A Lesson Learned: Play faster, play better

PGA.com

Right now, one of the 'hot topics' in the golf world is pace of play - as it should be. But for all the talk about "Tee It Forward", "Time for Nine" and "While We're Young" (all great programs) - nothing makes golfers walk a little faster and get their rounds in quicker than the threat of bad weather or losing daylight.

So it didn't really surprise me when the Tour was able to finish on Sunday despite the last group not teeing off until after 5 pm and the sun scheduled to set around 8:30. It's not ideal but as the commercial says, "these guys are good." And if they (and the Tour) want to avoid a Monday finish, the reclubbing and extra reads don't appear near as often.

Of course, pace of play is never about one group. No matter how aware you are of playing faster, you can only go as fast as they group ahead of you. Isn't it amazing how they played faster too (again, no one likes the early Monday wake up to come back to play just a hole or two.) And at the local course, it's quite understandable that when you pay for 18 (or 9), you'd like to get your money's worth.

So this week's "A Lesson Learned" is a few simple tips to help you play well while playing faster.

* Playing faster does not mean swinging faster. Picking up the pace means everything that goes on between shots. Your swing tempo does not change.
* Keep your focus on your shot. Don't let the race against the sunset or coming rain distract you from your objective.
* Go through all your proper preparations and pre-shot routines. However, do them while your partner(s) are hititng their shots. When it's time for you to hit, you should be ready.
* Between shots; as you walk to your next shot, the cart or to the next tee, that is the time that a faster walk or even a jog might be in order.

I recently readthe story about the foursome who played four rounds in four time zones- all in one day. Amazingly, as a foursome walking, they played each round in under two hours!

An added bonus is that when you spend less time looking at other golfers and what they are doing, and you spend that time focusing on your game and your pace of play, you will be surprised at how much better you tend to play.

Obviously, we can't have a setting sun or a looming deadline on every group on every course, but the lessons learned from golfers when they are looking at time issues can apply for all of us for all our rounds.

Christopher Hawkins is a PGA instructor at John A. White Golf Course in Atlanta, GA. You can follow him on twitter at@chrishawkinsPGA

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