Why golfers need to improve the pace of play

Friday February 9 2018

Shubhankar Sharma of India hits a bunker shot on the 18th during the final round of the 2018 Maybank Malaysia Golf Championship at Saujana Golf and Country Club outside Kuala Lumpur on February 4, 2018. PHOTO | MANAN VATSYAYANA |

Shubhankar Sharma of India hits a bunker shot on the 18th during the final round of the 2018 Maybank Malaysia Golf Championship at Saujana Golf and Country Club outside Kuala Lumpur on February 4, 2018. PHOTO | MANAN VATSYAYANA |  AFP

More by this Author

I’m writing this article sitting in a warm room in a guest house in St Andrews Scotland, just a short distance (a regular par 4) from the Old Course.

I’m in the heart of the Mecca for golf. I would love to play a round of golf but the temperature outside is colder than an auctioneer’s heart on foreclosure at an orphan’s home.

I would rather stay indoors.

It is not known where golf was invented.

The Dutch, Egyptians and Japanese are in a hotly contested paternity suit of who fathered golf.

Many other cultures like the Greek, Egyptians and even the Chinese are ready to carry out DNA tests to prove the connection between modern-day golf and the ancient game of sticks and stones found in the engravings in the tombs of their ancestors.

There is, however, no contest about who bore the Rules of Golf.

They were born in St Andrews, Scotland. These were born as the fellows from this corner of the world got bored of playing under different rules on different courses and realised that it would definitely be more pleasurable to play under similar standards on all the golf courses.

As their ability to think outstripped the mundane necessity of survival, they began think of how to make the game of golf more pleasurable.

Two hundred years after the birth of Rules of Golf in St Andrews, this week the Royal and Ancient are hosting teachers of the Rules from all corners of the world.

The issue of slow play, a problem which I thought was only peculiar to Kenya, is quickly becoming a worldwide phenomenon and it has the people at St Andrews worried.

The fact that slow play is beginning to impact the enjoyment of the game and is keeping some of the busy golfers away from the golf course has not escaped their notice.

It is time that we started emphasising to all golfers the importance of being our brother’s keeper; everybody will enjoy the game even better if we are all conscious that we have to play promptly.

I’m not suggesting that we move like greased lightning on the golf course, although that would help.

We just need to play at a prompt pace.

There are certain things that we can do to hasten our pace on the golf course. Here are just a few:

1. Prepare in advance for the next stroke – it should not come as a surprise to you that you are on the golf course to play golf. The best place to start is in your mind. The worst thing that you can do is think that you can supervise construction work or other jobs on phone and play golf.

2. Be ready to play when it is your turn – there are many things that you can do even when it is not your turn to play. You can get information of the distance that you would like to play. You can then select the club you will need to play and wear your glove in readiness. All these will shave off a few seconds to your shot.

3. Forty seconds – from when it is clear for you to play, it should not take you more than forty seconds to play your shot.

If it does, then you are taking too long and you need to make major improvements on your routine. All your practice swings and other rituals that you are so fond of carrying out before your shot must fit in the forty seconds. If you are able to take an even shorter time, you are a star.

4. Play “ready golf” – if it is clear that your playing partner is not ready to play his or her shot, then do everyone a favour, play yours.

If for example he is searching for his ball in the woods, play yours on the fairway first before going to help in the search.
If she is getting instructions from her caddie on how to play the next shot and it sounds like the lesson may last more than the forty seconds, then play your shot first.

Don’t forget to be courteous though, let them know that you intend to play your shot first so that you don’t both end up playing your shots at the same time.


There are more killjoys on our golf courses today who take inordinately long on every shot.

From the junior golfer with a shining morning face, to the impressionable youth seeking to shine even when making a shot at the bunker’s mouth.

From the middle-aged golfers whose world view has expanded enough accommodate all his shanks to the senior golfer sans teeth, we would enjoy the game even more if we improved on our pace of play.