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Ready ... aim ... "hit the ball, already!" Slow players are the bane of the golfing world.
Ready ... aim ... "hit the ball, already!" Slow players are the bane of the golfing world. (Concept art by Radu Negrean/WorldGolf.com)

What can be done about slow play in golf (Or: Why golfers don't carry guns)

John J. WhiteBy John J. White,

Slow play is the pimple on the ass of golf. Everyone hates it, but they don't know how to get rid of it.

It's a good thing golfers aren't armed, as it would prove too tempting to pick off the guy in the group in front as he retrieves his fifth ball out of the pond. Murder, of course, is wrong, but it may be justifiable homicide, especially if the judge plays golf.

Worst case scenario: A Saturday round of golf on a Pete Dye course, cart path only, with Ben Crane's foursome in front of you and Rory Sabatini's group behind you. Then you'd probably just use the gun on yourself.

Speaking of Pete Dye, why do golf architects have to design courses so long and difficult? You end up with four average golfers trying to land a three-wood second shot on a green that calls for the ball to stop and back up. I've never heard of anyone backing up a ball with a three wood except for (note to non-golfers, the rest of this sentence is a golf insider's joke) Kevin Costner.

Here's how you can tell if you're a slow player:

1. You are new to the game. If so, then you are part of the problem. Pick up the damn ball! What's the difference between a 10 and a 14 on a par 4?

2. You're a woman. Okay, I apologize. Very politically incorrect. I'll redact. I meant to write: You're a womyn.

3. You are on the first tee wearing one of the following: blue jeans/tennis shoes/hot pants/Atlanta Braves ball cap, backwards.

4. You're older than me. All right, that's stereotyping and wrong. Some of the fastest players on my home course are octogenarians. Moreover, they finish their rounds in under four hours, consistently. However, when they drive home from the club, they are usually in front of me clocking 30 miles per hour with their turn signals on.

5. You own a ball retriever.

6. You give lessons to your spouse or child on the course.

7. You take mulligans - lots of them. Dammit, Jim, this is golf, not tennis! You don't get two chances to hit it in play.

8. You're on the PGA Tour.

As long as I brought that up, let's talk about slow play on the tour. You know the players are slow when you can flip channels, watch a Charmin commercial and check the weather before Jesper Parnevik lines up his putt. All tour players should use Angel Cabrera as their role model. The guy plays fast.

Here are some of my suggestions for speeding PGA Tour play

1. A shot clock: The tour already uses electronic signs on the holes, so just slap a clock on the screen. Players will have 24 seconds from the time the caddie hands them a club until the time they're required to hit the ball. On the green, the clock starts when they lift their ball marker. Penalty: One stroke for going over the allotted time.

2. Segways: These scooters would eliminate talkative caddies without damaging the fairways. Strap that big 'ol Callaway or Titleist bag to the side and scoot like crazy. You'd look cool and could park it close to the green without a little yellow flag attached.

3. Japanese caddie-sans: These no-nonsense women use motorized carts to haul your clubs and can only communicate with Jumbo Ozaki, so the Western pros would talk less and hit more.

The best advice I can give the average golfer is to just hit into the group in front of you to keep them moving. But only if they're smaller than you, and they're not packing guns.

John J. White is not a bad golfer. He just plays one on the course. When he is not golfing, he is an engineer and freelance writer. He has won several awards for his short stories, and has been published in literary magazines. He is currently working on his fourth novel, "Nisei," and lives in Merritt Island, Florida with his understanding wife, editor and typist, Pamela.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Re: Slow Play

    Joe wrote on: Mar 26, 2014

    In order to play 9 holes in 2 hours that's 13 minutes a hole. There is no way most 4 somes can do that. Don't watch anyone else hit their shot, never look for a ball, don't bother trying to read a putt, skip entire holes, take time out to listen to a lecture by the ranger on playing cart polo, forget who has honors, and hit every shot perfect.


  • Re: Slow Play

    Joe wrote on: Mar 26, 2014

    Personally I think if you like playing hockey, play hockey. If you like polo play polo.
    I don't like playing polo golf and I don't like hockey sticking the putting.
    Why bother even playing? They've got people not even playing the game anymore.
    You can't look for your ball, you can't read your putt, you can't take a practice swing,.....it's rush rush rush rush.
    I'm out there to relax and enjoy and the goal is the lowest # of strokes not whether I can burn down the course and be constantly hounding the group in front of me.
    Not everyone can pound it 300 yards and hit 16 fairways and 13 greens in regulation. Sorry.
    And I see an people playing polo and hockey. That's not golf, that's ridiculous.


  • Slow play

    Steve wrote on: Oct 15, 2012

    I am new to golf and there is the same differance between 10 and 14 strokes as 1 and 5 strokes to me. As far as hitting into the group in front of you, if I am in it your ball will be promptly handwedged into the nearest pond. I don't care how big you are. My lawyer can beatup your's. Just ask to play through. I will drink a beer and watch how great you are.


      • RE: Slow play

        paul wrote on: Sep 17, 2013

        Just what golf needs - more dick heads with no sense of humor who should take up tennis if they shoot a 14.


      • RE: Slow play

        Herb Williams wrote on: Oct 15, 2012

        The way it sounds, I'd like to play in your group.


  • Slow play

    John wrote on: Jul 1, 2011

    I tell my wife what to think.
    (God, I hope she doesn't read this.)


  • slow play

    carolyn wrote on: Jun 24, 2011

    I am a woman golfer and I play fast! Women at our club are constantly waved up because we are on top of the foursome of men in front of us! Come out of the dark ages. (What did your wife think of your comments?)


      • RE: slow play

        olderwht wrote on: Nov 26, 2011

        You are in the minority, how do you like playing behind a very slow group that wont speed up or let you play through male or female ?


          • RE: RE: slow play

            Herb Williams wrote on: Oct 15, 2012

            Just keep hitting into them. They will get the hint!!!


              • RE: RE: RE: slow play

                Joe wrote on: Mar 26, 2014

                Hit into me and your golf ball will be a loooong way in the woods in about 2 seconds. And don't bother to ask me about it either. People like you are THE most obnoxious people on golf courses.
                Seriously, don't ever do that. You will really make someone mad and you may get sued if you hit them. I'll tell you right now I WILL SUE YOU if you hit me, and I'll might just kick your ass for good measure if you try to get tough about me knocking your ball the woods.
                So fuck off.


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