Brilliant Golf Stories

Golfers at Trump Turnberry
1 6 mins 2 yrs

Do you know what is the greatest threat to golf in the current era? LIV Golf? No. Rampant real estate prices in our cities? No. Slow play is the thing killing golf and threatening its bright future. There has been a boom in the number of people playing golf and joining golf clubs in the wake of the COVID pandemic.

However, if we are to hang onto these members and social players we must address the elephant in the room. Slow play out on the course.

If rounds of golf continue to take up to 5 hours and longer people will not stick with this pursuit in the long run. Modern men and women do not have the time to devote to a game which takes half a day plus travelling to and fro to the golf course.

What Causes Slow Play?

 According to studies undertaken by experts in America, where the average round there takes 4 hours and 17 minutes, it is the amount of traffic on-course causing slow play. The average time for the ‘dewsweepers’ or first four ball out of the blocks is 3 hours 46 minutes. Thus, some 30 minutes gets added on via the movements of the following traffic. Course length and slope rating has minimal effect upon pace of play according to the study by Lucius Ricco. PH.D, who analysed 40, 460 rounds of golf. Reducing the number of four ball groupings by extending the intervals between groups was the most effective means of reducing the time taken to play a round of golf. Moving from a 10 minute interval to an 11 minute interval reduced the average time to play a round of golf by 14 minutes. The reduction in numbers and revenue can be alleviated in summer by extending the hours of play to go later into the day and the faster rate of play supports this.

Slow play is the thing killing golf person holding white golf ball on ground
Photo by Jopwell on

Slow Play Saves to Utilise

The course set up can, also, impact upon the rate of play. Moving the tees back on par 5s and reachable par 4s can prevent long hitters waiting on shots and holding the field up. Similarly, bringing the tees forward on par 3s can ensure more golfers hit the green and this produces a faster rate of play with less holdups due to players looking for balls in the rough. Making bushland that lines fairways red staked lateral hazards will, also, speed play up by allowing golfers to identify where their ball crossed into the penalty area and dropping within two club lengths with a one shot penalty incurred. This avoids having to go back to the tee or from where the shot was initially made and saves time. Remember that you only have 3 minutes to search for a lost golf ball.

Talking to many golfers who regularly play competitive clubland golf their number one piece of advice for golfers is, to keep up with the group in front and don’t fall behind.

Slow play is the thing killing golf Hazlehead , 9 hole golf course
Hazlehead , 9 hole golf course by Lizzie is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

If you find your four ball is lagging take steps to increase your pace of play to regain your position. We must all take basic responsibility for the pace of play of our grouping. There will always be golfers of different speeds in terms of their pace of play but we must all be equally mindful of slow play killing the enjoyment of the game. Slow play sucks the life out of golf for the majority of golfers.

Personally, I point the finger at those golfers who are not ready to pull the trigger when it is their turn to play.

In club golf, there is an etiquette of play, where the golfer furthest from the hole is deemed to have the honour. However, if you are waiting for that golfer within your four ball grouping ensure that you are ready to go immediately upon his or her shot being completed. Have everything within your control ready in terms of alignment and pre-shot routine. Too often I see golfers not ready for their turn and taking too long to get on with it. These incremental delays all add up and are very annoying to witness again and again.

Slow play is the thing killing golf person holding golf club near girl and woman
Photo by Jopwell on

Let’s all get on-board to give slow play the heave ho out of golf. Five hour rounds are inexcusable in my book and we should all do more to ensure they do not happen. A good game is a quick game. Keep your pace of movement brisk throughout the day, especially getting to your ball between shots. Learn to execute your pre-shot routine with alacrity. Be ready when your turn comes. Slow play is the thing killing golf and together we can stem the scourge. Always be mindful of your speed of play. Infirmity and old age are no excuse for endemic slow play. If we all do our best we can end slow play from the game of golf.


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