Enjoy golfing more by playing faster

You can count on your golf buddies to laugh when you hook your shot into the clubhouse parking lot, but can you depend on them to point out when you are slowing down the game?  Slow golf rounds of more than 4 hours really sap the enjoyment from the game for all involved.  Unless you’re handicapped, being a slow golfer is a treatable condition.  Here are some tips for getting your golf game into gear.

  • Play the correct tees.  Playing the tougher tee boxes will add strokes (and therefore, time) to your game.  Check your course handicap and play appropriately:


    0 – 7 Championship
    8-18 Back
    19 and up Middle
    Senior Front
  • Hit a provisional ball.  If your ball may be out of bounds, hit another ball before you go to check out your first shot.
  • There’s a time to chat and a time to hit. Try not to delay your shot. After you hit you can resume your chat, but don’t delay your partners either.  As you approach your ball you should be thinking about yardages and club selection so you are ready to go without delay.
  • Play now – practice later/or earlier.  Hitting extra (non-counting) shots and excessive practice swings just adds time to your round.  If this has become your routine, it’s time to change it.  If you need to practice take the time when you are not playing a round.
  • Break away from the pack.  Each person should approach their ball individually and as directly as possible.
  • Be a speed reader.  You can read the green as soon as you get near it (say while fixing your ball mark).  Don’t wait until it’s your turn to putt to start reading the green.
  • Finish what you started.  The rules of golf provide for you to finish putting even if you are not “away”.  Marking your ball and continuing later adds time to your round.
  • Divide and conquer.  If you are riding in a cart (and you should be for fastest play) drop off one player with a club (or clubs) at their ball and drive to your ball.  After the first player hits they should start walking toward the cart.  After the second player hits they drive to pick up the first player.
  • Be prepared.  Carry an extra golf ball, tees and ball markers in your pockets.
  • Can you tee off?  Then get to it.  Let shorter hitters tee off first if the people ahead are out of range.  Keep up with the group ahead of you.
  • Are you ready?  If your partners agree, you can try “ready golf”.  Each person hits when they are ready not based on who is “away”.  Of course, you still need to play safely (not hit when someone could be hit by your shot), but this can greatly increase the speed of your round.

Now I’ve followed these guidelines for so long this seems like what I would call “normal golf” to me.  You are going to play better golf if you can stay relaxed and still focus on your game.  You don’t want to slow down your group or those behind you.  I can assure you that a faster round can be good, both for your enjoyment of golf and for your score.