If there is one thing we can all agree on, it's that a slow pace of play is the worst. Whether it's a casual round at your local golf course, or a competitive NCCGA/City Tour event, the last thing anyone wants to do is be on the course for 6 hours. It's not just a problem for our events, it's a recurring issue on the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, and the NCAA. In fact, three pace of play penalties were awarded at the 2015 NCAA D1 Men's Golf Championship in May. What can you do to play faster? Here's 10 common sense tactics we should all follow.
1) No, you can’t hit it that far. Let’s be honest, the likelihood of you catching your 3-wood perfectly off the deck and having it sail 230+ yards is maybe 1 in 10. Just go ahead and hit it. If you’re lucky enough to connect, you’re most likely lucky enough to miss hitting the group in front of you.
2) Play when ready - Period. You scored a birdie on the last hole but you’re the last on the next tee box? Sorry buddy, I’m ready to hit. No honors in being slow.
3) Putt when ready - Are you closer to the hole but know the read already? Go ahead and putt. Finish out and then let the guy with the 50-footer give it a whack.
4) Enough with the practice swings - Seriously. 2-3 practice swings MAX. They’re not going to help. Just hit the ball.
5) Keep score on the next tee box - There’s most likely a group waiting behind you. Don’t sit in your cart on the hole you just finished and count your strokes. Drive to the next tee then write down your score. Help everyone keep pace.
6) Stuck in huge bunker? - Take a rake with you upon entering the bunker. Instead of going in, hitting, exiting, getting rake, raking, then exiting.
7) Cart Path Only - Yes, we know it sucks. Take more clubs than you think you’ll need when going to your next shot.
8) Housekeeping - Start the round with tees, markers, balls and a ball-mark repair tool in your pocket. Replace headcovers while you walk. Keep it moving.
9) From the USGA - Plan your shot before you get to your ball. Once you are off the tee, think ahead. Determine your yardage and make your club selection before it is your turn to play. Very often, you can do this while others are playing, without disruption.
a) Develop an eye for distance. You don’t have to step off yardage for every shot. If you need to determine precise distance, try to find a yardage marker before you reach your ball, then step off the yardage on the way to your ball.
b) When sharing a cart, use a buddy system. Don’t wait in the cart while your cartmate hits and then drive to your ball. Get out and walk to your ball with a few clubs.
c) Keep up with the group in front of you. Your correct position on the course is immediately behind the group in front of you, not immediately in front of the group behind you.
10) So, you lost your ball - Happens to the best of us. Good thing you have 23 more in your bag. Look for 3 minutes, drop another, and move on.
Don’t be part of the problem. Be part of the solution. Slow play starts with you, not always the other guy. (Feel free to forward this article along to your buddy if they fall into the slow pace of play category).
**Ethan Zimman is the Nextgen City Tour Director of Media and Campaigns. Reach him via email at NextgenWashDC@gmail.com.