Hope these guys let us through!
Playing Through
By Snyper on 7/14/10
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.

We've all been there before and we are sure to be there again soon. As we stand on the tee box and watch the group in front of us search for a ball that is only about 30 yards from the tee, we can't help but wonder if they are going to let us play through. In fact, we even think about yelling out, "Hey! Can we play through?" But we don't, at least, not usually. Instead, we tee up our ball and stand there as if to say that we are ready and waiting for that special wave that brings sweet reprieve to the waiting group. Those moments that take place when you first arrive behind the slower group in front of you are anxious moments for sure, but how should they be handled? What is the best thing for the waiting group to do? Those are some of the questions that I want to address on the topic of playing through.

Is this a case of guys who are going to speed up as soon as they find their ball or have they been playing slowly all day and you just now caught them?
First of all, when you are facing this situation, the best thing to do is to take a second to size up the situation. There are all kinds of different golfers out there that can come together to create the group that is now holding you up. Before you decide how to handle the situation, take a few moments to evaluate it. Is this a case of guys who are going to speed up as soon as they find their ball or have they been playing slowly all day and you just now caught them? Are these four people who have never played golf before or are they experienced players who just take way too long to play the game? Is there anywhere to go in front of this group or have they been waiting on the group in front of them? Before you get all excited and angry at the newly discovered delay, you should be aware of exactly what is going on in front of you. Unfortunately, too many guys pull up on the tee and immediately become incensed at the idea of waiting. I’ve seen guys do everything from yelling at the group to just hitting into them without a clue as to why this group is now holding them up. This is neither smart nor productive and is, instead, just plain irresponsible. Chill out for a minute or two and evaluate the delay. Once you realize the scenario, then it is time to move forward with the next step.

Now, once you have established that the group that is holding you up has no one in front of them and is in a position that would best be solved by allowing you to play through, what can you do next? Well, there are not a lot of options, but I do have a few suggestions to help with this dilemma. The first and most immediate thing to do is to get ready to tee off as if no one was holding you up. Tee up your ball and take some practice swings in order to tell the group in front of you that you are ready and waiting for their signal. If you appear to be content in waiting and not ready to move along, there is no way that group is going to choose to let you through. Regardless of their circumstances, they are not going to want to wait on you once they let you through. If you fail to show them that you are going to make this as quick of a process as possible, they are just going to let you stay behind them all day long. However, getting ready to tee off sends them the message that you will make it as quick and painless as possible. Being ready to go will help you get that nod more often than not.

If you fail to show them that you are going to make this as quick of a process as possible, they are just going to let you stay behind them all day long.
Unfortunately, however, not every group is going to have players that understand the idea of allowing a faster group to play through. And, believe it or not, there are even some people out there who know that they should let a faster group through, but they still won’t do it. If you have waited for a couple holes and you know that there is room in front of the group that is holding you up, it is probably time to take action. No, I’m not talking about sending a message by bombing your drive into their cart. I’m referring to grabbing your cell phone and calling the pro shop. As a guy who has worked in several pro shops and fielded this call many times, I can assure you that it is perfectly acceptable to inform the course about the pace of play. Most courses will have a ranger available that can respond to the delay and take the necessary action. While I don’t think that rangers are good for much, this is a case where it is much better to have the ranger deliver the message instead of using your Titleist to do the job. Yelling at the group, driving up on them while they are teeing off, rolling your tee shots into them, or just jumping them by going to the next hole are just not acceptable ways to solve this problem. Sometimes, you just have to snitch and tell the course what’s going on. Most of the time, the situation will be handled and you won’t even look like the bad guy to the group in front of you. You don’t have to risk killing someone and you don’t have to spend all day suffering behind them. Just make the call to the shop as they would much rather handle the situation for you than have to deal with the situation that confrontation will create.

So, the next time that you are out on the links and your group pulls up to the next tee to find a slower group in the way, relax and follow a few simple steps. Take a few moments to figure out exactly what the problem seems to be. Let them know that you are ready and prepared to play through them as quickly as possible. Give the group a hole or two to decide on their own to let you through. Then, once they have had a few chances to give you the wave, don’t be afraid to grab your cell phone and let the course know what is going on. 95% of the time, they will send someone out to either speed the group up or to ask them to allow you to play through. It is a painless process that doesn’t involve any risk, but delivers the ultimate reward. Don’t let this interaction ruin your round. Instead, let the course take care of it so that your game doesn’t have to suffer from the distractions. This, then, brings us to the next question. How do you avoid posting a big number while rushing to play through? Sounds like a good topic for next week!


* Matt's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of oobgolf.


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[ comments ]
Banker85 says:
I only give 2 holes for them to let me play thru then i start to get upset. I dont hit into people but i will tee off the spilt second they are out of the way. same for as soon as they are off the green i am hitting my approach shot, and if i hit the green and they see it they usually will see i am decent and let me play thru. After that i will just ask if i can play thru and hopefully not shank my tee shot and embarrass myself.
7/14/10
 
birdieXris says:
Most times i don't have problems waiting for people but there ARE exceptions. This is a really great article and i practice what it says every time i go out. The responsibility to let faster players through is on the group in front, but the responsibility to BE let through is with the group behind. Kickntrue, Ben Crane, Carlos Franco and I experienced this when we went out a month or two ago (was it really that long). We had a few balls go into a gully in front of a par 3. It wasn't marked and they were playable if they were found, but the group behind us was coming up fast, and did in fact reach the tee as we were coming to the green. We attempted 3 times to let them play through (with nobody behind them) because they obviously caught up to us. Yelled, hooted, waved my hat and club. Nothing. they were so busy talking they didn't even notice. so we just spent the time we needed to. Can't say we didnt' try, right?
7/14/10
 
SingleDigits says:
Especially when I'm a single I following Banker's lead and play right on their tail (never dangerously, but I'll even lay up on a reachable par 5 just be closer to them while their putting on the green). After 2 holes if they don't offer, I'll ask to play through.

But, unless the course has few groups, playing through is not the right answer -- because the next group after that will want to play through too.

The right approach is to have everyone pay attention on the golf course, play ready-golf, put your bag on the side of the green closes to the exit, line up your putt while your partner putts, etc. I wonder why it is that the English can play four hour rounds consistently until you put Americans on the same course.

A good starter can make a huge difference if he/she educates each foursome about how to play ready golf (and a marshal that pays attention).
7/14/10
 
DiC says:
SingleDigets. Can you explain the comment "I wonder why it is that the English can play four hour rounds consistently until you put Americans on the same course"?
7/14/10
 
DiC says:
Sorry. SingleDigits. (apologies)
7/14/10
 
Bryan K says:
I agree wholeheartedly with birdieXris.

When the course is slow, I usually take the opportunity to get in some practice swings to try to get my tempo down. After 2-3 holes, if I find that I'm still waiting on the group (and there is no one in front of them), I'll try to ask to play through. Or, if it's a smaller group, I'll ask if I can join them. I'm not shy about it, but at the same time, I dont lose my cool about it either.
7/14/10
 
Joness says:
I used to get frustrated and annoyed. Now I just play slower. I walk slower, take more time so that the pace of my game matches the group in front so that I don't have to wait very often.

Yes there are times when playing through works but often it makes no difference. There is another group in front etc. The starter also has some say in the matter. I recently played in a group of 4. A group of 2 came up behind us and we waited and let them play through. Then another group of 2 came up - and we waited and let them play through, only to find a group of 3 followed by another group of 2. We stopped letting them through because we would never get finished ourselves. Surely it would have been better for all if the smaller groups combined.

Regards

Stephen J
7/14/10
 
Bryan K says:
Joness:

One thing that annoys me is when it's busy and groups don't combine. Usually, when I'm a foursome that is holding up a couple of smaller groups, I'll let them wait for a hole or two before letting them play through to see if they are willing to combine. If they aren't, then sure, I'll allow one group every couple of holes to play through. If you tee off while waiting for them to finish the previous hole, it doesn't take that much extra time.

But I think that most golfers know that if they are tired of waiting in a twosome, joining a twosome behind is a good way to solve that problem.
7/15/10
 
Scott Shields says:
Some days are just slow. The coures is going to be backed up ... and in those cases, playing through is just as effective as passing in a traffic jam. What I'll do is play greenside skins games with my buddies (assuming no one is pushing us) ... or play two balls ... anything to keep my rythm.

What annoys me the most are those days that course isn't backed up ... and in front of you is a 4some in carts, that all duff their tee shots 50 yards, spend 10 minutes a piece looking for their balls. Mind you 3 guys sit in the carts and watch one guy search. I've driven through and skipped holes before ... because a group that clueless isn't worth wasting a hole round on, I'll skip the hole and save myself the frustration.
7/15/10
 
Kurt the Knife says:
I didn't realize jumping a hole was considered ill-mannered. I typically play by myself and combine or play thru when invited. But some days I would jump ahead of big,slower groups.

oops.
7/15/10
 
c5agalb says:
I agree with (Young), skipping or driving in front of a slow group avoids the confrontation. Also I think most rangers would allow it. One course I played this year was backed up behind 3 foursomes on the 3rd hole. I drove back to the clubhouse asked the ranger to go off ten, meet up with another single and had a great afternoon playing a few extra holes in the process.
7/15/10
 
mjaber says:
One course I play regularly is HUGE on pace of play. They say your round should take 4.5 hours max, and they mean it. On Memorial Day, my group was slightly out of position on the 2nd hole (a par 5). The group in front of us had teed off on 4 as we approched the 3rd, a par 3. The Ranger was there waiting for us at the 3rd tee, and informed us that we were out of position, asked us to speed up and gave us a couple suggestions on "Ready Golf." We were back in position by the 5th hole, and when we arrived at the 9th tee, the ranger was there and thanked us for our efforts in getting back into position.

I think that most long 5+ hour rounds, are the fault of the course as much as the slow players, because they don't even try to get people to speed up.
7/15/10
 
mjaber says:
The course I reference above is Campbell's Scottish Highland's in Salem, NH. They run tee times at 10 minute intervals. They have a "Pace of Play" schedule on their scorecards (something I think other courses should do), and they enforce it. If you are out of position, as I said above, you are asked to get back into position. If you continue to be out of position, they ask you to pickup your ball and move to the next tee. I'm not sure if they will ask you to leave after a 3rd request, but they might.
7/15/10
 
Joness says:
Not sure about "HUGE on pace of play and 4.5 hours"!!!! 4.5 hours would be the slowest round played on our course. Sat and Wed Comp with around 220 players and the norm would be around 4.25.

At one championship course in Melb they are also "HUGE on pace of play" and usually a round there will take 3.25 to 3.5 hours. The only differences they make are that the first two to putt out go over to the next tee ready to tee off, and if you lose your ball, you have a quick look by yourself and move on.

Maybe there is something in the comment by Single Digits earlier: "I wonder why it is that the English can play four hour rounds consistently until you put Americans on the same course."
7/15/10
 
mjaber says:
@Joness... I'm sure the course can be played quicker than the 4.5, however, they have determined that as the MAXIMUM time it should take to play the course, and they enforce it. I've played a nine-hole course (par 36), walking, by myself in 45 minutes. I played the same course the next day, and it took me twice that long, because of the group in front of me.

Regardless of how long a round SHOULD take, if the course is stating that the maximum playing time for a round is X, and they enforce it, I would say that is a step in the right direction for maintaining the proper pace of play.
7/16/10
 
Bryan K says:
I've found that playing poorly can seriously affect my pace. On Monday, I finished the front nine with no wait on any holes (by myself) in just over two hours. I was not playing well. Then things started clicking on the back nine, and I finished in 80 minutes even though I caught up to the very slow group in front of me on 17 and 18 and had to wait.
7/16/10
 
SingleDigits says:
I amend my comment and now state that most Americans play slow except for George Bush (both father & son). My big annoyance... seeing a player plumb bob each & every putt.

BTW, when the entire course is backed up and you have to wait at each tee, I use the time to practice my chipping, play chipping games with my partners, etc. You can never get enough short game practice...
7/16/10
 
Kurt the Knife says:
Yesterday had a group invite me thru at a par 3. Not good cuz i feel the eyes on me the whole way thru.
I don't play bunkers well and this one was guarded heavily.
6 iron into the sand and BY THE GODS... punch out to 3'. Par putt and I'm off feeling like Ernie Els. A wave to the foursome and the imagined gallery to slice one off into the marshes on the next tee.
However the snail-pace-threesome I caught at 14 were not so gracious and the marshall was calling everyone in leaving me 4 holes incomplete.

grr
7/16/10
 
Bryan K says:
Yes, I plub bob each and every putt. If I don't, I'll miss.
7/16/10
 
Beekeeper45 says:
For the first time that I have been back to playing golf, I ran into slow play today. After coming up on the group ahead and noticing how many was in the group(8) and when they started driving two off the tee and amusing themselves by driving there golf balls towards the interstate I had no problem using the cell today. Then I came up on someone ball hunting and not for his own we all wonder why there is even a pace of play.....justsayin.
7/18/10
 
mricketson says:
Dream World! NIce article and I agree about the first couple of steps. That said, calling the club house rarely works and makes for another 2 or 3 holes of slow play before yelling to play through. Approaching them on the next tee box and asking nicely usually works. A delicate, well placed shot up the rear is my go to move.
7/21/10
 
gunny86 says:
You can make a good out of every situation by playing two balls! Just make sure you know which one is the REAL play.
8/7/10
 
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