Opinion: On Slow Play –

By Wayne Halm –

Few topics arouse as much passion in golfers as Slow Play.

Recently my golf blogging buddy Jim Burton published a post concerning slow play.  Jim’s blog is The Grateful Golfer and the post is titled Ready, Set, Golf! … the post is worth reading and made me want to add my two cents.

I am a lucky golfer because I don’t feel slow play as much as some.  I enjoy being on a golf course with people and I have enough control over my life to allow 4.5 hours for a round.  It is just fun.

But I do know people who can only manage 3 hours – and they get on the course anyway.  They are just setting themselves up for frustration.  I sort of feel sorry for them and have a couple of ideas that might help:

  • Call early and get the first tee time.
  • At least check the tee sheet to make sure my name is not in front of yours.

However, I am not completely immune to slow play.  While I am not going to run around the golf course in three hours, the prospect of a six hour round will run me off the course.  Fortunately there is something that can be done about that.

I play golf with a lot of people – and I am proud to say I have prevented some six hour rounds.  How?  By watching everyone’s shots, making mental note of where the balls that missed the fairway stopped, then leading people to them.  I call it “shot watching” and it really does speed up play.

But as much as I would like to, I can’t play with every group that goes out.  We need more “Shot Watchers”.  Years ago I published a post encouraging shot watching, it is at Designated Shot Watchers.

Perhaps predictably the post had little impact.  Maybe I didn’t write it well enough, maybe the name wasn’t catchy enough, or maybe a lot of things.  I just don’t know.

Evidently I can’t make this happen by myself … so let me ask some of my golf blogging buddies for help:

Buddies, read the post ( Designated Shot Watchers ), if you like the idea write it up better than I did.  This really does work – and it is not “all or nothing”.  Every time a shot watcher saves a couple of minutes by pointing out a ball, every group behind get a couple of minutes shaved off their round whether they are watching shots or not.

Once that’s done … Come play golf with me.


Another post I’ve published on the topic is   The Goose

11 thoughts on “Slow Play

  1. I agree that slow play can be a problem. However, I think a bigger problem is when a group of players show up at a popular course on a Saturday, intent on finishing in four hours or less. They try to speed up play by hitting into the group in front of them, even though that group has nowhere to go! Finally, for their own safety, they allow the speedy group to play through. The tee box can be pretty tense at this moment, and hopefully, cooler heads prevail. The speedy group then moves on to torment the next group in front of them. That practice will not increase play.

    I also agree with ready golf and ball watchers, and try to practice both. My eyesight isn’t what it used to be. My best vantage point for following someone’s ball is standing at the back of the tee box. Occasionally, this position bothers someone and they ask me to move. Then they’re on their own. I definitely benefit from someone watching my ball! At least once each round, I hit a shot that I have no idea which way it headed! If nobody is watching, I’m just lucky if I find it!

    • Aloha Dan,
      Yes, the clash of expectations can be a real problem. Fortunately we don’t run into it often out here. But be warned, when you come back I full well expect you to watch my ball – because as you know, sometimes I have no idea where it went.
      A Hui Hou,

  2. Aloha Wayne,

    I liked your piece on shot watchers. Very underrated way to help keep things flowing! Thanks for the mention as one of your golfing buddies, I seem to be in good company.

    I will share it on Twitter tonight and hopefully drive some awareness!


    • Aloha Josh,
      Thank you. I, and I believe most golfers, will appreciate anything you can do to spread the word. And I feel very fortunate to have the great golf blogging buddies that I do.
      A Hui Hou,

  3. Wayne,

    I like the post and the idea! I have an article on slow play back in my archives. Your shot watcher idea is a great and easy way to speed up play! Keep up the good work! I will echo Josh as well and say thanks for including me in the buddies list!

  4. This is a complicated subject. For example I would never want my friend Vince to be the designated ball watcher – Vince says it went right and in fact it went left. He’s a great guy but has no clue on how to follow the flight of a golf ball. Secondly, “ready golf” takes care of most problems. Thirdly, not everyone needs to congregate around your ball while you hit – from the rough or fairway. And finally, not everyone needs to stalk the 15 ft putt only to 3 putt. I have way too many friends who take copious amounts of time just to 2 or 3 putt. And they do it serially- one after another. These are time wasters. But ultimately I enjoy the company of my friends and if the round is a wee tad long I won’t mind. After all these are people I “want” to be with.

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