Fixing Slow Play in Golf

Slow play is a challenge for courses that seems to not go away! It is frustrating for most players who have expectations of finish by a certain time to get home to watch Brooke Henderson or Rickie Fowler win their first Major! Slow play will not go away if we continue to approach golf in the same way.

As Albert Einstein once said: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results!

Recently, I asked The Grateful Golfer Community about golf etiquette. Although I could not ask an all-encompassing question, but the results of my question point towards an awareness that slow play is an issue.

I think the R&A, USGA, and Golf Canada could improve slow play by continuing educating the golfing masses on the TEE IT FORWARD program. Basically, the golf picks the tees they play by how far they hit their driver. This is a good idea, but I have a suggestion to enhance this idea!

Instead of using just the driver as the metric, I suggest using their 7-iron as well. I believe this is the club should be included as the standard for which tee to play for the average player. As an example:

  • I hit my 7-iron in the air 150 yards 7 times out of 10. Keeping this in mind, I should play courses between 6200-6400 yards most of the time.
  • If you hit your 7-iron 125 yards, you should play courses between 5800-6000 yards.
  • Lastly, the player that hits their 7-iron 175 yards, courses between 6400-7000 yards would fit your game.

This distances are not scientific, but I am sure you understand my point. The driver is the most difficult club to hit; hence, using it as the only one metric may not give an accurate indication of a golfer’s playing ability.

My last suggestion, although I know it is not new, rename the teeing areas. The Junior/Woman, Senior, Men’s and Championship tees names will soon be a thing of the past. Using colours does not work either because they still hold the same negative connotation  as the names mention above. When the golfing world can figure out the names, it would go a long way to changing the minds of many amateurs.

A big shout out goes to Ridge Creek Dinuba Golf Club, Dinuba, California, for taking a proactive approach to addressing the challenges of slow play on their golf course!

And the Cards to match!

Using several metrics and changing the name of the tee boxes will go a long way to addressing slow play on the golf course. I am a low single digit handicapper and although I like playing from the tips, I still keep my skill level in mind when picking the tee boxes on a course I have never played before! Although this is a small gesture, it is up to everyone to do their part to end slow play on the links!

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



7 thoughts on “Fixing Slow Play in Golf

  1. Pingback: Ready Golf to Eliminate Slow Play – The Grateful Golfer

  2. Jim,

    There are definitely a lot of things we can do to improve pace of play, and you brought up some good points. Our home course has a strict 4-hour pace of play policy. It’s a difficult course, and we have a lot of old, high handicap members, none of whom struggle to abide by the pace of play policy. There are foursomes of 25-handicap women who can whip around in well under 4 hours. Their key is always being aware, playing ready golf, getting ready to hit their shot while others are playing, and picking up on a hole if they reach their maximum allowable handicap score. If people are playing the proper tees, I believe skill level has little to do with pace of play, and much of it has to do with player awareness. The key is educating more, whether it is governing bodies or golf courses, to encourage players to enhance their awareness and improve pace of play.



  3. I have been accused of slow play before on my course and it ticked me off. This was on a weekend and I brought 3 green fee players. In front of us was at least 2 twosomes and behind us were twosomes and threesomes. On a Saturday I would think the course would pair these twosomes up. So the Marshall talked to my group a few times because we couldn’t keep up to the twosomes ahead of us. We finished the front in 2 hours and the round in under 4 hours. But I refused to let 4-5 groups of twosomes through on a Saturday. That’s just my perspective. I also hate slow play, but I understand that if I go out with a twosome or threesome I might have to wait here and there.


    • Mac

      I feel your pain! This same situation has happened to me on many times. The scenario you descripted is not the ‘slow paly’ that causes the course to receive a bad reputation, it is just the opposite. You are talking about poor management of the course. Twosomes, if the course is busy, should have to join up together. It makes a difference to the entire speed of play. Unfortunately, may players do not want to join because they are uncomfortable playing with strangers! That is an entirely different conversation as well. I think I was in the group you were talking about.



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