Let’s Keep Pace!


Let’s Keep Pace!


Betsy Clark, Ph.D.

President, dbc consulting

The National Golf Foundation reported in the early 1990’s how, for the next few years, golf will continue to attract newcomers. For the past almost twenty years, thousands of people, in record numbers, took up the game for the first time or started over after many years. Today, even in these unusual economic times, the golf industry through its Play Golf America initiative, is promoting programs to attract new golfers or to renew interest in the game. Get Golf Ready, Play Golf America Days, Women’s Golf Month, Family Golf Month and Link Up 2 Golf are some of the program opportunities for new golfers or experienced golfers getting back into the game that are offered today at many golf facilities throughout the United States. Most new golfers or ‘renewed’ golfers spend many hours on the practice tee trying to find perfect swings. But ‘playing’ and enjoying the game requires more than just learning the fundamental skills. Knowledge and adherence to basic golf rules and scoring, personal conduct and etiquette while playing, care of the course and course management, safety, and pace of play all contribute to becoming a complete golfer.

Golf’s major challenge today continues to be SLOW PLAY. “Keeping pace” has reached epidemic stages at many courses where a few slow players are taking the enjoyment out of the game for many. Golf etiquette is the golfer’s observance of the code for correct behavior in respect to other players and to the course itself while playing golf. Proper conduct on the golf course as well as awareness of effective course management and safety while playing will help to (1) reduce the probability of injury on the course (2) speed up play, and (3) sustain the enjoyment of the game. In most instances, simple consideration of others and basic course management can help overcome most “time waster” situations and turn a 5 ½ hour 18 hole round into an enjoyable 4 to 4 ½ hour round! Test yourself on the following rules of etiquette, course management and safety…do you observe these ‘keeping pace’ rules when you play?

• Arrive at least 20 minutes BEFORE your scheduled tee time in order to take care of pre-round tasks and warm-ups.

• Be prepared to play as soon as the group in front of you is safely out of your range. While waiting for the group in front to clear your range, plan your upcoming shot and take your practice swing if needed.

• Watch fellow golfers shots that go astray and mentally make the position of the shot with physical marker (trees, bushes, stakes etc…),

• Play a provisional ball if you hit a shot that MAY BE OUT OF BOUNDS OR LOST. The Rules of Golf state that you play a provisional ball from the tee after all of the others in your group play their shot.

• If course rules are to keep the golf car on the cart paths, take two or three clubs with you for each shot. After you have selected your clubs and take your shot. Let your car partner proceed to their shot. Walk ahead to meet your cart partner after hitting your shot.

• When walking, walk briskly between shots. Know when it is your turn and be ready to take your shot. It is acceptable to move slightly in front of someone in your group playing a shot providing you are safely to the side and not disturbing them while they are preparing to take their shot.

• When on the green, or when you have a short approach shot to the green, park your golf cart or pull cart or leave your bag between the green and the next tee. Leave the green immediately when all play is completed. MARK YOUR SCORECARD ON THE NEXT TEE!

• When on the green, the player closest to the hole should attend the flagstick or pull it out and set it out of the way of all putts. The first one to putt out should collect the flagstick and replace it alter everyone in the group is finished.

• Pace yourself by focusing on where you are in relation to the group ahead of you rather than the group behind you. If your group does lose pace with the players ahead (fail one hole behind), let faster players play through. When appropriate, upon reaching a par 3 green, mark your shots, step to the side, and wave those players waiting on the tee to hit.



If you did not bring your swing with you…practice swings on the course will not help you find it! Look for the perfect swing on the practice tee or see your LPGA or PGA Teaching Professional to get your game back on track.

*CHECKYOUR PAR TIME (Average Time Per Hole)

Par 3’s 10 minutes

Par 4’s 14 minutes

Par 5’s 16 minutes

Work with these guidelines and TIME PAR for faster more enjoyable rounds of golf this season!

This article was originally published as “Let’s Eliminate Slow Play” in Tee Time Magazine (Winter Issue, 1992). Dr. Betsy Clark has worked in the golf industry for over 30 years and is currently President of dbc consulting. She is former (1994-2009) Director of Education and Research and Vice President of Professional Development, for the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA).


September 21, 2012