When you’re playing well you want to keep your momentum going. When you’re playing poorly you want to get the round over with as soon as possible. Either way the last thing you want is to spend more time on the course than you have to.
First, let me dispel a few myths and thoughts floating around the golf world. At times there is truth to every one of the following ideas, but most of the time they are incorrect. Men play fast, women are slow. 5-somes are slow. Good golfers are faster than high handicappers.
Two and three-somes foul up the pace of play. You’re OK if you’re not holding anybody up.
Let me say this – I’ve never seen anyone whose normal pace was anywhere near that of my wife and her 3 friends. They can walk just about any course in less than 3 hours and still get in a month’s worth of conversation. I’ve played in 6-somes that had to wait for a 2 or 3-some. I’ve seen an entire golf course backed up behind a group of low handicappers. And, your position on the golf course is determined by the group ahead of you, not the group behind you. If nobody pushed anyone the course could conceivably grind to a halt.
Many things contribute to a poor pace of play. Many private clubs regularly play in 3 to 3 ½ hours because the members usually know what club they will use for their 2nd shot before their tee shot even stops rolling. On the other hand, resorts often play much slower due to many of their players 1) haven’t seen the course before, 2) may only play a few times a year on vacations or business, 3) are on vacation and other than golf they don’t have anything scheduled that day till the cocktail hour starts at 5pm.
Moving around a golf course efficiently takes practice. Don’t wait till it’s your turn to play before deciding what club you want to hit. If you ride, take two or three clubs and walk to your ball while your cart partner plays. On the green, go ahead and figure out your line while others are looking at theirs. That way when it’s your turn to play you are ready. Park your golf car on the cart path as near as possible to the hole. If walking, leave your bag beside the green between the hole and next tee. Multi-tasking is OK on the golf course – talk to your playing partners as you’re walking or driving down the fairway, not while someone should be hitting their ball.
Allowing 15 minutes per hole is a 4 ½ hour round. This is acceptable on most courses. Shave just 2 minutes a hole off that and you are under 4 hours. Most major championships are played in about 4 hours. This doesn’t happen because they are professional golfers, it’s because touring pros know how to get around the course without wasting time and motion.
When all the dust settles, it just comes down to a few things. Keep moving when you play. Be ready to play when it’s your turn. Forget about honors, play when ready. Hit it, find it, and hit it again. If you can’t find it, drop another ball and hit that one. Golf is a lot more fun when you keep moving and don’t spend the whole day on the course. Your score will probably improve, too!
Kim Anders is Director of Golf at Estrella del Mar Golf & Beach Resort in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico. You can reach Kim via email at Kanders@estrelladelmar.com or call 1.888.587.0609, Ext. 3010. Find out more about the golf resort by visiting www.estrelladelmar.com.