Guidance on slow play

Slow play on the golf course is a phenomenon seen at nearly all clubs and we’re no exception at Donnington Grove. 

At the Seniors AGM held in February this year, the subject raised its head once again and I took an action to circulate some guidance and suggestions to try and improve the pace of play whilst maintaining the good companionship and enjoyment that we’re fortunate enough to have amongst our group.

The following is a modified extract from a respected golfing web site that offers some advice on avoiding slow play that we might find useful to read and to follow.


Slow play on the golf course often creeps up on a golfer over time, as he (or she) acquires bad habits. Or it’s the result of the golfer never having been taught proper golf etiquette. This means a slow golfer can usually be “cured” of his malady. Of course, that golfer has to be aware that he’s slow, and that’s where his mates come into play.

But as we take a look at other golfers on the course and notice the things they do to slow down play, so should we take a look at ourselves. When we do take an honest look at ourselves, we often discover we’re doing some of the same things to slow down play that we’re complaining about others doing.

Before we run down a list of suggestions for speeding up play, it’s important to note that many of these tips have nothing to do with rushing your play, but rather with simply being ready to play, and with using common sense and good etiquette on the course.

The bottom line is, as soon as it’s your turn to play, you should be ready to step right up and make the stroke.

Here are some tips for speeding up slow play on the golf course:

  • Members of a group should not travel as a pack, with all members walking together to the first ball, then the second, and so on. Each member of the group should walk directly to his own ball.
  • Use the time you spend getting to your ball to think about the next shot – the yardage, the club selection. When you reach your ball you’ll need less time to figure out the shot.
  • If you are unsure whether your ball has come to rest out of bounds, or may be lost, immediately hit a provisional ball so that you won’t have to return to the spot to replay the shot.
  • Begin reading the green and lining up putts as soon as you reach the green. Don’t wait until it’s your turn to putt to start the process of reading the green. Do it as soon as you reach the green so that when it’s your turn you can step right up and putt.
  • Never delay making a stroke because you’re having a conversation with a playing partner. Put the conversation on hold, make your stroke, then pick up the conversation again.
  • After putting out, don’t stand around the green chatting or take any practice putting strokes. Leave the green quickly so the group behind can play. If there is no group behind, then a few practice putts are fine.
  • Mark your scorecard after reaching the next tee, not while lingering on or near the just-completed green.
  • If you’re the type who likes to offer tips to playing partners, save it for the driving range – or only do so on the course when you’re sure that you’re not slowing down play (and sure that you’re not annoying your partners!).
  • If you are searching for a lost ball and are willing to spend your allocated 3 minutes looking for it, allow the group behind to play through.
  • Don’t ask your playing partners to help you search for a lost ball – unless you are absolutely certain there is time for them to do so (e.g., there is no group behind waiting). If the course is crowded, your partners should continue moving forward, not slow things down further by stopping to help your search. If there is time for them to help you search, they should take their shot first and then come to help.
  • On the tee, pay attention to your partners’ drives. If they lose sight of their ball, you can help direct them to it and avoid any searching.
  • When waiting on the tee for the group in front to clear the fairway, don’t be so strict about order of play. Let the short hitter – who can’t reach the group ahead anyway – go ahead and hit ! (In competitions you should do this only with the agreement of the other members of your group).
  • Work on building a concise pre-shot routine. If your pre-shot routine is a lengthy one, it’s probably in your best interests to shorten it anyway. Limit practice strokes to one or two at the most.
  • Don’t bother marking lag putts – go ahead and putt out if it’s short enough and you won’t be trampling on another player’s line. Gimmees should be offered whenever appropriate.
  • Leave your mobile phone in the car or switched off/to silent.
  • Walk at a good pace between shots. No, you don’t have to look like a race-walker. But if your between-shot gait can be described as a “shuffle” or an “amble,” you’re probably going too slowly. Speeding up your gait a little is good for your health, but also might help your game by keeping you loose.
  • Carry extra tees, ball markers and an extra golf ball in your pockets so you never have to return to your golf bag to find one when needed.
  • When chipping around the green, carry both the club you’ll be chipping with plus your putter so you don’t have to return to your bag.
  • Other than in match play, play ready golf, where order of play is based on who’s ready, not on who’s furthest from the hole (always making sure it’s safe to play your shot).
  • And Finally……….. If you find that you’ve fallen behind the group in front of you and you’re being pushed by the group behind, do the right thing and invite them to play through. This will relieve some of the pressure on your group and it’s the right thing to do !