Pace of Play for Kids Golf Tournaments

Long before we got into kids golf, I remember a friend declaring golf is like watching paint dry. Now that we are a golf family, nothing is further from the truth. This is especially true when you are caddying for your child golfer. EXCEPT when pace of play is slow.

Pace of play is the term used to describe the progress of a round of golf hole by hole. The players are responsible for keeping the pace of play by not introducing any undue delay at anytime from the start of the round through their last putt.

For junior and kids golf tournaments the typical time allowed for each hole is 15 minutes. That adds up to 2 hours and 15 minutes for 9 holes. Eighteen holes would be 4 1/2 hours.

Despite being better for following the rules and the logistics of the tournament, keeping pace of play is MUCH better for the kids. They are out there keeping focus shot after shot for 2 1/4 hours. That’s a lot, especially if it’s hot and sunny or raining. I am always impressed watching the tournament around us in respect to those young athletes.

This last weekend we teed off at 1:36 pm and didn’t get into the car after our nine-hole event until 5 o’clock. Man was that a long time. And we didn’t dilly dally after play either. We LOVE the golf but that just kills our day. Three hours to play nine holes is crazy, and I’ve seen worse.

We only had two in our pairing and I’m happy to say our pace was right on. We were backed up from hole two onward though by the groups ahead. Think about it, we left at 12:00 noon to arrive at 12:30 pm  for ample warm up and didn’t get home until 5:30pm. That just kills the day. And the eleven year olds have to play 18 holes!

So, selfishly, forget about the guidelines, potential penalty strokes, and the gracious tournament directors, officials, and volunteers, and the other players even … and think about yourselves! From the start of your young golfer’s career, build what I’ll call “pace of play habits” into their golf. You’ll give mom less to complain about when you disappear to play if you disappear for as little time as possible.

I’ll list a few good pace of play pointers here and if you can add some, please Leave a Reply and share.

Pace of Play Habits to teach your child golfer:

  1. No more than 40 seconds to complete a golf shot, from the time you arrive at the ball to the time you are in your swing finish. This same 40 Seconds includes all the Daddy Caddy help with alignment and setup too! Especially important on the green.
  2. No more than 3 practice swings.
  3. Find your distance and select your club early while your partner is taking their shot so when they are finished, you are ready to take your shot.
  4. Evaluate your putt early as soon as you are on the green.
  5. One you address the ball on the green, putt within 8 seconds. This is probably better for your putting too.
  6. Walk directly from the green to the next tee. Enjoy the social opportunity for the kids, but keep them tracking to the next tee on pace.
  7. Put your golf bag at the “exit” of the green. Don’t leave it back at your chip shot. This will avoid you having to walk back all the way to get your bag when you finish the hole; you will simply walk off and on to the next tee.
  8. Learn how to use Rules 3-3 and 27-2 to play a second ball or provisional ball to keep up pace of play.
  9. Leave the green right away and check scores etc. on the way to the next tee. Don’t hold that meeting on the green after a hole!

In my experience the two worst culprits for introducing undue delay are lost balls/hazards and putting. The putting green may be the worst.

Teach your child golfer early how to handle water hazards and lost balls and keep them on track for 40 second shots, especially on the putting green.

If we all do this selfishly for ourselves, we all get to do something else on Sunday! Besides, being stuck behind a slow pairing IS like watching paint dry ;^)

2 thoughts on “Pace of Play for Kids Golf Tournaments

    • Thanks for the comment David. I heard Phil Mickelson say last night at the Hall of Fame he thinks golf shouldn’t speed up. He’s my favorite golfer, but I have to agree with you.

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