Pro tips

4 tips to manage pace of play and improve golfer satisfaction

Keeping a steady pace of play is highly important. If off, what should be a relaxing game instead ends up as a stressful event full of clock-watching. By understanding the flow and using some smart strategies, you can create a steady pace on the course, which your golfers will thank you for.

Emil Riisberg
March 5, 2024

We already know it. Slow play can often be a big problem on the courses out there. This might happen when golfers take too much time on their shots, chat too much, or are not ready when it's their turn. These things not only cause delays but can also take away some of the enjoyment of the game. 

From timekeepers to course masters, and from experienced players to newcomers, the concept of pace applies to everyone on the field. This article seeks to help you manage the pace of play, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable golfing experience for your guests and members. This might be more important than you think. 

Why improving pace of play actually matters 

When evaluating courses, golfers find pace of play extremely important. Actually, their satisfaction is closely connected to the flow, meaning it has a high influence on the Net Promotor Score.  

If you ask the golfers themselves, they will say the same thing.

Figure 1: The relationship between clubs Net Promoter Score and the golfers' perception of flow. The results are based on 130 clubs in the US and nearly 130.000 responses from golfers in 2023. Source: Players 1st.
Figure 1: The relationship between clubs Net Promoter Score and the golfers' perception of flow. The results are based on 130 clubs in the US and nearly 130.000 responses from golfers in 2023. Source: Players 1st.

The graph is as clear as day. The better the pace, the higher the overall satisfaction at the club. 

So, even if you used AI to boost your offering of more tee times and bookings, the money earned by these extra bookings loses its value over time, if the crowded course slows down a round too much – which actually can turn a player into a detractor

Spice up your management of the flow on the course

Now, we have discussed the problems caused by the slow pace of play and its impact on satisfaction. And the final message is quite obvious: maintaining a good tempo is key to having a good time on the course. But how do you do it? 

Let's dive into some top strategies that will help you manage the pace of play effectively.

Encourage readiness 

This may seem straightforward, but it's frequently disregarded. Encourage golfers to prepare for their shot as soon as it's their turn. Perhaps you could suggest that they study their shot while others are playing, choose their club as they approach their ball, and are prepared to swing when they're up. Also, promote an environment of efficiency and consideration rather than pressure to perform quickly. This will surely result in a smoother game flow.  

The value of good positioning 

As a golf course operator, one way you can promote efficient play is by guiding golfers on optimal positioning. Share strategies like recommending them to park their golf carts on the way to the next tee to avoid wasting time having to retrieve it after their final putt. Also, emphasize the ideal practice of standing near their ball as others play, enabling them to do their pre-shot routines and be completely ready when they're up next.  

Promote skill level awareness 

Encourage each player's self-awareness of their skill level. You can make players aware of the common mistake of selecting tee boxes beyond their skill level. If they're a novice or high-handicap golfer, make them understand there's no necessity to keep up with the more skilled golfers. By selecting suitable tees, they'll not only enhance their performance but also maintain a good pace in play.  

Create the habit of keeping up 

Urge golfers to keep up with the group in front instead of merely staying ahead of the group behind them. This tactic ensures a uniform rhythm of play. As an operator, instill the practice of signaling faster groups to play through. It's not only about maintaining the game's momentum, but also about fostering enjoyment, respect, and good relations between golfers on the green.  

A part of the overall experience 

Managing the pace involves more than simply moving quickly. As a golf course operator, fostering an environment of smart playing, respect for others, and importantly, enjoying the game is essential. On top of that, this could be useful in completing that perfect chain of touchpoints. Remember, the charm of golf lies in its rhythm – so, let's make every effort to preserve it.

Conversely, respecting the importance of a smooth pace of the players at the course and adapting those strategies for managing that will definitely benefit your club in the long run, creating a steady paced course with satisfied golfers by the dozen. 

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