Category Archives: Speed of Play

What If We All Played Faster?

What if every golfers decided right now that they played too slow?  What if we all sped up a little? I’ve posted part II of Clint’s story concerning slow play. 

He has some fantastic suggestions as to how golf should be played in terms of ‘MOVING around a golf course’. 

Something else you should know about Clint.  He has a great time!  He doesn’t just focus on running around a course.  He’s a fantastic story teller, LOVES to talk (and he’s fascinating to listen to!) about golf, golf, golf and anything else you want to bring up…. Considering it takes about 25-50 minutes to hit all your shots in a round of golf (pre shot to completion of swing), that still leaves a fast golfer 1-3 hours to TALK, LAUGH, AND LISTEN! You just need to talk like the cast of ‘The West Wing’…  Always while moving!  Enjoy. 

  Confessions from a Former Slow Golfer, part II

By Clint

After the shock of the initial conversation with slow play accusations, and after that first round, I really tried to do something about it, and did. Within just a few rounds, I had not only become quick, but downright speedy.

My primary motivation was simply that I absolutely despised the idea of being slow.  It’s insulting.  It’s embarrassing.

There are a bunch of things that I consciously do that have greatly improved my speed of play.  Maybe some of these suggestions can help others as well:

  • When possible, I start my pre shot routine just before a playing partner has hit his/her shot.

Times when this is possible would be when I’m on the opposite of the fairway from a playing partner, and thus I’m not in his line of play or line of vision.  When I see the partner doing his final waggle, I’m already behind my ball, picking out the line.  When my partner is at impact, I’m stepping into my address position.  Doing this literally helps me hit my shot within a few seconds of my playing partner. 

  • If riding a cart, I don’t generally wait at my playing partner ball while he hits his shot.  I usually leave the cart with him, take my clubs, and hike it to my ball.

  • As I usually leave my playing partner with the golf cart in the fairway, I usually will walk down the fairway after hitting my shot. 

This saves the time of walking laterally across the fairway back to the cart.  My partner can just pick me up en route to the green.

  • I take a lot of clubs with me when I leave the golf cart, if I’m not sure which one I’ll use. 

Sometimes this is 4 or 5 clubs.  Sometimes it’s even the entire bag, if I really don’t have a clue what kind of shot I’m going to need to play.

  • I park the golf cart so it’s ready for a quick getaway, and on the way to the next shot. 

For example, I’ll leave the cart several yards in front of the tee box, facing the hole.  If I’m at the green, I’ll park the cart on the way to the next tee box, or even at the next tee, if the tees are close to the green.

  • I have a strong desire to play as efficiently as possible. I have a strong desire to never be the guy that slows up others, in my group, or in the groups behind me!

And to be honest, most times I play I am challenging myself to see how fast I can get the round done. If I’m going to be out on the course for 4 hours, why not try to play 27 holes, instead of 18?  I like the idea of walking 18 holes in less than 3 hours.  I like the idea of play 18 holes with a cart in less than 2.5 hours.

My fastest time, with a playing partner, with a cart, is 1 hour and 51 minutes on a regulation par 72 course.  I’ve also walked 36 holes in about 5 and 1/2 hours.

Confessions From a Former Slow Golfer

It’s a rare thing to see.  A golfer who discovers he is slow, and instantly does something about it!  I’ve got a friend who did just that.  Clint is now one of the fastest golfers (and most enjoyable playing companions) I’ve ever played with.

Most slow golfers make excuses, stay in denial, or lash out at the accusers….. Here’s someone who took responsibility and did something about it!  Here’s his story: 

Confessions from a Former Slow Golfer, part I

by Clint

I used to play really slow.  Casual golf was slow, and competitive golf was even slower.

By “competitive golf” I mean high school golf team, local junior tournaments, and then eventually some local amateur tournaments.  This slowness spanned from when I took up the game at 16 to my late 20’s. So that’s over decade.  I was slower than my playing partners in most cases, in all of these playing scenarios. 

One small problem: I had no idea I was playing slow.  This is strange because I pride myself on having a good sense of awareness.

Why was I slow?  When I took up golf, I immediately fell in love with the PGA tour.  Greg Norman was my idol.  Though a dashing, dazzling personality and player, he takes his time on the course, often reading putts from more than two sides.  His pre shot routine on the full swing is also very deliberate, waggling several times, gradually inching the clubface from inside the ball to behind the ball.  No one, including me, seemed to have an issue with Norman, or his idol Jack Nicklaus, for that matter.  So I guess Norman and other tour pros created a model for me, as to what was “normal speed” for a player who took their game seriously.  In truth, I was probably slightly faster than these guys, but that’s not saying much. 

I also recall reading a lot of golf magazines in my early playing days.  One of the things that really stayed with me was the emphasis on course strategy.  For example, don’t just hit the driver on every tee shot.  Don’t just hit every chip shot with a sand wedge.  In fact, don’t even hit every sand shot with a sand wedge (ie, 8 and 9 irons can come in handy on long bunker shots).

Having an analytical streak in me, I really related to this decision-making aspect of the game. I thought playing the percentages would help my scores.  It did.  But deciding to hit a 2-iron instead of a driver or 3-wood takes more time than simply pulling driver without thinking. Deciding to hit a low, punch 6-iron or a full, high 7 iron takes time. 

Thinking takes time.  Strategy takes time.

So this went on for more than a decade…me playing slow golf…oblivious to the fact that I was playing slow.  Strangely, several years of this slow play was alongside an extremely fast player, who had also become a great friend.  He can be an impatient guy at times, so why it took him several years to finally say something is puzzling.  Perhaps it was not wanting to hurt my feelings. Perhaps it was not wanting to throw me off my game.  I don’t know.  I don’t think I ever asked him.  Perhaps I will after sharing all of this.  One day, back in the late 90’s, he, myself and another friend were on our way to play a course out of town.  During the car ride, about halfway to the course, in the middle of our normal pre-round golf talk conversations, my friend told me I was slow.  I’ve blocked out his exact words, but it was something matter-of-fact, like “You’re really slow.” 

“What?!!!!” I retorted.  “You’re slow”, he repeated.

I asked my other buddy, with a sense of extreme incredulity in my voice, “I am??!!”

He nodded, and managed to squeak out a hesitant “Yeah.” 

Being 6’3″, I have a long stride, and I use it when I walk during my round.  I’m like a gazelle.  How could a gazelle play slow? 

“But I walk really fast”, I offered up. 

They both agreed that I walked fast, but that was more than negated by the painstaking time it took to execute my shots.  Multiple practice swings, club choosing….just taking a long time to actually hit the ball.

Well, after getting the news, I was stunned, and embarrassed.  I absolutely hated being considered slow.  I understood what a terrible stigma that was in golf.  I don’t remember what I shot that day.  I do remember trying to play faster once it was my turn.

To be continued….

Let’s Keep the Discussion Going….

Charlie Rymer is a retired PGA Touring Professional who is now an commentator/analyst on the Golf Channel.  He recently wrote a lighthearted post about changes in the rules of golf entitled, “Would You Play by These Rules?”, and I got a chuckle as I read them.  His focus was on simplifying the rules.  FIVE. That’s it. 

What got my attention was his thoughts at the beginning about speed of play, and his final words about the game of golf. 

“All golfers shall play 18 holes in 3 hours. No exceptions.  Slow players will be asked to skip holes or leave the course.” -C.R.

He is clearly as frustrated as the rest of us when it comes to speed of play… One of his remedies is to shorten courses and enlarge the golf hole….  (I understand where he is coming from with these suggestions, but would hope it was not necessary.  I do think there might be a market for courses like this!)

He finishes his article with these words:  “Play fast.  Have fun.”*

I could not agree more with that last statement. 

*Did he steal that from my blog?  Oh, nuts.  I just checked and he posted his article about 15 hours before mine.  Maybe he’s played in one of my tournaments and thought my phrase was catchy…. In that case- I give him my blessing…..

P.S.  And once again, even a lighthearted post about speed of play created an out of control discussion in the comment section. It descended into a negative spiral of blame and hate….  Ugly. 

Play Fast, Have Fun

Most of my members recognize the title of this post.  I say it before I send off the LGA, MGA, and pretty much every tournament at my golf course. 


This post idea came from reading an article on the PGA Tour web site.  It was a nice article about how Paul Tesori, a tour caddie who once played on tour himself, made such a big difference in Webb Simpson’s career. 

Golf articles, in general (unless discussing Tiger Woods) are almost always positive.  Unlike other sports and in politics, where every article descends into a childish name calling fest in the comment section below, golf pretty much stays above the fray…

that’s why I was inspired to write about slow play today.  I talk about it a lot.  I KNOW it’s a big problem for golf.  A significant percentage of people do not play golf, or limit their golf because of slow play…. A percentage in the high 90’s is unhappy when they get behind slow groups…..

Back to the nice article about Webb and Paul.  The comments were not typical comments you find after a golf article about a PGA tour player… Usually, most comments are from fans agreeing with the article, or wishing their players luck and success through the season… It’s actually pretty refreshing after reading the moronic statements posted after pretty much every Red Sox article on their web site (especially once a Yankee fan logs on….).

These comments were slamming Webb, Paul and the whole tour on SLOW PLAY! 

If even the nicest of fans turn negative, harsh, even vicious in their word, something is very wrong….  More so if the article had next to NOTHING to do with slow play. 

Slow play is such a bad subject in the game today, even an article highlighting the success of a young golfer with his experienced caddie can turn sour.  It’s a sure sign things need to change. 

Play fast.  Have fun.  And make sure YOU, yes YOU, can never be accused of slow play.  It’s the scarlet letter in golf.