The European Tour’s new rules on slow play have got a lot of people talking again – not that this hot topic ever really cooled.
If you’re not aware, new regulations came into play for the pros at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January. These measures are stricter and aim to eradicate slow play at Tour level.
So what can club golfers and weekend players do to ensure that everyone gets round in a decent time?
Here are nine tips for avoiding slow play in golf…
1. Arrive at the club in plenty of time
How many times do you find yourself in a rush to make your tee time?
If you’re late on the tee for a social game, it might not matter so much… or so you think.
Even if you’re given the OK to tee off a fraction late, it’s unlikely to help the pace of play and can lead to the course becoming congested.
It would be condescending for us to tell you to set an alarm, but, well…. set an alarm.
2. Lose the elaborate pre-shot routine
We’re not dismissing all of those wonderful magazine articles that advocate pre-shot routines – because they do work. However, some routines seem to go on forever.
Without naming any pros – and they’re going to be forced into condensing their procedures – there are some out there that you should avoid replicating. As the saying goes: ‘Keep it simple, stupid’.
3. Be ready to play when it’s your turn
No one is saying rush. No one is saying ditch the pre-shot routine, either. However, being ready to play when it’s your turn can save so much time over the course of a round.
As long as you’re not distracting a fellow player while you prepare to play your next shot, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be ready to play.
Why wouldn’t someone be ready? It’s easy to admire the views and catch yourself daydreaming out there. It’s good to switch off, in fact.
That said, if your playing partner is repeatedly barking your name across the fairway, you need to switch on.
4. Follow the signs and ‘park up’ accordingly
There are lots of offenders in this area.
True, if you’re playing somewhere new and it’s not obvious where the next hole is, this can slow things up. However, even those who have played at the same club for years can be guilty of ‘poor parking’.
To keep a good pace, be aware of where the next tee is, so you can put your bag down or park your trolley in the right position – it’s going to save a lot of time.
There’s always one player who has to walk back across the green to collect their clubs and walk back again. Yep, you know the one. Frustrating.
5. Don’t mark your card on the green
Well, you can. It’s about being aware of the group behind you.
However, you can expect a few hands on hips from the fourball on the fairway if you finish the hole by noting down your scores.
Do it on the next tee, or you risk being that unpopular group everyone moans about.
6. Pick up when you can’t score
Of course, you wouldn’t do this if you were in a strokeplay competition. In Stableford comps, however, there’s no sense in putting out for a 12.
Who are we to tell you what to do, you say? Well, you’re right. If you’ve parted with your hard earned cash then you’re well within your rights to enjoy every shot. Finishing off the bad holes is all part of the learning curve, too.
However, the sensible strategy is to play it by ear. For example, if you play in a pro-am, expect a few glares if you’ve not picked up the moment you can’t score. If there’s no-one about, though, and you’re hell-bent on finishing off a big number, fill your boots.
GPS devices and performance tracking technology mean some golfers have become reluctant to pick up, as every shot is a stat they want to analyse. Don’t let this get in the way of your pace of play, however. Sometimes it’s OK to let a couple of stats slide…
7. Manage the lost ball scenario
It’s inevitable: lost balls. Often this will happen to two golfers in the same group.
You’ve seen it happen: one ball goes way left, the other is carved out into thick rough on the right. Then, the whole group goes in search of the ball on the left, before traipsing to the right in search of ball number two.
Good etiquette is one thing, but don’t forget about the group behind. Manage the situation accordingly.
8. Keep your pace up
Those signs on the course reminding you how long you should have taken to reach a certain point are there for a reason.
Golf is not a game that should be rushed, but five-hour rounds are not great fun.
If everyone does their best to keep up with the group in front – and there are always going to be occasions when play slows a little – then the tempo of the round should be just right.
9. Play ready golf
This isn’t for everyone. The traditionalists out there may prefer to do the honourable thing – but why not leave that to the pros?
If you’re playing a social game, especially where standards vary so much within the group, just play when you’re ready – as long as it’s safe to do so.
Have a chat before you go out to establish the format and you’ll probably find everyone is in agreement.
Many of you are no doubt well aware of the tricks to tackle slow play. There are lots of other ways, too, which will keep the pace of the game flowing nicely – all of which leave you more time to enjoy a glass of something nice in the 19th. Everyone’s a winner.