10 pace-of-play rules every golfer should follow on the course

turtle sitting in green grass next to a golf ball

Pace of play is a hot topic in golf.

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Golf instruction is ever-evolving, but the best advice stands the test of time. In GOLF.com’s new series, Timeless Tips, we’re highlighting some of the greatest advice teachers and players have dispensed in the pages of GOLF Magazine. Today, we have 10 pace-of-play tips from our March 2003 issue. For unlimited access to the full GOLF Magazine digital archive, join InsideGOLF today; you’ll enjoy $140 of value for only $39.99/year.

Slow play is one of the cardinal sins of golf. Give yourself a putt outside the leather? Sure. Show up a couple minutes after your tee time? Okay. Use a foot wedge in the trees? Not the end of the world. But if you play slowly, you’ll be sure to hear about it.

No one wants to be stuck waiting on before every shot they hit. It makes it difficult to get into a rhythm and your score will suffer because of it. Golf is already hard enough — there’s no need to handicap other players by taking five minute to line up your three-footer for triple.

If you or someone you know is a constantly falling behind pace, it might be time for an intervention. The writeup below is from the March 2003 issue of GOLF Magazine, and it supplies 10 tips on how to speed up on the course. Apply them selectively or all at once. All that matters is that you keep up your pace. Everyone on the course will thank you.

10 pace-of-play tips

Hey, nothing personal, but you guys are killin’ us here. And there’s no excuse for it. “Us” is the noble fraternity of players who know how to navigate a golf course with proper dispatch. “You” are the others — the nameless, faceless, foot-dragging jabronis who are holding up “Us.” We know you’re not doing it on purpose. You want to do the right thing — at least most of you. And the good news is, this ain’t brain surgery. All it takes is some common sense — and common courtesy. So listen up. Come to think of it, do everything up. 

1. Wake up

Be ready when it’s your turn. And that means ready to hit, not ready to perform some kind of pre-swing mumbo jumbo. 

2. Step up

If you’re ready but your partners are still fumbling around, take the lead and let er rip — especially if you’re a shorter hitter and don’t have to wait for the players ahead to clear. 

3. Heads up

Keep an eagle eye not only on your own wayward shots but on those of your partners. Then, whenever possible, walk — do not ride — a beeline to the ball. 

4. Suck it up

Don’t search forever. Three minutes is legal, two minutes is considerate and one minutes is perfect. 

5. Sharpen up

If your game is built around ground balls, sclaffs, and four-putts, spend more time practicing, less on the course. 

6. Line up before your turn

To three-putt is forgivable; to three-putt slowly is not.

7. Get up and out of the cart

Don’t simply sit there while your partner is playing. And park smart: Never backtrack from ball to buggy. 

8. Learn the rules

If you must invoke penalties, do it quickly. 

9. Pick up

When your score hits double the par, try the next hole. Or another game. 

10. Keep up

Stay on the butts of those clowns in front of you, and you’ll never take any crap from the rest of us. 

Zephyr Melton

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at zephyr_melton@golf.com.