Slow Play and Golf

Slow play is one of my pet peeves in golf! I find that waiting on every hole is frustrating and fuels my negative talk about golf and life in general! Playing with or behind players who are more focused on talking, having a libation, or watching every play from every position should not be allowed on my course! Slow play…grrrr….where is that marshal!


Can I play through?

I have talked about slow play before and many people have chimed in with their frustrations. (See May I Play Through and Can I Play Through for more details) I realize that this topic can push the buttons of most golfers, however it is an important topic that many amateurs seem to overlook.

There are some players who are naturally slow players. Others like a very quick pace. The natural flow of a round of golf, for these diverse players, is completely different. It is this natural flow that I want to discuss.

The natural flow of any player is not limited to their golf swing. The tempo of their swing is extremely important and generally correlates with how long it takes a player to loop around the course. The natural flow of a player encompasses their swing, their routines, how fast they walk between shots, their decision-making, etc. Every action during their round of golf is part of their natural flow of their round.

Natural flow is critical to low scores in tournaments. How many times have you played with people who stated they are a single digit handicap, yet shoot in the 90s! I realize it can happen once in a while, but not two or three days in a row. If asked about their challenges, they would suggest that they are just having a bad day. However, under closer scrutiny, they have changed their natural flow and it was completely messed up.

Novice amateurs try to ape a better golfer. This is a great practice (learning from others), but not during a tournament. I have played many rounds with players who completely change their natural flow under the pressure of competition; interestingly, the times I score the best is when I keep to may natural flow and ignore theirs. Sometimes this is challenging when playing with extremely slow competitors, but if it is their natural flow, there is nothing one can do. To compensate for slow play in tournaments, I have developed some techniques that work to keep my natural flow.

I will let you know what they are, but before I do I would like to know what you think. Am I crazy to think there is a natural flow to a persons golf game? Inquiring minds want to know!

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!


15 thoughts on “Slow Play and Golf

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  5. Definitely agree about natural flow. I think it’s a matter of awareness. I have friends who are slow and meticulous players (walking around the hole on a green) but they are aware of pacing and what’s ahead of them or if there’s a group behind them and they are great to play with. I have other friends who are slow but operate in their own bubble and I end up finding myself rushed trying to pick up the pace on the group’s behave as we lose the group ahead and have the group waiting behind us on every shot.


    • Crunchy

      Great point about being aware of the groups and head and behind as we play. I enjoy playing a constant round. Sometimes we complete it in about 3 hours because there was no one in front, other times in 4 hours. As long as there is a flow to it! Great points.



  6. Jim, the professionals have some culpability in this one. There is no reason you need to completely circle all your putts or hem and haw with the yardages as they often do. Many amateurs are just copying the mannerisms of their favorite TV pro which contributes to the slow play. In fact, I’d like to see rangefinders legalized on tour to speed play. I never saw the need to restrict distance measuring capabilities because you still have to hit the shot, and if everyone has one. . .just sayin’ it would speed things up.




    • Brian

      I agree about the range finders. Your point about walking around the putt is very interesting, most amateurs do not have that as part of their natural flow, but in a competition, they seem to think it will help. Most of the time it does not help. As always, thanks for the comment.



  7. Hi Jim

    I can certainly relate! I’ve let rounds get away from me because of frustrations with slow play. I’m accustomed to 4 hour rounds or less, as that guideline is strictly enforced at my home course. So when I play elsewhere and it’s slow, it’s really noticeable and frustrating. I may start off with good rhythm and scoring but as the frustration builds as play backs up, the rhythm and scoring dwindles. I try not to focus on it, maybe chatting with my playing partners about golf or another sport, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that you’re standing around instead of playing golf. I’d love to hear your plan to cope with this as it’s something I need to work on as well.

    Great topic.



  8. If it will make you feel any better that negativity will affect you golf game. Try to do what I do (even after the 5 hour round I just finished at El Dorado.) Don’t mess with your chi. Don’t let the slow play mess with your chi. Keep your cool or do something else. Remember golf is just a nice walk interrupted. May as well keep with the nice walk without the poor thoughts.


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