Setting the Pace: Position on the Golf Course


  One of the biggest misconceptions with regards to the  game of golf and pace of play deals with a group’s spatial positioning on the  golf course. During a round of golf it is more common to see a player look  backward when trying to determine their group’s pace of play versus looking  ahead. The urban myth of a group’s pace of play positioning is that as long as  no one is waiting on your group, your group’s pace of play is fine. This is a false  and in fact it is the opposite that is true. For a group to remain in position  on the course it must keep up with the group ahead, not stay ahead of the group  behind. If a group’s sole concern is staying ahead of the group behind it,  there is no incentive to keep up with the group in front and therefore nothing  concrete to drive a group to keep up a good pace of play.

The AJGA’s Pace of Play is designed to make sure groups  stay with the group ahead by using checkpoints to alert groups of their  positioning on the course. A group will get a red card (warning) when it  completes a checkpoint hole over time AND out of position with the group in  front. To be out of position means that the group put the flagstick in on the  checkpoint hole more than 14 minutes after the group in front finished that  hole. This warning is meant to tell a group they need to pick up the pace to  stay with the group ahead. The red card is the incentive that drives a group to  pick up the pace. If a group’s pace was only measured by where the group was  behind them this incentive would be eliminated.

When a bird’s eye view of a golf course is reviewed, it  can be determined that when all the groups are making an effort to keep up with  the group ahead, the overall course pace of play far exceeds that of when all  the groups are playing just fast enough to stay ahead of the groups behind.

Click on each of the images below for a bird's eye view of different pace of play situations on the golf course.


Setting the Pace:
The AJGA Pace of Play Policy

AJGA Time Par
The Basics
Tips to stay Green
Warning! I just recieved a red card.
I haven't seen the group behind me
How to play on red card
Why is this rules official following my group?
Walk with a purpose
Why should I walk ahead?
Play ready, be ready
Rarity of the Double Red
Undue Delay
Importance of Pace of Play
The survey says...

For more information on the AJGA's 'Setting the Pace' educational series, or the AJGA Pace of Play Policy, please contact Tournament Coordinator Samantha Hirshberg at