How to tell if you’re a slow player in golf

Sheldon Callahan, PGA | Lomas Santa Fe Country Club

In our second installment of our PGA Pro Tips Series, we look at how to tell if you’re a slow player. Or maybe a better question is, “Do you know if you’re a slow player?”

That’s a tough question to swallow… I mean answer! I have been playing golf since I was 10 years old, and have been a golf professional for 20 years, and in my experience there are very few golfers who would admit to being a slow player. That said, I have also noticed that once a golfer admits to being a slow player, they usually make a conscious effort to speed up their individual play.

So how do you tell if you’re a slow player in golf? Simply put, I believe that the number one reason golfers are slow is because they are simply not ready to play once it’s their turn. So if you’re wondering whether you’re a slow player in golf, ask yourself: am I usually ready to go when it’s my turn to hit?

While not being ready to hit when it’s your turn might seem like a small matter, think about all the minutes you might save during your overall round if your entire golfing group adhered to a quicker pace of play. And while it might be difficult to inspire others to play “ready golf,” it’s easy to change just a few things about your golf game to correct your own slow play.

First, let’s examine some of the reasons why golfers might not be ready to hit when it’s their turn.

Not paying attention!

This is the number one reason because it’s probably the most common – are you checking emails or texts on your phone? Talking with a friend? Watching another group play? You might miss noticing that it’s your turn to hit.

Sitting in the cart, calculating scores

Try hitting first and then write down the scores. This way, if you have cart partner, you’ll know it’s probably time to go when they return to the cart.

After you hit your shot (from the fairway), don’t analyze it

Instead of evaluating your shot immediately, proceed to your next one. Don’t spend minutes analyzing bad shots or admiring good ones. This is especially true of errant shots, as you’re already going to spend more time correcting that shot, and playing the result of your errant shot – you don’t need to add more time by hypothesizing why you hit the way you did.

You’re on the tee, but you wait until everyone else has hit before you hit

If the tee is open – hit!

So ask yourself – do any of these reasons why you might be a slow player apply to your golf game? If so, try to make a few adjustments and be aware when you are next out playing.

Here are some other ways we can all play a little faster golf…

  1. If you’re riding in a cart with another player, go to the ball that is first to play of the two. Drop that player off and proceed to the other ball. Don’t wait until your partner has hit.
  2. If you’re one of the first two players to finish putting, head to the next tee and prepare to hit.
  3. If you’re the third player in the group to finish putting, grab the flagstick and prepare to put it back as soon as the fourth player is finished.
  4. If you’re in a greenside bunker, ask if you could play rather than wait for your turn so you will have time to rake the bunker while others are playing their pitch or chip shots.

Another option to consider is if you find that your group is holding up another group, ask them to play through. At times, it may seem difficult to do, but it’s a good option. When asking someone to play through, play the hole with them. If you ask them on a tee, have everyone from both groups hit their tee shots and then ask them to play on – this should encourage them to play the hole quickly.

The same goes for if your group is on the green and you wave them up. After they hit their approach shots, your group should play on until they arrive at the green. Let the first group wrap up and then your group can finish. It’s hard for our egos to accept that we are playing slower than the group behind us, especially if your group is a foursome and the group behind might be a threesome. But if you’re holding up a group, wouldn’t it be a more enjoyable experience to let them play through rather than hold them up and feel pressured and have them be frustrated?

Slow play isn’t fun for anyone, so if we all make a conscious effort to adjust our own playing habits, we would all enjoy this wonderful game even more.

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