We’ve all experienced slow play before. We’re familiar with the delays, the disruption of concentration and rhythm, and the sensation of frustration and hopelessness.
In honor of NASCAR’s Daytona 500 taking over one of the fastest tracks in racing this weekend, we offer you the following tips to help you enjoy the game of golf at a faster pace.
Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!
1. Use Whichever Tees Suit Your Game – Although your ego may suggest otherwise, the USGA and the PGA of America advise you to play from whichever set of tees suits your driving distance, no matter what your gender, age, or experience level is.
Far too often, golfers tee off from the back tees, when they should actually use middle or even forward tees. By swallowing your pride and teeing off from a more comfortable set of tees, you will likely hit more greens in regulation, lower your scores, and, perhaps best of all, increase your pace of play.
2. “Hit it, Alice” – Although you don’t necessarily need to golf as fast as John Daly or Rory Sabbatini, you should strive to play “ready golf.” As you approach your ball, think about which club you will use ahead of time, taking wind, yardage, and elevation into consideration, so that you are set to hit as soon as you arrive at your ball. If you don’t have one, consider buying an electronic rangefinder as well, if you don’t feel like pacing off your yardage.
The R&A recommends that you put on your glove, verify your yardage, and take your club out of your bag while your playing partners are hitting their shots – quietly and considerately, of course. Also, strive to take just one practice swing. Check the direction of your stance, trust your instinct, and hit the ball. Your playing partners (as well as the groups behind you) will be glad that you did.
3. Trust Yourself, Putt, and Move on to the Next Tee - Some golfers are notorious for playing fast…until they are preparing to putt, as they spend too much time on the greens reading breaks. Do not do this! Attempt to read breaks as you walk towards greens and once you arrive, rather than waiting until it is your turn to putt. Also, try to reduce your practice strokes to two, at most. Again, verify your stance, look down at the ball, trust yourself, and putt.
To save time, don’t forget to also place your bag or cart as close to the next tee as possible, so that you can leave the green as soon as you and your playing partners have finished putting. Never, ever fill out your scorecard on the green if your group has finished putting. Out of consideration for the groups behind you, just wait until you walk to the next tee.
4. Don’t Wander in the Woods Too Long – Even the most accurate golfers hit a drive or iron shot wayward sometimes. There is nothing wrong with taking some time to look for your (or your playing partner’s) ball, but try not to search for lost balls for more than five minutes. Also, if you know your ball is in a hazard, simply play a provisional, which is completely legal (Rule 27-2) and recommended by the R&A and the USGA.
In addition, if you’re really struggling on a given hole, don’t forget about the USGA’s Equitable Stroke Control limit. Basically, if your course handicap is nine or less, you should stop playing if you are about to record a score above a double bogey. If your course handicap is between 10 and 19, or 20 and 29, you can stop playing if you hit seven or eight shots, respectively, and so forth. Just pick up your ball, cut your losses, and save your energy – and time – for the rest of your round.
5. Mix it Up - If you and your playing partners are still unable to finish an 18-hole round at a normal pace, which is typically considered to be four hours or less, why not mix it up a little bit and play Ryder Cup-esque four-ball or foursome matches? Not only will you enjoy an entirely different format, unlike usual stroke play competitions, you and your playing partners will save time since you won’t have to hole out every putt on every hole.
Also, to save more time for yourself and your busy schedule, try playing nine holes, rather than 18. According to the Rules of Golf and the USGA’s Handicap System, nine-hole rounds are completely legal – and are even recommended by the USGA, which partnered with Golf Digest and the PGA of America to create a “Time for Nine” campaign last year.
6. Play Fast - Consider booking early tee times using GolfNow’s Play Fast tool to avoid the crowds and start the day off right – and fast. You can find tee times at thousands of courses using this special tool.
Have any additional tips to share? Let us know how you play faster in the comments section below!
Featured image courtesy of Daytona International Speedway