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Realistic Ways to Play Faster Golf

Discover practical tips and strategies to speed up your golf game. Learn ways to improve pace of play for a more enjoyable and efficient golfing experience for all.
Playing Faster Golf - Woman Hopping out of Golf Cart

Golf is a sport celebrated for its leisurely pace and focus on precision. However, for many players, the desire to play faster has become a priority. From what I’ve seen in the golf business, some golfers don’t care how they play but how fast they play. They can get upset by pace rather than how they are playing which is boggling. 

I understand that when it is slow, it can be very annoying but what is another 4-5 minutes extra on the golf course if you don’t have anything pressing after the round. Many courses push ways to play faster but I know that many of you don’t read them when you start your round. Let’s explore the benefits, rules, and actual ways you can play faster and not be that group on the course making everyone irritated behind you. 

Benefits of Playing Faster

1. Time Efficiency

  • Playing faster allows golfers to complete a round in a shorter amount of time, Most groups are expected to play just over 4 hours to 4.5 hours and everyone on the course budgeted their time to finish at that time. 
  • Faster play can reduce wait times in between golf shots, contributing to an overall more enjoyable rhythm for all players.
  • It all ADDS UP! What’s a few extra seconds on a hole that you wasted but there are 3 others that may waste time as well. Then you have 18 holes that you wasted time. All these seconds add up which can turn to minutes which are very crucial in keeping pace.

2. Improved Focus

  • Quick-paced play demands heightened concentration, helping golfers stay more engaged with each shot.
  • Eliminating long breaks between shots minimizes distractions, fostering a more focused mindset.

3. Physical Benefits

  • Efficient play can contribute to increased physical activity, providing a cardiovascular workout as players move swiftly between holes.
  • The continuous motion can enhance flexibility and stamina, contributing to better overall fitness.

Tips On Playing Faster On the Course

Here are the realistic ways that many golfers don’t realize they can do to help speed the game. Being educated actually makes you understand the pace of play and prevents you from being tagged “that” golfer that takes too long to play golf. 

1. Ready Golf

Every golf course usually has a display on their golf carts, scorecards or the starter will mention to play ready golf. But what does it really mean besides play golf when you are ready?  We want you to have fun and socialize away but always keep in the back of your mind to always keep playing and moving. Someone in your group always has to constantly be playing or preparing to.

  • Embrace the concept of “ready golf,” where the player who is ready to hit plays, rather than waiting for the golfer that is up or farthest away.
  • Someone has to be the one that leads the pace so if your group doesn’t play ready golf, be the one that always leads on the tee or just hit when you are ready to lead by example.
  • Keep conversations going along with playing golf.  Unless you are waiting for the group ahead, no need for all of you to get in a conversation when none of you are preparing or playing.  

2. Use of Golf Carts

Golf carts can assist in making your round go faster if you know how to utilize them properly in between shots, park them in certain locations and to use your cart partner to help rotate moving the cart ahead.

For example, if your ball is 60 yards out and your cart partner is in the bunker next to the green, grab a wedge and your putter and let your partner drive ahead so they can prepare their next shot. Then, after you hit your wedge in, just walk to the green (hopefully you landed on it) and prepare for your putt. That way you are both being efficient with your time. 

Another way to save a few seconds is to get in the cart with the clubs in your hands so you can get the cart moving. Then put them back in the bag when the cart stops at the next shot.  

3. Limit Practice Swings and Over-Focusing

Minimize practice swings to maintain a steady pace. That’s what the range was for beforehand.  You can always practice swing off to the side instead of when it’s your turn

Don’t stand over the ball too long. I’ve seen players do this many times and have a horrible outcome. Not only do you play bad but you slow down pace as well. They all add up when you have a lot of shots over 18 holes.

4. Set an Example

If you feel that your group is playing slow, mention this to everyone and you can start by teeing it first and picking up the pace and others should follow.  Sometimes a little jog here and there will help keep pace. Mostly if it is cart path only for carts so there’s a lot of waiting for players to get in and out of the carts. 

5. Read Your Putt While Others are Putting

This will save you time when it’s your turn to putt. In fact, you should already be reading your putt on your walk up to the green.

6. Keep an Eye on Wayward Balls

Pay attention to everyone’s shot so you can find any errants shot faster. When you hit a ball that may be lost, try to use fixed points in the background (like a tree or OOO stake) so you know where your ball entered. Limit only 2 people to search for the lost ball while the others prepare and hit their next shots.

7. Pick it Up and Move On

If you’re to the point of asking yourself why you’re playing golf because you have reached your limit by swings and mentally done for that hole, go ahead and pick it up and refocus for the next hole. 

8. Don’t Take Too Long at the Halfway House

Try ordering food and drinks on Hole 8 or 9 online or over the phone if possible.  

9. On Course Restrooms

If you need to use them on the course, try to finish putting on the previous green and sneak to the restrooms before everyone finishes. Even if everyone has to use them, there won’t be any waiting.

10. Just Play!

Just pick a target and swing. The more you think about it, the worse you’re likely to hit the ball.

Tips On Playing Faster Before You Hit the Course

1. Know the Course

If you’re playing a course for the first time, take some time to familiarize yourself with the layout and holes before you tee off. Even read the tips so you can have an idea where to go and what club to use.

2. Arrive Early

Make sure you arrive early to the course so you can register, get your drinks, use the restroom, practice on the range and putting green and most importantly, get your rangefinder out, ball marker, tees, glove and repair tool.  Being ready beforehand will prepare you to just play golf rather than organizing yourself.

3. Pace of Play Guidelines

Familiarize yourself with the course’s pace of play target. Private clubs have a tendency to ask for shorter round times than a public course.  They both may even have checkpoints on time on certain holes. 

Simple Rule is to just keep up with the pace of the group ahead of you if you saw them on your first hole


What If Your Group Simply Can’t Keep Up?

If you’ve tried your best and simply can’t keep up with the group in front of you (or maybe you’re playing fast already and the group in front and behind you has less players), it might be time to allow the group behind you to play through.

What If the Group Behind You Hits Into You

I cover this in more detail in my post about what should happen if a group hits into you. Politely warn them that their shot came near you and if it happens again, ask the course marshall to deal with them or call the clubhouse to bring one out. 

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Picture of V Tongwarin

V Tongwarin

Visanu Tongwarin or “Coach V” is a Class A PGA Teaching Professional at Legacy Ridge Golf Course and Walnut Creek Golf Preserve in Westminster, Colorado. V's brings his passion for teaching the game of golf to all levels of golfers from running children clinics to training state champions and seasoned professionals.