Your Thoughts About Slow Play?

I believe that most golfers don’t like being held up on the golf course and despise it, if they are held up for more than a couple of holes, as this is a harbinger of what to expect for the rest of the round.

Slow play is not something new but is getting worse, so how do we address this problem as it is one of the main reasons for people leaving the game right along with the intimidation factor (see my book “Just Hit It”).

First, we need to thoroughly research and clearly define the problem. Then we need to develop some practical solutions, followed by simulations and real tests to determine the efficacy of the solution(s) to eliminate the problem.

Based on some extensive surveys it is evident that we have a multifaceted problem and thus a multifaceted solution is needed.

I believe that slow play is a disease that is badly affecting the game. It is better to find the cause of the disease which will eliminate the need to find a Band-Aid solution.

Band-Aids only work on scraped knees and cut fingers which will eventually heal by themselves as Mother Nature will take care of this for us.

This is not the case for the frustration of slow play as the only solution Mother Nature has is to not play. Playing only nine holes at the same slow pace is not a solution.

The cause of the problem is the lack of a true understanding of what is so attractive about the game. I suggest that we have an instinctive urge to evaluate ourselves. Like throwing a rolled-up piece of paper across your office, with the intention of it landing in the waste basket which, if successful, results in an excited exclamation — “YES” — and a hair-raising tingle of satisfaction. This is very personal but satisfies the self-evaluation process.

If the waste basket is too big the satisfaction is proportionally diminished, and if it is too small you would look elsewhere for the self-evaluation challenge. The challenge must be realistic.

A golfer must be able to score a par on every hole — about 25% to 30% of the time. One of the best course designers, Dr. Mike Hurdzan of Hurdzan Golf Design in Columbus Ohio has been on the forefront of recognizing this and has contributed significantly to designing and/or re-designing playable courses.

A playable course is one which will help significantly in speeding up play, but this must be accompanied by education of golfers, course management, and also a little more attention to Section 1 of the Rules of Golf i.e. “Etiquette”.

Golf course architects and good course management need to play their part.

If you don’t catch fish, you move on to another pond but if you still don’t catch fish, after a while you stop fishing and look for a challenge elsewhere.

What solutions do you have regarding slow play? Please share your thoughts by replying below.



50 thoughts on “Your Thoughts About Slow Play?

  1. The causes of slow play are well known and most follow all or most of the recommendations. However, some players are just slow, they move slowly, they drive carts slowly and often want to talk in between shots. But the biggest cause of slow play in my opinion is looking for golf balls. My elderly father was very slow and never gave up on a lost ball. I fixed that on a golf trip by buying two dozen balls with the same number and everytime he started looking, I just dropped one in the vicinity and said, “here it is, Dad”. He died about 10 yrs later and was proud of never losing a new ball. It was the best $40 I ever spent!

  2. The best chance to have a par starts with playing from the right set of tees. We need to get over our egos, recognize what skills we have, and then probably move up. Harry

    • I play an older course of Golden Age of golf………..designed by Alex Findlay….it is short by today’s design………6000 yds ish………..we play in 3 1/2 hours… muss no fuss………nice course with it’s challenges……….it just goes to prove move up a set of tee’s and enjoy the game

  3. My personal pet peeve which would be a very small help would be: when given a putt, pick up the ball and say “Thank You”.
    Do not continue putting your ball into the cup just to heat the sound that we all love.
    Please let the next guy quickly have his turn.

  4. slow play comes from the pros. the pros should not be allowed to carry a book in their pocket., they should just play like the rest of us who can not afford all this luxury equipment pads that tell you every brake in the green and speed. kaz

  5. As part of the new rules rollout, the USGA should’ve made OB and lost ball one stroke penalties with a drop from where it was estimated that the ball went out or was lost. Too late to reconsider? Golf superintendents should mow the rough to first cut level and fill in some of the bunkers. Pro shops should require golfers to play from tees that match their handicaps. Don’t have a handicap? Then play must be from the forward tee until you establish one.

  6. Slow play is like the weather. Everyone talks about it but no one does anything about it. There are some good suggestions above. The question is whether a course (or governing body) has the sand to implement them. If so, do participants (not sure if they are players) have the incentive to heed them. I agree about the right tees, limiting search times, letting faster players/groups play through and simpler rules. (Look at Golf Channel’s “common Sense Rules” from last year.) Common courtesy would dictate that slower groups let faster play through. I play with a bunch of fast players but can count on 1 hand the number of times slow group let us through in the past 2 years.

    • I agree. I play alone a lot and I always get the “there is another 2/4 some and they are slow too”. I get the feeling they think I will slow them down somehow. I even had one guy say that I have no standing as a single and no right to play through. (public course) I can play 18 in 2 hrs and 15. How the heck am I holding anyone up.

  7. The USGA should have two sets of rules for such things as “out of bounds on drive” if you are not in a tournament then take a stroke and hit your third shot from near the place it crossed out of bounds. And play ready golf. A lot of times the frequent players on a course are not encouraged to play faster if they are playing slow and that backs up everyone. My favorite course lets fivesomes play because they are regulars and they play for money, lord help you if you indicate to them that you want to play through! And the ranger ignores them.

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