A good pace of play is an important element in having a good experience at the golf course
. It's often a combination of little things not done that wind up contributing to slow play and on-course traffic jams. Here are some tips for making sure your pace of play is as brisk as it should be. Remember: pace of play isn't about rushing your shots, it's about being ready to play your stroke when it's your turn, and behaving efficiently on the course.
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- Choose a set of tees appropriate to your skill level. Playing from the championship set of tees when you're not really good enough to do so only adds strokes and time.
- Each member of a group should proceed directly to his or her ball. The group should not travel as a pack, going to first to one ball, then the next, and so on.
- While walking (or riding) to your ball, use the travel time to begin thinking over your next shot - the yardarge, which club you'll use, and so on. Begin preparing before you get to your ball.
- If sharing a cart, don't drive to the first ball, wait for the first player to hit, then head to the second ball. Drop the first player off at his ball, drive on ahead to the second ball. The first player should walk over to the cart as the second player is playing his shot.
- When using a cart on a cart-path-only day, be sure to take a couple of clubs with you when you walk from the cart to the ball. This way, you won't have to return to the cart if you discover you didn't bring the appropriate club.
- Carry a few extra tees, ball markers and a spare ball in your pockets so you don't have to return to your golf bag to retrieve them, should you find yourself in need of one.
- When you think your shot might have landed out of bounds or be lost, immediately hit a provisional ball. Don't walk ahead to search, only to have to return to the original spot to replay a shot.
- Limit your search for lost balls. If you're not following the rules anyway, don't spend more than a minute searching - or just immediately play your provisional. (If you are playing by the rules, wave through any group behind that is being held up by your search.)
- Never hold up play because you're in the middle of a conversation. Put the conversation on hold, take your stroke, then continue the conversation.
- On the green, begin lining up your putt and reading the break as soon as you reach the green. When it's your turn to putt, be prepared to step right up and take the stroke.
- Leave your bags or golf carts to the side of the green, and in the direction of the next tee, never in front of the green.
- Never stand on or next to the green after holing out in order to write down your score. Write it down when you reach the next tee.
- If all else fails, try playing "ready golf," which simply means that order of play is based on who's ready, not who's away.
- Most experts say that a good pace of play not only increases enjoyment of the game, it can actually improve one's game. Standing around on every shot allows the muscles to cool down or limbs to stiffen up. A brisk pace can help keep a golfer loose and ready to play.
- Pace of play can be boiled down to two simple phrases: be prepared and be ready to play.
- Use the groups ahead of you and behind you to gauge your pace. If the group that teed off directly in front of you is pulling away - putting a full hole's distance between them and your group - you need to speed up. If there's no one in front of you holding you up, but you are holding up those behind you, either speed up or allow the trailing group to play through.