worst things you can do is drop your head in disappointment. Following the flight helps you find your ball, not least because - as we all know - it can take an unexpected bounce into what seems like another postcode area.
So good, bad or ugly, keep your eye on the ball and you'll find many more wayward balls than you lose. You'll shoot lower scores and help your group keep up with the pace of play.
Mark your scorecard on the next tee
Whether you're marking a paper scorecard or inputting your score on your Hole19 app, it helps with the pace of play if you wait until you're walking to the next tee to fill it in.
Again, it can be annoying for the group behind if they have to wait for four golfers to putt out and then mark their scorecards before leaving the green. Combine that with golf bags in various locations, and you could have a group of pretty irked golfers hot on your tail.
Play ready golf wherever possible
Ready golf can help speed up any round, and when you're playing any friendly format, it would be best to take this approach. In fact, the rules of golf were amended a few years back, with one of the suggestions being that golfers should take on ready golf wherever possible.
There's no need to wait for your playing partners to assess the 30 ft putt they've just left themselves after splashing out of a greenside bunker. If you're ready to roll in your knee knocker as they walk to their ball, go ahead. Whoever is ready to go should play first.
Always play a provisional
Sometimes we hit the ball where we don't want to, and no one likes the walk of shame back to the tee box when a tee shot can't be found. If there is any chance your ball has sailed OB, or is lost, make sure you reload.
The provisional ball is a real time-saver and helps keep the round moving along for everyone.
Let faster groups play through
If you're in the middle of 'one of those rounds' and the group behind is on your tail, the courteous thing to do is to wave them through. Being stuck behind a slow moving group can lead to a loss of rhythm and can actually destroy your round, so it's important to be aware of how quickly groups are playing around you.
If there's space ahead of you on the golf course then stepping aside can make a real difference to the pace of play on the day, and it might help you gather your thoughts in the process.
Hopefully these slow play tips will help us all enjoy shorter rounds on the golf course. If you have any other ideas, drop them in the comments below. In the meantime, happy golfing!