Guide to Speeding up Pace of Play
You want faster play? Make these suggestions to management.
It starts when the golfer first arrives at the course. The Pro Shop staff should tell golfers “we strive for and expect players to maintain a 4 hour pace” (or whatever you determine is acceptable for that golf course). They should then hand them a suggestion card and if time, go over the card verbally.
#1 Watch when your playing partner is teeing off. If a ball is potentially lost, hit a provisional.
#2 Drop off the player with the potentially lost ball. Point them in a general area and then go hit your shot. Most often, they will find the ball on their own while the rest of the group hits. If not, the ball is probably in a lie that would have been impossible to advance anyway.
#3 Remind golfers that the USGA allows only 3 minutes to find a ball. By the time the others in the group have hit, 3 minutes will probably have expired. (Sound cruel? Again, if the ball isn’t easy to find, it is probably impossible to hit.)
Now, train your “Player Assistants” how to assist players. When they identify a group that is falling behind, simply telling them “you are 5 minutes behind”, is NOT assisting them. They need to become a forecaddie to the group. They tell the group “hey guys, you are falling a little behind, I am going to help you get back on track”. The Assistant then drives down the fairway and watches their tee shots. If someone hits the ball offline, go find it and place a small flag by the ball. If your carts do not supply yardages, let them know what their distance is when they arrive. Fill their divots, rake their bunkers, fix ball marks. Usually, within one hole, they are back on pace. Some groups may get annoyed at this process and speed up just to get rid of you. Others will respond favorably and speed up because of your help. Either way, the result is faster play. If the group does get annoyed, remind the Player Assistant – better to annoy one group then the 20 behind them. If you don’t have fancy tracking on your carts, enlist the beverage cart person to help. If they see an open hole, call the Player Assistant on the radio and let them know.
From a maintenance standpoint, make sure the rough is maintained at a reasonable height for your clientele and leaves are picked up. None of this will help you if golfers can’t find their ball a foot off the fairway.
I never had a problem with slow play using this plan. Pretty soon your course will gain a reputation that you do not accept slow play. Responsible golfers will appreciate it, slow players will go elsewhere.