Here’s something where we casual golfers can actually teach the pros something! I just finished following a succession of 5-hour-plus rounds on the TOUR and then came home to play a round with the boys in 90-degree-plus heat. We beat the 5-hour mark, but nothing takes the sheer joy out of a round of golf faster than the people in front of you, or in front of them, playing slower, and slower.
What to do about it? Lowcountry courses do the best they can to keep folks moving, and courses here generally play faster than just about anywhere else. I’d love to see a local course promote a promise of “under 4-hour rounds”. I think they’d do a lot more business and increase their repeat customers who’d love to play, but not waste a whole vacation day doing it. But until that dream is realized, there are a few simple values we can all implement to do our part to make the day more enjoyable for our own group, and those around us.
1. Look around. Is the group behind you constantly waiting to play when there’s room in front of you? Let ‘em through, but don’t just stop, keep playing, while accommodating their quicker pace of play. I went to racing school once and the veteran drivers told me to just keep driving on my line and they’d get around me. Same thing applies to the golf course. If there are 6 balls being hit to a green for a moment, so be it, everyone keeps moving. The faster players will get through and the ones they’re passing won’t completely stop traffic.
2. Keep moving. The walk will do you good if you take two or three clubs and let your partner take the cart to go find his/her ball. Nothing stops play colder than going back to the cart for another club while the partner sits and does nothing. And have a second ball in your own pocket for your use, or your partner’s.
3. Be ready to play. Sure, golf’s a game of honor, but if you’re at the tee first, or ready to play and are 3 yards in front of a player on the other side of the fairway who’s helping his cart partner look for a ball, GO FOR IT! Nobody will mind. Same thing on the greens. The most maddening sight is standing and waiting in the fairway while 3 people watch a fourth line up his putt.
4. Take responsibility for your partners. Watch their shots to help them find them later, especially when they’re a little wild off the tee. Rake a bunker for a partner who is still outside of your ball on the green after the approach.
If anyone in the group ahead of us last week, or the group ahead of them, had done any of those simple tasks, we’d have all beaten the heat, had a round to remember, and remembered where had so much fun. Golf course operators in the Lowcountry are doing their part, but we can do a lot to help them, and each other, enjoy our rounds even more.