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Is slow play ever justifiable?


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This was originally going to be a rant about a particular group of golfers today but I feel a more constructive topic can be made of it.

Got to the course at about 6:30, was suppose to tee off at around 6:45.  As soon as I entered the pro shop there was a group of three golfers tee off.  Two of them hit decent shots but the third barely left the tee box.  At about 6:45, my friend and I walked up to the tee box.  I am not exactly sure on the time but I am guessing we waited in excess of 15 minutes before it was clear to shoot.  That means this hole took them roughly 30-35 minutes.  By the next hole, the poorer golfer had moved forward a tee.  But when you are hitting 20 yards a pop that does not help much.  They let us pass by hole 3 and we were in the clear.  We finished the front nine by 8:30.  This group of three was just starting hole six by this time.

While they did let us pass, which is nice, those first two holes took roughly 50 minutes to complete.  The rest of the 7 holes took about that much time.  While my initial reaction was irritation I started to see the different side.  The poorer golfer had clearly not played very much if any.  There was many swings and misses.  The golfer must have also felt obligated to play the tee box that his/her friends were playing.  With the golf skill set that this person had, it would have been very difficult to complete a round in a reasonable time.

Is slow play more excepted if the person is not taking a lot of time between shots but is just bad?  When I first started I didn't know about speed of play, etiquette, etc.  I didn't even know half of that stuff existed so therefor I couldn't look it up.  I didn't have golf "figures" to explain stuff to me and keep me in the know.  Can you really fault a new player who has no guidance on the issues?

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I think you missed the part where it says AND you're holding up the group behind you. In other words, if you're holding people up and there's space ahead of you, you let them through, regardles

No. Somebody that bad needs to hit the shot, pick the ball up and put it in their pocket, carry it up to where a good shot would have gone, and try it again. Then repeat above...And spen

No - slow play is never acceptable. All players who are shooting over 110 or so should be playing a stroke limit of double par.  When you reach stroke 8 on a par 4, you put the ball in your poc

If he is new to the sport I say they should be given extra time just because it is always nice to see new players to game. You don't want them to quit the sport because they feel rushed and aren't given the time to get better. I also feel that they should have the etiquette to let better players through and just pick up if it is taking an unreasonable amount of time and move to the next hole.
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Bad need not be slow. And experienced golfers have an obligation to help their less experienced buddy move along. I played with 2 buddies that didn't break 110 last week. We easily kept up with the group ahead of us and finished in 3:55. Certainly not fast, but not so slow as to hold up play. So no, slow play is not justifiable, unless you're the only players on the course.
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110 isn't necessarily playing bad.  If this person had counted every shot including swing and misses.  We would be talking 100+ for 9 holes.

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Slow play is the BIGGEST game killer for me, and a lot of my buddies would agree.  When you have to wait around 10+ minutes to take a shot, your muscles start to stiffen up, and you start playing worse... I have never played a good round when I am forced to wait in excess of 10 minutes on tee shots or approach shots... also when it takes forever to get to a green you lose your putting touch... it is just horrible!!!  beginners should spend time at the range if they can't even hit the ball 20+ yards the course is for people with a more refined game!  I understand people like to play with their buddies, but you don't see people taking their friends scuba diving without the proper training either.... It is not safe (super errant shots) for one and they need to be trained first!

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No.

Somebody that bad needs to hit the shot, pick the ball up and put it in their pocket, carry it up to where a good shot would have gone, and try it again.

Then repeat above...And spend a lot more time at a practice range.

When my wife first started playing she wasn't much better than what you described and that's what we always had her do, and nobody waited on us.

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No. Somebody that bad needs to hit the shot, pick the ball up and put it in their pocket, carry it up to where a good shot would have gone, and try it again. Then repeat above...And spend a lot more time at a practice range. When my wife first started playing she wasn't much better than what you described and that's what we always had her do, and nobody waited on us.

I agree with this 100^

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I agree a lot with what others have already said.  A few things I did when I first started playing.

1) I played in off hour times so the course was less busy.

2) I always let groups play through so they don't get held up and if I played with any groups I always played READY ball.

3) I played off tees that were relative to my skill level  (Not the TIPS if you are shooting 110)

4) The most important one to me is my decision to max every hole at +3.  On a par 4, if I did not have the ball in the hole by the 7th shot, then I would pocket my ball and move on to the next hole.

The reason I found #4 to be the most important is this:  It really bogs the course down when someone takes 10 hits to get the ball to the green, then spends 5 minutes looking over their putt as if they are going for birdie.

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When I first started playing I would walk 18 with my step dad, shoot 135 and take about 3 hours to finish.  So being bad and being slow don't have to go together.

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No - slow play is never acceptable.

All players who are shooting over 110 or so should be playing a stroke limit of double par.  When you reach stroke 8 on a par 4, you put the ball in your pocket and move on to the next hole.

There is no point whatsoever in grinding out a 130.  It sounds like the slow guy in the group you mention is new to the game and his more experienced buddies are doing him (and everybody else) a disservice by not telling him to just pick up and move on.

It took me almost 4 years to get good enough to where I was not having any "pick-up" holes.  A lot of people get there in a lot less time .. but until they start breaking 100 at least some of the time. .let's face it . .score doesn't really matter.  That's not to say they shouldn't be golfing and having fun . .they absolutely should . . but it's disrepectful of other golfers to play a 5-6 hour round.

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It's never justified but it can be hard to deal with, even in your own group.  Last week, for the first time in my golfing career, my group was cautioned by the marshal for slow play.  He was right to do it, the group two places behind us had complained apparently and I already felt we were slow at the third or fourth hole.   I openly agreed with the marshal and said we'd try to speed up.  He was very polite about it, whereas someone in my group was a bit rude in response - most unfortunate.

But what could I do about it, other than suggest that we speed up and encourage "ready" golf, both of which I did?  My brother and I played at a decent pace and shared a cart - we were almost always ahead of the other cart on the fairways waiting beside our balls, trying not to be in the line of fire but ready to play quickly when the other two finally came through.  My friend in the other cart, who is shooting around 120-130 (more if you could the odd wiff), has never had a lesson but he does try to keep up.  Yes, he should pick up his ball more often and move on, but actually he's a fairly decent putter and likes that part of the game best so rarely does pick up.  The other guy was a walk-on single who had a decent enough game overall but was VERY deliberate or ponderous or whatever you want to call it.  He probably shot in the mid-80s so it wasn't the sheer number of strokes that was the problem.  He was not playing ready golf, not in the least.

A difficult situation to be in, I'm hoping it doesn't happen to me again any time soon.  Slow play is even worse when it's your group that's at fault!

Maybe I should suggest Stableford rules to my friend - pick up at double bogey (score of zero).

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Originally Posted by Chas

It's never justified but it can be hard to deal with, even in your own group.  Last week, for the first time in my golfing career, my group was cautioned by the marshal for slow play.  He was right to do it, the group two places behind us had complained apparently and I already felt we were slow at the third or fourth hole.   I openly agreed with the marshal and said we'd try to speed up.  He was very polite about it, whereas someone in my group was a bit rude in response - most unfortunate.

But what could I do about it, other than suggest that we speed up and encourage "ready" golf, both of which I did?  My brother and I played at a decent pace and shared a cart - we were almost always ahead of the other cart on the fairways waiting beside our balls, trying not to be in the line of fire but ready to play quickly when the other two finally came through.  My friend in the other cart, who is shooting around 120-130 (more if you could the odd wiff), has never had a lesson but he does try to keep up.  Yes, he should pick up his ball more often and move on, but actually he's a fairly decent putter and likes that part of the game best so rarely does pick up.  The other guy was a walk-on single who had a decent enough game overall but was VERY deliberate or ponderous or whatever you want to call it.  He probably shot in the mid-80s so it wasn't the sheer number of strokes that was the problem.  He was not playing ready golf, not in the least.

A difficult situation to be in, I'm hoping it doesn't happen to me again any time soon.  Slow play is even worse when it's your group that's at fault!

Maybe I should suggest Stableford rules to my friend - pick up at double bogey (score of zero).

ohhh . .I *hate* it when it's my group that's slow .. and you're right, it's tough to deal with.  I golf sometimes with clients and sometimes they are slow players . .what is one supposed to do in that situation?  I always end up hurrying my own game to compensate . .shooting poorly and basically having a stressfull, less-than-awesome time while pretending otherwise.

For your buddy who shoots 120-130 but loves to putt . .if he's not near the green after par + 2, maybe he could drop somewhere at a nice approach shot distance . .make the approach shot and then putt out?  I used to do that quite a bit.

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Originally Posted by trackster

110 isn't necessarily playing bad.  If this person had counted every shot including swing and misses.  We would be talking 100+ for 9 holes.

100 for 9 holes isn't golf.

It's learning to hit a ball with a club, and should happen on the range, not on the course.

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No, never!

You pay for a round of golf to be played within a certain time. It's like buying a timeslot of lets say 4 hours. If you need 8 hours you just have to cut down on your shots. Or in other words, pick up the ball and move forward.

Offcourse there is understanding for the starting golfers. We don't want to make it too difficult on them, so when they have a bad lie, we tell them to drop on the fairway, somewhere near your ball. And after a couple of shots we tell them to drop on the green. Even a beginner will make a bogey once in a while and that will be their reason to practise and play again. Shooting 100 on the front nine does'nt make you want to play again.

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Yep, can't say that slow play is ever justified. I completely agree with the guys saying that beginners need to pick up their balls and place them in order to maintain pace. By doing this, they can practice without holding up the entire course.

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Originally Posted by David in FL

Bad need not be slow.

"I may not be that good, but I am fast", was my father's line when he played golf. He could shoot 90-110 in 3.5 hours with a foursome of like abilities. High scores do not necessarily correlate with slow times. But like others have said, if you know someone who is learning, advise them not to get in front of the morning rabbits and make sure they know course etiquette. It makes the game more enjoyable for all.

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As a beginner myself, this thread kind of hits home for me, however, I am not a slow player.  I may take a lot of shots, but I've never been THAT bad that I'd need 30 minutes to finish even a long par 5 while walking -- I would have been totally embarrassed if I hadn't been on the range enough prior to my first time really playing a real course if I hit ALL my shots that badly.

Having said that, you want to give some leeway for a novice to be able to make a game of it, but at some point you need to draw the line.  If your novice friend is just hitting that bad,  he/she needs to pick up.  20 minutes on the hole in the OP would be one thing, but 30-35 is just way too slow.

General rule IMHO is double par should be the absolute max.  Even I have never shot that high.

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Note: This thread is 2848 days old. We appreciate that you found this thread instead of starting a new one, but if you plan to post here please make sure it's still relevant. If not, please start a new topic. Thank you!

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