Why You’re to Blame for Slow Play

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Ever get stuck golfing behind shanks, hook, skull and slice? Of course you have. It sucks, doesn’t it? Well, chew on this: Someone in your foursome is probably to blame, if not yourself.

More on that in a moment. But first, let’s state the facts:

  • Slow play is a serious problem in amateur golf
  • Slow play is a serious problem in professional golf
  • Slow play is never tolerated, yet is rampant everywhere

That last fact is perhaps the most important. I’ve played a ton of golf courses and almost every one has a statement on their scorecard (or on a sign) regarding slow play (e.g. “slow play is not tolerated” or “keep up with the group in front of you” or something to that effect). Why?

Well, because slow play is everywhere. It’s not isolated to a select few – I would even venture to say it afflicts about 1 in 4 golfers. Now I don’t have any data to backup my statement (not sure any even exists), but think about the foursomes you’ve played in – probably at least one person in each foursome could be labeled as a “slow player.” Sure, sometimes you’re able to push this person along gently, but other times you find yourself waiting on them (especially while the group behind you is waiting on the tee).

In any event, slow play is rampant. So much so, the powers that be in golf created the Tee it Forward campaign, which, as we stated in a recent post, was implemented mainly to curb slow play.

So who’s to blame?

Well, I say 3 in 4 golfers are to blame. Not the slow player, but the rest of the group (e.g. you). Slow play is a direct result of poor etiquette. Someone, somewhere, at some point introduced the slow player to the game of golf. It was up to that someone to instill the fundamental rules of etiquette in that new golfer – including an emphasis on slow play.

We are all responsible. We must make it a point (right up there with don’t step on someone’s line) to teach about the poor sportsmanship of slow play. This lesson needs to be learned right at the beginning – DO NOT hold up the group behind you – if you’re hitting your 12th shot on one hole, perhaps it’s time to pickup and move on to the next hole (your score doesn’t matter at that point anyway).

But there has been a lax in teaching proper etiquette to new golfers. It’s obvious – poor etiquette and slow play can be found in every foursome – and we have no one to blame but ourselves. Keep this in mind the next time you’re introducing golf to someone new.


  1. You fail to place any blame on how the courses are run. Go play a muni and then have an opportunity to play a private course. Big difference between letting 4somes go as soon as they can hit and keeping them on the clock. A well run course will have at least 10 minutes between tee times, with an open slot every so often. But greed has taken over and you see people teeing off every 5-7 minutes at most public courses. Just sayin…

  2. @cjndahouse, that’s actually a good point. I was going to include something to that effect, but decided to keep it focused on what we current players can do to help when teaching newbies. However, you’re right – far too often, public courses (especially munis) have no rangers to help speed up play simply because they don’t want to pay them. But, of course if we all did our part when introducing new players to the game, we may not need rangers…

  3. Anonymous says:

    The average score in golf is somewhere around 113. If you take 30 a shot, including getting to your ball etc, that works out to almost an hour by yourself. Add in three partners and thats a four hour round. If you feel 30 is ok you must be a speed demon. A four – five hour day on the course is fine with me. Its the 7 hr rounds caused by course over crowding that are the problem.

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