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What Constitutes Slow Play?


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My personal habits for monitoring mine and my group's speed of play:

  • Play ready golf. If I get to the next tee first then I am going to tee off as soon as possible and I'm getting ready to do that
  • Be ready to play my shot as soon as it is my turn
  • Move quickly to the ball after I hit my shot and it is safe for me to do so
  • Line up putts ahead of time which is almost always possible, if not then I don't spend a lot of time on lining up the putt for that hole
  • Cart get parked on the side of the green as close to the next tee as possible
  • If I see my group is falling behind I try to work with them to speed up the pace
  • Pick up and move the next tee once I exceed my stroke limit for the hole and encourage my playing partners to d the same. I can't record the higher score anyway so why waste everyone's time
  • If it looks like we are still not able to keep up the pace then I will want to wave any group behind us through
  • If we are keeping up with the group in front of us then I generally am not thinking to wave any group behind us through, maybe some disagree with that and I am interested in those opinions on what I should do and why
  • I find playing at my club (and other private clubs) that most members are conscious of slow play issues, muni/public courses are a whole different ball game. I can remember playing Santa Teresa Golf Course in San Jose every Saturday morning during the 1980's where it could be anywhere from 4.5 to 5.5 hours
  • Tee time spacing is a big factor is speed of play. Covid helped that a little bit, but some courses seem to think less than 10 minutes is OK
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Sometimes I think golf needs a "DELAY OF GAME: 10 YARD PENALTY" flag to be thrown. "Sorry, Bud. You're teeing off back there now."

New study finds slow walkers four times more likely to die from COVID-19: study  

It’s odd you assume this without ever meeting them. Please keep the subject to slow play and don’t read emotions into posts or insult other posters. Same goes with @Frank F and @ncates00. Keep it

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I'll go back to the original title and post.  To me, slow play is being behind the pace of play recommended by the course if they've done that, or behind "normal" pace for that course at that time of day.  

HOWEVER, just because you're playing at that appropriate pace doesn't mean you shouldn't invite others to play through.  If the folks ahead of you continue to gain ground because they're faster than your group, or even if you've lost a hole and can't catch up, you should invite faster groups to play through.  Of course it varies by situation, but playing at the "normal" pace of play doesn't make it appropriate for you to refuse to let other faster players go through.

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34 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

Of course it varies by situation, but playing at the "normal" pace of play doesn't make it appropriate for you to refuse to let other faster players go through.

+5

44 minutes ago, ssbn611 said:

If we are keeping up with the group in front of us then I generally am not thinking to wave any group behind us through, maybe some disagree with that and I am interested in those opinions on what I should do and why.

Perhaps there's a big gap in front of the group in front of you.  Let that single or twosome play through and triumphantly reach that gap.

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Having to wait at every hole can be brutal. On some holes it is understandable. But when you are waiting for 2 groups ahead of you on most holes then someone is just playing too slow. Last weekend for instance we were constantly waiting for the group ahead of us. But after a few holes I saw that it was actually the group in front of them that was the holdup.

I don't recall having seen a marshal try to speed the pace of slow groups in a long time. 

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I manage a Saturday couples group for neighbors and friends at our Golf Club. Needless to say, we have a wide variety of skill levels in our group. Some of our ladies are just beginning to learn how to play golf and get frustrated easily. Of course, slow play frustrates everyone. So, I asked our group to consider observing the net double bogey rule or maximum score rule (see rule 21.2).

Doing this has helped strike a balance between quality play and allowing players to feel as though they are not holding up or inconveniencing players behind them. Utilizing the maximum score rule allows a player who records their score in GHIN by individual hole by hole method to do so with integrity.

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28 minutes ago, tehuti said:

Having to wait at every hole can be brutal. On some holes it is understandable. But when you are waiting for 2 groups ahead of you on most holes then someone is just playing too slow. Last weekend for instance we were constantly waiting for the group ahead of us. But after a few holes I saw that it was actually the group in front of them that was the holdup.

I don't recall having seen a marshal try to speed the pace of slow groups in a long time. 

despite slow play driving me nuts, I play in tournaments run by a group out here in Oregon. Somehow I can set my mind to just know it is a 5-1/2 hour round and adjust.

One of the most popular ones they run is at Pumpkin Ridge and the winter version is shockingly full as it is the cheapest you will ever get to  play that track. So with mid-40s temps, we rolled up on one hole...and were waiting for the group waiting for the group waiting for the people on the tee...who were waiting for the green to clear on a 340 yard uphill par 4 from the box 3 of us were playing.

Winter conditions, uphill par 4...yeah, there is zero chance anyone in that entire tournament was reaching. Honestly, there is little chance anyone I saw reaching it in mid-summer. But every group in front of ours had to wait for them to tee off. I have a word for them but it is extremely impolite so I won't use it here...but it is not a good one. Nor did I rethink it after watching over half of them slice right into the woods maybe 210-215 yards out.

This tournament puts people on tees based on handicap. We had one low capper a box back who was going to wait. There is a creek that bifurcates the fairway about 220 out so I grabbed my handy 6i, stepped up and teed off when the group ahead had just cleared the creek. No sense waiting, particularly when people are being that dumb. There is a reason it was the slowest round ever...and there was nothing understandable about it. I could only do my part.

I very seldom complain but that day I mentioned something to the organizer.

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Slow play will always be a part of the game. It's impossible to have a 100% complement of 'ready golf' players at any time. It can be encouraged, talked about, and so on, and this will help, but too many "golf-uneducated" people playing the game. It's just getting worse with the C19 issue because there are a lot of newbies on the course.

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Let’s be clear about something, too: “ready golf” is not what makes for fast play.

You can play perfectly “honors” golf more quickly than another group plays “ready golf.”

  • Walk quickly.
  • Play when it’s your turn.
  • Have a short pre-shot routine.
  • Do some work before-hand (i.e. getting a yardage).
  • Pay attention to where your ball goes when it’s mildly offline.
  • Know where to park the carts/leave your bag.
  • Rake bunkers for others if you’re putting and they have to putt next or chip or something.
  • Etc.
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20 hours ago, Double Mocha Man said:

+5

Perhaps there's a big gap in front of the group in front of you.  Let that single or twosome play through and triumphantly reach that gap.

To clarify, my comment was related to a foursome behind my group. I will let singles, twosomes and even threesomes play though if they are playing faster than my group. I always appreciate it when others do that for me in that scenario.

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I believe most pace-of-play discussions should assume a reasonably full course with foursomes.  The first group of the day should finish in 4 hours or less, walking or riding, and every following group should finish in a similar time period.  If a gap occurs during a round for more than 1-2 holes, that group is too slow.  That group should both allow faster groups through AND change their playing process to play quicker.  Allowing groups to play through is just a bandage.  Foursomes that are unable or unwilling to keep pace with the leading group have to be corrected (skip holes, restricted tee times, kicked off the course, banned from the course).

Long ago, the first several tee times of the day were filled by groups that were "rabbits."  They would blaze around the course in 2-3 hours.  Any group that played a more "leisurely" 4 hour round did not take a time until later in the morning.  I have begun to note that this "rule" is no longer followed, if it ever was at some courses.  

When a course is reasonably full and several foursomes are followed by 1, 2 or 3 player groups, unless there is a gap and/or the pace is over 4 hours, I see no compelling reason for the foursomes to stand aside and let the smaller groups through.  My group will typically offer the trailing group an opportunity to play through but I am not sure we are always doing the group playing through a favor.  Often the pairing up of smaller groups solves the problem.  A course is doing no one any favors when they allow several twosomes or singles to tee off consecutively, except on a slow day.  I understand the ire of a foursome when every hole they are allowing a twosome or single through.

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The guys I've played with and I follow all the suggestions listed by @ssbn611 and @iacas, as well as taking strokes on the fairway simultaneously when it can be done safely, and following the net double bogey rule cited by @Frank F.  (In fact we don't even go by net double bogey, but by gross double bogey.  The math is easier ;-))

I did some math, using @iacas's 18 holes in 3 hours:

  • 3 hours, 18 holes = 10 min/hole
  • Assuming a par 72 course that's an average of 4 strokes/hole
  • Assuming four more-or-less scratch players that's 2.5 min/stroke each
  • A group with a median HC of 33 = 105 strokes, or 6 strokes/hole (which, coincidentally, would be gross double bogey for the group's median HC)
  • 6 x 2.5 x 18 = 4.5 hours

Taking strokes on the fairway simultaneously when it can safely be done reduces that, but the increased number of balls landing in the rough, where it may sometimes take a bit longer to find the verkakte things, will increase it.

Back in the bad old days, golfers lamented golf's declining popularity (e.g.: Opinion: Death watch: How much longer can golf survive?Fore! No, Make That Five! 5 Reasons Golf Is in a Hole).  The sport's true aficionados mostly enjoyed the declining number of courses (see There Aren't Enough Golfers To Keep All Of The U.S. Courses In Business) to themselves, but some wondered how much longer they'd have a place to play nearby.  Now the trend has reversed, no doubt aided by the Wu Flu pandemic (see Golf, the official sport of social distance, had its best summer in decades), and veteran golfers now are bemoaning crowded courses and slow play.

You can't eat your cake and have it, too.

I cannot help but notice a parallel: My last new Hobby Of The Week was sailing.  I saw essentially the same arguments and complaints, with the same old guard vs. newbies disconnect, I'm seeing with golf.  It made new sailors, like my wife and I, feel unwelcome.  That was certainly not the sole reason we abandoned it, but it certainly figured-in to the equation.  "Coincidentally," sailing is also in decline: Is Sailing's Mystique a Mistake?

These will be my last comments on this matter.  Those who play faster will never be happy with those of us who, despite our best efforts, can't achieve what they feel to be an acceptable pace, and those of us who simply aren't that good will never understand how more experienced players can't understand why we can't match that pace.  So continuing to debate it is pointless.

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From my 50+ years of playing the game somewhat seriously, I conclude that a group that does not want to allow a faster group to play through will not, regardless of how the rules bodies change the rules to stress that they should, including the last 15 years when it was part of my duty to persuade them to do so. 

The last instance was a four 4-some group who m/l ordered me to tell their slow group, which was holding up the morning's entire tee sheet, to pickup and move to the next tee, and they would not.

&, they likely never will, anywhere, for anyone, or reason. 

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1 hour ago, SEMI_Duffer said:

Assuming four more-or-less scratch players that's 2.5 min/stroke each

That’s not how that works. At all.

And what is the number one (or two) reason many golfers site for why they play less golf or quit the game? It takes too long.

4:15 isn’t glacial. But it’s not even all that fast.

You are putting entirely too much blame or credit to your golf abilities on your pace of play. When I was first learning the game I played as quickly as anyone. Some of the fastest players I know are some of the worst players.

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1 hour ago, iacas said:

That’s not how that works. At all. <snip>

Some of the fastest players I know are some of the worst players.

Amen to that. And I'll add that I really like when Matchplay season at our Club comes around. Because these same "fast players" who love to brag about their 3.5 hour rounds are the same guys who cannot putt. They love to play so fast that their gimmes on the green have gone from leather length to length of the flagstick.

I putt everything out, everyday, every round. (Rule 21.2 maximum score notwithstanding of course).

 

Fairways and Greens,

Frank

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On 3/16/2021 at 11:19 AM, darthweasel said:

despite slow play driving me nuts, I play in tournaments run by a group out here in Oregon. Somehow I can set my mind to just know it is a 5-1/2 hour round and adjust.

One of the most popular ones they run is at Pumpkin Ridge and the winter version is shockingly full as it is the cheapest you will ever get to  play that track. So with mid-40s temps, we rolled up on one hole...and were waiting for the group waiting for the group waiting for the people on the tee...who were waiting for the green to clear on a 340 yard uphill par 4 from the box 3 of us were playing.

Winter conditions, uphill par 4...yeah, there is zero chance anyone in that entire tournament was reaching. Honestly, there is little chance anyone I saw reaching it in mid-summer. But every group in front of ours had to wait for them to tee off. I have a word for them but it is extremely impolite so I won't use it here...but it is not a good one. Nor did I rethink it after watching over half of them slice right into the woods maybe 210-215 yards out.

This tournament puts people on tees based on handicap. We had one low capper a box back who was going to wait. There is a creek that bifurcates the fairway about 220 out so I grabbed my handy 6i, stepped up and teed off when the group ahead had just cleared the creek. No sense waiting, particularly when people are being that dumb. There is a reason it was the slowest round ever...and there was nothing understandable about it. I could only do my part.

I very seldom complain but that day I mentioned something to the organizer.

We have a hole on our local executive course that is a par 4, 379 yards. Hole #6 is the first of only 5 par 4s on the course and it is almost always backed up 2 to 3 groups deep. Primarily for one of two reasons: 1 - As you experienced, the group on the tee wait for the group ahead who are nowhere within their range, or 2 - One or more people on that hole have sliced into the 9th fairway and are waiting to hit back onto their own. Very few people on this course hit drives much longer than about 250 but they all wait. 

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(edited)
On 3/17/2021 at 10:01 AM, Frank F said:

Amen to that. And I'll add that I really like when Matchplay season at our Club comes around. Because these same "fast players" who love to brag about their 3.5 hour rounds are the same guys who cannot putt. They love to play so fast that their gimmes on the green have gone from leather length to length of the flagstick.

I putt everything out, everyday, every round. (Rule 21.2 maximum score notwithstanding of course).

 

Fairways and Greens,

Frank

I take exception with that. I can (easily) play in 3.5 hours, walking, and putt out as well. In fact, the putter is probably the best club in my bag.

What I don't do however is pretend that every putt is for a million bucks (who pays that anyway, as I want in on that action...), read the f**ing thing from all sides, twice, and only start doing all that when it's my turn, then proceed to miss the putt and do it all over again.

I routinely see fairly fast groups tee-to-green that literally drop anchor on the green for maybe 10 minutes!  Stop. Doing. That.

Edited by sjduffers
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