Are You Causing Slow Play Unknowingly?

How do we fix the slow play problem, which is the scourge of golfers everywhere? I certainly don’t have the answers, but it helps to explore all of the causes of slow play. The most common reasons (difficult courses that aren’t designed for quick play, golfer ability, and course conditions) have been discussed at length, but here are some other causes of slow play that aren’t talked about as much but contribute to 5 hour and longer rounds.

• Carts—Yes, golf carts can speed up play in some cases especially when there are long distances between a green and the next tee. When players walk, they are likely to scatter and each player go to his/her ball, but when they’re in carts, a player will sit in the cart until the cart-mate has played and then drive to their ball. Players also routinely park carts on the wrong side of the green (away from the next tee) and sit in them next to the green and record scores which both add to the length of the round.
• Cost—The cost of golf balls leads to extended search parties each time one is lost. And when you have narrow fairways and / or tall grass at least one member of an average foursome is looking for a lost ball on every hole. The rules allow for a five minute search, but in reality if a ball isn’t found in the first minute it’s likely gone forever. Here’s a solution—if you’re using carts, only the two players in one cart look for the lost ball. The other two should keep on playing. Also, buy the less expensive balls. You won’t be able to tell the difference, save money and won’t feel as bad when you lose them.
• Carts 2.0—Beverage and food carts add significant time to your round. Many courses want their bev carts to see groups every three holes. So if you spend 2-3 minutes each time the cart stops, you’re added up to 15 minutes to your round. Are courses going to get rid of bev carts? No, but they could encourage people to get drinks at the clubhouse before their round.
• Clocks—Most courses have a recommended pace of play and/or clocks on the course to remind players of their pace. I played a course last week that had a notice on the carts that read “recommended pace is 4 ½ hours”. Ugh. First of all, just because something is recommended doesn’t mean people will do it. It’s recommended that we floss our teeth every day, but not many actually do it. Secondly, by recommending a pace a course is giving approval to pace that is slower than its recommendation. If someone plays in 4 ¾ hours, well that was only 15 minutes slower than recommended. Courses should not put a time on their rounds. Rather, they should say “Appropriate pace is keeping up with the group in front of you. If you can’t keep up, you must let groups behind you play through.” Golfers always look behind their group to see if the group following them is waiting. Instead, golfers should look ahead to see if they’re keeping up with the group ahead of them.
• Creatures—That means us. We humans tend to spend most of our time in our own little worlds. People can get focused on their task at hand and be unaware of what’s going on around them. We see this in several other areas outside the golf course. Slow drivers in the left lane on the highway and people taking up the entire aisle at the store are just two examples that make my blood boil.
So to help improve the slow play problem, courses and players have to make it a priority. New golfers need to be instructed on where to park their carts and how to play quickly and courses need to use incentives (discounts, etc) to motivate people to pick up the pace.

Thoughts? Ideas? Email or post at or

Brant Kasbohm, PGA
Director of Instruction