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a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!

Posted by: user459944 | Thu 22nd Nov 2012 00:45 | Last Reply

I have just finished reading the latest feature from Golfshake regarding the latest survey on slow play


I love the way yet again beginners are somewhat blamed for slow play, yes there probably are the chosen few of beginners that dont know all the rules of play, hold up the odd golfer whilst searching for the odd stray shot, or take that little bit longer on the putting when we should, BUT, and i stress this BUT really strongly, i have played on a number of courses now in my 6 months of playing and i can without a doubt stress that it the sheer arrogance of a lot of more experienced players that have held me up a lot more than i have them.

hell it was only a week or so ago that a four ball kept me waiting over 15 mins to tee off and when reminded of slow play that i was was told that because they were members and playing in a competition that they we allowed to play at that pace they were, when i produced the rule book regarding slow play i was told un-politely to go away, i even complained to the pro shop after i finished my round to be told that ''some players are stuck in their ways !!'', says it all huh, now whilst you think i am having a whine up here about all experienced players i am not, i have met a few that are more than happy to let you play through or take your time hunting or re-teeing, i just like to stick up for us odd few beginners that do follow the rules to the best of our ability but get frustrated when lower handicap players feel they have the god given right to do want they want because we are beginners or higher handicap players. as always it is always the odd one beginner / experienced player that will spoil the great game that it is but i feel it is unfair that beginners should take most of the stick for it, i for one would be more than happy to carry a electronic tag saying how fast i was going round the course, or inventing a tag that we strap to ourselves and if the ones in front of you are in the process of slow play you have the opportunity to zap them with the flick of a switch with say 110 volts lol...or am i just starting to get sadistic now ??!!! thoughts anyone ???..

PS no offence Owen good piece, just like to put my point across from a beginners view..!

Last edit : Fri 23rd Nov 2012 13:14
re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
Reply : Thu 22nd Nov 2012 10:35

Tim, you have only had to suffer this for six months, just think how the rest of us long term players have suffered these past thirty years since the new wave arrived on our doorstep.

A four hour round, which is now considered as acceptable, equates to over 13 minutes per hole and with 10 minute starting times one can easily see why we have a problem on the courses.

I am no longer getting value for my money at any club these days simply because 36 holes a day are now very difficult to get in.

Everyone is geared to the one round of golf and it is now treated as a social gathering, which has added to the time it takes to go round.

Ability has no bearing on the time taken these days, attitudes to the game have changed dramatically and a return to the days of sanity, although welcome, will never be achievable.

A four ball in my days was three hours and a 2 ball barely over the two hours. I do agree that courses were designed to have the next tee adjacent to the previous green, which nowadays seems a luxury of the past, making long walks between holes a common problem.

Last edit : Thu 22nd Nov 2012 12:48
re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
Reply : Thu 22nd Nov 2012 10:56

If I can I will try and publish some of the comments from the survey that people added.

Whilst many do see slow play taking away some of the enjoyment and wanting to play slightly faster there were also a lot of comments saying that 'why rush' 'enjoy being out in the fresh air'. All valid comments and at times there is nothing more annoying then being pressured by the group behind when you aren't holding them up!

Interestingly in the US they now rate courses based on how long they predict it should take to plan and very few courses come in under 4 hours!! like JPs says a lot is down to squeezing new courses into tight space and not being able to ensure tees are next to the previous green.

re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
Reply : Thu 22nd Nov 2012 13:28


I agree slow play is not just down to beginners. I played in a 4 ball last week & one chap in our group was being really slow. When I highlighted that we were losing pace on the group in front & starting to hold the group behind he turned round & said "[email protected]@k em'. Needless to say the rest of us stopped talking to him as he approached his ball, made sure if he wasn't ready to play we did (as long as it was safe) & basically went on ahead. He soon got the message & promptly played a lot quicker & we caught the group in front.

If everyone took note of the basic etiqutte I posted on here or even printed out a copy & stuck it up in the changing rooms OR better still asked the pro or club secretary to hand them out to members I think some of the problem would solve it self??

Last edit : Thu 22nd Nov 2012 13:30
re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
Reply : Thu 22nd Nov 2012 13:37

I must admit to agreeing slightly to the "why rush"? comment. It is a difficult one, as some people really want to fly around the course, whilst others enjoy the more relaxed approach. I just like a nice steady pace where I am on the putting green as the group / player in front of me is teeing off at the next hole. I regularly play with one guy who can be a bit frustrating and will wait till he gets to his ball on the fairway and then faff on with deciding which club to take for his next shot. I on the other hand am contemplating this as I approach my ball and will only change my mind depending on the lie I have when I get to the ball. I also play with another 2 guys who are of a better standard than both myself and my regular partner and I can complete a round quicker with them, even though I feel we are playing slower. Due to work commitments I often play when the seniors are on my course for their regular Thursday morning, and if I am on my own they always tell me to play through and have a bit of banter on my way. They never rush me or make me wait at the tee.

re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
Reply : Thu 22nd Nov 2012 13:56

My regular Saturday morning 2 ball takes 2 hours 40 mins to complete. We play briskly, but without any sense of rushing. However I well remember weekend rounds taking close to 5 hours when I lived on the South Coast. Moving North to a private course has made all the difference. I agree with Tim's sentiments and have experienced slow play at all ability levels.

re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
Reply : Thu 22nd Nov 2012 14:10

I think that slow play is, and always will be, an issue. Regardless of ability. Why I do get greatly fustrated when I am held up I do not think it is fair to ask the players in front to rush their natural rythm especially if this is going to decrease the quality of their game. What concerns me more is the lack of people letting me play through. Because of the demographic of my club I will often grab a round on my own and I am frequently stuck behind 3 balls that don't even consider letting me play through. That really gets on my nerves, take all the time you want, just let me play through you and get on with my game at my pace

re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
user202037 [FORUM MODERATOR]
Reply : Thu 22nd Nov 2012 16:54

There is one big thing missing from many comments on 'slow play'. Where are the group in front of the guys in front of you.? The only clear ruling out there is that you should be asked through if that group is a "clear hole" behind, and not simply playing slower than you would like.

re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
Reply : Thu 22nd Nov 2012 22:24

JP, for a man of your statue and years in the game i can appreciate how frustrating this must be for you and how the game must have changed over the years be it method of play and the amount of players now playing the game compared to that of say 30 odd years ago, but with the current game that is played and those that take the time to have lessons or gain advice from more experienced players that some may have the advantage of playing with when beginning, you would think the old would teach the young to be a little more how would you say ''street wise'' when it came to playing, learning the basics like golf etiquette etc.. the first thing i did after my first ever round of golf was pick up a rule book, hell most clubs give them away for free nowadays, but if the senior players as JF has described dont play the game as such with the F&*K em attitude, we are all fighting a losing battle methinks, it will always be the mindless few that will spoil the game we obsess and love, and i dont ever think it will be truly eradicated, but i just want to put my point across that it isnt always the new boys that cause the hassle sometimes, thats not to say we are totally guilt free, i for one have enjoyed a 2.5 hr game and i also love to play a 5 hr round to work on a lot of things going on in my game and correct mistakes made in previous rounds BUT i will only do this on a quiet day on a course.... i'd like to thank all for comments on this and hope i havent p'd anyone off with my comments, just gets frustrating when the finger points in the wrong direction sometimes, again as a few have mention on here i think if the clubs took a lot more care and attention on courses, even marshalled the odd time now and again, slow play would be cut down a lot more than what it is? either that or bring in the electric shockers i for one reckon it would work lol !!! Darren it would be very interesting to see some of the comments from fellow shakers from the survey, once again thanks to all for comments.

Last edit : Thu 22nd Nov 2012 22:32
re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
Reply : Fri 23rd Nov 2012 08:07

Tim, One beginner on his own is usually faster than a group of experienced players. The biggest problem I have found is when a group of 4 beginners are playing together and all of them lose their ball and go looking for them without calling the following group through.

re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
Reply : Fri 23rd Nov 2012 10:30

HI all, interesting debate. There has been lots of opinions put forward since i wrote the slow play follow up and I think all are valid. I just wanted to chip in with a couple of thoughts having had time to take in every ones reaction.

Firstly i think the pace of play, although important is not the be and all. What people really don't like is being held up. A lot of research has been done into slow play and many suggest that creating separation between groups is the answer. I don't have the answer as to how this can be done, but John P's comment on tee times is interesting.

I also think that the game has changed a lot in 30 years. One major change is the length people hit the ball. At my home course we now have 3-4 reachable par 4's 3 reachable par 5's and 4 tricky par 3's. 30 years ago the par fours could not be reached, now half the club is waiting for the green to clear. Same with the par 5's. this creates bottlenecks all over the course. I think we have a mass of courses under 6500 yards in the UK and this is a very common problem.

I would also suggest that the creation of bottlenecks on par 3's reachable par 4's and par 5's is a factor in slow play on tour. Not the sole one but def a factor. Tiger and Rory did play 18 holes in China in under 3 hrs the other day with no one else on the course!

Last edit : Fri 23rd Nov 2012 10:31
re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
Reply : Fri 23rd Nov 2012 15:05

I had two experiences last week, firstly on Saturday my son played in his junior medal, for which I was required as his caddy. Some of the boys who were playing took forever on each shot, three or four practice swings after taking an age on club selection and lining up the shot, add into that lost balls etc, and we had a five hour round. There were four groups of boys, so I can only imagine what it must have been like for the groups following behind. Now all the boys play at a good standard (late teens, early twentys h/cap) so it can only be a lack of education in ettiquete that is to blame - I'm still quite new to the game, but I have worked hard with my two to ensure that they are in the habit of being ready to play, clearing greens, marking cards in the right place etc, and it is second nature to them - perhaps the pro's at the clubs should focus on this as much as the technical coaching.

ON Sunday, I played wih a friend at the same club, now I admit they squeezed us on, so I'm shouldn't really moan, but there were so many groups out, it was clear that anyone starting after midday were going to run out of light, we only finished because a lot of the groups gave up at half way, so after nearly 3 hours for 9 holes, we finished the back nine in 1.5 hours - I understand that golf courses need to make money, particularly if the sun is shining in the middle of winter, but I wonder how many of those who packed it in, will be back? It just looks very short sighted.

re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
Reply : Fri 23rd Nov 2012 19:46

Owen, have to agree with your comments, there are some really easy holes on some courses that speed up yoor game and hinder in catching up with those in front, and there are also some right buggers of holes that can take you forever to play to the end of even if they are 4's or 5's, i think a lot of issues especially in this joyful time of recession & weather, is the Golf Clubs, cramming in as much players as they can with the weather being like it is and ensuring there isnt a drop in profits also ??

re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
Reply : Fri 23rd Nov 2012 22:04

I saw two players on a 500 yard par 5 hit their drives 200 yards then wait for the green to clear before hitting their second shots while 2 groups waited behind on the tee for them to get clear.

re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
Reply : Fri 23rd Nov 2012 22:33

Can see it from both sides. But when you watch the pros on the telly take 5 hours when there are only 30 groups on a course it does not set an example for us amatuers.

I played in a comp at my old club & it took over 6 hours in baking sunshine. I was exhausted when I finished. Also as I am rather wayward at times that doesn't help either.

re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
Reply : Sat 24th Nov 2012 08:29

I can't say I've ever noticed it being particularly related to the standard of player - yep I have been held up behind wayward players (who may be beginners, higher handicappers or just having a bad day), but equally I've been held up behind good players who think they have a god-given right to take as much time as they like. The worst culprits seem to be 4-ball medal matches and (I'll take some stick for this) the women's meets. To qualify the latter, I'm not grouping all women into a 'slow' category, but at my club when the women all get out (not comp) they all play 4-balls, very few of them hit the ball more than 100 yards at a time, and they won't let you through even if there's a clear hole in front as they're 'with the group' - and they go out on a Friday morning immediately before the Friday lunch-time rush. Conversely the men's roll-ups play 3-balls to speed up play, take the first tees available in the morning so they are a few holes in before the majority of custom arrives, and are happy to let other groups through. I think that's a management issue as much as anything as it's regular groups of club members, who could be had a quiet word with.

Now slow play doesn't bother me too much unless I'm racing against the light or have somewhere else to be (in fact it can be amusing watching someone swing three different clubs before choosing one and duffing it), but what DOES bother me is people behind on a stacked course getting right up behind you, grumbling about the pace deliberately in ear-shot, knocking shots that little bit too close to you etc etc. Look around you, we would be happy to let you through, but in fact we're being held up, the group in front of us is being held up, etc etc. Doesn't matter if we're a 4-ball and you're a 2-ball, there is nowhere for you to go, so stop moaning. I find that affects my game far more than having a little bit of a wait for each shot. Even if I go out by myself or in a 2-ball at peak times I allow for a four hour round, if a course is stacked you can't expect to play through everybody - as David states, if you've lost a hole to the group in front you should let those behind through, but not if they're simply going to be waiting on the tee in front of you!

re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
Reply : Sat 24th Nov 2012 16:24

Played a couple of weeks ago going off really early 4th behind a 2 ball and 2 four balls. They were all fannying about so i jumped to the 3rd. By the time i got to tee off on the 18th the 2nd fourball were teeing off the 11th!! I know i was on my own but the queue of players behind them said it all!!

re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
user202037 [FORUM MODERATOR]
Reply : Sat 24th Nov 2012 19:31

Using the Pro Tours as an example is not a good idea. They are playing for a living, not as a hobby. Also they have to deal with spectators walking about. It can take 5mins to clear them from around a green so it is safe to play to it. Also the Pro's (and I include myself here) add an extra rule to etiquette that many ordinary golfers don't even realise it shows courtesy to the group in front. That is that we don't hit shots that will land close to the group in front (about 20 -50yds), a so called 'lay up' by some. The sound of a ball landing can disturb a golfer. Driving on a 300yd hole when the group in front is putting is a classic example. The group putting will\should know that some people can reach that green and hearing a ball land will make them look for a ball rolling onto the green. At some clubs, members who know each other will stand aside and wait for the group behind to drive before putting out. This actually can speed things up.

To me 'slow play' and 'pushing' are just as bad as each other.

re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
Reply : Sun 25th Nov 2012 00:38

the course i play at is only aa 9 holer and a 5700 yds is pretty short but the slowest player on the course is an ex pro that played on the tour in america, that can take around 5 hrs to get round and the reason he gives is hes just too used to the speed the pors play at and can`t go round any faster !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
Reply : Sun 25th Nov 2012 13:33

Lyth I think you are spot on To me 'slow play' and 'pushing' are just as bad as each other.

Maybe we should stop using terminology of slow play and refer to it as pace of play

you are quite right in there is nothing more annoying when you are being rushed when you are playing at a reasonable pace or being rushed when it's quite clear the whole course is going slow!

re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
Reply : Sun 25th Nov 2012 14:47

Complaining of being rushed is just an excuse for ones own slow play. Some groups certainly need a rocket up their backsides as they amble around in oblivion of who is playing behind them.

Good clubs keep 2balls and 3/4 balls separate by using the first and the 10th as starting holes, as well as having starting slots more in line with the pace of play. At course where the average time taken for a round is 4 hours then starting times need to be every 13 minutes.

Last edit : Sun 25th Nov 2012 14:48
re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
user202037 [FORUM MODERATOR]
Reply : Sun 25th Nov 2012 19:23


I think that 'slow play' and 'pace of play' are actually two different issues.

I have seen too often a group hit their tee shots then almost run to their balls and stand hands on hips waiting for the group in front, when they could have walked at a sensible pace arriving at their ball as it was their turn to play.

Taking over 3mins to choose a club and hit the ball is 'slow play', as is not looking at your putt while others prepare for theirs.

I will add too that on some days a course will play slower for no apparent reason. I used to play every Sunday in a Comp in the same time slot. We had the same players in front of us to the first off. A medal round may take 3hrs 15min one day and nearer 4hrs another. Why the difference? I don't know. They longer rounds didn't feel slower.

Last edit : Sun 25th Nov 2012 19:26
re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
Reply : Sun 25th Nov 2012 19:52


I can't agree with your last. Yes complaining of feeling rushed may be an excuse a slow player uses; however even the fastest player can feel rushed if unduly pressured by the group behind. If the group waiting can clearly see that your group are having to wait on the group in front to take your own shots, what does it benefit them to bang their drives up whilst you're still in range or shoot for greens you're still exiting to make a point? Especially when they can see there's three or four groups in front and there's nowhere for them to go.

I don't like slow play and I do not play slowly; but like queueing for any other activity if it's busy you just have to go with the flow. That of course does not excuse slow play, which as Darren and David highlight is an entirely different issue to a busy course dictating pace of play. On the other hand I disagree with Darren saying "there is nothing more annoying when you are being rushed when you are playing at a reasonable pace" - even if you're playing at a reasonable pace the faster group should be allowed through if there's a clear hole in front of you - BUT they shouldn't pressure you into it, certainly not when they've only just caught you at least (5 holes later, maybe!).

As with many other things, your views are as much about perspective as anything else - a faster player will probably be more frustrated about slow play than an average-speed player, because he sees the average-speeder as slow and slow players as really slow - whereas the average-speeder only has to worry about the slow players!

As to courses splitting starting tees/2 and 4 balls - sounds good in theory, but these are issues that only really apply at busy periods, so it only helps for an hour and a half (by which time the first 2 balls starting on the tenth have reached the first, where there's a queue of 4-balls waiting - it works for the first 1.5 hours and the last 1.5 hours when with everyone starting from the 1st, half the course is empty, but not for most of the day). I don't know any local clubs that do this (although there are a couple of uber-expensive private clubs I haven't played that may). Maybe you're fortunate enough to have access to a better club. And tee-times every 13 minutes - great in an ideal world, but commercial pressure dictates 10 minutes max at the clubs I can afford to join, more ofter 8 minutes.

It is interesting how speed varies from player to player though - there's nothing more frustrating than a very slow novice who takes forever to play a bad shot. But the slowest player I've ever played with is a young lad (13-14) who wants to go pro, he's off 5 at the moment (so although he takes a while to hit a shot, I bet his total time over shots for a round is the same as a fairly quick 20-something handicapper as he hits far fewer and rarely has to search for a ball!). He does get no end of stick for being slow and is speeding up. Conversely one of the best players I've played with rarely takes any time at all over a shot, just steps up and hits it - but then he's been playing 40 years, the last 10 at the same course, so it's pretty rare he comes across a situation he's not very familiar with!

Last edit : Sun 25th Nov 2012 20:26
re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
Reply : Tue 27th Nov 2012 09:28

Interesting feedback from a golf course who monitored slow play here on the Golf Club Managers Association website


re: a beginners rant on slow play - yep i'm moaning !!
Reply : Wed 28th Nov 2012 21:37

nice link Darren, I liked Alan's comments .....

Garforth GC recognised the problem some years back ad started logging start and finish times to provide statistics for analysis. Having established a pattern we have modified tee times, adjusted gaps between tee times, alternated 3 or 4 balls, penalised Members for slow play by relegating them to the end of the field in future competitions. How much effect has this had, virtually none. The answer I am afraid lies within the individual golfer. If every match kept up with the match in front, the pace of play would be quicker. We have statistics that show how just one minute extra between two matches finishing, longer than the gap between their start times, changes a 3 hour 30 min early in the day round, to a 4 hour 30 min round in the afternoon. Guys, dont blame your Cub for doing nothing, look at yourselves. Believe me weve tried

.............if only all clubs followed this sort of move maybe we all might end up with better & quicker games, but then it switches to another argument how do you time the person based on experience of play?

tough one methinks?!

Last edit : Thu 29th Nov 2012 11:16

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