Worried Sick about Playing Time in Golf?
Playing time gives the jitters to golf beginners. Either they are afraid of being unable to follow the pace of play or they worry about the foursome behind consistently catching up. In this post, I will explain a few easy strategies you can implement to avoid such stress. After all, fun must prevail over fear. But before unveiling my secrets allowing you to have plenty of time to hit your golf shots, let us look into where this concern comes from.
GOLF IN CRISIS AND SLOW PLAY
“Each year 3 million people around the world stop playing golf and the main culprit is slow play” (Why is Slow Play the Curse of Modern Golf.) To overcome this decrease in customers, some golf clubs have taken drastic steps impacting the playing time:
- Reducing tee time intervals;
- Assigning teaching staff to administrative duties.
As a result, golf clubs no longer put emphasis on creating new golfers. Rather, they strive to maximize revenu from green fees. In other words, they want more golfers on the course on a shorter time span. By reducing tee time intervals, they created real traffic jams. Consequently, slow play became a plague in a faster and faster world. This is an explosive mixture.
What’s worse, golfers trapped in these traffic jams are less and less trained to face them. Just imagine a secondary road with double line markings full of learner drivers…
Well, a golf course poses a greater challenge: a one-way street with no U-turn and no overtaking signs. Slow golfers soon bring about “road rage disorder” in faster golfers.
BASIC TIPS TO PLAY FASTER
1- Take your time, but…
To follow the pace of play, it is no use to rush and end up missing most of your shots. Take your time to address the ball properly, stop inner speach and swing with confidence. But avoid too many practice swings and pay attention to the next tips.
2- Learn to get around quickly
“It is no use to run fast, one should just start on time.”
- Avoid starting a discussion when it is your turn to play;
- Be ready to fire away at all times: ball, tee and club in hand while waiting for your turn;
- Do not let your hand cart way behind: backing up on a one-way street is a bad idea…
3- Skip some shots
Nothing prevent you from picking up your ball when things go south. You can also move it if you have a bad lie. Never mind the “Play it where it lies” rule. After all, no one can force you to abide by the USGA Rules. This will make your playing buddies happier since comlying with the playing time is part of golf etiquette. Here are my three playing format suggestions:
- You have not reached the green yet after playing the par (3 to 5 shots)? Pick up your ball and toss it on the green. Just putt it from there with your putter.
- You prefer to improve your long game? Spend a little more time on long shots and a little less on short game shots around the green.
- You prefer to improve your short game? Play the scramble format (best ball). After each shot, pick up your ball and drop it next to the closest ball to the hole of your playing partners. This will give you more time to practice the short game techniques (pitching and chipping).
You can switch format on every hole. But, for heaven’s sake, do not combine them on a given hole. Otherwise, you will be unable to catch up with the group ahead.
4- Keep the group ahead in sight
Never mind the group behind! Just follow the group ahead. You can play numerous shots profided you do not loose sight of the group ahead. This will put a wide smile on the face of the marshall responsible for enforcing the playing time.
5- Carry your golf bag
At 81 years old and with an advanced cancer, my father played his last round of golf walking and carrying his golf bag. The secret : an ultra light stand alone golf bag. I do it very often with great pleasure for I save lots of walking steps doing so.
With a carry golf bag, you may use any shortcuts forbiden to hand carts and electric carts!
With these few simple tips, your round of golf will turn into a nice walk in the park. You will have more time to relax and listen to the birds symphony while enjoying your favorite sandwich and drink in good company. Have fun!