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Mon, Feb. 24

Gunby: Slow Play
Tee it Up

Watching the NCAA Golf Championships (Men & Women) as well as the PGA and LPGA Tours’ events, it is mind-boggling how slow the governing entities allow their players to play golf. The trickle-down effect of these telecasts is that these players are models for all of us and too many players, no matter their skill level or age, emulate this over-thinking of every shot and snail-like pace.

I wish the NCAA would not allow the coaches to coach their players on the course. And I think all golf governing entities could take a page from the European Tour’s successful experiment with a shot clock and implement penalty strokes for slow play.

Slow play is either the result of not being taught how to play golf in a courteous manner or a bad habit or habits ingrained over time. If we all don’t address this issue, take responsibility for our actions, look at our own habits that may be contributing to slow play, and teach others how to play at an acceptable pace of play, this great game is doomed. I will cover a lot of ideas (but certainly not all) to improve your pace of play. Use common sense and the Golden Rule and let’s cure the slow play epidemic plaguing our game.

Let’s start off with arriving at the golf course at least thirty minutes before your tee time. Your tee time is the time you are supposed to be hitting the ball off the first hole of play. The common-sense reasons for this early arrival are: traffic might delay you; there may be many players in front of you at the counter registering to play; and you will not be late for your tee time. Being late is disrespectful and inconveniences others.

The underlining key to a good pace of play is to keep up with the group in front of you at all times. They may be slow, but if you are keeping up with them, you can never be accused of causing slow play. This may require taking no practice swings or even picking up your ball and moving on to the next hole. You don’t need to run but you don’t want to dawdle, either. Whatever it takes, keep up with the group in front of you. Waving groups through doesn’t help as you will still inconvenience others. Just catch up or skip a hole. The players behind you will be thankful. Remember that no one behind you can play any faster than the pace you set.

Choose the correct tee box for your level of play. Beginners may want to play from 100 to 150 yards from the green. If you are a 22-handicapper, don’t play from the championship tees no matter how far you think you hit it. You will score better and save time.

As with all headcovers, you will waste too much time with taking them off and putting them back on after every shot. When woods were made of wood, headcovers served a purpose. Not so much now. With woods and hybrids headcovers, take them off before starting your round.

Having irons covers is like putting a plastic cover on your sofa. Your irons will get nicked up through the course of play and clanging each other but these scars will not affect their performance. I guarantee you will lose most of your iron covers within a year anyway. And they keep moisture on the irons which may cause the irons to rust. Throw those iron covers away. Headcovers for drivers and putters are the only ones that I recommend utilizing on a consistent basis.

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

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

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