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How to Cope With Slow Play?


Bucki1968
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Okay...since the pandemic (and it's subsequent quarantine) golf in my area has exploded. I'm sure it's done the same thing around the USA. We have had a huge influx of new members to our club(s) who did not grow up around the game and therefore don't really understand golf etiquette. Needless to say this had lead to a four and and half plus average rounds on week-ends. I would like to ask all of you two questions: 

1. How do you cope with slow play? I can handle it until about the 12-13 hole and then it just gets to be too much. I think I actually get bored and as a result I play worse. There are rangers on week-ends, but I don't see the point because everyone is just stacked up with 3 to 4 groups per hole.

2. I am going to try to get on a committee at the club in order to address this issue. I'm trying to come up with ways to teach/help people play faster and/or learn golf etiquette. One thing I do think that our club messes up is spacing of tee times. On week-ends they are seven minutes apart. I think that's too close. I also watch the starter just send the next groups up to the tee instead of actually making them wait until their time. Would love to hear any suggestions or comments on anything that has worked at your courses etc.  

 

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Taylor Made R7 (x-stiff).
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Business has definitely picked up at my home course, Tee sheets are pretty near full any day the weather is decent. You'll always run into occasional slow rounds but we are still averaging four hours for most rounds. I can't complain to much.

1. Ideally, you recognize that it is going to be a slow round early on. Sometimes just looking at the No. 1 tee will tell you that. It's much more frustrating when you cruise for nine holes and then hit the wall at the turn.. Sometimes I can just put myself into a slow mode. I walk slow. Take more time over shots. Spend more time yapping with my partners. All just to try to match the pace that we are stuck with. If I'm in a twosome and there is a single or pair in front or behind us, joining up with them often helps even the pace out. ... It can be real hard to focus on each shot during those long rounds, so I also try to take the results a little less seriously and avoid getting wound up.

2. My course does 10-minute intervals, but they are also pretty precise about keeping on schedule. They don't try to jam people in between. They don't rush people up to the tee and there isn't a lot of allowance for groups that are late to arrive. ... It also helps that my course is pretty wide open and has relatively short rough. That avoids protracted ball searches. If you lose a ball at Miami Shores, you don't deserve to get it back let alone take the 5 minutes or whatever that some people do. 

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There have been a lot of threads devoted to slow play over the years on this forum. 

1 - As far as how slow play affects my round, personally. It doesn't.

I actually think it affects fewer people than those who claim it does. Think about it this way every time you step on the golf course you are either going to play a little better or a little worse than you average round. Yeah, you may play exactly your average round, but that's probably rare.

I play with people who blame slow play for every bad shot they hit. I'm always thinking "Man, I've played with you for years. You hit a dozen or so really bad shots per round. Slow play or no slow play." So, the first thing to do is stop blaming slow play for a poor shot or poor round. Otherwise that will just reinforce the habit of hitting bad shots every time it gets slow. It's golf. You are going to hit a bad shot here and there. Just accept it. No slow play excuses. 

 

2 - As far as what the course can do about slow play. That's an entirely different story. If it's one group jamming things up that's easy to fix. If the whole course is jammed up that's another problem all together. I remember back when I first started playing golf, courses that were well marked always played much faster and I used to wonder why every course wasn't well marked. Now-a-days with GPS and what not I'm not sure it makes as big of a difference. 

I've played courses where the starter has some something like "We have a double par and then pick up policy here." Or words to that affect. Sometimes that reminds folks that spending time plumb bobbing a putt for an 11 is a waste of time. 

For the most part, however, new golfers need to be shown and taught how to play quickly and efficiently. It rarely comes naturally for new golfers. Think about it, they've seen golf on tv where Bryson DeChambeau has spent 2 and a half minutes lining up a putt. 

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I personally struggle to cope with slow play.  My biggest problem is my body gets cold sitting for a long time and then the first few shots after that aren't great.

What I try to do is wait a bit longer at one tee box so that the group in front builds up a lead and I can play normally after that.  Of course, this isn't possible if the group behind us is close by.  I also try to ask the group in front if we can pass, especially if they are a larger group than us.

But the best thing I do to cope is chat with my playing partners about something other than golf to keep my mind clear and avoid stress building up about being slow on the course.  Of course this doesn't help the body cooling down and I need to figure out a simple stretch or exercise I can do to keep myself ready for the next shot.

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45 minutes ago, ChetlovesMer said:

 

I actually think it affects fewer people than those who claim it does. 

I used to be one of those people who thought slow play affected me. Then I did the data research. I was surprised to learn that while, yes, there were a couple really poor rounds in there, on average my scores are LOWER when there is a lengthy round. I spent a fair amount of time thinking about it. Then I cross-referenced it with the scores and a pretty clear pattern emerged. 

When I engaged in "ugh, this is so slow" whining, my scores sucked. When I engaged in "hey, I wish it was faster but if the worst thing that happens is I spend a bit more time with cool people playing a game I enjoy, all good" I shot some of the best scores I have ever made. 

My conclusion, clearly based on anecdotal evidence from one person, is that for me, my mindset matters more than the length. I have shot some brutally bad scores in some really fast times, and some brutally bad ones in long times. And vice versa...good scores both ways.

To the OP question...it is not just new golfers. There are many seasoned vets who have no self-awareness of their speed or lack of it. People across the board have issues and, since the "line or no line when putting" thread is currently active, I would add...if you spend 3 minutes carefully lining up the line on your 20 footer and then do it again on your 10'er and then again on your 6'....words fail me. Especially when you blast that 8' past and casually pick it up. 

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I play my best golf when I can "get in the flow".  Generally everybody I play with is willing to play "ready golf". If I'm playing with new people I always ask if everyone is okay playing "ready golf".  If they say "No"  they probably hate children and kick dogs. When I march off the green with a one-putt or a three-putt, be it birdie, par, bogey, I'm usually the first to tee off on the next hole.  This doesn't solve slow play on the course overall but it keeps my internal pace within the foursome where I'd like it to be.  

But my secret to playing unencumbered, non-slow rounds, is to play when it is raining and / or cold. Unless, of course, there are other idiots like me out there at the same time. Then oftentimes they're playing slower because of the elements.

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14 minutes ago, Double Mocha Man said:

But my secret to playing unencumbered, non-slow rounds, is to play when it is raining and / or cold. Unless, of course, there are other idiots like me out there at the same time. Then oftentimes they're playing slower because of the elements.

64202757-9b3a-4d70-8c9e-ba85e1ddd383_text.gif.46143ea6200009c385c7ae37c9a846ac.gif

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There is one course, in my area, at which the pace of play is strictly enforced.  Slow play is never a problem there.  

In der bag:
Cleveland Hi-Bore driver, Maltby 5 wood, Maltby hybrid, Maltby irons and wedges (23 to 50) Vokey 59/07, Cleveland Niblick (LH-42), and a Maltby mallet putter.                                                                                                                                                 "When the going gets tough...it's tough to get going."

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4 hours ago, ChetlovesMer said:

There have been a lot of threads devoted to slow play over the years on this forum. 

1 - As far as how slow play affects my round, personally. It doesn't.

I usually walk.  I have found slow rounds make a bigger difference as I have aged.

I can easily walk my course, when it's a steady stroll.  Finish feeling pretty good.  But add on an hour or more of extra time of standing around and I can tell the difference by the 13th or 14th hole. I'm beat. Same distance, but the extra time spent standing            on            every              shot  is noticeable.

The other thing to consider is sunset.  There are groups who are slower who will finish before twilight.  But the 3 or 4 groups behind them might not (but should have been able to).

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4 hours ago, ChetlovesMer said:

1 - As far as how slow play affects my round, personally. It doesn't.

I guess I should be clear. I'm not saying a quicker round isn't more enjoyable, because it is.

What I'm saying is slow play / fast play doesn't affect my score. 

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7 hours ago, Bucki1968 said:

Okay...since the pandemic (and it's subsequent quarantine) golf in my area has exploded. I'm sure it's done the same thing around the USA. We have had a huge influx of new members to our club(s) who did not grow up around the game and therefore don't really understand golf etiquette. Needless to say this had lead to a four and and half plus average rounds on week-ends. I would like to ask all of you two questions: 

1. How do you cope with slow play? I can handle it until about the 12-13 hole and then it just gets to be too much. I think I actually get bored and as a result I play worse. There are rangers on week-ends, but I don't see the point because everyone is just stacked up with 3 to 4 groups per hole.

2. I am going to try to get on a committee at the club in order to address this issue. I'm trying to come up with ways to teach/help people play faster and/or learn golf etiquette. One thing I do think that our club messes up is spacing of tee times. On week-ends they are seven minutes apart. I think that's too close. I also watch the starter just send the next groups up to the tee instead of actually making them wait until their time. Would love to hear any suggestions or comments on anything that has worked at your courses etc.  

 

FYI - this book might be a good place to start. I'm offering my copy free to TST'ers which I have read through a couple times now.

 

-Peter

  • Driver: :cobra: King F9
  • 3W: :ping: G410
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  • Irons: :srixon: ZX5 4-AW
  • Wedges: :cleveland:  RTX Zipcore 54 & 58
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Slow play doesn't affect me, I like being on the golf course, its my favorite place to be. I've actually said it on here before, but what's everyone's hurry? A four-hour round is about perfect for me. I often play with a group in the summer that will walk 18 in less than 3 hours. That's fine, but I find myself just going and getting a bucket and practicing afterwards because I am not ready to go home. Practicing is fine, but I'd rather be playing.

I suppose a 5+ hour round can get irritating, but thats such a rarity for me I don't worry about it much. I play 99% of my golf in the early morning, and I would suggest to anyone if slow play drives them crazy, play early. 

Danny    In my :ping: Hoofer golf bag

Driver:   :ping: G425 LST X-Stiff.                        Irons:  :callaway: 4-PW APEX TCB Irons 
3 Wood: :callaway: Mavrik SZ Rogue X-Stiff                            Nippon Pro Modus 130 X-Stiff
3 Hybrid: :callaway: Mavrik Pro KBS Tour Proto X   Wedges: :callaway: JAWS MD5 52°, 56°, 60° 
Putter: :scotty_cameron:  Phantom X 5.5                              Ball: :titleist: ProV 1

 

 

 

 

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On 2/7/2022 at 5:30 AM, Bucki1968 said:

On week-ends they are seven minutes apart

Whoa - that seems way too short!!!

My home course used to space tee times at 8-minute intervals, and there would immediately be a huge backup on the first hole which would last the rest of the day. They switched to 12-minute intervals at the start of the pandemic, and then reduced to 10-minute intervals, and it has been a HUGE improvement. There are almost never backups (in the morning, when I play 90% of my golf) unless there happens to be an extremely slow group on the course.

On 2/7/2022 at 5:30 AM, Bucki1968 said:

How do you cope with slow play?

I just enjoy the golf and company of my group, and find things to do while waiting, like chip around the tee box, juggle golf balls, etc. Sometimes it can be frustrating being behind an insanely slow group, but I've always got my iPhone to browse the web (mainly TST), or hop on group text threads with friends. I try to just go with the flow and remember to be grateful that I am playing golf, which is my favorite thing to do. Most of the time my group has the first tee time of the day so we're the only ones slowing ourselves down. Some days we move fast and get around in 3:30, other days are slower and we're closer to 4:00. If we happen to catch up with players doing the "early bird back 9", sometimes it takes a 4:15.

-Peter

  • Driver: :cobra: King F9
  • 3W: :ping: G410
  • 3H: :titleist: 818 H1
  • Irons: :srixon: ZX5 4-AW
  • Wedges: :cleveland:  RTX Zipcore 54 & 58
  • Putter: L.A.B. Golf Directed Force 2.1
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On 2/7/2022 at 8:30 AM, Bucki1968 said:

1. How do you cope with slow play? I can handle it until about the 12-13 hole and then it just gets to be too much. I think I actually get bored and as a result I play worse. There are rangers on week-ends, but I don't see the point because everyone is just stacked up with 3 to 4 groups per hole.

If I am by myself, turn on a podcast or watch YouTube. I chat a bit with golfing buddies. Maybe practice pitching. I remember one time, it was such a beautiful day. I actually put my clubs down on the fairway and just laid down and enjoyed the beauty of the day. So, enjoy the weather 😉

On 2/7/2022 at 8:30 AM, Bucki1968 said:

2. I am going to try to get on a committee at the club in order to address this issue. I'm trying to come up with ways to teach/help people play faster and/or learn golf etiquette. One thing I do think that our club messes up is spacing of tee times.

If the club packs the course, you are screwed. 

Slow play, is in part also how good golfers play. You get a group of 30 handicap golfers playing and things can slow down a lot. 

Yea, proper ready golf is the key to keeping things moving. 

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Our course changed from 8 minute tee times to 10 minute tee time intervals, a little more than a year ago, and it has definitely improved pace of play.  But the pandemic has indeed brought more people to the course (we now have a waiting list) and there are lots of new golfers.

I know that our Board has looked at having all new players, go out with one of our pros so that they can explain proper etiquette, but for some reason it never gets very far.  

We have a ranger that goes around, but he is always reluctant to say anything to Members, not sure why he's there. 

One of the issues we have, is our course sets a 4 hour and 15 minute 18 hole round play time, which is fine.  But we have a couple of groups that use every minute of that.  They will be 1-2 holes behind the group in front of them, but they are on pace for the 4 hour and 15 minute round.  To me you're behind (regardless of the pace), if you fall that far behind the group in front of you, unless you're a foursome and they have twosomes out ahead of you.

And a 4 hour and 15 minute round is slow to me, but I've been known to play fast at times.  :whistle:

-Jerry

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Love the topic, tough one to deal with. I generally just walk ahead then try to take a bit more time to think about the shot, rather than over-analyse my swing. So, gives me time to be smarter about the shot I want to play.. few things go through my head - how is the ball lying, how is my stance, where is ''the miss'', where not to miss, double-check distance etc. On a nicely paced day, I'll often miss out on a few of those. 

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On 2/8/2022 at 3:38 PM, Double Mocha Man said:

Happy Hour begins at 3PM! 😀

😝 I haven't been on a golf course that late in years! I tee off EARLY. I could play a six hour round, eat lunch, and take a nap and still make it for happy hour.

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Danny    In my :ping: Hoofer golf bag

Driver:   :ping: G425 LST X-Stiff.                        Irons:  :callaway: 4-PW APEX TCB Irons 
3 Wood: :callaway: Mavrik SZ Rogue X-Stiff                            Nippon Pro Modus 130 X-Stiff
3 Hybrid: :callaway: Mavrik Pro KBS Tour Proto X   Wedges: :callaway: JAWS MD5 52°, 56°, 60° 
Putter: :scotty_cameron:  Phantom X 5.5                              Ball: :titleist: ProV 1

 

 

 

 

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