Written by Joyce McCann, 18ers Rules Chair

Pace of Play aka Giddy-up Y’all

Frequently when we go out to play golf on a beautiful sunny morning, we find ourselves spending far too much time waiting on slow players ahead of us, or having the group  behind waiting on us. Thus, it is not surprising that the concept “Pace of Play” appears multiple times in the Official Guide to the Rules of Golf (Rules 5.6, 6.4; Committee Procedures 5G; Model Local Rules 8K). The sections on Committee Procedures and Model Local Rules list a variety of devices the Committee may adopt to speed up play. For example, often included on the player’s scorecard is a time when each hole should have been completed. This helps players in a tournament know where they stand during the round.

Below are some helpful suggestions in Rules 5.6 and 6.4 for our daily play at Rossmoor.

Rule 5.6b  (Prompt Pace of Play). Rule 5.6b reminds golfers to “play at a prompt pace” and offers advice on how to play efficiently. Importantly, it is suggested that we prepare in advance for the next stroke and be ready to play when it’s our turn. If everyone remembered that one piece of advice, Pace of Play would not be an issue. This Rule also sets an upper limit of 40 seconds  to make a stroke “after the player is able to play without interference or distraction.” Forty seconds is a long time, and the player should almost always require less time.

Rule 6.4 (Order of Play When Playing Hole). This Rule introduces the concept of “Ready Golf” in Stroke Play. This means that whenever you’re ready to hit your next shot you can do it, even if your ball is not furthest from the hole. This is an important permission, because for various reasons (e.g., you’re in a cart and another in your group is walking), you may reach your ball before the other player reaches her ball. Rule 6.4 also loosens the restriction in Match Play that furthest from the hole Order of Play must be maintained. The exception specifies that, if your opponent gives you permission, you may play out of turn. This too will help speed up play.

To sum up, a suggestion is that the next time you are not ready to play when it’s your turn, ask yourself why you weren’t ready. There are various reasons, some you can fix and some perhaps you can’t, but give it a try.

When it’s your turn to play, be ready!