Pace of Play

The problem of slow play and what we’re doing about it.

H. Smith Richardson is a wonderful golf course that we’re always trying to improve. If there is one complaint, though, that players make above any other here and at many other golf courses, it is slow play. In fact, we’re afraid that many golfers just don’t come to our golf course because they have to plan a five hour round, which is way too much time for most people. Besides, golfers know they play better when they get into a rhythm – and how annoying it is when a long wait ruins it.

So we’re going to try a new policy. It won’t affect most of our golfers because most of them know the little things you have to do to keep a group moving but for those players who have trouble keeping up a reasonable pace we’ve devised a plan to help them keep track of their pace of play.

A Tee Time For Every Hole

When a group tees off between 6:00 AM and 2:00 PM they will be given a Pace of Play Card that will list the times that they are to be on any given tee. It’s sort of like a tee time for every hole. We believe the front nine should take no more than 2 hours, 8 minutes to play without rushing and allowing for events such as lost balls and errant shots. Similarly, a group should be able to get around the back 9 in 2 hours and 7 minutes. Which means golfers can count on a round taking, at most, a little more than 4 hours, not five hours or more.

If one of our rangers spots a slow group, he or she will firmly but politely ask them to get back on time according to their card. If, a couple of holes later, they are still off the pace (no doubt causing a backup on the course), they will simply have to pick up their balls and move up immediately to behind the group in front of them in order to alleviate the delays behind them. If even this fails to convince them to stay on pace, we’re going to have to insist that they stand aside and let the groups behind them play through.

A group that is obviously not sufficiently able or willing to maintain our defined pace of play will have their names added to the Slow Play List. Of course, we’re happy to give the group pointers on faster play (taking enough clubs when leaving a cart or taking fewer practice swings, for example). But in an extreme situation, when the same player merits the Slow Play List two more times, we will have no alternative but to refuse the offending golfer a tee time before 2:00 PM for one month. 

We Want To Encourage Brisk Play

This way, a very slow player – for whatever reason – will not be able to ruin the rounds of everyone else. In fact, we want to encourage a culture of brisk, but not rushed, play.

We believe most players will welcome this policy because it will encourage shorter rounds of golf and put on notice those people who really are not entering into the spirit of the game. We hope golfers will soon get used to the reasonable pace of play and by not having to wait so long between shots, will have better scorecards at the end of the day.

For pointers on how to speed up play and a refresher on golf course etiquette please visit our link to the United States Golf Association web site. The videos and recommendations there are provided for the benefit of all golfers. .