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There are things you can do to speed up play on the course

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By Dennis George

Slow play.

Nothing is worse than hitting a shot, getting to your ball, and having to wait again to hit the next one.

The experts, and I’m not including myself in that group, say a reason for the decline in the number of rounds played per year is that our society doesn’t want to slow down; they want fast action.

People want instant satisfaction, and they want it now.

That’s why I was surprised to read last week that the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, the United Kingdom counterpart to the United States Golf Association, has decided to implement “ready golf” to its amateur tournaments next year.

“Our research has shown that golfers would enjoy the sport more if it took less time to play,” Duncan Weir, executive director of golf development for the R&A, said recently.

Ready golf.

Fire when ready.

What can you do to speed up play?

Most of us walk to the tee and wait for the person who had the lowest score on the previous hole to hit first.

But what if that guy is the last one to the tee, takes his time getting his driver out, has to go dry his hands off on his towel, reaches into his bag to get a tee, and then takes his time pulling his glove on?

In the time you waited on him to do that, two members of the group could have hit their tee shots.

If he didn’t make a birdie (bad things can happen to you if you hit in front of a man making birdie), and you’re ready to hit, go ahead.

How many times have you reached a tee box and the group is far enough out in the fairway so that no one in your foursome can reach them except the one with honors?

Short knockers, play on!

Even when you’re in the fairway but not farthest out, go ahead and play your shot if no one is in your way. Don’t wait on that guy who sat in the cart while his buddy hit instead of walking to his ball to prepare for his shot.

I was in a group playing Kearney Hill in Lexington on Friday and members of the group ahead of us had two players walking and two others riding in a cart.

Hole after hole, we watched as the one player would sit in the cart and watch his partner hit. The cart would move 10 yards to the left and then the other guy would slowly get out of the cart, use his rangefinder to get the distance, pull out his club, go through his routine, and then finally hit.

We were not happy in watching this for nine holes.

“We could have been finished 30 minutes sooner if they had let us go through,” one of my friends said.

Personally, when I happen to catch one on the screws and outdrive my riding companion, I will check my yardage from his ball, shoot my ball in the distant, and quickly do the math in my head to get my distance.

While he is preparing to hit, I will get my club out and begin walking to my ball and oftentimes hit my shot before he gets back in the cart.

Of course, I miss the green because my math skills weren’t accurate.

The Golf Channel recently posted some things a player and course managers can do to speed up play.

• The Player

Drive the cart to a place (or walkers put your bag) so that it’s on a route to the next tee.

Limit your pre-shot routine. Why wear yourself with two or three practice swings on each shot?

Pick the right set of tees. Why play a course from a distance that is going to make the day miserable?

Consider relaxed rules. (I’ll talk about that more in a future column about proposed rule changes that may be forthcoming.)

• Course setup

Don’t mow your greens to a speed that will cause players to putt a ball off the green and slow up play. That is not a problem at most courses in this area.

Don’t tuck the pins in spots that make it extremely difficult for a golfer to hit towards. Also, don’t put the pins close to slopes that will make it so difficult a player can’t try to make a putt. (When our superintendent at the Lebanon Country Club gets in one of his moods, he cuts his pins near the edge of a green and laughs when people complain that they putt towards the hole and the ball rolls off the green.

Cut your rough.

Limit forced carries.

When Willie Edelen hit his tee shot on the par-3 No. 5 hole to within a foot of the cup in last Thursday night men’s league play at Maywood, he thought for sure he would win the prize for being closest to the hole.

Not quite.

When he walked to the sign on the flagstick, he learned that Judge Carothers had knocked his ball into the cup for an ace!

Judge received the $25 prize for closest to the hole. However, he spent a lot more than that buying drinks for everyone at the end of play.

Dennis George is a golf writer and wannabe golfer. You can reach him at dmg11854@gmail.com.