How to Golf When You’re Slow – “Playing Through”

Hi.  My name is Erin, I help to run and operate a golf course, and I am one of the worst golfers in the world.

This surprises most.  When I tell people what I do for a living, they say “Oh, you golf?  You must get to do it all the time.”

I reply with, “Actually no, I’m horrible.”  Then they look at me with a wide eyed, incredulous head shake, as if to ask “Then why do you work there,” without having to actually ask the question.

I do LIKE golf.  I come from a long line of golfers.  My grandfather on my mom’s side was a scratch golfer, and his Hole-In-One ball still sits on the mantle in my grandmother’s dining room.  My cousin is the golf pro for Sunriver Resort in Oregon, and two others have a less-than-five handicap.

Add in the fact that Dad built the golf course so he could do what he loved most, I should be a great golfer.

I’m so, totally, absolutely not.

It isn’t for lack of trying.  I do hit balls on occasion.  I did golf as a kid with my cousins over summer break, and I have golfed with my uncles.  Everyone was incredibly patient as they waited for my average (necessary) fifteen strokes to get the ball onto the green, every stroke attempt sending the ball so short a distance, walking forward to it was quicker than getting in the cart and driving forward twenty yards.


I wanted to be better.  I wanted very much to not suck, so I did want to practice.

Therein lied the struggle – to get better I had to go slow on the course, but I slowed things down SO MUCH that I didn’t want to get out on the course.

I was so slow, I felt bad.

Golf, from an outside perspective, seems to be one of those things you have to do well with before you can get better.  It seems, through the eyes of a perfectionist, that you must gain a certain level of ability before you subject those around you to your skills (or lack thereof).

I suppose the sport itself supports this perception, since it is built so much around consideration, politeness, manners, and etiquette.  To consider those around you as you golf is a big part of the game.

There are also those hard-core, cutthroat, competitive golfers that encourage the culture of “BRING YOUR GAME OR GET OFF,” demanding performance of a certain caliber from those they play with and around.   I have been yelled at before (not on our course, thank goodness) to “kindly move the f- out of the way” as I struggled to get my ball down the fairway.

Goodness sakes, I hope no one on our course treats others in that way.  It kind of negates the manners and etiquette aspect, doesn’t it?

I tell my story of struggle with the sport, not because I feel I need others to understand that it’s hard (if you golf, you know it’s hard without me saying a word), but because if it’s hard for you and you’re slow, practice anyways.

Last summer we sold over 2000 memberships to our beloved Yakima Valley.  We sold them inexpensively enough that brand new and barely started golfers were able to purchase them and learn the game.

If you are just starting, they were sold for you, and we want you to use them.

To help you overcome any insecurities or fears you might have while golfing slowly, here are the standing rules for etiquette and (as it’s officially called) playing through.

  1. Stand your ground. If you want to golf, golf.  The faster, more experienced players were slow once, too.  If you want to be on our course and you’ve paid to do it, you have just as much a right to be there as anyone else.
  2. The term playing through is specifically defined as “a faster group of golfers being invited to or allowed to pass a slower group.” Ideally this happens at the invitation of the slower group, out of consideration and kindness for the other players.
  3. Playing through happens only by invitation (“Would you like to play through?”) or request (“Mind if we play through?”), and when both of these conditions apply:
    1. there are holes open in front of the slower group, AND
    2. the slower group is finishing on the green while the fast group is on the fairway of the same hole, OR the faster group reaches the tee box while the slower group is still teeing off.
  4. Whether you play with a group or by yourself (I played alone a lot when I first started, to not slow anyone else down), rules still apply. If you’re fast and playing alone, you are allowed to play through just like a group of 4.  If you’re playing alone and you’re slow, etiquette demands that you allow other players to play through.

That’s it!  Playing through makes it easier for slow golfers like myself to get out on the course without feeling rushed, and it allows the other, faster, more experienced golfers to enjoy their time as well.

Additionally, keep your eyes open on Facebook and our Event Calendar for Green Golfer days, dates and times set aside on the course for new, slower golfers, or call the pro shop and ask for a quieter tee time.

Put in the time to become the golfer you aspire to be.  Everyone starts slow (some of us stay that way!), and practice is the best remedy.

Have a wonderful week, and we’ll see you on the course!