Pace of Play Tips
Slow play on the golf course is usually a habit that a golfer acquires over time, just as he or she acquires other bad habits. Or, it's the result of the golfer never having been taught proper golf etiquette. This means a slow golfer can usually be "cured" of their malady. Of course, that golfer has to be aware that they’re slow and willing to change. And, that's where buddies come into play.
But as we often take a look at other golfers on the course and notice the things they do to slow down play, so should we take a look at ourselves.
When we do take an honest look at ourselves, we often discover we're doing some of the same things to cause slow play that we're complaining about others doing.
Before we run down a list of suggestions for speeding up play, it's important to note that many of these tips have nothing to do with rushing your play, but rather with simply being ready to play, and with using common sense and good etiquette on the course.
Also, these tips are not meant to discriminate against a player based on age, physical condition or golf handicap. They are intended to ensure a positive golfing experience for all players on a team or participating in an outing on a given day by keeping the games moving and not causing unnecessary or extreme delays. This is especially true when playing as a large group such as a league.
Due to its size, a large group (such as the Sandbaggers) has been extended special privileges (tee times, green fees, and exclusivity) to play on a course. Having these privileges also requires that the group behave and play in a different manner when compared to individual golfers on a course. The group must play in a coordinated fashion which requires that all members of the group plays at a similar pace and vacates the course within the established time commitments. This approach does rely on Play Managers/Marshals to let us know we are out of position but the most important feedback comes from our own awareness of our position on the course.
For Sandbagger events, a Team Captain is always designated by the Coordinator. This person has primary responsibility for ensuring that Pace of Play requirements are met (along with ensuring that the team scoring is accurate).
HOWEVER, PACE OF PLAY IS A SELF POLICING ACTIVITY AND IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF EVERY PLAYER ON A TEAM TO OBSERVE AND ENFORCE.
Here are some tips and recommendations geared toward the Sandbagger players for helping to speed up or prevent slow play on the golf course:
• Start at your designated tee time, or earlier if possible.
• Members of a team should not travel as a pack, with all members moving together to the first ball, then the second, and so on. Each member of the team should move directly to his own ball when possible while keeping safety in mind; no one needs to get hit by an errant shot.
• When two players are riding in a cart, drive the cart to the first ball and drop off the first player with his choice of clubs. The second player should proceed in the cart to his ball. After the first player hits his stroke, he should begin walking toward the cart as the second golfer is playing. Replace clubs after both players have hit their ball, gotten seated in cart, and moved to their next shot
• Use the time you spend getting to your ball to think about the next shot - the yardage, the club selection. In many instances you can see your ball and its relationship to yardage markers and start formulating your strategy. When you reach your ball you'll need less time to figure out the shot.
• If you determine that your ball has come to rest out of bounds, or is lost, you are not required to hit a provisional ball under the 2019 rule changes. The Rules of Golf and the Sandbagger Manual covers hazards and the proper manner for handling drops.
• Don't ask playing partners to help you search for a lost ball - unless you are absolutely certain there is time for them to do so (e.g., there is no group behind waiting). Your partners should continue moving forward, not slow things down further by stopping to help your search. Absolutely observe the 3 minute rule for searching for a ball.
• If you're following the rules, you won't be using mulligans.
• Begin reading the green and lining up putts as soon as you reach the green. Don't wait until it's your turn to putt to start the process of reading the green. Do it as soon as you reach the green so that when it's your turn you can step right up and putt, or, putt while waiting for another player to set up in a sand trap or perform an approach shot from near the green.
• Never delay making a stroke because you're having a conversation with a playing partner. Put the conversation on hold, make your stroke, then pick up the conversation again.
• If using a cart on a cart-path-only day, take more than one club with you when you walk from the cart to your ball. Getting to the ball only to find out you don't have the correct club is a huge time-waster on the golf course. Do not go to the ball location to get a GPS fix and then return to the cart to get your club.
• You may want to use a small bag caddy for carrying your clubs onto the fairway. This bag also allows you to stand up the clubs rather than have them laying on the ground because it has a built in frame with prongs that can be pushed into the soil.
• In some cases you may want to assist fellow golfers who may not be as physically fit as you by picking up their clubs or helping in other ways.
• After putting out, don't stand around the green chatting or take any practice putting strokes.
• When leaving the green and returning to your golf cart, don't stand there fussing with your putter or other clubs. Get in the cart, drive to the next tee, and then put away your clubs. Some people suggest that you should leave your head covers in your car while you play.
• Mark your scorecard(s) after reaching the next tee, not while lingering on or near the just-completed green.
• When using a cart, never park the cart in front of the green. Park it only to the side or behind the green. And don't mark your scorecard while sitting in the cart next to the green (do it at the next tee). These practices open up the green for the group behind.
• When using a pull cart, never park the pull cart in a location that requires the group behind you to wait for you to walk back to your cart.
• On the tee, team members must assist each other by paying attention to their partners' drives. Don’t be afraid to ask your team members to watch your ball flight.
• When waiting on the tee for the group in front to clear the fairway or green, don't be so strict about order of play. Let the short hitter - who can't reach the group ahead anyway - go ahead and hit.
• Work on building a concise pre-shot routine. If your pre-shot routine is a lengthy one, it's probably in your best interests to shorten it anyway. Limit practice strokes to one or two at the most.
• Use the Sandbagger “Gimme Rule” correctly.
• Leave your cell phone in the car. If you must have it on the course, turn off the ringer!
• Walk at a good pace between shots.
• Carry extra tees, ball markers and an extra golf ball in your pockets so you never have to return to your golf bag or cart to find one when needed.
• When chipping around the green, carry both the club you'll be chipping with plus your putter so you don't have to return to the bag or cart. Use of the small bag previously mentioned can help.
• Try playing ready golf, where order of play is based on who is ready, not on who is away. The old traditional method of waiting for the “away” player is not needed in most cases. Even with putting, putt out when feasible- don’t mark your ball and wait on a player who is away when you have a short putt to finish!
• Some other tips on course etiquette:
• Always fix ball marks on greens and divots in the fairways.
• Rake bunkers and place rakes inside traps. Enter bunker from low side and remove sand from your shoes after stepping out of bunker.
• Pick up any trash on the course and place in the proper receptacles.
• Obey all local course rules.
• BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS AT ALL TIMES.
And remember, the bottom line is; as soon as it's your turn to play, you should be ready to step right up and make the stroke.
This paper used the term- Out of Position which may be a new term to some. We are striving to keep all teams in position so that no vacant holes exist in our games. The course Play managers, at home and away, will be instructed by the Coordinator to inform him, the Coordinator, of teams that are out of position. The team will be asked to speed up. If the hole(s) is (are) not filled, the team may be disqualified by the Coordinator, especially if the event’s time commitment to the course is in jeopardy or the impact is having a ripple effect on other teams’ pace of play.
All existing and new players in the Sandbagger League are being asked to acknowledge that they have read this paper and are committed to the common sense concepts contained in it. After reading this, click on the tab Pace of Play Readers and fill in your name and email. After a few minutes you should receive an email confirming that your name has been recorded as having read the document. This process is similar to that used when you sign up for a specific golf outing.
Adapted from Golf Digest article by David Owen
With additional Input & Editing from several Sandbaggers