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Tue, Dec. 10

Gunby: Continuing the conversation about slow play on the golf course
Tee It Up

We are continuing our series on slow play and how to play golf in a timely manner.

Forget honors, unless you are playing in a match play tournament, in which the rules of golf dictate that honors be upheld. Most of the time, casual golf and medal (stroke) play events are being enjoyed so play “Ready Golf.”

On the tee, if it is safe to do so, the first player arriving should be ready to get up there and hit the ball. Everywhere else, as long as you don’t endanger others or yourself, if you are ready to play, go ahead and do so, even though you are not “away.”

Another habit I see that contributes to slow play, is writing down the scores or trying to add up your strokes taken, while on the green last played or to the side of it. If you are walking, exit the green immediately and head to the next hole. If you are riding, exit the green and immediately drive to the next tee. There, on that tee box, is where you should be writing down the scores, not on the last green played. And if you are the scorekeeper, and you are the first one to arrive at that next tee and it is clear to hit, get up there and hit it and then write down the scores.

The first player to hole out on every hole of play has an important job to do. Go get the pin. Be ready to place the flagstick into the hole immediately after the last the player has holed out. This really saves time, instead of having the last player retrieve the pin, walk back to the hole, place it in the hole and then exit the green. Remember: “first one in, grabs the pin.”

If you are riding in a golf cart, don’t wait in the cart while your cart mate hits and then both of you drive to your ball.

Get out, leave the cart near your cart mate’s ball and walk to your ball with a few clubs and get ready to play when it is clear or your turn. Then let your cart mate pick you up. Or, drive to your ball after you drop your cart mate off (make sure they have a few clubs to choose from) and then pick him or her up after you hit.

Follow the flight of your shot all the way and line it up with a landmark in the distance (a tree, house, boulder, etc.). If it is errant, don’t just turn away in disgust.

Many times, your ball will make a sudden adjustment (good or bad) by hitting a tree or rock or the like and you need to see where it goes to find it. Watch the flight of others’ balls as well. Help others look for their ball if you know the location of yours or hit your ball and then go help them find theirs. Use some common sense. And don’t forget about playing a provisional ball, if you think your ball may be lost or out-of-bounds.

We will discuss more ideas to prevent slow play in later columns.

John Gunby Sr. is a columnist for The Daily Courier. Reach him by email at

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