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Suggestions and ways in how to help prevent slow play and improve your etiquette on the Golf Course

Updated on December 15, 2011

Slow Play on the Golf Course

Slow Play, it happens on every course in the world I would imagine, and there are plenty of people out there who complain and try to say how quick people should be playing. For example we very often see the professionals on tour taking up to 5hours for a round of competition golf, and this is excepted, yet for some reason at club/county and even national amateur events this is not accepted. We are very often told that, quite simply a four ball should not take longer than 4 – 4 ½ hours to get round.

So how can we really speed up our game when we already think it is fast enough, just so as to 'keep up with the group in front'.

Aids to help you keep score while playing golf

How can we help prevent slow play

There are a few ways to speed up your game,even when you think you are moving quick enough anyway. Hopefully I have outlined some of the easiest things to recreate on the course below.

  • One of the most obvious ways is to do with who has 'the honour' on the tee. If you are going to be teeing off first, then do so before you mark your card. You can do this whilst others in your group are teeing off. This does save a little bit of time and remember, never mark your card while still at the green-side, this prevents the players in the group behind taking their approach shots into the green.
  • Practice swings are important, but remember there is no need to have 5 of them. It should only be to check the swing for that shot. 1 maybe 2 is good then get over the ball and hit it. Hesitation only encourages a bad swing as you think too much over the ball. Stand up to it, check alignment and swing the club. A fluid approach, set-up encourages a smooth swing and better shot, therefore saving time.

  • When playing a Stapleford competition check what shots you get on the next hole when you mark the card i.e. when you put your score down for the 1st hole see what shots you have on the 2nd hole. This saves time at the 2nd green when you are standing there wondering whether you should putt out or not all because you don't know if you have a shot or not!
  • It is fine to talk when playing golf, but remember mouths can move at the same time as your feet. Talk on the move, don't stand still as this only delays the game and annoys players behind you. Also don’t talk to your playing partner when they are getting ready to take their shot, a) it slows play generally and b) it can disrupt your partners thinking leading to a bad swing and shot (more searching in the rough/trees) c) bad golf etiquette in general.
  • When you are approaching your next shot on the fairway start thinking about what club you might need. This speeds up the club selection process when you get there, i.e. if your in the deep rough and 150yds out you know your not going to be hitting a 5iron, it would be more likely to be a wedge or short iron such as an 8 or 9. When your in the middle of the fairway try to estimate how far from the green you might be before you get there, this again makes club selection easier. After all if your only 120yrds out you know your not going to be hitting a long iron or fairway wood.

Golden rule to remember

Most importantly of all, whether you are in a competition is to remember that if you loose 1 or 2 holes on the group in front and you have groups behind waiting on every shot, let them through. This will not slow you down, they are obviously quicker than you!

Everyone accepts that you can have a bad hole and have to search for ball occasionally, but if you have a bad hole and have to look for a ball remember it will slow you down on that hole, so be courteous and let the group behind through.  

Think about the groups behind as well as the ones in front when you are enjoying your walk around the golf course. Remember the saying 'Keep up with the group in front or let the group behind through!' If you remember these simple rules your game will be much quicker and happier.

books to help you understand golf etiquette

Etiquette of Golf

Ok so what is etiquette?  Quite simply, it is the way in which you should could conduct yourself whilst on the golf course.  Etiquette can be found in a number of sports, and is shown through respect for others.

Good etiquette in golf is very simple and here are a few of those golden rules of good etiquette.

  • Remember when teeing off on the first hole the lowest handicap always goes first when playing in a strokeplay competition.  In Matchplay the visiting team tee off first.
  • The person with the best score on the previous hole tees off first on the next tee, for example player 1 finished with a 6 on hole 2 and player 2 finished with a 4 on that same hole, so player 2 tees off first on hole 3.  
  • When on the fairway the person furthest from the hole plays first, even if they are on the green and someone else is not.  
  • When on the green do not tread on your playing partners putting line (they will not appreciate it).  
  • Give attention to those on neighbouring holes.  If you are talking they maybe able to hear you clearly.

Plase leave your Comments

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    • nasus loops profile imageAUTHOR

      nasus loops 

      7 years ago from Fenland

      Thanks for the comment Husky1970. You are right that the goal should be 4hours, however on many larger courses nowadays 4 1/2hrs is acceptable. The Goal should still be keep up with the group in front, but if you drop back and there is a gap then you should let the group behind through.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Some good tips. The goal should be 4-hour golf and keeping up with the group ahead of you is a much better option than letting groups play through.


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