Just hit into them!
Playing Through Properly
By Snyper on 7/27/10
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.

Last week, I wrote about how to properly handle the moments before the group in front of you invites you to play through. Now, I want to discuss how to successfully complete that process. This task can be much easier said than done for even the most experienced of players. Playing through another group is just one of those awkward moments that are hard to avoid. You don't want to rush your game and take a big number on the hole. But, at the same time, you don't want to take forever while the group, which was nice enough to wave you through, stands there watching and waiting. It takes a good balance of focus and time management to effectively play through another group so that the end result is a win for all parties involved.

The first trick to playing through effectively is keeping your tee shot in play. There is no worse feeling than teeing off into trouble and having to spend time looking for your ball while the group behind you regrets their decision to let you through. Unfortunately, I can't tell you exactly what to do to ensure that you will hit it down the middle every time. However, I can give you a couple suggestions that may help. First of all, do not rush your tee shot. Get ready to hit the shot quickly, but go through your normal pre-shot routine. Also, think about hitting a three wood instead of a driver. For most amateurs, I would recommend this choice in normal situations anyway. But, when keeping the ball in play is paramount, club down to a comfortable three or five wood. Hitting the ball down the middle 25 yards shorter is way better than smoking a driver 25 yards deeper into the trees. So, think about clubbing down and maintain your routine when hitting this crucial tee shot.

Get ready to hit the shot quickly, but go through your normal pre-shot routine. Also, think about hitting a three wood instead of a driver.
Ok, your group has teed off and you are on your way to your shots in the middle of the fairway. While you are in route, make sure to thank the group that has allowed you to play through. Even if you have waited behind them for longer than you felt appropriate, give them a kind wave and a “thanks” to show them that they are doing the right thing. If you choose to act angry and ignore them on your way by, you can bet that they’ll never let you or any other group through again. Remember, you want people to have a good taste in their mouth about letting groups play through. If it is something that players dread, they are not going to do it. So, do your part to make it as painless as possible with a kind thank you and a nod of approval.

As you play the rest of the hole, make sure you are playing ready golf while repeating the same process that you implemented on the tee box. Rush to get to the ball and to get ready to make your shot, but take your time as you work through your pre-shot routine. If you hurry your routine and hit bad shots, you are only going to take more time to play through. So, don’t fool around picking your club and studying the wind, but don’t rush your swing either. The group behind you will appreciate your urgency while you avoid making a snowman and ruining your round.

Hitting good shots is the quickest way to make the process short and painless.
Now that your group is on the green, you are almost finished with the event that is playing through. Because the green is often where the slowest play occurs, it is even more important that everyone in your group is paying attention and playing ready golf. This also not a bad time to be a little generous with the “gimmies” for your playing partners. Those of you that enjoy wagering while you play may want to consider pausing the bet for the hole that you are playing through. It is difficult to play quickly when there is money on the line, so I would recommend a friendly agreement on the tee box to lift the stakes for this hole. Nobody likes losing money, but losing money because you are in a hurry to play through is no fun at all. So, do your best to make that birdie putt, but don’t study it like your prepping for the Boards. Be ready and willing to suggest “that’s good” to your buddies. And, as you return the flag to the cup, make sure to send back one more friendly wave and a smile. Walk quickly to the cart and drive off. Once you get to the next tee, all things can return to normal again.

Playing through is never fun for the group that is in front. Whether they are playing slowly or simply have more players than the group behind them, the last thing anyone wants to do is to stop their game to watch others play. So, if you are fortunate enough to be waved through the group in front of you, acknowledge their generosity with some urgency and a friendly manner. Don’t ruin your round to hurry through the hole, but don’t add insult to injury by taking forever to make your way past. Hitting good shots is the quickest way to make the process short and painless. So, stick to your routine and make the hole go quickly by playing ready golf. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be on your way to a faster and more pleasant round in no time.

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

Photo Source

[ comments ]
birdieXris says:
Excellent article, Matt. I couldn't have said it better. I've let too many groups through that think it's ok to play their "normal" slow ass game. People don't remember that as the group being let through, now YOU'RE holding someone up. It takes a hole to establish that cushion again.
Banker85 says:
I always make sure to thank them once they agree to let me thru and after the tee shot. Your right though the Tee shot is crucial. I will 95% of the time grab my hybrid and tee off with that and keep it in play. It always seems like i pass on par 3's most the time anyways so i just make sure i make a solid hit put on the green and 2 ptt and walk off 5 minutes max. I am a quick player regardless so that doenst really matter with my game.
Neo says:
We let a twosome play through a few months ago. They "thanked" us somewhat sarcastically, and when they were finished putting out, the guy held something up in his hand and then jammed it into the green right near the hole.

We had to go up to the green to get it before finishing the hole ourselves, as it was blocking the cup. It was a ball mark repair tool. He had held it up to us as if all the ball marks on the green were ours, and we should have been fixing them. Anyway, the point is he was a arse about it playing through, and it will make me think twice before letting the next group through.
georgelohr says:
I think Matt's views and opinions SHOULD DEFINITELY reflect those of OOBGolf!
treycox says:
Excellent advice..Matt and a "true" golfer would take this to heart. No one likes slow play and No one likes to be pushed or hit into so, the more rookie/slow golfers that understand the etiquette of the game will make it more enjoyable for everyone involved.
bkuehn1952 says:
First of all, one should never ask to play through or act rudely to the group ahead. 95 percent of players, when they are slowing another group, will stand aside. The other 5 percent are so unaware of the problem that agitating for the right to pass will usually yield no results. If someone won't move aside, skip a hole or let someone at the clubhouse or a ranger know there is a problem.

As far as how to act when playing through, I agree with everything except clubbing down for accuracy. Play the club you would if you are not playing through. If one is an inaccurate-hitting double-digit handicapper, there is only slightly more likelihood of keeping a 3-wood in play than a driver. The guys letting you through understand you are not a professional and sometimes you are going to hit a really bad shot. Have an extra ball in your pocket and hit a provisional if the 1st is headed for the woods.
JimmerSD says:
I completely agree with your observations here. Especially concerning showing appreciation for (finally) letting me play through. Playing as a single, I've gotten through many foursomes by being patient yet firmly at their backdoor. They feel the pressure, believe me! Yet when they finally let me through I don't show any animosity. I just play the low risk shots, wave and continue on.

Problems only arise when I run into "newby" golfers who have no concept of golf etiquette, and treat their round as though they were driving to work in rush hour traffic.

The only answer in that circumstance is to pick up your ball and move to the next tee box. Usually fending off disapproving glares. Some people need more time to figure the game out.
stedar says:
There are times when the course plays slow - I mean, groups that seem to take an extra 5mins per hole. Then there are times when everything seems to be moving rapidly, a round is over in 2 1/2 hrs. One of the best "rules" I've seen on a course is: "keep in front of the group behind and behind the group in front" Always makes me laugh when I walk past and read it :-)
Ultimately, enjoying the game is more important than getting to play-through. Often I wish I could, but relaxing and taking that extra few minutes to go through the hole in front can work just as well. Sometimes a quick bite, is a good way to keep the time ticking over and the energy levels up (no sugar though -meaning no chocolate or sweets).
to paraphrase - have fun and don't get caught up on what the group in front are doing and if you allow someone to play-through, enjoy a bite and allow them to feel like they can take their time - everyone wins...
donbull1 says:
Where the ;**; is the ranger? Sometimes your forced to take matters in your own hands. If i didn,t know was their excuse, then with me they will learn the hard way. Hunters safety course before hunting: Golf etiquette before golfing.
[ post comment ]
    Cigar Lounge
Most Popular: