Don't Let Slow Play Ruin Your Round

If you’ve played golf at all, you’ve encountered the scourge of slow play. It can be extremely frustrating to wait before playing every shot, and there’s nothing in the world more discouraging than making a birdie, long putt, great par save, etc., and then getting to the next tee to see two other groups waiting in front of you to play. So how can you effectively handle these situations without ruining your round?

First—take responsibility. Like the saying about a sucker at the poker table, if you can’t tell who is playing slow, then it’s probably you. So take the simple steps to speed up your own play—go to your ball when others are playing, prepare for the shot when others are playing, don’t stop for more than 2 minutes at the turn, proper cart behavior, etc. (If you want more detailed tips on how to speed up play email me at People often question if doing these little thing can speed up play, but if each member of a foursome shaves 30 seconds off the time it takes to play a hole, that adds up to 36 minutes per round. Subtract another 10 minutes by avoiding beverage cart stops, and half-way house stops, and your 4 ½ hour round is now 3:45.

Second—remember that it’s out of your control. In golf, there are numerous things you can control (course conditions, weather, other players). Slow play is another example. You can’t control how fast the other people play. It’s as simple as that. So don’t get upset, lose patience, or lose your temper when faced with slow play.

Third—keep your focus. Don’t let your mind shift to the pace of play, and when it’s time to play your next shot, make it your singular focus.

Fourth—find a diversion. This may seem contrary to the above point, but it helps to pass the time between shots when play is slow to have something to occupy your mind. You can chip balls, play Angry Birds on your phone, talk to other players, or listen to your iPod to help prevent the frustration of slow play. But be sure to have the proper focus when it’s time to play. As a kid, we used to chip balls at the tee markers and play a game called “snake” to kill time while waiting to play.

Fifth—relax. Remember that you’re outside, on a golf course, and not at work. There are surely worse places to be! If your round takes 4 ½ hours instead of 4, is it really the end of the world?

Sixth—avoid the peak times. If you’re playing in a tournament, then obviously your starting time is out of your control, but for your casual rounds try to avoid the peak times. Try playing in the afternoon instead of the morning, or call the course to find out when it’s less busy. You can also call to learn what the course’s pace of play policy is, and how strictly it’s enforced. I’ve seen courses that have 4:45 as a recommended pace. If you want to play fast, you might avoid this course!

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Brant Kasbohm, PGA
Director of Instruction