Use your carts effectively.
Speeding Up Play
By kickntrue on 4/26/10
By Matt Snyder, ClubSG Contributor

Matt is an opinionated* golf enthusiast from Pennsylvania. He coaches at the high school level, molding the minds and swings of our next generation. His column will appear each Monday on ClubSG. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts and opinions of Matt in the comments. Don't hold back- because Matt won't.

After offering up suggestions last week for how to handle slow play, I thought it would be a good idea, this week, to follow up with some suggestions on how to speed up the pace of play if you notice that your group is falling behind. It is not always an easy thing to do, but is often times very necessary. For the obvious reasons, most of the time, the need to quicken your pace occurs when you are playing in a threesome or a foursome. In light of this fact, my first suggestion is that you simply stay aware of where your group is relative to the groups around you when you are playing with two or three other golfers. Quite often, guys will fall a hole or two behind and not even realize that they are slowing down. Maybe someone loses a ball while another guy goes from bunker to bunker a couple of times, and all of the sudden, play is backed up for four holes. Before anything can be done about it, someone in the group must be paying attention and staying aware of the pace of the group.

The first and perhaps most effective way to increase the pace of play is to use your cart effectively.
Now, once you are the guy that notices your group is slowing down, what’s the next step? Well, this can be the most difficult step in the process. Somehow, someway, you have to tell your playing partners to pick up the pace without making them angry, making them feel rushed, or reminding them of the terrible shots that they hit to slow things down in the first place. While this is not a simple task, it can be achieved. I have found the best approach to be referencing my own slowness as an issue. For example, I’ll say something like, “I’d like to hit that putt again, but the guys behind us are already waiting”. Simple comments like that are more than enough to draw everyone’s attention to the fact that the pace of play needs to pick up a little without making anyone upset about it.

With that mission accomplished, it is time to do some of the simple things that can help to keep play moving. The first and perhaps most effective way to increase the pace of play is to use your cart effectively. What I mean by that is, instead of using the cart to sit in while your partner hits his shot, drop him off and use the cart to drive over to your ball. This way, as soon as he hits, you are ready to hit your shot. With both carts operating like this in a foursome, it can make a huge difference in how quickly your group gets from tee to green. Once you arrive at the green, be smart about where you park the cart. Position the cart so that when you finish the hole, you are walking towards the next hole to get back to your cart. In other words, don’t park your cart in front of the green. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to stand in the fairway and wait for the group in front of me to walk 30 yards back towards me to get into their cart and drive away before I could hit. While it may only be a matter of a minute or two, it is incredibly frustrating for the group that is waiting because it is unnecessary and inconsiderate. Another small time saver, but definite good move, is to wait until the next tee box to return your clubs to your bag. Instead of standing at your cart, which is sitting beside the green, for however long it takes to put your clubs back in their rightful place and slide your head cover back on your putter, hold onto them for the ride to the next tee. This way, the next group can hit their approaches as soon as possible and you appear to be considerate of the fact that they are waiting. Simple things like this that give the appearance of awareness to those around your can often times make all the difference. So, with a little bit of cart etiquette, you can increase the speed of your group and help to calm the nerves of those who are waiting behind you.

Nine times out of ten, if you don’t find your ball within the first 60 seconds of looking, it is never found anyway. So, if you can’t find it, hit another ball or play your provisional and move on.
Lastly, there are a couple things about how you play that can also go a long way towards maintaining an appropriate pace of play. Some people will tell you to do things like take fewer practice swings or spend less time reading the greens, but I’m not a believer in that at all. You should have an established pre-shot routine that you always stick to for every shot. That routine should be the last thing that you change to quicken the pace of play. (That being said, if you take ten practice swings, it’s time to change your pre-shot routine!) However, I will suggest that you start your routine as soon as possible. In other words, make sure you start reading your putt and making your practice swings whenever you get on the green. If you’re in the fairway, calculate your distance and choose your club a.s.a.p. instead of watching everyone else hit their shots before thinking about your shot. This way, you can do the things in your routine and still be ready to hit as soon as it is your turn to play.

Now, for the number one best way to keep your group on pace, don’t spend forever looking for lost balls! While I am very familiar with how hard it can be to let go of a brand new ball, sometimes, it has to be done. If you can’t afford to lose the ball that you are playing, then you are paying too much for your ball in the first place. Look, I’m not suggesting that you make no effort to find your wayward shots. It is fine for you and your partners to look around for a moment or two, but don’t spend ten minutes walking back and forth in the same spot. Nine times out of ten, if you don’t find your ball within the first 60 seconds of looking, it is never found anyway. So, if you can’t find it, hit another ball or play your provisional and move on. You can find some solace in the fact that everyone behind you will be very appreciative of your sacrifice.

While I am a believer in the fact that golf is a slow game and players should not hurry to play it, I also believe that everyone should do their part to keep things moving at an acceptable speed. Being aware of how quickly your group is playing and making the necessary minor adjustments is all that it takes to ensure that everyone’s time on the course is enjoyed to the maximum. While rushing your routine or play in general is not the right thing to do, you should make sure that you are making the best use of your time in between shots, as well as before and after a hole is played. This will make sure that doing your part to avoid slow play without rushing and ruining your rhythm.

* Matt's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.

photo source

[ comments ]
CN_Roger says:
I go to play GOLF not to run. Golf is supposed to be relaxe fresh air, not to get a hart attack....
Roger D.
paddyhibernian says:
I have scanned the article and found no reference to running. Is there an unabridged version that I'm unaware of?
kickntrue says:
I think this article is right on. There is absolutely no reason a round of golf can't happen in 4 hours. What troubles me is some of the slowest rounds of my life have come with really good players. TV has taught people that a 30 second "pre-shot routine" is what's needed to hit a good shot. The problem is nobody wants to start there pre shot routine until it's their shot.
Phraynck says:
Mark your scores/stats down at the next tee box. Always see people sitting in their carts next to the green writing a novel, you won't forget that stuff driving to the next tee.
N0t0rius1 says:
Some good points. Also, carts actually make play slower by promoting relaxation and an easy go attitude. This is especially true when a "cart path only" rule is in effect. When this is the case, just walk it!
weston44 says:
When conditions require "CART PATH ONLY", take a few clubs with you to the ball. Also, when your group is falling behind, play "READY GOLF", as long as you don't interfere with others in your group.
Joe Murphy says:
Good stuff! I especially like the advice regarding looking for lost golf balls....I guess the motto oughta be "play with the best when you play like the best" and then, lost golf balls will be a rarity! Well, let me put it this way; lost balls will not be as frequent of a problem!
Bogeysor says:
Too many times golfers don't watch their shots long enough. They just look at the general direction of where they hit the shot and turn around and start talking to their buddies. I make it a habit to watch every shot till it stops rolling than I look for a point of reference like a tree or bush so that I can find the ball faster. Looking for balls is the BIGGEST reason for SLOW play.
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