Playing at a better pace is not about hurrying up or rushing around the course. It is simply about being more efficient with your valuable time, as well as everyone else’s. Adopting this mindset – and not being afraid to share it with your fellow players – will ultimately add enjoyment to your golf experience. Here are some recognized tips for improving pace of play:
Confirm your tee time in advance and make it a point to arrive at the tee early with your golf equipment in order, ready to play. Remember essentials like extra balls, tees, gloves and appropriate clothing for the day’s weather conditions.
Minimize your time on the tee
On the tee it is usually acceptable for players to “hit when ready.” You can also save time by playing a provisional ball (Rule 27-2) if you think your original ball might be lost or out of bounds.
Carry extra tees, ball marks and a spare ball in your pockets
This will keep you from returning to your golf bag to retrieve them, should you find yourself in need of one.
Plan your shot before you get to your ball
Once you are off the tee, think ahead. Determine your yardage and make your club selection before it is your turn to play. Very often, you can do this while others are playing, without disruption. If you take your glove off between shots, have it back on before it is your turn to play. Even a small step like this saves time.
Keep your pre-shot routine short
Pick your line of play once and trust yourself. Try to take no more than one practice swing, then set up to the ball and play your shot. Most importantly, be ready to hit when it is your turn. Be efficient after your shot too. Start moving toward your next shot promptly.
Aim to play in 20 seconds
From club selection to pre-shot routine to execution, strive to hit your shot in 20 seconds when it is your turn to play. Help keep play moving at a brisk pace.
Develop an eye for distance
You don’t have to step off yardage for every shot. If you need to determine precise distance, try to find a yardage marker before you reach your ball, then step off the yardage on the way to your ball. Or, consider investing in an electronic range-finder or global positioning system for golf and use it when permitted by Local Rule. If others you are playing with are not familiar with the course, the Rules permit players to exchange yardage information without penalty.
When sharing a cart, use a buddy system
Don’t wait in the cart while your cartmate hits and then drive to your ball. Get out and walk to your ball with a few clubs. Be ready to play when it is your turn and then let your cartmate pick you up. Or, drive to your ball after you drop your cartmate off and then pick him or her up after you hit.
Be helpful to others in your group
Follow the flight of all tee shots, not just your own. Once in the fairway, help others look for their ball if you already know the location of yours. Volunteer to fill in a divot or rake a bunker for another player if needed. Be ready to attend the flagstick for others.
Keep up with the group in front of you
Your correct position on the course is immediately behind the group in front of you, not immediately in front of the group behind you. Arrive at your next shot just before the group in front leaves the area in front of you. If you are consistently not able to keep up and a gap opens in front of you, invite the group behind you to play through, irrespective of the number of players in the group.
Be efficient on the putting green
Mark your ball and lift and clean it when you arrive at the putting green so you will be ready to replace it when it is your turn to play. You can usually line up your putt while others are putting, without disturbing them. Leave your clubs on the side of the putting green closest to the next tee, and leave the green promptly after holing out. Wait until the next tee to record your score.
Callaway scoring only
If you are playing using the Callaway scoring rules, it is required that you pick up your ball after double par and move on to the next hole to maintain pace of play.
Talk after you shoot
Never hold up play because you're in the middle of a conversation. Put the conversation on hold, take your stroke, then continue the conversation.
Note: As the USGA’s Pace of Play Initiative continues to grow and evolve, our suggested tips for improving pace of play will be revised. Your input will be helpful to this process. Do you have a suggestion from your own experiences that you would like to share? Email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.