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.
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 email@example.com.