May I Join You?

The Boys at Voyageur Days Golf Tournament

The Boys at Voyageur Days Golf Tournament

How many times have we been asked by someone to join your group?  Usually it is singleton and they are looking for a game.  I always say yes unless I am in a Match Play Competition (this has happened only twice in 35 years)  I enjoy playing with different players and relish the opportunity to meet someone new.  But, are you really obligated to let a player join your group?

My short answer is yes!  Golf is a social game that allows individuals to meet and enjoy the company of others.  The Mindful Golfer says that golf is a contact sport and I could not agree more.  It is a great way to meet like minded people and enjoy a sport for transcends age, wealth, and background.

Other reasons that you should allow someone to join your group is – speed of play.  Generally, keeping singles and doubles off the course is great for speed of play.  I personally believe that three is the ideal number for keeping the game moving, but that is a discussion for another day.  Having a foursome play in front of a bunch singletons and doubles slows play down throughout the course and increases the frustration of those wanting to play through.  By joining up, the singles and doubles will match the speed of play and enjoy their game more than waiting all the time.

Letting others join your group improves your game.  Watching other player is always good for your game.  Sometimes a scratch player is just looking for a game and joins your group.  It is nice to watch someone play the game really well and most of the time, you learn unique things on how to play shots that you would not normally have figured out.

Lastly, it is proper etiquette.  I believe that if someone sticks their neck out and join total strangers to play a game of golf; the group should say yes.  Having a stranger in the group will help everyone remember the dos and don’ts of playing proper golf.  It allows everyone to be a little nicer!  And that is always a good think!

So remember, if someone asks to join your group, say yes!  You never know where it may lead.  I am a grateful golfer!  See you on the links!

May I Play Through!

Ever hear the words, “Excuse me, May I Play Through!”  Most courses want foursomes to play their round in approximately 4 hours.  This is a reasonable pace and it allows everyone to enjoy his or her time on the links.  Unfortunately, this is not always possible and golf etiquette suggests that when a hole behind, either speed up or let the group behind play through.

Image from:  http://www.yourgolftravel.com/19th-hole/2013/02/08/end-of-slow-play-hurray/There are many definitions of playing through.  A reasonable definition is allowing a faster group to proceed through a slower group if the hole ahead of the slower group is open (having no golfers playing it).  The USGA suggests that it is best if the slower group invites the faster group to play through; however it is not uncommon for the faster group to politely ask the play through.

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club talks about the pace of play and how to move quicker around the links and is a very good ready, but that discussion is for another day.

How exactly does a faster group play through.  Of course, there are no written rules, but after discussion with many amateur golfers (who live this experience routinely), the following seems to be a consensus.

The first thing is to identity that your group is playing slowly and it is time to let the group behind play through.  This may seem like an obvious statement, but some amateur players, to the chagrin of those waiting, just do not get it.  I suggest your read the stories at about.com / golf about poor etiquette and slow play if you think that the first step is too obvious!

Second, once the decision is made to let them go through, which hole is best to expedite the passing.  Many players say a par 3 is best; others suggest a par 4 or 5.  I recommend a par 5 because it allows for the two groups and the groups behind to keep moving.  If a par 5 is not possible, then a par 4 is your next best option.  Lastly, a par 3.

Third, the best place is at the tee box.  While waiting for the other group to arrive, the slow group should all tee off.  Then, the fater group should tee off as well.  I know, most of you are saying that there are 8 ball is play, but not for long.

Fourth, everyone walks to his or her ball.  This is important; everyone walks to his or her ball.  The slow group will wait at their ball until the faster group hits and gets out of range.  Then the slow group will proceed as normal.  This important step is often overlooked and if not followed, usually causes congestion for the groups coming up behind.

If on a par 3 and already in play, the slow group should wave the faster group forward.  After the faster group has hit, the slow group should putt out until the faster group arrives.  Then, the slow group should stop; allow the faster group to finish.  Once finished, the slow group should finish and proceed to the next tee box.  Usually, the faster group is gone and the slow group has a very short, if any, wait on the tee box.

A couple of questions that are continually asked about lower handicappers and professionals.  If the round of golf is supposed to be 4 hours, why does it take “the good players” 5-6 hours to play around of golf?  When “the good players” are taking their time, they never seem hurried by the Marshall; why is that?  How come “the good players” are less likely to let faster amateurs play through…ego maybe?

It is important to understand the allowing faster groups to pass through is golf etiquette for everyone!  It does not mean that things have gone wrong with your game, but it does suggest that learning to play a little faster may be in your future.  Additionally, the above simple process will ensure that everyone enjoys their round of golf and within a reasonable time.

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