Don’t Play Faster, Play More Efficiently

Slow play on the PGA Tour has blown up in the past few weeks. Brooks Koepka (rightly) called out Bryson DeChambeau for taking two minutes to line up and hit an eight-foot putt, which he missed.

(No one seems to have commented on the irony that both B.J Holmes (who plays like he owns the course) in the British Open, and DeChambeau, in the Northern Trust, were paired with Koepka, who would be Death To Slow Play if he could.)

I don’t care a flying fig if Tour players are slow, but I do care about moving it along when I play my recreational game.

What it comes down to, to me, is playing more efficiently. Everyone saving a few seconds every time they do a particularly thing adds up to a significant time saving over eighteen holes. Or even nine.

Here are my suggestions, taken from Bob’s Living Golf Book.

– Take clubhead covers off and leave them off. Fiddling with them takes time, and they get in the way of finding the iron you want. The clubheads won’t get damaged if they’re left bare.

– Know where everything in your bag is so you can get what you need without delay.

– Play from the right set of tees.

– When someone is teeing off and it’s your turn next, stand beside the tee box, ball, tee, and club in hand, ready to go, rather than way over there by your cart, empty-handed.

– Don’t wait for the group ahead of you to clear if you really can’t hit into them. On the tee, consider letting shorter hitters tee off first (if they can leave their egos at home).

– When someone is hitting from the fairway and you’re next, start preparing so you can hit when it’s your turn. Don’t wait until the other player hits before you even start to get ready (J.B. Holmes). This is probably the best way to save time in recreational golf.

– You get one, and only one, practice swing.

– Step up to the ball and hit it. Standing frozen over the ball for the longest time or taking endless waggles or looks at the target does not help you in any way.

– Recreational golf is a social game, but chat when you are walking, and not when you should be getting ready for your shot.

– Always check the ball you’re about to hit to be sure it’s yours.

– After you play your shot, clean your club and put it back in the bag only if you are waiting for someone else to hit. Otherwise, start walking right away. Carry your club, and put it away when you get to your ball. If you’re riding in a cart, get in the cart with your club and go.

– If you have hit the ball five times and it’s not on the green, pick up your ball and drop it on the green when you get there. If you have hit the ball eight times and it is still not in the hole, pick it up and cease play on that hole.

– When looking for a ball that might have gone into high grass, remember that the ball is always 20 yards farther back from where you think it is. (I’m not joking about this, either. You know it’s true.)

– If someone else’s ball might be lost, play your ball first, then go help them look.

– When you get to the green, put your bag or cart on the side of the green nearest to the next tee.

– Read your opening putt as soon as you get on the green instead of waiting until it is your turn to putt. Don’t spend too much time reading the green. Your first impression is most likely correct.

– If you use an alignment mark, don’t spend too much time tweaking the mark, especially if the putt is a long one for which distance is much more important than line.

– Leave the pin in the hole.

– After your approach putt, putt out if it’s a tap-in.

– Falling behind the group ahead of you? To catch up, the first two players to hole out should go to the next tee and tee off, leaving the other two to putt out and handle the pin for each other (if necessary).

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