Slow play has been an issue in golf for a long time. It came to the forefront again recently during the Masters, when Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka had to wait on most of their shots.
Koepka has been vocal about certain players. He felt that Patrick Cantlay played too slow. “Jon Rahm went to the bathroom seven times during the round and we were still waiting,” Koepka said. He said it starts with officials not enforcing the 40-second rule.
Some players move too slowly walking on the course and should receive the same scrutiny and punishment as those who take too long pondering their next shot.
If professional golf is going to have viewers, they need to put the players on a shot clock. Professional baseball went to a shot clock this year and the games are shorter and more enjoyable. Basketball also has a shot clock. Rounds of golf on TV need to be about four hours.
Here are ways we can speed up play for amateur golfers:
• Choose the correct set of tees from which to play. Play where you can hit greens with lofted irons instead of hybrids and fairway woods.
• Minimize time on the tee – hit when ready. Also play a provisional ball if your original ball is possibly lost or out of bounds.
• On the tee, always pay attention to fellow golfers’ drives so you help them find their ball.
• Once off the tee, forget etiquette and play ready golf, as long as there is no danger of you being hit.
• In a golf cart, the driver should go to the playing partner’s ball first and drop them off, then proceed to their own ball.
• Having a yardage device will speed up play since the golfer won’t have to look for sprinkler heads or walk off distances.
• Players should always park the golf cart to the side or behind the green so you can exit quickly, leaving the front of the green open for the next group to hit.
• On the green, begin reading the green as you walk to the ball.
• Don’t bother marking short putts; just putt out if it’s short enough and not in someone else’s line.
• Consider leaving the flagstick in for long putts. It saves time on the green.
• Always keep up with the group in front of you. If you are not able to keep up, let the group behind you play through.
A round of golf should not take more than four hours and 20 minutes. If it takes longer than that, then someone is playing too slow.
Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at local golf courses. firstname.lastname@example.org; golfdoctorjean.com