What’s the number one reason you’re mad as hell on the golf course and not going to take it anymore? Slow play. It’s bad with the pros like Ben Crane, bad on your favorite courses and bad for your blood pressure. But you can do something about slow play. Here are five actions other than going ape and firing balls into the foursome in front of you.
I once played a course where I was way too wound about how well I would play (or not) and taking too much time selecting clubs and hitting shots. The golf gods, showing a sense of humor and knowing I needed help, intervened on about the third hole. I was torn between clubs on an approach shot. I saw a yardage-marker plate in the fairway and walked to the marker. It read: “Just hit it!”
Ah, if we’d just hit it more often and move the game along! But we don’t and then get apoplectic about 4.5- or 5-hour rounds that dominate our Saturdays and drive people away from golf. What can be done?
- Get better. Take lessons and improve so you’re hitting more shots from the fairway and fewer from the gorse. Also, it’s funny how a slow round isn’t such a big deal when you’re playing well.
- Lobby the PGA Tour to penalize the pros. We tend to pattern our golf routines after the pros, who are slow, especially putting. When you watch golf on TV, you don’t notice it because coverage hops from hole to hole and the game seems fast. But follow a foursome at a tournament, and at about the seventh hole — when your feet are barking from all the standing in the hot sun — you’re saying, “Just hit it!” Yes, they fine slow pros like Ben Crane and Kevin Na ($5,000 to $20,000), but to really change the pace, strokes need to be added for slow play (see video).
- Encourage your favorite courses to be a 3.5-hour course. There are courses where guests are encouraged to play “ready golf” on every shot, maintain pace with the group ahead, keep lost-ball searches to one minute or less, restrict the use of ball markers on the green, etc., while the club records data and rewards customers with discounts and deals for 3.5-hour play.
- Let it begin with me. When we look at our own game, we’re often surprised that we're doing some of the same things we're complaining about. Check out this excellent list of 23 suggestions on speeding up play — and then make changes.
- Be tolerant. Yes, slow play is driving people from golf, but for every one of those who get grouchy and get out, there are two people who have tried golf but now stay away because they were rudely hurried as they struggled to learn the game. Let them be. Do your best to change pace of play, but be tolerant and maybe even take a cue from the golf gods and laugh it off (see Ben Crane video).
What’s the slowest round of golf you have played? How did you handle it?