In this edition I’m joined by Steve Carroll, Dan Murphy and Alex Perry to discuss one of golf’s thorniest topics. You guessed it – it’s slow play in golf…

Given we all apparently care so much about slow play in golf, what measures do you take to ensure that your group is moving along nice and speedily?

Steve: We’ve finally managed to get rid of the honour system in my group and that’s saved bundles of time – as has the new flagstick rule. If we think we’ve lost our ball, we hit another and we don’t spend too much time looking for the proverbial needle. It’s all common sense, really. Which is probably why not many people do it.  

Dan: Initially, I just make sure that I’m going about my own business in prompt fashion and hope to lead by example. If we are holding someone up, I’ll happily let them through. I don’t think that happens as much as it used to but maybe it’s just a sign of getting old. Eventually, as a last resort, I will just start walking ahead of the group/culprit and hope they get the message that way.

Alex: From deciding what I’m going to (try and) do to pulling the trigger, I’m fairly quick, so just making sure I’m ready to go when it’s my turn. I generally try and play with similar-minded people. If I am playing with someone taking the proverbial, a sarcastic comment, as it is with most things in life, is usually my go-to approach.

Mark: I’m not sure I do anything other than try and stay ahead of the group behind or, better still, play at a quiet time of the day. I think I walk quite quickly but, otherwise, I have a laser that doesn’t really work and I’m too interested in other people’s shots so I’m probably part of the problem.

Though, with that, I’m not bad at knowing in which bit of rubbish you’ve just hit it into.

slow play in golf

Are you quick, moderate or slow yourself? 

Alex: I try and play as quickly as I can because, as I’m sure a lot of people do, I feel like I play better when I’m going at a nice rate. The worst thing that can happen to me is having too long to think about things, so I end up dedicating too much headspace desperately trying to not be the slowest player in the group.

Steve: That largely depends on how many shots I take on a given hole. Can anyone really be quick if they’ve run up a 10? I’ve got a worsening case of the chipping yips at present and can find myself freezing on a little bump over a bunker. I can spend 30 seconds looking at it. I’d like to otherwise think I’m quick but, combine that with a convoluted pre-shot routine which looks like a bastardised form of yoga, I’m probably pedestrian.

Dan: I don’t think anyone thinks they are slow, do they? Apart from tour pros faced with incontrovertible evidence I guess. Sometimes, perceived slow play is just bad or unfortunate play, like having to reload or search for balls repeatedly or knife one out of a bunker and not lose your turn. And which of us hasn’t suffered that grisly fate at one time or another?

I’m a big fan of the new ready golf culture. I think that everyone should establish that they know where their own ball is before looking for anyone else’s. Once you have lost the line of an errant tee shot it is incredibly different to locate your ball.

Mark: Moderate/slow. I’ve always thought I was OK but someone recently pointed out that I’m not and, after a bit of thought, that seems fair enough. I kid myself that because I can get round in two hours 15 minutes on my own I must be quick. In company I’m on the slow side for which my only excuse is that I enjoy the whole experience too much and am in no rush to do anything else.

slow play in golf

Do you go out of your way to avoid playing with someone who is slow?  

Dan: Hmm. No, not really. Maybe I would though. Many years ago, I used to go on a five-man golf trip so we played in a three and a two with a morning and an afternoon round. I liked being in the three in the morning, to settle into the day ahead, but it was a real result to be in the two for the after-lunch session. It meant that tired limbs and sinking spirits could be restored by the finishing line coming rapidly into sight. And a shower and a pint was yours before watching the pathetic sight of the threeball wearily hacking their way down the last. I’m sure the twoball used to score better in the afternoon as well.

Steve: There are some slow-play merchants I know who stalk the tee sheet waiting for a late spot to fill. By the time you’ve realised what’s going on you’re halfway down the 1st watching them make their 20th waggle. If I know in advance I’m going to be paired with a slowcoach then, I admit, I’ll move tee times. It’s no fun for me and it’s no fun for them if they feel I’m sprinting around. Better for all parties, really.

Alex: Yes and no. It largely depends on the situation. If it’s a club competition situation a slow player is going to be the bane of my morning. On the flipside, there is little I enjoy more than five hours on a quiet course with a friend I haven’t seen for a few months. Shall we hit a few balls at the short par 3 over the lake? Sure, why not?

Mark: We have an annual trip where the third round, the day two pm one, is horrific as tiredness, lunch and a reliance on lager tops to keep the jitters at bay catch up with everyone. One member of the freak show is like JB Holmes on diazepam but, equally, is hilarious company. So I will go out of my way to partner him at the back of the group so we can decompress, giggle and dawdle together and just make it round before the light goes. It’s lovely.

Want to read more about slow play in golf?

Slow play has been a bit of a hot topic since JB Holmes’ antics at the Genesis Open. Alex Perry and Mark Townsend debated whether or not it was acceptable, while Dan Murphy argued that it’s not the tour players that are the problem.

Elsewhere, our Rules of Golf expert Steve Carroll looked into how long you are actually allowed to take, before listing five things your club can do to help solve slow play in golf.