Speed Of Play

Speed of Play - Santa Clara County Golf

Speed of Play - Santa Clara County Golf

Consider the average foursome. If each golfer individually wastes five seconds per shot and shoots 90, that adds up to how many minutes? Seven and one-half minutes. Correct. And that`s per golfer. Now, without any other mishaps, how many minutes does that add to the length of the round?

I`ll give you a hint. It comes after 29. That`s right. Thirty minutes added to the length of the round. Thirty minutes wasted, and that`s before you include thrown clubs, lost balls, the cart girl, Mulligans, plum bobbing, etc. No wonder the four-hour round is going the way of the eight-track tape.

Timely play remains the foundation for an enjoyable round. As those of you who passed Beginning Golf Etiquette will recall, the right things in golf manners often boil down to common sense -- and efficiency. Advanced golf etiquette does, however, require a greater awareness: of our surroundings, the other players and of the game itself. Here`s the good news: regardless of skill level or experience, age or gender, anyone can learn and practice these tenets.

What follows are a number of tips dealing with subtleties of social golf not typically covered in primers. Sometimes even your best friends won`t tell you.


One golfer`s convenience is another golfer`s nuisance. Basic courtesy insists that the interruptions be kept as brief as possible. You wouldn`t sit on the telephone at home while entertaining guests, now would you? Call them back at the turn if you must. An emergency situation, of course, allows for some leeway, and their value in sneaking out of the office is certainly a plus. But their use really should be limited; never in tournaments and sparingly among friends. No one wants to be reminded of pressing business elsewhere, especially on their back swing! One might apply the humorous touch -- the imposition of a penalty of a Mulligan or a stroke whenever the infernal device sounds off at inopportune moments.


We know that there is golf and then there is tournament golf, and that they are not the same. In the absence of a prize, a competition or a bet, an incorrect score must ultimately rest on the conscience of the sloppy mathematician, not yours. Who cares? During a recreational round the score is for all intents immaterial. You might ask the question this way: What do you want (for score on the hole)? Doesn`t it sound nicer than: What did you have (a three or a six)? And, nowhere is it written that you must keep score anyway. Like a rally in tennis, it might be more pleasant just to enjoy the satisfaction of hitting a good shot now and then.

A tournament, of course, is another matter. Then you owe it to the rest of the field to be unfailingly accurate. When someone appears to have trouble remembering their score, approach it as if it`s an honest mistake.


It`s the principle of the bet that`s at issue, not the amount. If you`d rather not wager, a suitable excuse is that you are working on your game, thanks but no thanks. If you are in the game, however, you are obligated to pay up. Would you want to do business with someone who doesn`t pay their debts?


Every golfer has sworn heavenwards: "Jeez, what am I doing wrong?" An answer is not required. It is not an invitation, or even a plea. It is rhetorical, the golfer a kettle blowing off steam. Better players especially must resist the temptation to share their worldliness. If someone does offer to help -- and you are inclined to hear them out -- the cure is best administered on the driving range. Playing partners should not be burdened with on-course instruction. After the round you will be able to devote your mentor your full attention.


Many golfers mistakenly believe carts are taxi cabs. They expect ball-to-ball service when time would be saved by pulling a few clubs and striking out in search of their ball. There oughta be a law about cart drivers pulling up so close to the ball that the cart must then be reversed (with that irritating beeping) for the shot to be played. Pull up alongside the ball, not directly behind and not close enough to cause a distraction. Gridlock often results when carts are lined up one behind the other on the path, the front cart holding up traffic. At the conclusion of the hole, just get in the damn thing, with your club in your hands -- and move it! At the next tee, you`ll have ample opportunity to stow your tools and tally the score.


Upon arriving at the tee, if the way is clear, it`s time to hit. The meter`s running. It`s not a time out, nor is it like changing sides at tennis where the participants sit, sip a drink and rest a spell. Play ready golf.


Here`s another reason to take just one. The more you take, the more mechanical the swing becomes. Visualize what you want to do. Staring at the ball or standing over it for too long creates tension. From the time he stood over his ball to the conclusion of his swing, the great Jones was said to take less than 3 seconds!


Riding in a golf cart should be considered the same as sharing a table. Be considerate of others with smoke, ash, litter.


It has been observed that half the people don`t care that you had a seven, and the other half wish you had an eight. Trust me. No one wants to hear the excuse, the explanation or the swing analysis, engrossing as you may find it. Of course, we are all guilty to a certain extent, but the blame game gets old fast. Society may be at fault for your duck hook. We sympathize, of course, but that doesn`t mean we need to hear a running monologue. Expressions of grief, joy or despair should be emphatic and brief. Old Tom Morris`s epitaph says it best: "modest in victory, generous in defeat."


Some golfers seem to have brake trouble, never coming to a complete stop. They pause, creep, delay, but they don`t stop. Stand still, positively, absolutely while someone is playing their shot. Then go.


Don`t ask. Immediately mark your ball on the green. If it`s not in the way, just leave it. Asking: "Is my ball in the way?" is an necessary distraction. It`s not a biggie but it will waste time.


Some putt with a glove, others don`t. Some who take it off could put it back on as they move to the next tee. But they don`t. They wait until it`s their shot and THEN put it on. Tick. Tick. Tick.


If the hole ahead is open, you are obligated to let golfers play through with the provision that a foursome has the right of way. When the course is crowded and a twosome is sandwiched in, they will just have to hold their place. Playing through is a courtesy extended, not a right assumed. Pressed by a group, it will ease the tension level to say: "We`ll let you through when a hole opens up." Of course, rather than slowing down to let them through, the preferred approach is to speed up.


Golfers are quick to note the transgressions. What was said about... if you want to make friends on the golf course, pick up a ball? We should be equally effusive about the small pleasures. When someone does something right when they make the effort to keep play moving, or not stomp all over your line, let them know it`s appreciated. Don`t take good etiquette for granted. Thank them. We`re all in this together.