Slow play exists at every level of golf. Starting from beginners analyzing each contour of the fairway, and perfecting their practice move, only to advance the ball a few yards; all the way to Tour Pro’s being put on the clock, or even penalized a shot. Slow play is stunting the growth of the game.  People don’t want to wait for you to check out at the grocery store, let alone watch you take your sweet time reading a putt!

As a Golf Professional in the Met Section, I see slow play everywhere I look. But where did slow play come from?  It seems like only in the past few years we have started getting vocal about the issue.  Did it pop up over night?  Did Sergio spread the bug years ago?  Probably not.  In all honesty slow play has always been around.  Golfers who aren’t good enough to be over-thinking still crunch the numbers on each shot and Tour Pros have always moved at their own pace.  However, we’ve all gotten a bit impatient and expectant of instant results.

Here are a few tips to move into the fast lane…

1) Be on the move: Don’t wait until your turn to start the thought process for the shot at hand.  After you hit a shot, watch where it lands and start your planning.  As you walk to your ball you can be making club choices and decisions on how to hit your shot.  While your playing partners are hitting, you can have a club out to be ready for your next shot.  This helps when on the green as well.  If you aren’t in your playing partners’ field of vision, get down and read your putt while they play.  The green isn’t going to reconfigure itself between your partner’s putt and your roll for par. Preparation helps put that extra knowledge to use.

2) Don’t be afraid to play out of turn, its called Ready Golf: Even in the professional events I play in, guys and girls play out of turn all the time.  As long as you’re in a stroke play event (playing out of turn in Match Play is loss of hole!), if you see your playing partner dealing with something (lost ball, club choice, slow caddy…), don’t be afraid to say, “I’ll play, take your time.”  You just took a ton of pressure off a struggling golfer and also got to play at a better pace for yourself.

3) Know your way around:  If you are walking or riding, always know which side of the green to park or put your bag down to get to the next tee.  That might seem like a small thing, but those few less steps save time and energy.

4) Fewer practice swings: Those 6 practice swings you made didn’t make the low runner you just hit any better.  Make one practice swing, two on the really tricky shots.  Any more than that and you’re going to find yourself guessing on what move to make.  Trust that in hitting those balls last week something actually stuck and can be put into use.

I’ve always tried my best to avoid being the slow player out on the course. Everyone dreads playing with the ‘slow guy’.  Thats why the slow guy doesn’t get asked to play (jk, but not really).  And it is ALWAYS the slow guy’s fault.  Doesn’t matter what it is, but I guarantee the slow guy had something to do with it.  So instead of being the root of all that your buddies see wrong with the golf course, pick up the pace, don’t get dragged around out there, and enjoy being outside for a few hours.  Now let’s pick it up, I think the guys behind us are waiting to hit…