Top 5 Ways to Deal with Slow Golf Course PlayIt never fails. You get to the course and find the first tee wide open.

Off goes your group and after a few holes, you’re swinging well and in a nice groove. You walk (or drive) to the next tee and find a group waiting to tee off. Up ahead is another foursome in the fairway, and in front of them another on the green.

Bye-bye, momentum. Time to hurry up and wait.

For many golfers, especially those who like to hit their shots quickly (bless them), slow play is the kiss of death. First they become mildly agitated, then frustrated, and before you know it, they’re storming off the course and cursing a blue streak.

No doubt, slow play is a serious issue that plagues the golf industry. A typical round now takes about 4 ½ hours to complete – more time than many people are willing or able to devote to 18 holes.

Back to the main point: How to handle slow play without letting it affect your game. Here are five tips that can help:

Top 5 Ways to Deal with Slow Golf Course Play

  • Stay loose and work on tempo: Too often, repeated breaks in play cause the muscles to stiffen up. It’s also easy to have your tempo broken. Take the club you’ll use for the next shot and make slow, easy swings to keep your body loose and your swing in rhythm.


  • Talk to your partners: Nothing makes the time pass more slowly than watching the group ahead, counting the seconds until they replace the flag and walk off the green. Strike up a conversation and distract yourself – and your partners — from the agonizing pace.


  • Practice your chipping or putting: You’ve got time on your hands, so pull out a wedge and chip a few balls at the nearest tee marker. Try that flop shot you’ve been meaning to work on. Drop a couple of balls in the rough to see how shots react when hit from the thick stuff. If you finish a hole and there’s no one behind you, stick around and putt a few more. (It’s perfectly legal.) Who knows, your mini-practice may pay off later in the round.


  • Gather your thoughts: Rather than silently (or verbally) stewing over the situation, step to the side and assess your round thus far. Are you making a particular mistake over and over? Swinging especially well? Think about what you must do to fix a problem, or keep up the good play, and apply it going forward.


  • Enjoy the scenery: What is golf but a walk in the park (spoiled or otherwise)? Think of a slow round as an opportunity to stop and smell the roses – perhaps literally. Besides, where else would you rather be?


  • Bonus tip – Ask to play through, or summon a ranger: If you notice that there’s an entire hole (or more) open in front of the group ahead of you, politely ask if you can play through. If the opportunity doesn’t present itself – or on the off chance the group refuses your request — flag down a ranger or call the clubhouse and alert them to the problem. It’s in management’s best interest to please the customers, so they should either ask the offending group to pick up the pace, or insist that they let you play through.

Unfortunately, slow play is a fact of life. There’s no point letting it ruin your score or your enjoyment.


Dealing with slow golf course play can be frustrating, but there are strategies to help you manage the pace and maintain a positive golfing experience. Here are the top five ways to deal with slow golf course play:

  1. Stay Patient and Maintain a Positive Attitude: Slow play is an unfortunate aspect of golf, but it's essential to stay patient and maintain a positive attitude. Avoid getting frustrated and focus on enjoying the game and spending time outdoors.
  2. Be Prepared and Ready to Play: Be prepared to play when it's your turn. Review your yardage, select your club, and plan your shot while waiting for others to play. Being ready can help speed up the pace of play for your group and those behind you.
  3. Keep Up with the Group Ahead: The primary cause of slow play is groups falling behind the pace of play. Pay attention to the group in front of you and try to keep up with their pace. If your group is consistently slower, consider allowing faster groups to play through.
  4. Limit Practice Swings and Ball Searches: Minimize the number of practice swings and ball searches. While it's essential to make good shots, excessive practice swings and prolonged ball searches can add unnecessary time to your round.
  5. Use Ready Golf: Encourage the use of “Ready Golf,” which means that any player who is ready to play should do so, regardless of the honor on the tee. Ready Golf can help keep the game moving and reduce waiting time.

Additional Tips:

  • Be Efficient on the Green: Be prepared to putt when it's your turn on the green. Mark your ball quickly, read the putt while others are putting, and putt when you're ready.
  • Be Mindful of Distractions: Minimize distractions on the course, such as excessive chatting or taking extended breaks at the halfway house. Focus on the game to help maintain a steady pace.
  • Play from Appropriate Tees: Choose the tees that match your skill level. Playing from tees that are too long for your ability can slow down your play and lead to frustration.
  • Use Golf Cart Efficiently: If using a golf cart, drive efficiently and park near the next tee to save time. Avoid driving back and forth across the fairway.
  • Respect Etiquette and Rules: Follow golf etiquette and rules, such as repairing divots, raking bunkers, and avoiding slow-play penalties. Being respectful to the course and others can improve overall pace of play.

By employing these strategies and being considerate of others on the course, you can help manage slow play and enhance the enjoyment of the game for yourself and those around you.


Q1: How can I stay patient and positive when faced with slow golf course play? A1: Staying patient and positive is crucial when dealing with slow play. Remind yourself that slow play is common in golf and try to focus on the enjoyable aspects of the game, such as the beauty of the course and the camaraderie with your playing partners.

Q2: What can I do to speed up my own pace of play? A2: To speed up your own pace of play, be prepared and ready to play when it's your turn. Limit practice swings and ball searches, and use ready golf, where any player who is ready can hit, rather than waiting for the traditional order.

Q3: How can I keep up with the group ahead of me if they are playing slower? A3: If the group ahead is playing slower, you can take steps to speed up your play, such as being ready to hit when it's your turn and minimizing delays between shots.

Q4: Should I allow faster groups to play through if my group is playing slower? A4: Yes, if your group is consistently falling behind and there is a faster group behind you, it's considerate to allow them to play through. This will help maintain the flow of play on the course.

Q5: What is “Ready Golf,” and how can it help with slow play? A5: “Ready Golf” is a mindset that encourages players to play when they are ready, rather than strictly adhering to the traditional order of play based on the scorecard. Using “Ready Golf” can help keep the game moving and reduce waiting time.

Q6: How can I improve my efficiency on the green to save time? A6: Improve your efficiency on the green by marking your ball quickly, reading putts while others are putting, and being ready to putt when it's your turn.

Q7: How can being mindful of distractions help with pace of play? A7: Minimizing distractions on the course, such as excessive chatting or taking long breaks, can help you stay focused on the game and maintain a steady pace.

Q8: What are some etiquette tips to enhance pace of play? A8: Following golf etiquette, such as repairing divots, raking bunkers, and not holding up play by taking multiple practice swings, can contribute to a smoother pace of play.

Q9: Can playing from the appropriate tees help with pace of play? A9: Yes, playing from tees that match your skill level can prevent unnecessary challenges and delays, contributing to a more efficient pace of play.

Q10: How can using a golf cart efficiently improve pace of play? A10: If using a golf cart, driving efficiently and parking near the next tee can save time and reduce delays.

Q11: How can respecting rules and avoiding slow-play penalties benefit pace of play? A11: Respecting rules, such as not taking excessive time on shots and being mindful of the pace, can prevent penalties and help maintain a smooth flow of play.

Q12: Is there anything else I can do to help manage slow play on the golf course? A12: Being aware of your own pace of play and adopting a considerate approach towards other golfers can contribute to a positive experience for everyone on the course.