The Trouble With Playing Through In Golf

Has this happened to you? You get to the golf course on time, everyone in your group is ready and raring to go, the starter gives you the ok to go to the first tee, and you wait. And you wait. The group in front of yours, a foursome most likely, is half way up the fairway looking for a ball in the woods. You can’t hit yet because you know if the long ball hitter in your group does her usual thing, she could smack one of the foursome in the head. So you wait.

Finally the group moves on and you all hit into the fairway. Everyone walks to their ball, chooses a club for the second shot, and you wait. The foursome ahead is close to the green, but one of the group is trying to hit out of the right side bunker and not doing so well. You wait. After four attempts, he gives up, the group putts out and your group can finally proceed.

This scenario is repeated on the second hole and again on the third. By this time, your plans for a fun round of golf are dashed. If this waiting keeps up, the round is going to take at least five hours!

Is it time to ask the group ahead if you can play through?

This very scenario happened to me about two weeks ago. My foursome was stuck behind a group of guys, new to the course. You could tell because they kept parking their golf carts in spots that blocked the way and not on the path leading to the next hole. One of the four must have been a new golfer as every shot went into the woods or the sand. We were about to ask if we could play through but through the trees we could see golfers waiting in the middle of the next fairway. Some group up ahead was slowing everything down. Asking to play through would not do us any good.

So we waited till the group ahead of us putted out, we finally finished the hole, and then moved on to the fourth tee box. This is where things got interesting.

The course we were playing is covered with trees and paths through the woods. Fairways wind up and down next to each other with only a row of trees in between. As we came out of the woods and headed for the fourth tee, three young kids suddenly appeared in front of us, golf bags over shoulders, briskly walking down the fourth fairway.

“Where the heck did they come from?”

“They must have snuck onto the course.”

“Call the pro shop and let them know these kids just came onto the course from nowhere. They have to kick them off.”

Indignant to think anyone would have the nerve!!!! to interrupt our game and just sneak onto a course, we jumped to the conclusion that these kids were out for trouble.

We were dead wrong.

As the boys quickly moved down the fairway, we all hit our tee shots. Not caring if our shots came close. We must have scared them because they skipped the fourth green and headed for the fifth hole. By that time the pro arrived, saw the boys and quickly drove his cart over to us to explain.

“These boys started three groups ahead of you. They’re legit. They know they’re slow and just let three groups pass them in order to speed things up. They’re good kids.”

Embarrassed we were. We had made assumptions without justification, jumping to wrong conclusions based on very flimsy evidence. It caused each of us to think twice.

Later we met the kids in the clubhouse and apologized for hitting into them and thanked them for speeding things up.

Conclusion: If you want to play through a group of slow golfers, just ask. Most will be happy to let you pass. And if a group appears out of nowhere, don’t assume they snuck on the course. They may have just let the group behind them play on.

So what do you think? What do you do when play is slow? Do you ask to play through, or do you wait? Or? Add your comment in the space below.

  2 comments for “The Trouble With Playing Through In Golf

  1. Glenna says:

    If a group wants to play through they should first make sure that they will be able to proceed and not be held up by the next group. If you can’t go anywhere then just wait and know the whole course is probably backed up. Just played a round yesterday that took over 5 hours for that very reason.

    • Pat Mullaly says:

      Glenna, 5 Hours! Yikes. I thought 4 1/2 was bad. But you are correct… when things are slow on the course, all you can do is relax and enjoy the fact you are in a beautiful place, outdoors, and just enjoy yourself. Problem though, when it takes so long to play a round of golf, a lot of golfers are giving up the game… especially for the upcoming generation. You can see the short video here: I’ve also posted it on my facebook page:

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