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|Time @ 4th Tee
|Time @ 7th Tee
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|Time @13th Tee
|Time @16th Tee
Being Aware of Position on the Course
Players need to be aware of their group’s position on the course, and how they are impacting on the pace of play of other groups. The basic advice in this regard is that if a group keeps up with the group in front, the players in that group will rarely be accused of slow play. Players should always be looking forward to ensure that they are maintaining a good position in relation to the group in front, for example, making sure that they do not have an empty par 4 hole in between them.
If ground has been lost on the group in front, then all of the players in the group should take responsibility for making up that ground as quickly as possible. It is inevitable that there will be holes that take longer to play than would normally be the case, either due to bad play or some other delay, but the key is for the all the players in that group to ensure that the group gets back into position promptly.
Allowing Faster Groups to Play Through
If a group cannot keep its position on the course for whatever reason, and is delaying the group behind, then it should invite the group behind to play through so that group can play at the pace it is capable of.
Inviting a group behind to play through means that it will take longer for the group doing the calling through to complete the round. This is due to having to wait for the “playing through” group to get out of range before continuing play. However, while the round time may be slightly increased, it is likely that the “inviting“ group will enjoy its game more without being constantly pressurised by the group behind, and the group that has been allowed to play through will have had their enjoyment enhanced.
Sometimes, if a number of groups on the course are playing slowly, playing through does not always achieve its objective, but it remains good etiquette.
Being Ready to Play
The main criticism levelled against slow players in The R&A’s pace of play survey was that such players were not ready to play when it was their turn.
Being ready to play should be very easy. While taking care not to distract other players or compromise safety, all that is required is that a player should do the following while waiting for others to play:
Walk efficiently to the ball putting their glove on in the process
Assess the shot, including any calculation of distance the player wants to make, or line up the putt, and
Make a decision on club selection
It is even more important that the first person in a group to play carries out these tasks promptly.
Considerable time will be saved during the course of a round if players do these things efficiently and non-intrusively while others are playing. The frustration comes when a player stands by their ball watching others in the group playing, and only when it is their turn do they begin to prepare for the shot.
Combined with an efficient pre-shot routine, the seconds that can be taken off each stroke by being ready to play, multiplied by the number of strokes played each round, multiplied by the number of players in a group, can have a massively positive impact on the time it takes to play a round of golf.
Each player in a four-ball takes an average of 5 seconds less to play each shot
Each player plays 80 shots
80 shots x 5 seconds x 4 players = 26 minutes and 40 seconds
That means that, ignoring all other variables, the four-ball would play in 26 minutes and 40 seconds less time simply by shaving off an average of 5 seconds per shot.
Imitating Elite Golf
While in no way looking to excuse any elite golfers who may take an excessive time to play, it is recognised that tour professionals make their living from the sport and, understandably, may wish to take slightly longer to assess their shots than regular golfers. In addition, the skill level of the elite golfer is such that certain detailed information will have a bearing on shot selection and execution, and it may require more time to assess this information.
This is not the case for the vast majority of amateur golfers and, therefore, it is often unnecessary for them to prepare for their shots in the same way as the elite golfer does. The consequence of doing so is simply to increase the time taken to play each shot with no tangible benefit in performance. Therefore, the futile mimicking of elite golfers should be avoided.
Common examples of this are:
determining precise distances for shots when approximate distances would suffice,
studying the line of putt from multiple angles, and
marking, lifting and replacing a ball that is close to the hole before holing out.
Various Actions Players Can Take to Improve Pace of Play
Ready Golf/ Playing a Provisional Ball/Bags or Carts at Greens/ Mark Score Cards at next Tee Box
Watching the Flight of the Ball Carefully
The problem of lost balls can be significantly reduced if all players in a group make a conscious effort to watch each other’s shots and their own shots as carefully and as often as possible. This will result in less searching time and fewer lost balls.