The world keeps getting faster. So why does golf seem to get slower and slower? And what can be done to speed up the game?

According to a 2012 study by the National Golf Foundation, the average 18-hole round on a weekend during peak season took 4 hours, 16 minutes. Weekday rounds clocked in at 3:55. Consider that many rounds on busy public courses approach or exceed 5 hours and it’s obvious there’s a problem.

Top 10 Tips for Faster Play on the Golf Course

Many reasons have been cited for the slowdown. As equipment has improved, golf courses have gotten longer and tougher. More water, sand, trees and rough mean more time searching for balls and hacking out of trouble.

Many courses built in recent decades are wrapped around housing developments, stretching the space between greens and tees. Some observers blame the pros for setting a bad example with their glacial pace.

Whatever the reason(s) may be, golfers still have control over the speed of their rounds. With the help of GolfNow, whose “Play Fast” program encourages golfers to do just that, here are 10 ways to pick up the pace.

1. Keep moving: Proceed quickly the next tee after putting out, and to your ball between shots.

2. Be ready to hit: When it’s your turn to play, take 45 seconds, maximum, to hit your shot.

3. See it, read it, hole it: While others are putting, read your putt and be ready when you’re up. If you’re first to hole out, grab the flagstick and replace it once the last golfer has finished.

4. Use rules with discretion: Even though the Rules of Golf allow five minutes to search for your ball, you should take no more than three minutes before declaring a ball lost and taking appropriate relief.

5. Always be prepared: Start the round with tees, markers, balls and a ball-mark repair tool in your pocket. Replace head covers as you walk or while waiting for others to hit. Write down scores on the next tee, not at the green while the next group waits to play.

6. Be cart smart: Drop off your partner and drive to your ball, or vice versa. When you leave the cart, take three clubs, not one. Park behind greens, not in front, whenever possible.

7. Watch your partners: When someone in your group hits an errant shot, watch it closely to pinpoint its location. Help others search for balls when it's convenient – close to your ball, for instance – and move on when it's not.

8. Play your correct tees: Choose a set of tees with a Slope Rating no higher than 142 minus your handicap index. For example, if you carry a 22 index, the highest-rated tees you should take on would be 120. Or, just tee it forward (e.g., play one set ahead of your usual markers).

9. Speak up: Ask management to set up the course properly by keeping the rough at a reasonable height, green speeds manageable and pin placements away from extreme ridges or humps. Also ask for tee times to be spaced 9-10 minutes apart, for groups of less than four to be consolidated (i.e. put twosomes together) and for fivesomes to be prohibited during busy periods.

10. Be accountable: Recognize that slow play isn’t always the fault of other players. If your group falls behind or is constantly getting pushed, take stock of your own behavior, pick up the pace if you can, and encourage your mates to do likewise. And should the course marshal ask your group to speed up, don’t take it personally. He’s just doing his job.

And one to grow on:

11. Let faster groups play through: If you’re being pressed and the coast is clear ahead, wave the next group through. It’s always the right thing to do.


  1. Be Prepared: Arrive at the course early, warm up efficiently, and have all necessary equipment ready before your tee time.
  2. Be Ready to Play: While on the course, be ready to hit your shot when it's your turn. Visualize your shot, select your club, and address the ball promptly.
  3. Keep a Good Pace: Walk briskly between shots and don't linger unnecessarily on the green after holing out.
  4. Limit Practice Swings: Avoid excessive practice swings before each shot, as it can slow down play.
  5. Use Cart Wisely: If using a golf cart, park it strategically to avoid unnecessary backtracking between shots.
  6. Limit Search Time: Spend a reasonable amount of time searching for lost balls. If needed, use a provisional ball to save time.
  7. Play Ready Golf: Encourage playing ready golf, where players hit when ready instead of strictly adhering to honor on the tee.
  8. Mind the Pin: On the green, tend the flagstick for others and be prepared to putt when it's your turn.
  9. Be Courteous: Be respectful to other players and avoid disruptive behavior that may distract fellow golfers.
  10. Learn the Rules: Familiarize yourself with basic golf rules to avoid unnecessary delays and disputes.


  1. Q: How can I speed up my pre-shot routine? A: Simplify your pre-shot routine by focusing on key elements such as alignment and visualization, and reduce unnecessary steps.
  2. Q: Should I walk or use a golf cart for faster play? A: Walking can be faster on some courses, especially when there's heavy cart traffic. Choose based on the course layout and pace of play.
  3. Q: Can I mark my ball quickly on the green? A: Yes, marking your ball and cleaning it on the green should be done efficiently to keep the pace of play moving.
  4. Q: Should I wait for my turn to begin planning my shot? A: No, use the time when others are hitting to start planning your shot so you're ready to hit when it's your turn.
  5. Q: How can I avoid slow play in a group? A: Encourage playing ready golf, limit distractions, and be considerate of others' time when playing in a group.
  6. Q: Can I play “ready golf” during a competitive round? A: Yes, ready golf is acceptable in many situations, including friendly matches and some competitive play.
  7. Q: How can I speed up my play on the putting green? A: Read your putt while others are preparing to putt, and be ready to line up and putt when it's your turn.
  8. Q: Is it necessary to rake bunkers after every shot? A: While it's good etiquette to rake bunkers, focus on doing it efficiently, especially during busy rounds.
  9. Q: Can I ask others to play faster? A: You can politely remind fellow players of the pace of play, but avoid confrontation and maintain a friendly demeanor.
  10. Q: Should I avoid using distance-measuring devices to save time? A: No, distance-measuring devices can actually help speed up play by providing accurate yardages quickly.
  11. Q: How can I maintain a good pace on crowded courses? A: Be prepared for longer rounds on crowded courses and focus on maintaining a steady pace without rushing.
  12. Q: What should I do if the group ahead is significantly slower? A: If the group ahead is much slower, inform the course marshal, and they may assist in improving the pace of play.

By implementing these top 10 tips and considering the answers to common questions, you can enhance your pace of play and enjoy a smoother, faster round on the golf course. Remember, respectful and efficient play benefits everyone on the course and contributes to a more enjoyable golfing experience for all.