Originally Published: June 21, 2018 6 a.m.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This column continues a series on slow play and playing golf in a timely manner.
Begin reading the green and lining up your putt as soon as you reach the green. Don’t wait until it’s your turn to putt to start the process of reading the green. Do it as soon as you reach the green so that when it’s your turn you can step right up and putt. Don’t bother marking lag putts - go ahead and putt out if it’s short enough and you won’t be stepping on another player’s line.
When hitting a shot from around the green, carry both the club(s) you’ll be using along with your putter, so you don’t have to return to the bag. Once on the green, leave those clubs in route between you and your cart or bag so that you will not forget to pick them up.
Cooperation with your playing partners is crucial. Share yardage information. If you’re playing companion scoped his yardage at 154 yards and your ball is about 10 yards in front of his, there is no need for you to scope your yardage. Even if your estimate is off by a few yards, face it – a few yards won’t matter.
Let’s say you’re playing partner knocked his ball out of a bunker and over the green. Help him out by raking the bunker for him while he goes to play his next shot. He’ll appreciate your assistance and it will save time.
Our golf course operators must take responsibility for the pace of play, as well. How the course is designed, tee and hole placements in relation to weather (especially wind) and skill level of golfers, course maintenance (rough, bunkers, greens speed, hazard drop areas, etc.), and other factors under the control of the golf course will affect the pace of play.
The average round of golf in America takes 4 hours, 17 minutes, according to a recent analysis of 40,460 rounds. The average time of dew sweepers, or the first group out, is 3:46. The length and slope rating of a golf course has almost no correlation with pace. The only statistically significant variable is how busy a course is. Golfers move like cars on the interstate. We only have to look at rush hour.
Tee time intervals are integral to the pace of play. Many public facilities operate at eight-minute intervals. Studies have shown that wider intervals reduce the time of a round. Moving to 10-minute intervals costs a course roughly 15 percent in revenue because fewer golfers can be accommodated on the tee sheet. However, faster rounds mean a course can go later into the day before charging twilight rates to players less likely to finish.
If you are one of those golfers who insists on a fast round all the time, be one of the first groups to tee off. If you prefer to play mostly in the busy time of the day (rush hour), you may have to accept a slower round of golf. But we all can do our part by being courteous, by using common sense and always keeping up with the group in front.
John Gunby Sr. is a columnist for The Daily Courier. Reach him by email at email@example.com.