“Play the course as you find it; play the ball as it lies. If you can’t do either then play fair. In order to play fair, you need to know the rules of golf.”


The R&A “Pace of Play” manual ( RulesEquipment/Pace-of-Play/Manual) is an interesting read and one that I would encourage all Committees to read. In summary, there are various factors, which include the starting intervals, number of players in a group, the form of play, the course set-up and player behaviour that have an effect on the pace of play.

The manual highlights that it is wrong to think that players on the course alone are the cause of all issues relating to pace of play. Nevertheless, a player’s behaviour contributes and this is where you can contribute. Here is some guidance:

  • Play a course or use the tees that are more commensurate with your skill level (not your ego!);
  • Be aware of your group’s position on the course and how you are impacting the pace of play;
  • Allow faster groups to play through; 
  • Be ready to play when it is your turn to play consider “ready golf” in stroke play);
  • Don’t imitate elite golf – at your level, is it really going to matter if the distance is 71.2m or 75m?
  • Position your bags or carts to allow for a quick move off the green toward the next tee;
  • Mark score cards on the way to or at the next tee (If you are 1st to play, play first – then mark the card);
  • Play a provisional ball if there is any possibility that your ball may be lost (except if it’s clear that it’s in a water hazard);

The R&A’s Championship Committee also approved a revised Pace of Play Condition in 2016 for its amateur events, which you could use as a reference. In a new clause, “Random Timing Without Warning When Group Not Out Of Position” the time allowed for a player to play their shot is 60 seconds, when it is their turn to play. 10 extra seconds are allowed for the 1st player to play:

  • On a Par 3 hole;
  • An approach shot; and
  • A chip or putt.

If a Group is advised that they are “out of position” and are being timed, the time provision is reduced to 40 seconds. (This will probaby become the new standard in 2019).

The timing starts from when a player has had sufficient time to reach their ball, when it is their turn to play and they are able to play without interference or distraction. This means that all golf-glove fitting, distance measuring, club cleaning, clothing adjusting, practice swings and the playing of the stroke must take place within the 60 seconds.

There is no single solution to fixing the pace of play but your behaviour on the golf can certainly influence it.

Please send any feedback, questions or queries you may have on the rules of golf to
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