September 27, 2001
I find it completely unbelievable the number of times
that I have been enjoying a beautiful day, on a lush
green golf course, scoring well and enjoying the company
only to have it ruined by the selfish players ahead
of me who can't seem play at a reasonable pace. While
I notice others playing slowly and often find myself
held up, especially on weekends, I am not a particularly
good golfer. I play fairly consistently to a 15 handicap
and have done so for about 10 years now. The peculiar
thing is that I have discussed my concern with many
golfers who are both much better and much worse than
I and they all have similar complaints about slow play.
If all these people are complaining about slow play
then who is responsible for all the slow play?
I know that most of the time that you're on the course
and complaining about slow play you're doing your part
by keeping up with the group ahead of you and usually
it appears as though the group ahead of you is also
doing their part. The comment is then made from someone
in your foursome that it must be a group up farther
ahead that is slowing everyone down. The problem is
that everyone is saying this and nobody seems to be
able to find the group slowing everyone down! Here's
a news flash for every golfer out there...It isn't the
group 'up ahead somewhere' its YOU! The fact that everyone
is complaining about slow play does not automatically
eliminate them from being part of the problem. In fact
it is an indicator that if everyone is complaining but
nobody can find the perpetrators then those doing the
complaining are the most likely source of the problem.
Most golfers have at least a superficial understanding
of the rules of golf. Most of the time they choose not
to apply the rules that they are aware exist. I couldn't
care less if you insist on cheating. What I am talking
about is using your 'foot wedge' to better your lie
or nudging the ball onto a tuft of grass in the fairway,
or take a mulligan for that sand shot that didn't quite
make it out of the bunker the first time. None of these
rules infractions impacts me so basically I don't care.
Golf is a game that you play against yourself. I play
against all of my previous scores and you play against
all of your previous scores. Each of us trying to beat
each and every round that we ever played. However, once
you start to effect my round by slowing down the play
for everyone on the golf course I've got a bone to pick
with you. You might not be breaking any rules but in
my mind, given that we are not playing against each
other like those guys on the PGA tour, I consider you
to be breaking something more important than the 'rules
of golf'. You're breaching the fundamental etiquette
of the game!
The fundamental etiquette of the game is that you should
endeavor each and every time you step on the golf course
to ensure that you not only don't negatively impact
the game of any other golfer on the course but in fact
assist in improving each golfer's experience. This is
why we fix ballmarks and spikemarks on the green, replace
divots on the fairway and rake sandtraps. While I can
personally attest to the fact that most golfers that
I have seen and played with are aware of these 'rules
of etiquette' few consider the speed of their play to
be a commensurate responsibility.
The fact is that on most golf courses, groups generally
keep up to the group ahead of them (hopefully the course
you play has a good marshal that insists that groups
that do not keep up pick up their ball and move to the
next tee). The problem is not that any one group is
slowing things down. The problem is that the overall
speed of play is too slow. And everyone is to blame
for it - you included!
Let's face it - you and don't play with Tiger Woods,
Phil Mickelson or Mike Weir. There is no need to change
your mind three times about which club you are going
to hit and then take six practice swings each time you
address the ball. Most courses these days encourage
golfers to play ready golf - do it!
Tiger Woods' headline making play has brought more
and more publicity to the sport and as a result more
and more people are taking up the game. These new golfers
often learn only bits and pieces of golf etiquette.
Knowing only a little bit of the etiquette they ensure
that they apply what they know. For the most part a
new golfer will know that the lowest score goes first
on the tee, farthest from the hole is next and if you're
lucky, not to walk in the line of someone else's putt.
It is the responsibility of veteran golfers to assist
rookie players in the 'rules' and merits of 'ready golf'.
Even the stodgiest golfer is not going to be offended
if you hit first when it was their honor. In fact, looking
at the big picture, most will appreciate it as it will
speed up play and everyone enjoys their game more when
they do not have to wait.
Don't be misled - rookie golfers are not the sole reason
that golf is too slow. Often I find that, because of
their eagerness, and because they don't know any better
they are the most proficient of golfers in the application
of ready golf.
Golf is meant to be a social game and should continue
to be so. If it were not there wouldn't be an issue
of slow play - there wouldn't be any golfers on the
course! Ready golf does not mean that you cannot converse
throughout your round or tell jokes to your golf partner,
it merely means that the person who is ready to go next
hits their ball and the group moves on. Further, when
playing ready golf it is important that each golfer
is aware of where the other players balls are so that
they are always aware of when a shot might take place
and so that they can curb the volume of their conversation
while these shots are being taken.
Ready golf is simple. Be thinking about what club you
are likely going to hit before you actually stand over
your ball. As you are walking or driving towards your
ball guess at the distance to the pin and evaluate the
lie so that when you arrive at the ball you have at
least narrowed down the club you are going to hit to
one or two at the most. Watch other golfers in your
foursome from where your going to hit your next shot
rather than standing next to them for ever shot and
then proceeding to your ball. When on the green look
at your putt while others are making theirs. The first
person to finish reading their putt should go ahead
while the others in the group evaluate their putts -
regardless of who's farthest away. If you putt and miss
your first putt by a couple of feet don't mark your
ball, pick it up, clean the ball and then wait for someone
else to putt. The proper etiquette to follow when playing
ready golf is to politely tell the balance of the group
that you are going to hole out and then proceed to do
so. Likely you already know the line as a result of
your first putt. Your group will always finish the hole
faster using this strategy rather than waiting for your
turn using the 'farthest from the hole' rule. Most golfers'
number one complaint is people who stand around on or
around the green after they hole out making them wait
to hit their shots. Mark your score on the next tee!
Once your group has finished, quickly put the pin back
in the hole and make your way to the next tee- preferably
off the back of the green. Don't mark the scorecard
and certainly don't 'try that putt one more time' or
you might end up with an approach shot in your ear.
Golf is an old game with many traditions and etiquette
that should be respected when possible. I get that!
However, when the game is to the point where I (and
many others) avoid playing golf on the weekends because
of five and half hour rounds there's a problem.
If we can all commit to playing ready golf and keeping
up with the group ahead of us then perhaps more of us
can finish our rounds on the weekend rather than trying
to find our balls in the dark coming down the 18th fairway.
Article courtesy of Jim
Paterson of TheGolfExpert.com