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what is the proper pace of play when it's packed?


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19 minutes ago, jbern said:

I try to avoid popular courses in the area when I know it’s going to be busy

This was my thought at first, I tend to choose courses and tee times I know won't be jammed so my experience with this is from a couple specific courses I enjoy the setup even though they are understaffed and facing a hopeless task of keeping the place running like a clock. I set aside extra time to play these courses, but know what I'm signing up for going in.

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Our club has it posted on the scorecard and in the pro-shop that pace of play is 4:08.  If we play in 4 hours it seems an eternity.  It’s an old course with very little distance between most tee boxes and greens so we can play 3.5 hours without issue, walking.  If I am riding, we should play in 3-3:15 without rushing.  

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It depends on the groups…everyone will have a bad hole and that may slow down the group behind for a bit, understandable.  Frustrating when the guy scolds it across the green 4 times and the remainder of the group waits since he is still away…play ready golf, don’t wait for the green to clear on a par 5 when you’re 350 away and you hit your longest club 250.

Grew up playing where we could get around a course in 3.5 hours easy, now 5 hours seems to be the standard.  It’s painful to sit and wait for every single shot.

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On 6/12/2023 at 11:46 AM, richk9holes said:

This was my thought at first, I tend to choose courses and tee times I know won't be jammed so my experience with this is from a couple specific courses I enjoy the setup even though they are understaffed and facing a hopeless task of keeping the place running like a clock. I set aside extra time to play these courses, but know what I'm signing up for going in.

Exactly - normally we know when it's going to be slow.  I know when I play in league that I'm playing a muni that's trying to jam every single player possible onto the course.  Honestly I pray that they send a single out with my group so that we have four and my two league partners and I walk which slows us down a tad, too.  It's going to be at least a 2:15 and often closer to 2:30 nine.  Knowing it upfront and pacing accordingly helps.  

 

On the other hand I had a non-tournament nearly five hour ordeal at my private club last winter.  That was a first time that I ever had a round like that there.  I and several other members let the staff know that this was unacceptable after the round.  A notice was sent out to all members that we were responsible for our guests and that the expected pace of play was 3:56 minutes.  Fall behind that and hold another group up and you may be asked to skip a hole.  

 

Different animals, different expectations.  I know what I'm getting into ahead of time and prepare for it - I also don't invite slower playing friends to play at my club on Saturday mornings. 🙂

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have been the group holding everyone up before, but I was still under the course's stated pace by a good margin. Pace was stated at 4:15 and I was finishing 9 at 1:45 when the Marshall told me I need to hurry up. Was this really an issue with my pace of play or an issue with the tee times? I don't know what I could really have done about the situation besides just picking up and going home. 

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1 hour ago, hbetts said:

I have been the group holding everyone up before, but I was still under the course's stated pace by a good margin. Pace was stated at 4:15 and I was finishing 9 at 1:45 when the Marshall told me I need to hurry up. Was this really an issue with my pace of play or an issue with the tee times? I don't know what I could really have done about the situation besides just picking up and going home. 

Sounds more like a case of the Marshall not knowing how fast you were playing and saw a gap between groups. He was trying to close the gap. In that Case I would have just said OKAY and then ignored him. Being rushed when you are way ahead of schedule isn't acceptable. 

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Sounds more like a case of the Marshall not knowing how fast you were playing and saw a gap between groups. He was trying to close the gap. In that Case I would have just said OKAY and then ignored him. Being rushed when you are way ahead of schedule isn't acceptable. 

He definitely knew we were ahead of pace because he mentioned it. There were groups backing up behind us that were calling to complain and he basically said “I know you’re going faster than pace but we’re getting a lot of calls from behind you so we need you to hurry up.”

I just did as you said and kept my pace. I think that course was scheduling tee times 6 minutes apart which seems too fast to me. I stopped going there for that reason.


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2 hours ago, hbetts said:

I have been the group holding everyone up before, but I was still under the course's stated pace by a good margin. Pace was stated at 4:15 and I was finishing 9 at 1:45 when the Marshall told me I need to hurry up. Was this really an issue with my pace of play or an issue with the tee times? I don't know what I could really have done about the situation besides just picking up and going home. 

Not knowing much about this whole situation, whether it was just then and Marshall got the wrong impression or if the group behind was simply playing faster than your group.  

General etiquette normally dictates that if it is open in front of you and obvious that group behind is playing faster - you simply find a spot to let them through.  I'm not understanding the on pace portion of this much.  As it has nothing to do with it.  It isn't a punishment, it allows them to play at a quicker pace, opens up breathing room for your group and thins out a potential bottleneck by a little bit.  

If there are groups stacked up around the course, it is not much of an option as it won't do much.  We've played where four groups on every hole.  You tee off while group ahead watches from fairway, they hit approach while you watch, then you wave up the group behind.  and so on.

But in this instance, again just based on what I've read, probably just let one group through and it all settles in just fine.  Positives all around.

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Not knowing much about this whole situation, whether it was just then and Marshall got the wrong impression or if the group behind was simply playing faster than your group.  
General etiquette normally dictates that if it is open in front of you and obvious that group behind is playing faster - you simply find a spot to let them through.  I'm not understanding the on pace portion of this much.  As it has nothing to do with it.  It isn't a punishment, it allows them to play at a quicker pace, opens up breathing room for your group and thins out a potential bottleneck by a little bit.  
If there are groups stacked up around the course, it is not much of an option as it won't do much.  We've played where four groups on every hole.  You tee off while group ahead watches from fairway, they hit approach while you watch, then you wave up the group behind.  and so on.
But in this instance, again just based on what I've read, probably just let one group through and it all settles in just fine.  Positives all around.

Yeah I usually let faster groups play through. The problem here was there were multiple groups stacked up behind me but no one in front. Maybe I should have just let one group play through and the others would have spread out a little as a result, but the Marshall made it seem like there wasn’t anything to do about the whole situation but play faster.

Nothing like that has ever happened before or since so I guess I’ll just cross that bridge if it come to it again.


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6 minutes ago, hbetts said:


Yeah I usually let faster groups play through. The problem here was there were multiple groups stacked up behind me but no one in front. Maybe I should have just let one group play through and the others would have spread out a little as a result, but the Marshall made it seem like there wasn’t anything to do about the whole situation but play faster.

Nothing like that has ever happened before or since so I guess I’ll just cross that bridge if it come to it again.


 

On the bright side ....... it is done now.  Now that you state it that way - I think the Marshall was lacking answers either, so he tried something.  understandable and maybe it was just him telling himself "I tried"

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  • 1 month later...

Not an easy issue to solve at a public course unfortunately. Playing ready golf, there’s no reason it should take more than 4 hours, even if you’re shooting 120 (ask my wife). 
 

The biggest problem I notice is where twosomes in a cart are tethered to each other. They both sit there until the first person hits his shot, then they proceed to the other one’s ball.  Rather than drop you off at your ball, I’ll go to mine, then we’ll meet up. 

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I don’t consider a 4 hour round the norm anymore. 30 years ago, yes. But it seems today that the norm is closer to 4:15-4:30. I can handle a round taking 4:15-4:30. That’s a pace that doesn’t get frustrating. Any longer than that and I do get a tad frustrated. 

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Pace of play is a pretty controversial topic. I have a buddy I play with weekly. Sometimes it's just the two of us. When that's the case, we are usually the first group on the course. With nobody in front of us, it's usually between 2 hours and 2 hours 15 minutes for 18 holes. We both really hate to play slow. In a foursome, even when we have one guy who isn't very good, we are looking at 3 hours tops. It's not always possible for us to be first out. While we never get aggravated enough to yell, or hit into the group in front, I'll admit freely that waiting adds at least 5 strokes our scores. It's really hard to imagine what could possibly be making people play so slow. I think most people would find that the less you think about it, the better you'll play. 

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I am a walker and most at my home course walk (95% I would say).  I recently played with a friend is much better than me, he shot 84 I was 92, and we walked and finished in 3.5.  When I play with my normal partner, who is worse than me, it is never less than 4 hours and sometimes 4.5. I have taken 5 or more hours when the course is full and there is someone holding up others.  I fault 2 things:  1 - Marshall doesn't exist or if they do, they don't do their job, and 2) the level of knowledge of golf etiquette is horrible (the number of naked divots in the greens is a good indicator as to how people are).  So they don't let faster players through or they take forever to search for balls or they don't play ready golf, etc etc. You need Marshalls to move play.  And some clubs don't let singles out - you should be at least a twosome in my view, no singles should be allowed on weekends. 

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I recently had a slow round where we played through multiple groups who were nice enough to let us go ahead, but were really bogging down the pace in places. One group included multiple young kids. Another was 2 older ladies who looked to be just learning. A third group was a pair of men/woman who seemed be on a date. My group of 3 got around in 4 hours 40 minutes or so, meaning the group with the kids probably only played 9 holes but any group that paid for 18 who went out after me likely didn't finish in the daylight and took close to 5 hours.

This course is setup red/gold tees ~4900 white tees ~5700 blues ~6100

So not the longest course, but in my opinion not the proper place to bring kids under 10 or people who are just learning. Many times if 2 people are tethered to each other in a cart and taking a long time it's bc one of them is coaching the other, who is too new to be on the course.

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I hate slow play.  The only thing I hate more is when nothing is done about it.  Recently (public course) it was crowded and slow (5 1/2 hour pace).  I asked one of the rangers about it and he responded with, "they paid, so there's not much we can do."  I almost lost it.  By that same logic, as long as I pay for my food, I can raise a ruckus in a restaurant and disturb other diners, because I paid the check.  Or I can go to the theater and shout at the performers and ruin everyone's night because I paid for my ticket.  I'm sorry, that excuse doesn't cut it.  You paid to play golf, but you DIDN'T pay to disrupt the other 140 people on the course who you're holding up.

I used to belong to a semi-private course and they had what I thought was an excellent policy.  When you teed off, you were given a stamped time card by the starter.  When you walked off 18, you returned the card to the starter.  If you played in 4:20 or better, OR finished within 10 minutes of the group ahead of you, you were fine.  If you didn't, you were given a warning, and the next "bad time" would result in you being blocked from getting an early morning tee time on weekends.  You could still play, but you'd be going off around noon.  If you were able to demonstrate a certain number of "good times" going forward, you could be reinstated into morning tee times.  The system worked great, and slow players just adjusted to playing later in the day.

I would think that this same policy could be adopted by municipal courses.  They have your ID anyway, and as long as they clearly state the policy, it could be easily enforced.  Further, I strongly believe in empowering rangers to enforce the rules.  If you're out of position, give them the authority to tell groups that they need to pick up and move to the next hole.  If they give the ranger any flack, kick 'em off the course and/or call the cops.  My guess is that it wouldn't take very many "enforcement actions" before people would get the message.

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So.... my brother and I had an unfortunate issue at our home course over the weekend.  I have played there for 25 years and I know the owner well. We had a tee time for 9:45. We teed off at very close to that time. It took 1.5 hours to play the front 9. Cool, pretty much standard. We make the turn and there is two groups of foursomes waiting on the tee box... neither of which was in front of us on the previous 9. Another group of 3 came up behind us.

 

The first group teed off with no problems (they could hit the ball). The next group sprayed the ball everywhere, and continued to tee up balls. The group behind us started sqauking at the group on the tee box, telling them to pick up and move on. My brother and I saw the writing on the wall and decided to move on to another hole instead of waiting on this disaster. There was not an empty hole to be found, so we decided to just go back and play the front again. We pulled up and immediately got told to go to the back because we were in the middle of an outting. We were told there was no outting/s this weekend and things were clear sailing. 

at this point I started questioning the guy that was "yelling" at us about the outting that we were told wasn't there when we made the tee time. We never play when there is an outting because of the time it takes... and they well know it. We were lied to, and then chastized for being miffed... and the fact that there was 60 freakin' people on the back already. That's when the owner came out and we "got into it". It got rather heated, but no yelling and screaming. He couldn't understand why we so upsett...lol. I told him.... when you make the turn, you shouldn't be greeted with two groups ahead of you that weren't ahead of you on the front... let alone a group that has obviously never played the game until today. I told him I didn't have 6 hours to spend on the golf course. To that he replied... then why are you here? I'm like ... WTF!? I said...  did you consider that I have kids and grandchildren and that I might have other obligations and responsibilites for this day??? I love golf and I love to spend time on the course, but I don't have that kind of time, and your question is out of line.

Long story short... I went to the course after work and apoligized to him, face to face. I don't feel I was wrong for the situation that occurred, but I decided to be the bigger man and just smooth it out between us. 

What would you have done/said?

 

 

 

 

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@Caddie1966 based on your description of TX courses with pace of play issues/rules, I feel like we should know each other. Sounds exactly like 3 courses I've belonged to. I'm taking a wild guess you're currently at Diamond Oaks.  

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Reading a few of the replies here stating 4+ hours is the norm. I wish it was like that at my local. The expected norm is 3.5 hours and honestly get so annoyed if you take any longer. 
 

The problem is people don’t stick to their start time and are so quick to rush off the tee when they can see it’s already backed up and there is literally no where to go. Dont know how many arguments I’ve had about it. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Baffles me the number of people that expect 3.5 hour rounds - that's fine at your local private country club, but on a public course with 4 player groups spread 8 mins apart, you're going to be waiting....

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 9/4/2023 at 7:36 PM, stratgolf said:

Baffles me the number of people that expect 3.5 hour rounds - that's fine at your local private country club, but on a public course with 4 player groups spread 8 mins apart, you're going to be waiting....

But playing in 3.5 hours should be a perfectly acceptable pace. The results are exponential when one group is allowed to slow things down. That group may only be four minutes behind, but multiplied to the next ten groups, they may now be 30 minutes behind. Just keep up. It isn't hard. 

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Our course is 9 minute intervals on the first tee - with a Starter at the 1st and Marshalls spread around the course.  At any given time you wil see one between 3g and 4t, coming off of 6 to the 7t and in sight of the 8g, one or two on the back 9 - usually at 12t then roaming between 14 and 17.  The Marshalls get free golf in exchange for 2 6 hour shifts per week.  They do a good job - and are friendly, for the most part. "On Time" means playing each hole in an average of 13 minutes.  I play every Fri, Sat and Sun - a long round will be a tad over 4 hours - a short round will be 3:45.  Wife and I are walkers with push carts.  The course has a few noticable hills - but it's laid out pretty nicely.  We usually log about 5.5 miles of walking in a round. We've only been playing a year or so - and are still relatively high handicapers (19 and 30).

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I just want the slowest rounds to be 4.5 hours. I feel like that isn't too much too ask. It doesn't need to be 3.5 hours or even 4. Just don't want to be waiting 20+ minutes over every shot. 🙂

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A few pet peeves, The 220 driver who waits in the fairway for the green to clear, even though he's 270 yards away. The guy who sits in his cart waiting for the green to clear before getting out his range finder to measure the distance, then selecting his club, then taking countless practice swings, divots and all before playing.

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I do think that this often course dependent. The old home course I had played at we played as normal it would be 4.5 when it was packed and when we played the back 9 first that usually went down by 20 minutes with the same people just because of the way the course played. 

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Most of the courses around my city on the weekends are pushing 5 hours or more which is brutal, and with what half of them are charging these days, I just avoid unless I can play during the week when there aren't as many people on the course.  I understand that many have been taught that the one furthest out plays first but I wish people played ready golf more.  The pace could get down closer to 4 hours if people would play that way.   

My home course isn't in the best shape so we don't have a ton of people out playing.  It's about the only good thing about it currently.  My group that I play with can finish a round in about 3 hours.

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At my muni the pace of plays varies considerably from day to day and tee off time... all days are packed!!  Most days during the week playing before noon, our course can be played in 4:30.  Playing later in the day can be slow when twilight rates are in effect.  We usually play before 9am and our foursome plays in 3:45-4:00.  On weekends it's a little slower, but 5 hour or worse rounds are usually caused by "mini-tournaments" of small corporate groups or bachelor parties.  I've quit before on #6 green after 2 hours.

We don’t stop playing the game because we get old; we get old because we stop playing the game.”

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I work as a ranger at a semi private course and tee times are 9 minutes apart. We monitor pace of play all the time and our GPS system shows what each carts pace is. If we see a group falling behind pace more than five minutes we approach them and let them know they need to pick up their pace some and to keep the group going n front of them in their sight, if we have to go out and tell them again , after giving them some time to get back on pace, we tell them if they open a gap of more than  one hole we will make them skip a hole to get back on pace. That is usually enough to get them moving.

The right pace of play is to hit your tee shots when the group in front of you has clearly moved out of range of your tee shots, having everyone ready with their choice of club is important so you don’t have people waiting until it is their turn to hit to pull a club.

If people are hitting into you one time it is possibly and accident but if it happens twice I would call the course and have a ranger come and talk to them, if their isn’t a ranger(some courses do not have them) then then I would make them aware that their is no place to go, you have kept the group in front of you in sight. Be calm when you tell them the problem because argument s can escalate fast. Ha ha

I work as a starter at River Strand CC

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4hrs. No excuse for a non-tournament round to take longer than this. Play ready golf, be respectful, and use good judgement as to when to hit in respect to the group ahead of you. There will always be the folks that have no self awareness, and the folks that think their three foot putt is to win the US Open.  In that case the only thing you can do is notify a ranger or the clubhouse, never confront them. Golf is a game of etiquette and respect, unfortunately not all see it this way. 

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Pace of play is the ever ending talked about thing - I personally believe anything over 4 hours and 10 minutes to be excessive - quite frankly if you can’t play in under 4 hours you’re slow - too many people watching the pros dawdle over a shot or a putt , most won’t play ready golf and way too many play the wrong set of tees for their ability which increases the problem - played a country club course in Tn many years ago , on the tag they placed on your bag was a turn time and the starter said “ Gentlemen, if you do not turn within 10 minutes of your time you will be asked to leave - playing poorly is not a sin but playing slowly is “! I totally agree and pace of play increases revenue for the facility with more rounds and return guests .

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