Control your time, don’t slow it down
There’s nothing worse in this game than standing around for a few minutes waiting for the group in front to clear. OK, maybe there is one thing… playing with the person that’s holding everyone up.
Just ask Brooks Koepka after the final round of the Open Championship this year when he was paired with J.B. Holmes. Over the years I’ve played with both fast and slow players. Obviously, I prefer the quicker variety but it’s part of the game to encounter slow coaches from time to time.
On tour, the serial offenders are well known and it’s their prerogative to play that way if it works for them and they’re allowed to do so. Although I must admit, it’s hard to watch golf tournaments on TV when certain players are in contention. Either their decision-making process seems to be endless or they have countless practice swings rehearsing what they’re trying to do. Then you have a few that seem to be over the ball for an eternity.
Not being ready when it’s their turn to hit is probably my biggest pet peeve. The European Tour’s Shot Clock Masters in Austria is a concept that’s a big step in the right direction for the pros. Groups play 18 holes 30 minutes faster than the tour average and scoring hasn’t been affected at all. Going over the shot clock results in a penalty stroke and that’s precisely how slow players need to be penalised – with strokes rather than fines. The shot clock has helped on the tennis circuit so why not bring it in for golf?
“Not being ready when it’s their turn to hit is probably my biggest pet peeve.” – Nick O’Hern
Since I stepped away from playing full-time a few years ago, I’ve gotten back to enjoying the faster-paced nature of social golf. Going around in less than four hours for a foursome is pretty routine. I get there aren’t big purses on the line but if anything, playing quicker helps declutter my mind of extra thoughts that pop up when I have too much time to think.
One thing I still make sure of, though, is to follow my routine when it’s my turn to hit. Before hitting a shot, you have about 20-30 seconds to control what you do to achieve the best result possible, so make it count. That begins with making a prompt decision on what shot you want to hit, then committing to it by keeping your time over the ball efficient and simple. The more practice swings, looks at the target and waggles you have, the more time there is to think about something you shouldn’t.
I’m not saying you should rush to hit the ball, simply make it a smooth and effortless process. Firstly, it gives your mind something to focus on and secondly, the repetitive nature of the routine will lead to greater consistency. And that is the most common thing I hear from golfers: they want to be more consistent.
So rather than slowing things down, control what time you have… and be ready to hit when it’s your turn.