One of the hot topic’s in golf these days is why the game is in such steep decline, especially amongst millennials. As a 28 year old millennial myself, I think the culprit is as simple as slow play.

Someone might ask, how does slow play drive people from the game? Here’s how. Imagine Frank’s a 33 year old guy living in a major US city and has recently started a family. Frank lives 20 miles from his public golf course of choice, and tries to get one round in per weekend. Now he’s got a 10:08 tee time Sunday, hoping to arrive around 9:35 to sign in and warm up before teeing off. Frank leaves home around 9, fortunately tees off on time, but is then subjected to a 5 hour round of golf that he can only enjoy so much because he’s concerned about being away from his family for too long. The round ends around 3:15 on a Sunday afternoon and Frank’s subjected to typical weekend afternoon traffic. Thus, he gets home between 4 & 4:30, meaning Frank was away from home for nearly the length of a work day. Playing that round in 3.5-4 hours would mean Frank’s off the course by 2:15, and given traffic conditions, maybe home by 2:45, saving him nearly two hours.

How did slow play become the norm in America and where did it start? Certainly not the game’s founders, as the standard pace of play in the British Isles is 3.5 hours, walking. In my opinion, it comes from PGA Tour influence. The average American golfer, since they see pros take well past their allotted 45 seconds to execute a shot, think it’s acceptable to take even 30 seconds to play one. This is unacceptable. According to a 2011 study done by Peter Kostis for, 18% of tour players observed exceed the 45 second limit. The same study determined that the average amateur round of golf takes a grueling 4 hours and 58 minutes.

I take pride in being a very fast player, and try to share that experience with others in an effort to prove its how the game is meant to be played. Here are some speed of play tips of mine that will help stymie golf’s popularity decline:

  • Understand that practice swings are for the pros, not the 15 handicapper. They end up being a waste of time & energy, yet aren’t worth it.
  • Play ready golf all the time, through the green, on every tee, no matter how much money or pride you may be playing for.
  • Whether you’re walking or driving, pull up parallel to your ball even if you are ahead of your playing partners, but far enough to the right or left of their line of site to keep yourself out of danger. The number of golfers who sit in a cart while their partner is hitting baffles me. Another waste of time.
  • Read your putts while your partners are putting, no further explanation is needed.
  • Find the right set of tees for you and your game. Evaluate a course and its length and decide if it’s right and fair for you to be playing from said distance. Of course, players can play courses too short at times, and are then waiting on the tee and into the green too often. I’ve always found that the best way to analyze a courses distance in comparison to your game and skill level is to find a set of tees where you hit as many of your 14 clubs over the course of the round as possible. That means a course where you may use a fairway or hybrid a couple times per round off of the tee, into a par five, and into a par 3. It also means you find a course that provides par 3 and 4 distances where you hit as many of your irons or wedges into the greens as possible, as well as a course with par 5s where you aren’t forced to hit driver 3 wood 5 iron to merely get the green.
  • Lastly, while nobody wants to be hit with a ball or hit into the group in front of them, exercise common sense. If you’re 245 yards to the middle of a green and can’t hit a 3 wood more than 230, it’s extremely unlikely that you could fly it into the group in front of you. As such, play away, and if you do hit a great shot and roll the ball up on them, apologize profusely and tell them it was a career shot. A rolling golf ball has never killed anyone, much less hurt a soul- at least I hope not!