Whether you are a beginner or veteran golfer, pace of play is an important topic to address. While views on what constitutes an acceptable pace of play undoubtedly vary between golfers, most would agree that a slow pace makes the game frustrating and less enjoyable for everyone. Improving your pace doesn’t mean rushing your swing or sprinting around the course, but rather focusing on what you can do to be more efficient with your valuable time and increasing everyone’s enjoyment of the game.


What is the Etiquette for Pace of Play?


According to R&A, players should play at a good pace. This means:


  1. Keep Up.It is a group’s responsibility to keep up with the group in front of them. If your groups loses a clear hole, or it is obvious that the group behind can play faster, your group should invite the faster group to play through.


  1. Be Ready to Play.Players should be ready to play as soon as it is their turn. When on the green, leave bags or carts in a position that will allow quick movement off of the green and onto the next hole.


  1. Provisional Ball. If you lose a ball in a hazard or it goes out of bounds, play a provisional ball. Signal to the group behind you to play through if it is obvious that your ball will not be easily found. Do not search for the ball for five minutes before doing so. Wait until the group you signaled through is out of range before resuming play.


For detailed information, check out R&A’s Pace of Play Manual.


Tips to Improve Your Pace


Small changes can go a big way in speeding up your round. If each player in a four-ball took just 5 seconds less per shot, the round time can be improved by over 25 minutes! Here are some simple things you can do to improve pace of play and make sure everyone has a pleasant golf experience:


  1. Plan Ahead

Confirm your tee time and get to the course early and ready to go. Give yourself ample time to pack your bag and check that you have all the essentials like tees and balls. Also check the forecast so you are dressed appropriately. Planning ahead also means planning your shot ahead of time. Don’t wait until you step up to your ball to figure out what you will do. Use your time wisely while others are playing to plan your next shot.


  1. Try Different Forms of Play

There are many different forms of play. Match, best-ball, Stableford, scramble, etc. Not every player needs to hole-out on every hole. Switch things up to keep things interesting and improve your pace.


  1. Be Ready

It shouldn’t come as a surprise when it’s your turn to play. Keep your head in the game, plan your shot ahead of time and know your yardage and club selection before you step up to the tee.


  1. Keep Up

You should be immediately behind the group in front of you. If you consistently struggle to keep up with this group and a gap opens up, allow the group behind you to play through.


  1. Be Helpful

Help others when it is convenient and will benefit the group. If you already know the location of your ball, help others look for theirs. Offer to help fill in divots or rake bunkers.


  1. Tee it Forward

Tee it Forward is a joint initiative between the USGA and PGA of America that encourages players to play from the set of tees that best suits their driving distance. A survey of Tee it Forward found that participants played faster rounds and had more fun. In general, stick to courses and tees that are a good match for your abilities.