Use your carts effectively.
Speeding Up Play
By Snyper on 5/10/10
Matt Snyder is an opinionated* golf enthusiast from Pennsylvania. He coaches at the high school level, molding the minds and swings of our next generation. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts and opinions of Matt in the comments. Don't hold back- because Matt won't.
After offering up suggestions last week for how to handle slow play, I thought it would be a good idea, this week, to follow up with some suggestions on how to speed up the pace of play if you notice that your group is falling behind. It is not always an easy thing to do, but is often times very necessary. For the obvious reasons, most of the time, the need to quicken your pace occurs when you are playing in a threesome or a foursome. In light of this fact, my first suggestion is that you simply stay aware of where your group is relative to the groups around you when you are playing with two or three other golfers. Quite often, guys will fall a hole or two behind and not even realize that they are slowing down. Maybe someone loses a ball while another guy goes from bunker to bunker a couple of times, and all of the sudden, play is backed up for four holes. Before anything can be done about it, someone in the group must be paying attention and staying aware of the pace of the group.
Now, once you are the guy that notices your group is slowing down, what's the next step? Well, this can be the most difficult step in the process. Somehow, someway, you have to tell your playing partners to pick up the pace without making them angry, making them feel rushed, or reminding them of the terrible shots that they hit to slow things down in the first place. While this is not a simple task, it can be achieved. I've found the best approach to be referencing my own slowness as an issue. For example, I'll say something like, “I'd like to hit that putt again, but the guys behind us are already waiting”. Simple comments like that are more than enough to draw everyone’s attention to the fact that the pace of play needs to pick up a little without making anyone upset about it.
The first and perhaps most effective way to increase the pace of play is to use your cart effectively.
With that mission accomplished, it is time to do some of the simple things that can help to keep play moving. The first and perhaps most effective way to increase the pace of play is to use your cart effectively. What I mean by that is, instead of using the cart to sit in while your partner hits his shot, drop him off and use the cart to drive over to your ball. This way, as soon as he hits, you are ready to hit your shot. With both carts operating like this in a foursome, it can make a huge difference in how quickly your group gets from tee to green. Once you arrive at the green, be smart about where you park the cart. Position the cart so that when you finish the hole, you are walking towards the next hole to get back to your cart. In other words, don’t park your cart in front of the green. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to stand in the fairway and wait for the group in front of me to walk 30 yards back towards me to get into their cart and drive away before I could hit. While it may only be a matter of a minute or two, it is incredibly frustrating for the group that is waiting because it is unnecessary and inconsiderate. Another small time saver, but definite good move, is to wait until the next tee box to return your clubs to your bag. Instead of standing at your cart, which is sitting beside the green, for however long it takes to put your clubs back in their rightful place and slide your head cover back on your putter, hold onto them for the ride to the next tee. This way, the next group can hit their approaches as soon as possible and you appear to be considerate of the fact that they are waiting. Simple things like this that give the appearance of awareness to those around your can often times make all the difference. So, with a little bit of cart etiquette, you can increase the speed of your group and help to calm the nerves of those who are waiting behind you.
Lastly, there are a couple things about how you play that can also go a long way towards maintaining an appropriate pace of play. Some people will tell you to do things like take fewer practice swings or spend less time reading the greens, but I’m not a believer in that at all. You should have an established pre-shot routine that you always stick to for every shot. That routine should be the last thing that you change to quicken the pace of play. (That being said, if you take ten practice swings, it’s time to change your pre-shot routine!) However, I will suggest that you start your routine as soon as possible. In other words, make sure you start reading your putt and making your practice swings whenever you get on the green. If you’re in the fairway, calculate your distance and choose your club a.s.a.p. instead of watching everyone else hit their shots before thinking about your shot. This way, you can do the things in your routine and still be ready to hit as soon as it is your turn to play.
Nine times out of ten, if you don’t find your ball within the first 60 seconds of looking, it is never found anyway. So, if you can’t find it, hit another ball or play your provisional and move on.
Now, for the number one best way to keep your group on pace, don’t spend forever looking for lost balls! While I am very familiar with how hard it can be to let go of a brand new ball, sometimes, it has to be done. If you can’t afford to lose the ball that you are playing, then you are paying too much for your ball in the first place. Look, I’m not suggesting that you make no effort to find your wayward shots. It is fine for you and your partners to look around for a moment or two, but don’t spend ten minutes walking back and forth in the same spot. Nine times out of ten, if you don’t find your ball within the first 60 seconds of looking, it is never found anyway. So, if you can’t find it, hit another ball or play your provisional and move on. You can find some solace in the fact that everyone behind you will be very appreciative of your sacrifice.
While I am a believer in the fact that golf is a slow game and players should not hurry to play it, I also believe that everyone should do their part to keep things moving at an acceptable speed. Being aware of how quickly your group is playing and making the necessary minor adjustments is all that it takes to ensure that everyone’s time on the course is enjoyed to the maximum. While rushing your routine or play in general is not the right thing to do, you should make sure that you are making the best use of your time in between shots, as well as before and after a hole is played. This will make sure that doing your part to avoid slow play without rushing and ruining your rhythm.
* Matt's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of oobgolf.
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A couple other suggestions I've read on the message board:
If someone is in a greenside bunker, he who is closest to the pin rakes the bunker.
If someone has a difficult shot, play your shot while your partner(s) are trying to figure out what to do.
If there is a ball search going on and you're ready to play your shot, play it and then go help in the search.
Above all else... play READY Golf. As a guy I play with on occasion says, "If you're ready, GOLF."
To take your suggestion a little further. Only go to your back once, After your shot get in the cart don't put your club back in your bag even in the fairway, (unless you are waiting for your partner). Put your club back in your bag when you have to get another one out. It just saves a few seconds but it adds up.
Played in group 5 this weekend on a semi-busy local course here. Normally we'd always split into a 3 and a 2 if it was busy on the course, but it was later in the afternoon and its was a little less crowded. Guys we play with are all mid to lower-handicappers. We never needed to let anyone through (no one was ever waiting for us) because we played 'Ready Golf' from tee to greens. We actually caught up to the two-some in front of us a couple of times. The key was ready golf very similar to the points you guys above made.
Felipe Rojas says:
another "ready golf" tip: if you're done putting, proceed to the next tee box, instead of waiting for everybody else in your group to finish putting. I don't like to do it if we're in the right pace, but definitely put it in practice when we are falling behind
All so true. I got paired with a guy this weekend who would read every putt from 3 different angles, which by itself is perfectly fine, but he would begin this process when it was his turn to hit!
The way I see it, maintaining a proper pace of play is 99% common sense. As much I as I respect the intention of this article, I don't think "tips" do anything to help people exercise common sense. Now that I'm old and wise to the ways of the world, I am convinced that common sense is an innate quality that can't be learned.
@legitimatebeef- I agree that common sense is, for the most part, something you have or don't have. I think the tips help those of us who are already doing our best to maintain our place on the course. It's not just common sense, but common courtesy.
Look on the bright side. Matt isn't trying to bully/shame/guilt/peer-pressure us all to the back tees. :)
Last week on the way to shooting a 78 (a very good # for me) I had hit a ball in the woods and started to look for it. A playing partner pointed out how we were playing slow and we had a group waiting on us. The fact was we were playing slow but it wasn't my fault, and we'd spent a good deal of time searching for errant balls, but they weren't mine, and the one time in the round when it was me possibly holding us up in what was shaping up to be a pretty good round for me I bloody well was going to get my 5 minutes looking for that ball if necessary (it wasn't I found it after about a minute or two).
I don't offer this as a counter point, but rather to point out that slow play is indeed a complicate issue, and if those groups behind us had objected I would have pointed out my position (politely of course).
Every suggestion is a good one. The one I might ammend is driving off in the golf cart. This can lead to issues: what if the first golfer re-evaluates and wants to change clubs?
Another similar technique is to park relatively near the first player's ball, and then walk a couple of clubs you will most likely use given your ball's position. Even if you end up choosing the wrong clubs, this shouldn't happen often, and you will have at least gotten to your ball and analyzed your shot quicker than sitting in the cart.
Also, if the balls are relatively close, park midway between them and have both players walk to their balls.
I can't stand the guy who casually cleans his clubs after every shot before getting in the cart while people are waiting to hit. I also can't stand the guy who sits in his cart by the green and writes down all the scores before moving on to the next hole.
I was going to add "not ANOTHER bl****y post on slow play" but then reading it and the comments I actually enjoyed it / learned a few thing.
So here's my two pennies worth too... if you use a cart then it should be to 'help' you around the course, not to drive every last inch of it. If you're shot is 50 yards from your partners and the other side of the fairway then drop them off, go hit yours and then pick them up further down the fairway. You don't need to pick them up from the exact spot you dropped them off like some sort of taxi service - get them to walk!!
After seeing comments from previous posts on oob our 4some have ditched the carts and started to walk our rounds. It's hard to believe but it is actually quicker!
why don't we all just practice a little more patience?If the group in front of you is playing slower,then spend the extra time thinking about your tee shot.Is safer side left or right?Do I need to hit the driver?
Taking extra clubs with you when walking to your shot is a sure way to lose clubs.We never talk about the people who rush the group in front through the round.The best practice IMHO is to let the group behind play tru as soon as you come to a par 3.
Can't agree with you more Matt. We started walking a couple years ago and have never had a problem staying in position. A couple months ago I needed to rest a sore knee so I rode a cart for a few rounds, it was like a ball and chain.
Its a good idea to have the "ready play" conversation on the first tee, and make sure everyone understands what that means.
From my experience, spending too long hunting for lost balls is the biggest "time suck". Take yer medicine. if it isn't findable within 60 seconds, drop one, take the stroke and move on.
If someone in our group hits a shot in the junk, the rest of us hit our next shots before we help him look for his ball. This way if we find his ball, he's the last to hit and we can move on. And if someone is zinging the ball back and forth over the green, we'll go ahead and putt out and wait for him to join us.
I played today with a slow player. His problem was a ridiculously complicated preshot routine with 4 or 5 practice swings, waggling the club, deep knee bends, rocking back and forth, followed by staring the ball down for up to 10 seconds before pulling the trigger. Another annoying thing he did was explain why each shot turned out bad, "I looked up, I lunged at the ball, I pulled it, I pushed it". It was really tiresome.
Ready golf for sure, but the important part is that someone in the group needs to be ready to hit. I don't know how many times I've been behind a group, all at/near their golf balls, and no one has so much as a club in their hand. My comment is always "someone act like they want to hit." Play ready to golf but be ready to swing when you're up. Don't let "your turn" into "your turn to think about your shot." Do the club selection part while either waiting on the group in front of you or while others are going through their preshot routines.
merlin - I have a friend that had a ridiculously long pre-shot routine. So one day, I timed him from the moment he put his tee in the ground to when he began his backswing. The first time measured 58 seconds. To his credit, it was about the same every time I timed him. When we finished, I showed him my timer with the 58.3 on it and when asked what it was, I told him his preshot routine. He couldn't believe it but now it is a little faster...
I'm currently a high handicapper but when I'm playing solo, I can finish a round in 2 hours pushing a hand cart. One of our local courses is a "championship" course and while not absolutely required, it is strongly encouraged to use a cart. At the first tee and several points along the course there are little signs that tell you, 15 mins. max per hole, you should be at 1 hr. 15 min. at this hole. etc. My problem at that course is the pace is too fast, if it takes you even 10 min. a hole, you have players hitting their balls right up behind you. It's to the point I don't go there anymore. I always feel pushed and rushed and cannot enjoy my round. I've let groups play through but by the time I tee off, the next fast group is already standing behind us waiting their turn. Part of the problem I think is that they club house doesn't enforce the tee times, if they did, there would be fewer issues with too fast or too slow play.
Sorry my solo rounds are more like 2.5 hours to 3 hours depending on the groups ahead of me.
Not sure how you lose clubs and would wonder what happens on those days where the cart rule is path only? However, I can agree with practicing some patience. For instance, if you are a threesome and you are behind a foursome, expect to wait; oversimplified math would say you should play approximately 25% faster than the foursome in front of you. I also agree a decent group of golfers walking will keep pace on a normal day with other groups (on courses set up to be walked, some are not).
I think most golfers aren't concerned with an occasional backup, anyone can have a bad hole to get a little behind. But when you have enough time to notice multiple and various slow play "violations" of the suggestions above, there is at least some justification for annoyance.
Well I am not a slow player by any means,and am usually playing alone so I rarely hold people up.The reason people lose clubs is obvious.If you take more clubs with you than the one you intended to hit,then you are putting one or more down on the ground.How many times have you found a club lying on the course,often I bet.
What is a reasonable amount of time between arriving at the ball,and hitting it?If you have a GPS you must wait a few seconds for the range to settle,decide on your club,and then hit the shot.If you do not have a GPS you must find a marker and calculate the distance.These things are not unreasonable.
My biggest pet peeve is people on the phone conducting business on the course.If you have to work,go to work.
Most clubs are left on the green, where you make 2+ shots after each other and not necessarily in succession, leading to a higher possibility of forgetting than the case I was suggesting. Are you suggesting players should take a wedge to the green to chip, return it to the cart and get my putter to putt instead of bringing both to prevent the prevalent risk of losing a club?
Plus, you never answered what you would do on cart-path only days? Walk one club across the fairway, decide you misjudged the distance or wind, walk all the way back to get another club, and then back again?? Fear of losing a club seems a poor excuse to not take multiple clubs to your ball, regardless of whether you feel it would speed up play.
Actually I do exactly that,but only if there are no groups waiting for me to move on.As I said I play alone usually so it does not clog things up.If we are playing cartpath only and there is no group waiting to hit,I walk to the ball get a GPS reading then go get the club.This routine actually helps me not to pressure the group in front of me.
I will admit that this would be tough to pull off if you were playing a foursome.As for taking multiple clubs to the ball,I will not do it.I will just make the best selection I can,and then try to crush it or swing easier if I think I misjudged.Then again,I have never taken a 5 iron only to decide I need a 3 wood.Lol.
i find that people playing more than one ball is completely annoying. some people even play two balls on an executive nine hole course saying they are getting their money's worth and it only cost like $10 to play lol.
I agree.If you are playing more than 1 ball you stop as soon as someone is behind you.
My playing partner and I were paired with a couple of higher handicappers yesterday. After our T shots on the first hole I noticed them both looking for yardage markers and pacing off to their balls in the rough. I remembered having an older SkyCaddie in my bag which which I offered them the next T box. With a 60 second overview they were delighted and never kept us waiting again looking for yardage.
I always check at least on the hour to make sure our group is playing on time. After the first hour, you should be on the 5th fairway, make the turn at hour two, 14th fairway at hour three for a four hour round. But what can be done when you are behind a slow group at a course with inadequate ranger-ing? Any suggestions for waking them up aside from yelling FORE and watching them dive for cover?
I played alone yesterday and finished in 1:58, of course I was second of the tee and passed the first group on #4 tee box... I also played today in the first Men's Group foursome and we finsished in just over 4 1/2 with everyone backed up behind us. I was the youngest at 41 and the other three were 68, 83 and 92. I realized we were lagging, so I started asking if someone would like to putt up while we were waiting on someone else to park their cart, or, I would make sure I watched where their drives went so I could roll up to each one to reduce the time looking (which was invariably WAY too far down the fairway, anyway!). I even made sure I carried extra tees, balls, markers and divot tools readily available should one of them need one. Bottom line, the guys behind us asked how I got them to speed up and finish under 5 hours (5 hours?) and thanked me for a good job with several offering a drink or three.
The main key to me is....your not a pro so u dont have to take 20 minutes to read your putt. Your probably gonna miss it anyways.
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