To enhance the enjoyment of players during general play there are many actions that a Committee can take to improve pace of play and to encourage a good standard of player conduct, such as:
Reducing group sizes, increasing starting intervals, and introducing starter’s gaps.
Considering fundamental changes to course set up such as widening fairways, reducing the thickness or length of rough, and reducing the speed of greens.
Encouraging players to play from tees that suit their ability.
Adopting a pace of play policy and a code of conduct.
The following sections give some of the considerations a Committee should take into account when adopting a pace of play policy or a code of conduct.
Overcrowding the course is a common cause of rounds taking longer than necessary. The bigger the gap in tee times, the better play will flow. But the Committee will often need to balance this with the desire to allow as many players as possible to have the opportunity to play the course or competition.
When play is in two balls an interval of at least 8 minutes is recommended. When play is in three balls, the interval should be increased to at least 10 minutes. For four balls, 11 or 12 minute intervals should be considered.
Even with appropriate starting intervals, delays can arise on the course due to a number of factors, such as ball searches or a hole that is playing particularly hard or easy. The impact of such delays can be minimized by having empty starting intervals, sometimes referred to as “starter’s gaps”.
If, for example, the starting intervals are 10 minutes and the Committee has an empty starting time after every 10th group, there will be a 10 minute break in play from the 1st tee every 90 minutes. If a delay has built up on a particular tee early on in the round, the starter’s gap should help to minimize the impact of the delay. Without the empty starting interval, the likelihood is that waiting on that hole will increase as the day goes on.
The nature of such a policy will often depend on the available resources of that course.
For example, a course with limited staff might simply state that each group is expected to keep up with the group in front or that each group is expected to play within a certain amount of time, while another course may be able to have one or more people on the course to monitor the pace of play and, when necessary, speak to groups that are falling behind.
The enforcement of such a policy is usually best handled through disciplinary measures. Such sanctions are separate from the Rules of Golf and it is a matter for the Committee to write and interpret any such sanctions.
For general play, a Committee might post a notice in the clubhouse or on the course website stating what types of behaviour or clothing are not acceptable at that course, including in certain areas.
Enforcement of this policy is usually best handled through disciplinary measures. Such sanctions are separate from the Rules of Golf and it is a matter for the Committee to write and interpret any such sanctions.
Each Committee should consider how it will suspend play if it is determined that weather conditions warrant. A suspension of play can be handled through a variety of methods, depending on the resources available to the course, such as signalling to players through an air horn or by personal notification of the players.
Players may have questions on how to resolve Rules issues that have arisen during general play. Each course should identify a person or persons to handle such Rules questions. In many cases that person may be the professional or manager. If that person is unsure of the correct ruling, they may refer the question to the appropriate Rules organization for an answer.