– Should we let them play?
This is a question that honestly makes me feel a little uncomfortable on the course. In a sport where confrontation is almost non-existent, slow play is the only thing that leads to social media videos of grown men swinging at each other or taking off their shirts and flexing. This is obviously ridiculous and shouldn’t happen.
Transition is always an awkward situation – both for those waiting and for those trying to cope. Opinions vary on how to do it right.
One golf community on Facebook, Managing Editor of GolfPass Jason Scott Deegan belongs to who recently erupted after commenting that fours should never be obliged to let people play if they have the right pace. I get the idea, but I think there’s more nuance to it and there are many situations where letting a single or two people play is the right solution.
To help you deal with various scenarios on the golf course, we’ve compiled some tips – a list of do’s and don’ts you should take to help others play.
Any time in the first 5-6 holes you notice that the group behind has waited multiple times and you haven’t waited at all, it’s a good idea to let them pass.
The par 3 is a great opportunity to let the group through. Make eye contact as they approach the previous green and give them a universal wave that means they can go through it if they want. Go ahead and hit your tee shots and then wait. This way, once you hit, you can all get to the green and they can finish first and move on.
This probably goes without saying, but if you’re playing at a slower pace than expected on the golf course, you should allow the faster groups to play (and pick up the pace). However, if there are several groups behind you, this may cause problems with letting the group through. If you let one group through, every group after it will also want to move on, and this will disrupt the pace of the game even more. Sometimes you just have to accept that you’re not in the right position and shift into a higher gear to make a hole or two to keep things flowing on the golf course.
4. There’s a single or two stuck behind your group
Not everyone will agree with this, but unless the field is full, your three or four should allow you to play fast singles or twos almost every time. We’re all in there together and our goal is to play fast and have fun. Allowing smaller groups to play can shorten your round by 45 minutes and only cause a minor delay for your group.
5. Playing the turn
If the faster playing group is stuck behind your foursome for most of the front nine, stopping at the turn for a meal or bathroom break is quite an effective way to let them finish their game, provided they are willing to skip the stop. Once play begins, your group must leave the facility/club area to collect the 10th tee. This is a subtle signal to the next group that they should take a break for a similar break while your group returns to the rhythm of the round.
6. You are walking and they are in wheelchairs
I love walking and we should all walk more. But the single or two in the cart behind you will probably play faster. There are so many opportunities to pass them by without you even noticing. Just hit your tee shot on a par 5? Let the players in the wheelchairs behind you start as well. By the time you step up to your tee shot, players with a cart can already have their second shot and be well on their way to the green.
7. You get nervous when people wait
Personal add: I don’t like it when the group waits for my group on every shot or hole. I tend to feel a bit rushed and my attention is diverted from playing and enjoying the round. But by the simple act of letting the group behind me pass, I can focus my full attention on making a few birdies. You may feel the same.
At some point in the round, it is unnecessary to let the group behind you pass. Any time after the 14th hole would require an emergency to let the group through. By then, the group behind you will be happy to finish behind you and not rush through one of the last three holes just to finish a few minutes early.
2. When the course is full
One question you should always ask: If we let this group pass, will we wait for them? I’ve had situations before where a group let us pass and a few holes later they were still right behind us waiting for most of the holes because we had nowhere to go. Letting a group pass in a crowded field will likely cause more problems than it solves.
3. Four are behind you
Passing four is always a risky business. It’s likely that at least one or two players who go through the pressure phase will take terrible shots under pressure and slow down the game. Some foursomes play lightning fast, especially on any course that has a membership. But generally speaking, when a foursome is pushing you and there are gaping holes in front of you, it means your group is the problem. It’s time for you to step up.
4. When you’re on the green
However, if you are already on or near the putting surface, it is better to wait until the next teeing box to let the group in. Allowing your group to play while you’re close to the green isn’t the most efficient use of your time because you can’t hit shots or transition between shots as your group finishes the hole. Therefore, I suggest moving to the next tee and hitting the discs before you pass them. You can then go for a nice walk or drive up to the ball as they move.
In conclusion, just use your best judgment and try to provide the course to the best of your ability. We’re all in this together.
Have you had any awkward moments playing or letting the group play? Let us know in the comments below.
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