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Golf teaching and playing articles > Quicken your pace

3 Jun 2004

Slow play has become a major problem on golf courses around the country. It can make players give up the game, because a round of golf takes so much time.

How long should a round of golf take? In Great Britain, they allow a little more than three hours for 18 holes.

Mission Viejo Country Club has a four-hour, 15-minute pace-of-play policy.

At many public courses, though, it can take up to six hours for a round of golf.

The PGA and LPGA tours are concerned about the pace of play in tournaments. If you watch golf on television, you will hear announcers say that a group has been put on the clock and might get penalized because it has not maintained their position on the course.

Every player is responsible to make sure the group stays directly behind the group ahead of it. The players in the group must tee off before the group ahead leaves the green on a par-4 hole. On a par-5, they must be moving toward their second shots when the green clears ahead of them.

A tournament official will start timing all of the players in a group out of position on the course. Players are allowed an average of 30 seconds to play a shot. That includes the time to get yardages, select a club, analyze wind, etc.

A player is in violation if he or she exceeds the average time for the number of shots taken on a hole, plus a grace period of 25 seconds per hole - not per stroke. Only offending players will be penalized.

Example: A player making three shots would be allowed 90 seconds plus a 25-second grace period, for a total time on the hole of 115 seconds. (That does not include the time to walk to the ball.) Any player taking more time than this would be penalized two strokes. Tap-in putts are not counted in the timing average.

Here are some suggestions for improving your pace of play:

Keep up with the group ahead; you might not be playing fast enough, even if you are ahead of the group behind you.