Pace of play is probably the hottest topic in golf, aside from the occasional golf magazine cover flare-up. My golf friends and I discuss pace of play often. I mainly golf with other women and we tend to be the only female presence on course. Except for the beverage cart girls (and they are always girls). Anyway, when we play, we are very conscious of being good stewards of the game. An interesting thing I have observed is that we often look back to see if there is a group behind us waiting for us to complete a hole and we constantly remind each other to stay golf ready. However there is never a discussion about how slow the group ahead of us is playing when we have to wait.
The generally accepted time it should take to complete a hole of golf for recreational golfers is 15 minutes. Some golf courses even set maximum allowable times to play a full round. I decided to time my friends and I to see how long it actually took us to play each hole and see how we could speed up our pace.
A friend and I went to a local 18 hole Par 54 course to get in a round. All the holes were Par 3s, and only walking carts are allowed. This course tends to stay fairly crowded and it is not uncommon to see groups of two or five players. Having played this course before, we were familiar with the layout, the more challenging holes, and the location of the most aggressive squirrels. We tend to chat as we play and takes pictures, but on this day it was all business. Chatting was kept to a minimum, cell cameras were off and we set out to play a fast paced game of golf.
I only timed our start time for each hole, not the amount of time we waited for the group ahead of us to finish. There was a back-up on the front nine. The back nine opened up around hole 12. The shortest hole took 5 minutes to finish. The longest took 11 minutes. We averaged 8 minutes per hole. The entire round took 2 hours and 24 minutes. So, based on the generally accepted time it takes to play a round of recreational golf, we played at a decent pace.
A couple of weeks later, I played in a foursome on an 18 hole Par 75 course. We had driving carts this time and were practically paranoid about playing too slowly, so it took a couple of holes to settle down and focus. There was a significant back up on the front nine and we had to wait 2 to 3 minutes before we could tee off. We chatted, took a few golf photos to document our day and really focused on our games. The shortest hole took us 9 minutes to play and the longest 19 minutes. Surprisingly, we averaged 15 minutes per hole for the day. However, it took us 5 hours and 20 minutes to finish the round. Allowing for a 20 minute break after the 9th hole, it still took 5 hours.
So, overall, our pace of play during these two outings was good. So why do we as women often feel so rushed when we play golf? One reason is because people often expect us to play slowly simply because we’re women. Sometimes, the guys behind us will tee off before we finish playing a hole. They won’t know that we had to wait to tee off and assume we are the hold up. This is rude and selfish. Our time is just as valuable as theirs. And as much as we enjoy the game, we don’t want to be on the course all day either. As more women learn to play the game, and play well, the tide will turn. Until then ladies, let’s continue to get out there and play.