We’ve all been there. You arrive at the course to find golfers backed up on tees and greens – frayed tempers and ruined scorecards, not what you intended for your day off!

Admittedly there are a lot of things that a golf course operator can do the alleviate such issues (and we’ll look at some of these later) but fundamentally it is down to the players themselves to look at their performances, and to understand and implement basic and expected levels of golf etiquette to improve their speed of play.

‘Not my problem’ I hear you say, ‘we’ve just gone round in 4 hours 30 mins and not held anyone up’…wrong!

Ever been on a motorway sitting in a traffic jam with no apparent reason for the hold up? well the same applies to a golf course. 4 hours 30 mins at the start of the day soon becomes 4hrs 40, then 5 hrs plus as groups behind begin to back-up and each hole takes an extra minute or 90 seconds to complete.

So what can you do as a player?

Here at Patshull Park golf course between Wolverhampton and Telford, we urge players to follow some simple steps.

  • Make time to warm up. Go to the range or driving net , have a few practise putts.
  • Arrive at the first tee 10 mins early, not hopping around the car park putting on shoes 2 minutes before allotted time. You can also find out the local rules from the starter or golf Professional.
  • Play a Stableford Competition, this is a faster format provided the golfers pick-up if they cannot score on any one hole.
  • Plan your shots and select your club, whilst waiting for others to play. Move to your ball quickly, no more than 2 practise swings and play.
  • Leave your trolley on the exit side of the green, not in areas that delay players behind.
  • Fill in your scorecard on the next tee whilst others play their tee shots, not when it is your turn to play, or standing on the green wasting more time.
  • Walk quickly between shots (get fitter!)
  • Use a Strokesaver or GPS to quickly asses and execute strokes.
  • Understand golfing etiquette; If you lose a hole , allow faster players behind to go through – it is astonishing how abusive some golfers can become when asked to stand aside.
  • Do not drink alcohol on the course or before a game , like any co-ordinated activity , this will impair you.
  • Take water and protective clothing to suit the conditions , especially if it is hot and high UV level.
  • Keep up with the fourball in front, not just ahead of the fourball behind ( remember the motorway theory)

So what can Golf Course Operators do to help?

At Patshull Park golf course between Wolverhampton and Telford we have implemented the following steps to speed up the pace of play:

  • Ask for handicaps before a society booking is made (not always the optimum solution as many organisers do not know, and often ask players just to make up the numbers) but it is a deterrent .
  • Give Marshalls and Pros support to warn and eject repeated offenders. Have a reputation for trying to reduce slow play, and for being intolerant of poor etiquette
  • Clearly state the Terms and Conditions at first tee and in changing rooms.
  • Position clear directional signage on the course, so players can see where next tee is located etc
  • Cut grasses to optimum heights e g fairways to give a slight cushion, rough not too penal, greens receptive. Also bunkers well maintained and not too severe.
  • Clearly visible and regular Yardage aids on the tees and fairways.