Do Women Really Play Golf More Slowly Than Men?

This is an ongoing debate in the world of golf. I know as a woman golfer I am always conscious of the pace at which I, and the group I am with, play the game. Each golf course sets its own pace clock, usually between 12 and 15 minutes a hole depending on the length of the course, terrain conditions, etc. The starter will usually let you know the expected pace of play when you begin your round, and if your group do find yourselves falling behind, the Course Ranger (that fellow in the golf cart who drives by every once in a while) will ask you to pick up the pace. All of this is done so that everyone on the course has an enjoyable round.

Given all this, however, you can only play one hole at a time, and if the group ahead of yours gets into trouble (loses a ball, constantly lands into the rough or sand bunkers—all of which takes time to resolve) you have to wait. Which means the group behind you has to wait. And the group behind them. On a crowded golf course it’s not unusual for this to happen. And male golfers get into trouble just like the women golfers. So why is it, that women are often blamed for slow play?

I’ve asked the starters at a number of very prestigious golf clubs the same question. “Who is slower on the golf course? Men or women? And without fail, the answer is the same. “The guys are always slower. They hate to lose balls and will spend the full five minutes allowed by the rules to search in the rough. And they spend forever studying their putts. Women are faster. They know people are waiting, so they just move on.”

One thing I will concede: men are usually longer hitters than the typical woman golfer. And I agree, it can be frustrating to have to wait for the group ahead to “move out of range” before hitting that next fabulous drive and nearly killing someone by knocking them on the head — which by the way, just happened to me yesterday! But on a crowded course, with every hole filled with eager players, delays are just part of the game. Golf is not a game of perfection and there will be lost balls and sand bunkers, and putts that just will not fall. So guys, just relax. If you really want the golf course to yourself and guarantee no delays, book a tee time at six in the morning.

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