Lightning fast golf…sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Slow play on the golf course is partially responsible for golf’s growing unpopularity in recent years, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you follow my top tips for playing lightning fast golf, you can easily squeeze in a full round in less than 2 hours.
I used to have a lot more time to play golf than I do now. I remember playing several times a week after work, often until darkness. Things change a little when you add a kid to your life, so I’ve become super vigilant about the amount of time I spend on the course. When my daughter is older I’m looking forward to playing golf with her, but for now I just need to play more golf in less time.
Lightning Fast Golf Tip #1 – Get used to playing as a single
When I first joined my club, I didn’t know anyone so I played by myself a lot. People look at you sideways when you tell them you play as a single, but flying solo is more enjoyable in many ways beyond the quicker pace you’ll experience. Solitary golf allows one to be alone with their thoughts, focus attentively on each shot, and never worry about stepping in someone’s line.
You must avoid peak times as a single, otherwise you end up waiting incessantly or joining other groups. I’ve played through as many as 5 or 6 groups as a single, but it’s not easy and often quite arduous.
Ask the staff in the pro shop which days and times tend to be slower. You may have luck with Tuesday afternoons or Wednesday mornings. If you can be flexible with your time or your work schedule to accommodate a weekday round, I highly recommend avoiding Friday-Sunday rounds as a single.
Just a side note about playing through other groups: We’ve all been there…You’re waiting in the fairway while some methodical hack on the green takes 8 1/2 minutes to line up a 4-foot putt that he still misses. You may often wonder if the group in front of you has even seen you waiting there on every shot for the last 3 holes.
Take solace in the fact that any group playing slower than the group behind is expected to allow that group to play through. The USGA Rules of Golf specifically states under Section I – Etiquette: “[When] it is apparent that the group behind can play faster, it should invite the faster moving group to play through.” Bam! Tell that to the jerk who says you can’t play through.
Also, don’t wait for the group ahead of you to invite you to play through. You must be bold. Skip the hole you’re waiting on and approach as they are walking off the green, then ask if you can play through on the next hole.
Most of the time I prefer the playing partners me, myself, and I to anyone else.
If you can eat a meal by yourself, you can play golf by yourself. Try it. You’ll probably really like it. I love it!
Lightning Fast Golf Tip #2 – Play first thing in the morning
If you must play on the weekend, you better be able to get your butt out of bed at 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday. When I started playing Speedgolf a few years ago, I would arrive at the course before the first tee time, find the guys in the parking lot who snagged the first tee time, and ask if I could tee off a few minutes in front of them. It’s usually the same die hard guys every week, and they were always happy to let me cut in line.
You should check with the golf shop and make sure they are okay with you doing that, but it shouldn’t be necessary to reserve the first tee time (especially at a private club) if you’re playing as a single. At a public course, this strategy may require more schmoozing with the golf shop staff, but it can be done.
The only drawback of playing as a single at first light is you will most definitely run into the greens crew. Sometimes they wouldn’t even have the cups changed, and without a flag to aim for I would just hit it and pray.
The best part of an early morning round – you are done around 9:30 a.m. and have the entire day ahead of you. Perfect for busy moms and dads who refuse to give up their golf addictions.
Lightning Fast Golf Tip #3 – Time Yourself
If you can play a relatively empty course as a single, you are halfway there to a round of golf in under 2 hours. All that’s left is you. Timing your round creates a subtle and constant reminder to pick up the pace. If you are competitive at all, you’ll find yourself making small but impactful changes to help you play faster. You will stop posing after each good shot, walk briskly at all times, and let your score take a backseat to faster play. Interestingly enough, you may find that your score improves when you are distracted by other priorities.
Additional thoughts on playing a lightning fast round:
- Unless you plan to run, a cart is necessary to make a 2 hour round possible
- If you lose a ball, follow Speedgolf protocol: 1) drop the ball within two club lengths of where the ball is reasonably assumed to have come to rest, but no nearer the hole, or 2) drop a ball along the line of flight of the previous shot, but no nearer the hole.
- Approach your ball from behind so you can quickly line yourself up without taking the extra time to walk to your ball, then step behind the ball and back again.
- Take only 1 practice swing.
- Jog to and from the green…if it’s a cart path only day you will need to jog to and from the cart on each shot.
- Keep your clubs organized in your bag and think about club selection before stopping the cart.
- On the green – Leave the flagstick in. Start to read your putt as you approach the green. Make a decision quickly about the line and don’t second guess your choice. Unless your ball absolutely needs to be clean, don’t pick it up or line it up. Step up to your ball and hit it without taking a practice swing. You may find that you putt better when you have less time to think on the green.
That’s it! I hope these tips help you play faster, have fun, and avoid the drudgery that can sometimes accompany a round of golf.