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The Best Practices for Pace of Play – 7 Tips to Make You A More Efficient Golfer


The trouble of slow play is actually very common. And not just among beginners and
recreational golfers, but all types of players no matter their skills. You go to just about any golf
club and chances are likely you’ll be affected by another golfer’s slow pace of play or come
across someone complaining about the same.

So how about you make sure you’re not that person on the turf. On that note, here are the best
practices for improving your pace of play on the golf course.

It’s so ironic that a single round of golf now takes players, in general, more time than ever
despite having access to the most technologically advanced gear of all time, like these best
long-distance golf balls.

But this proves a very important point – that it doesn’t matter what you have in your golf bag,
you can finish your game without wasting time simply by changing the way you play. More on
that below!

7 Tips to Improve Pace of Play In Golf

1. Begin Your Round of Golf Smartly
Many golfers fail to confirm their tee time well in advance. Even arriving at the tee a little ahead
of time is commonly neglected. And don’t just arrive, how about making sure all your golf
equipment is in place? This includes essentials such as gloves, tees, extra balls, etc.
Also, start smart by playing from tees you’re highly likely to hit your lofted iron shots into the

2. Minimize Tee Time
It’s acceptable, when on the tee, to hit only when you’re ready. But consider saving time
instead by playing the provisional ball. This is the most useful approach when you’re doubtful
about the original ball being out of bounds or getting lost.

To be honest, it’s one of the best ways for improving your pace of play when you end up hitting
the golf ball offline. That means no need to waste 10-15 minutes searching for the lost ball.

Practices for Pace of Play

3. Plan Your Shots In Advance
Once off that tee, it’s time to start thinking ahead. Which golf club to use, how much yardage to
achieve, and things like that. You can determine these factors while waiting to play your next
shot. So, by the time the golfer before you finishes taking his/her shot, you can have a better
understanding of what you want.

This is one of the most important tips because not being ready to play is among the most
common causes of slow play.

Also, many players take off their gloves between shots. And if you’re one of them, then put
them back on in your free time.

4. Keep A Check On Your Pre-Shot Routine
It’s frustrating when the player before you has a pre-shot routine that takes forever. So don’t
be that person yourself. Assessing the distance, selecting the club, performing a practice swing,
and on and on does indeed take up a lot of time. Also, it’s not that uncommon for a practice
swing to end up being the real deal.

Needless to say, all golfers want to play to their maximum potential. On top of that,
professional instructors and even golfers encourage establishing a pre-shot routine. However,
striking the perfect balance is all in your hands. Bring it down as much as you can, so that you
can improve your pace of play and that of your fellow golfers’.

5. Watch Where You Hit
How many times have you looked away after hitting a bad shot? Most golfers tend to spin way,
out of frustration of course, when their shots turn out to be failures. While this may be a
common thing to do, but it can slow down your round because now you’re forced to look for
that lost golf ball. So the next time this happens, watch your errant shot very closely.

6. Retain Marker Posts
Not every golfer prefers using golf rangefinders and GPS devices on the course. So these old-
school players depend on marker posts, which might slow down the pace of play in the case of
sprinkler head yardages placed miles apart. In that case, make it a point to retain the one
closest to you while walking between two shots.

7. Adopt An Alternate Form of Play

You can indeed speed up your game by trying a different golf format. Some of the easiest and
even more fun alternatives include best ball, match play, Stableford, and more. After all, you’re
not compelled to hole out on each hole.

Most Common Causes of Slow Play In Golf

How can you figure out the solution when you don’t even know what the problem is, right?
There are all kinds of reasons why slow play is a part of golf clubs all around the world. Taking
too long on the pre-shot routine, spending way too long reading the greens, not being ready
when it’s your turn, and more. So how about you find out which part of your round of golf is
taking so much time?

Common Causes of Slow Play In Golf

Spending too much time searching for golf balls
The difference between spending 5 minutes and spending 3 minutes looking for a ball can make
a huge difference in your overall time on the course. The latter is a part of professional play
since faulty swings are less common. And also because abundant spotters and properly staked
holes are involved.
As for high-handicap and mid-handicap golfers, the standards should be different. Either way,
go hunting only if the golf ball is close to the fairway or lost in leaves. Otherwise, it doesn’t
really matter.

● You’re not reading your putt when other golfers are putting
If you’re not a pro, then consider reading the green when others are putting. Just make sure
you’re out of the line of sight. It only makes sense for professional golfers to stalk putts from
every angle at such times.

● Playing a tee box that’s too far back
There’s nothing embarrassing about playing a tee box collectively in the case of a foursome. Or
you could play a different tee than the other players in the group.

● Not carrying multiple golf clubs to the ball
It’s best to take around 3 golf clubs to your next ball. Carrying different lofts, such as your 5-
iron, wedge, and an in-between lofted club for the precise yardage seems like a wise decision.
Another useful tip is to look for your lost golf ball with a club in hand.

You’re incorporating stroke play in every round

Holing out everything per round for reporting a score is a must for the purpose of golf
handicap. This is USGA’s demand, as opposed to R&A that counts only competition rounds.
However, stroke play is not the best strategy for speed or fun. At least not as fast and
entertaining as Stableford, best ball, and match play.

● You’re not observing your partners’ shots
Just because you’re walking to your golf ball or are off to the side doesn’t mean you cannot
watch your playing partner’s shots. When ahead of him/her, you get to actually see how and
where the golf ball lands. And that’s your ultimate vantage point.


Let’s assume that a golfer wastes about 30 seconds for each hole. Not that this is such a hard
thing to do! So even with only 30 seconds per hole, 9 minutes per round are wasted. So let’s
keep this number as low as possible. Don’t be that golfer who backs up the whole golf course.
Nobody likes that guy or gal!
The best part about all of this is that you don’t need any special golf equipment to boost the
pace of play. It can be done free of cost, without any professional help, and with minimal effort
on your part.

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