You'll want to play through this group.
Playing Through
By kickntrue on 5/31/10
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.

We've all been there before and we are sure to be there again soon. As we stand on the tee box and watch the group in front of us search for a ball that is only about 30 yards from the tee, we can't help but wonder if they are going to let us play through. In fact, we even think about yelling out, "Hey! Can we play through?" But we don't, at least, not usually. Instead, we tee up our ball and stand there as if to say that we are ready and waiting for that special wave that brings sweet reprieve to the waiting group. Those moments that take place when you first arrive behind the slower group in front of you are anxious moments for sure, but how should they be handled? What is the best thing for the waiting group to do? Those are some of the questions that I want to address on the topic of playing through.

Is this a case of guys who are going to speed up as soon as they find their ball or have they been playing slowly all day and you just now caught them?
First of all, when you are facing this situation, the best thing to do is to take a second to size up the situation. There are all kinds of different golfers out there that can come together to create the group that is now holding you up. Before you decide how to handle the situation, take a few moments to evaluate it. Is this a case of guys who are going to speed up as soon as they find their ball or have they been playing slowly all day and you just now caught them? Are these four people who have never played golf before or are they experienced players who just take way too long to play the game? Is there anywhere to go in front of this group or have they been waiting on the group in front of them? Before you get all excited and angry at the newly discovered delay, you should be aware of exactly what is going on in front of you. Unfortunately, too many guys pull up on the tee and immediately become incensed at the idea of waiting. I’ve seen guys do everything from yelling at the group to just hitting into them without a clue as to why this group is now holding them up. This is neither smart nor productive and is, instead, just plain irresponsible. Chill out for a minute or two and evaluate the delay. Once you realize the scenario, then it is time to move forward with the next step.

Now, once you have established that the group that is holding you up has no one in front of them and is in a position that would best be solved by allowing you to play through, what can you do next? Well, there are not a lot of options, but I do have a few suggestions to help with this dilemma. The first and most immediate thing to do is to get ready to tee off as if no one was holding you up. Tee up your ball and take some practice swings in order to tell the group in front of you that you are ready and waiting for their signal. If you appear to be content in waiting and not ready to move along, there is no way that group is going to choose to let you through. Regardless of their circumstances, they are not going to want to wait on you once they let you through. If you fail to show them that you are going to make this as quick of a process as possible, they are just going to let you stay behind them all day long. However, getting ready to tee off sends them the message that you will make it as quick and painless as possible. Being ready to go will help you get that nod more often than not.

If you fail to show them that you are going to make this as quick of a process as possible, they are just going to let you stay behind them all day long.
Unfortunately, however, not every group is going to have players that understand the idea of allowing a faster group to play through. And, believe it or not, there are even some people out there who know that they should let a faster group through, but they still won’t do it. If you have waited for a couple holes and you know that there is room in front of the group that is holding you up, it is probably time to take action. No, I’m not talking about sending a message by bombing your drive into their cart. I’m referring to grabbing your cell phone and calling the pro shop. As a guy who has worked in several pro shops and fielded this call many times, I can assure you that it is perfectly acceptable to inform the course about the pace of play. Most courses will have a ranger available that can respond to the delay and take the necessary action. While I don’t think that rangers are good for much, this is a case where it is much better to have the ranger deliver the message instead of using your Titleist to do the job. Yelling at the group, driving up on them while they are teeing off, rolling your tee shots into them, or just jumping them by going to the next hole are just not acceptable ways to solve this problem. Sometimes, you just have to snitch and tell the course what’s going on. Most of the time, the situation will be handled and you won’t even look like the bad guy to the group in front of you. You don’t have to risk killing someone and you don’t have to spend all day suffering behind them. Just make the call to the shop as they would much rather handle the situation for you than have to deal with the situation that confrontation will create.

So, the next time that you are out on the links and your group pulls up to the next tee to find a slower group in the way, relax and follow a few simple steps. Take a few moments to figure out exactly what the problem seems to be. Let them know that you are ready and prepared to play through them as quickly as possible. Give the group a hole or two to decide on their own to let you through. Then, once they have had a few chances to give you the wave, don’t be afraid to grab your cell phone and let the course know what is going on. 95% of the time, they will send someone out to either speed the group up or to ask them to allow you to play through. It is a painless process that doesn’t involve any risk, but delivers the ultimate reward. Don’t let this interaction ruin your round. Instead, let the course take care of it so that your game doesn’t have to suffer from the distractions. This, then, brings us to the next question. How do you avoid posting a big number while rushing to play through? Sounds like a good topic for next week!

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

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[ comments ]
NEdomer says:
Excellent article. I am a high handicapper who will gladly let others play through but often find that it will do no good because there are those in front. While playing today in a threesome we were on the heels of a foursome. Knowing that we were a little slower anyway, I didn't mind that we had to wait at most holes from them.

The problem came from the fast playing twosome right behind us who was annoyed enough to play their Titleist into us. I am sure they were annoyed thinking that we were holding up play because they could only see us inching our way up but they never engaged us at a tee box for us to let them know that we were waiting on those in front. If instead of waiting 20 yards behind us before each hole, they came up to ask to play through they would have seen that we were held up and we would have all met someone new. Maybe they should have read this article.
JRB1 says:
I have another idea for an article; it deals with the same topic from the other point of view. Perhaps a lesson on how to play and keep up with a proper pace of play. Not to rush and ruin your day, but to remember you are not alone in the world, others are behind you waiting to play. I played a course this past Sunday, we had an 8:16 tee time, but only were put "on tee" at 8:30. How on earth could we be almost two tee times behind this early in the day. The answer is easy, look at the group in front as they spend 10 minutes looking for their duck hooked drive, while the group in front of them has cleared the green. Yes a lesson on how long is long enough to look for your lost ball, how to play with a motor cart, how to turn the cell phone off. Just a suggestion! Thanks I'll try to restrain from launching my Bridgestone into their back pocket........
CaddieHack says:
@JRB1 I think that article is available
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