Get on with it!

It has been two years since Northern Golfer editor Dean Bailey’s last column on slow play, so let’s dive back into one of club golf’s biggest issues…

Two years on from my last attack on those who believe a five-hour round of golf is acceptable, it’s time to pick my pitchfork and torch back up and go on the hunt for slow players again.

It may be because I’ve been playing early in the morning over the last two years, but I really thought things were getting better. With a few rounds under my belt in 2024, playing at lots of different courses and at many different times of day, I can confirm things are as bad as ever!

I’ve listed the main reasons this occurs, particularly during competitions, and implore everyone to read these.

Ready Golf is simple to understand and incorporate into your games, and it is important all golfers know how long a round should take. You should also ensure you’re doing your best to keep to the correct pace by saving time between shots and being ready to play.

I am not saying you need to rush, I never do, but be aware of what you’re doing, how it may cause delays, and try to keep up with play.

My list of things which cause delays includes, but is not limited to:

1. My new number one cause of slow play – wait to tell your stories until you’re on the move. Please don’t be that golfer who believes the story of their birdie last Tuesday is so fascinating that we all need to stand on the tee box together, after you’ve teed it up, to hear it. Just play your shot and continue the story as you walk. Trust me, it’s never worth the wait.

2. You can (and should) ignore the honour system on the tee. Play when you’re ready, it doesn’t matter if it’s not your turn, just pop a tee in the ground and keep the game moving.

3. Don’t worry about marking your card straight away – we have lots of opportunities to do it. There’s also no need to take 10 minutes on the 10th tee to check the first nine either.

4. Stop patrolling the fairways as a pack. There is no need to head to each ball in order and have three players watch each stroke before proceeding to the next. Instead, walk to your own ball (unless helping with a search) and get ready to hit.

5. Be ready when it’s your turn – or when it’s appropriate to hit. The player furthest from the hole doesn’t need to play first in strokeplay. If they’re delayed, get on with your shot.

6. Be aware of what’s going on around you. There’s no shame in letting a faster group play through. Rather than rushing, take a pause and let the group behind get on with their round – both groups will be better off for the change in order.

7. If it’s stableford and you can’t score, pick the ball up. Returning a 12 for zero is pointless.

8. In competitions, if you think your ball might be lost, hit a provisional – it takes a lot less time than walking all the way back to the tee.

There are many reasons why golf takes too long – these are simply the things I’ve seen most often while out on the course. Be aware of what’s going on out there, keep up with play, and let faster groups through when it’s appropriate. We’ll all enjoy our golf a lot more if you do.