BY KEN LOPEZ
There I am driving to the golf course for my 8:00 AM tee time. I’m early enough to hit the practice range and putting green with plenty of time to spare.
The weather is perfect, the sun is out, and I arrive at the first tee with my buddies, looking forward to a morning on the golf course. We hit our drives then begin our walk down the fairway. Looking around, I can’t help but think it doesn’t get any better than this!
After carding a few routine pars and bogeys, we make our way to the second tee, exchanging a few jokes along the way.
Unfortunately, that early morning high doesn’t last long. You see, as we approach the next tee we find a foursome teeing off with two other groups waiting in line.
We realize what we’re in store for… a long five and a half hour round.
Slow play seems like the rule, not the exception…
If you’ve played a fair amount of golf, then you’ve experienced your share of long rounds. Nothing ruins the enjoyment of a beautiful day on the golf course more then long waits between every shot.
Slow play is becoming epidemic, and it may be the biggest reason why some people simply play fewer rounds, or quit playing altogether.
So how do we go about dealing with this very real challenge?
Let’s look at what Ready Golf is and see if following a few simple guidelines can help overcome the frustration of slow play.
Ready Golf is about planning ahead…
Now, a lot of players assume that the rules of Golf and the rules of Ready Golf are different. But that’s really not true. Ready Golf is about anticipating your next shot so you’re ready to play when it’s your turn.
Where do the rules of Ready Golf apply?
In all situations and at all times throughout your round. On the tee, in the fairway and on the green. Golf is a social game, and should always stay that way. Ready Golf does not mean ignoring your playing partners and rushing through your round.
Taking it from tee to green, let’s outline a few common sense steps to help move things along.
On the Tee…
Ready Golf does not mean hitting out of turn. Only if you have the honor and are not ready should someone else hit first. Don’t stand around waiting for the next player in line to take their turn if they’re not prepared.
On the fairway…
Once off the tee, things can get even slower. And, believe it or not, riding in carts can cause delays if they’re not used properly.
All players should get to their shots as quickly as possible. That doesn’t mean walking in front of players getting ready to hit. You can always move off to the side of the fairway and get as close to your ball as you can.
Size up your next shot as you are reaching your ball, decide on club selection, then move to your ball after players behind you have hit up.
What is one of the biggest time wasters on the fairway?
Playing Coffee Clutch Golf. Your foursome moves from shot to shot together with everyone stopping at each and every ball. There is only one time everyone should move up in a group like this. That’s when players hit their shots on the same line and fairly close to each other.
What about carts?
Drivers should drop partners off, have them take several clubs if needed, then move on to their own ball and get ready to play. How many times have you seen drivers stopping at every shot on the way to the green? That simply defeats the purpose of using a cart to speed up play.
Finding Lost Golf Balls…
So there you are on the third hole. You hit your drive and begin walking down the fairway. To your surprise the fairway appears to be open! But as you approach your ball you realize the foursome ahead is searching for a lost ball. Everyone’s searching and nobody is getting ready to play their shot!
Should everyone help look for lost golf balls? Of course. But you should do it after you hit your own shot.
Here is a quick guideline: If you’re closest to the green, then help out first. If you’re farthest from the green, play your shot then begin helping out. With this Round Robin approach, your foursome can keep things moving.
On the green…
What’s the one thing you should do to speed up play around the green? You should leave your clubs at the back of the green on the side closest to the next tee.
Nothing is more disconcerting than standing in the fairway and watching players walk to the front of the green after putting out.
Worse yet? Waiting for players to mark their score cards before moving along. Mark your card on the next tee; don’t make the next party wait while you tally your score.
Here are two other things to keep in mind to speed things up…
First, survey and line up your putt while other players are putting. That means being ready when it’s your turn.
Second, use the Continuous Putting Rule if you’re not in someone else’s line. If you leave yourself a short putt coming back, don’t mark your ball. Take your stance, make a smooth stroke and make your putt.
Emulating tour pros has done more to slow down play than anything else. Try to make your putt in about half a minute once it’s your turn. That’s plenty of time to approach the putt, take your stance and make the putt without rushing.
The bottom line…
A four hour round of golf should be the rule, not the exception. Use the common sense guidelines presented above and you’ll guarantee yourself a more enjoyable round of golf.
If you think playing five and a half hour rounds are the norm, if you’ve given up on having Saturday afternoons to yourself, put these Ready Golf Rules to the test and you’ll experience an astonishing improvement in your round!
Ken Lopez writes articles for Pure Impact Custom Golf.