Does Pace of Play Really Affect Your Golf Score

Just about anything can cause a delay on the golf course.

Every golfer has a pace of play that suits their game. I know that much talk has indicated that the professionals are to blame for amateurs taking their sweet time on the links, but I am not entirely convinced that this is the case. Without getting into a huge discussion, today, the complaints about slow professionals is purely economical and has nothing to do with everyday golf.

Having said this, I actually do not believe that changing a players pace of play actually hurts their game…..within reason of course!

Here is my arcs of fire relating to this topic. I normally play golf a 3.5 hours per round in a foursome. This is a comfortable pace for me and I remain cognizant about playing to this time. I additionally think that this speed is good for the course traffic and is something worth maintaining.

Using 3.5 hours as my benchmark, I have found that playing 30 minutes faster or slower does not normally influence my final score. Gaining or losing 1.5 minutes a hole is not a difficult thing to do on a golf course. It is as simple as having to look for a couple of extra balls or chipping in once or twice. Time is easily made up one way or another.

Outside of that 30 minutes, I have a real challenge staying interest (if it is too long) or keeping up. Then my score starts to be impacted.

Now, these timings apply to my game. If you are 4 hour player, then apply the 30 minutes to your game and you will find that your scored does not really change either way. I think you get my point about not affecting a persons game.

Professional golfers do take their sweet time playing I will have to admit. But, I do not believe they are the cause of slow play in amateurs. Much of the slow play is either lack of understanding of how to play golf or course situations were time is either added or subtracted. These, in my opinion, are the main causes for slow play on the course.

So the next time you on the links and feel that the pace of play is hurting your game, I suggest that you take a solid look at your watch. There is some slush timings on either side, but outside 30 minutes….then you might have something to complain about.

Unfortunately this issue will never be solve, but I can say that professional golfers are not always the ones to play for the slow pace of golf.

What do you think?

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

12 thoughts on “Does Pace of Play Really Affect Your Golf Score

  1. Jim,

    For me slow play affects my game in a big way. I myself am a fast paced golfer and whenever I get paired up with people who don’t play at my normal pace, it definitely bothers me. Which is why I enjoy playing alone, some of my best scores come when I play alone as I am comfortable at the pace I play. Not only that, at times it feels like I need to play catch up because the people behind my group are waiting impatiently so I feel rushed, which to me is the worst feeling because at that point I feel like I’m wasting money. However, purposely slowing down play would be a great strategy in a match play event if you know your opponent (like me) cant stand slow play.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have definately been affected by slow play. All of my best games came when playing as a single or in a twosome. During our off season, it is normal for me to play a 9 every hour so a 4 hour round feels glacial to me and makes it tougher to stay in my game but it is something I’ve tried to work on. I don’t feel like I’ve solved it yet, but I think I made a little progress.


    • Kevin,

      I understand your feeling about a slow pace if you generally play in under 3 hours. I used to play 18 holes in 2 hours and 15 minutes walking. But that was during early birds and I was the only player on the course. I did enjoy playing that fast, but now I a good at 3.5 hours.

      Cheers Jim


  3. Hi Jim,
    I find looking for someones ball, while my ball is sitting in the fairway, does affect my score. By the time I get to my ball the guys behind are standing impatiently waiting. So my shot is played in a hurry. Slow play on our course is an issue, last week two groups of four quit the course because a slow group in front would not let anyone play through. Personally I would have just played through them wether they liked it or not.There is always a rule of thumb that you keep up with the group in front, but what if they are in carts, and your fourball is walking.
    Have a nice day;


    • Pete,

      Your points are very important. First, the Marshall, which most courses do not have anymore, would solve many slow play issues. That group who would not let anyone through should have been told to do so or asked to leave. As far as groups on carts, my rule is this: if I am keeping up with the group in front and they are keeping with the group in front of them; then the group in carts will have to wait. If there is an open hole in front of us, I would let them go through. There are so any situations it is hard to have a set rule.

      Cheers Jim


  4. I think not playing ready golf is a big issue. I do not believe that deliberate routines are normally a problem. However, not being ready to start you routine when it’s your turn is certainly one of the culprits. Taking 15 seconds to start your routine instead of being ready can easily add 15-25 minutes to a round (and that’s just one person).


    • David

      Ready golf, ready golf ready golf. That is so important to eliminating slow play. The group I play with are usually ready when it is their turn. It might happen once that they are not, but this would be the exception.

      Cheers Jim


  5. Jim,

    Pace of play affects my score in two ways. If it is too slow, I lose interest and focus. If it is too fast, I get out of my routine and feel rushed.

    There are many reasons for slow play. Ultimately, the worst is overcrowding. The US Open is notoriously the slowest play on the professional circuit. It also has the biggest field. 5-6 hour rounds are the norm. Holidays and afternoons are slowest for the amateur player because the courses are stuffed. That’s why fast players and better players enjoy playing early when the courses are less crowded and it’s easier to control pace. I like to play after 12-noon because it’s more economical but it’s more crowded. Three and a half hours is just a pipe dream for me.

    Let’s just hope that J.B Holmes doesn’t have the first tee time at this year’s US Open.

    Great post and thanks!


    Liked by 1 person

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