The Loop

Coping with Slow Play

February 20, 2008

Californian John Kaufman writes seeking advice. He wants to know how to cope with slow play delays:

I am an avid golfer but have a unique question to ask you. I have what I consider a very difficult problem with waiting on the tee box to hit my next tee shot due to a delay in play in front. I seem to lose my focus and the momentum when waiting on the tee to hit for a extended period of time. The longer I wait the worse I seem to get in my focus and momentum and as a result usually hit a bad shot when the time comes for me to hit. I would REALLY appreciate any help or advise in overcoming this problem which I am sure I am not alone in with this dilemma. This would make a great article in a future article for Golf Digest, since this is an on going problem we all face from time to time. >

Great question, John. Besides avoiding the situation in the first place by playing at times when play moves quickly, here's what our mental-side experts have said over the years.

Don't try to concentrate throughout the wait. Use it as a lesson in how to move your focus from broad to narrow and back again. That is, see if you can turn it on during the time you're hitting shots and off during the long waits. In your "down" time, move your attention elsewhere:

--Converse with your playing partners about something other than what a pain it is to wait on the golf course.

--Get into nature; observe the flora and fauna. (My friend Gene Westmoreland at the Metropolitan Golf Association, I recall, told me about the Great Blue Heron and a number of other birds we observed during one particularly slow round).

--Make it a practice session by chipping and putting to targets around the tee.

--Memorize golf jokes and practice telling them during the delays.

Love to hear other suggestions from readers on how they cope with these annoying delays....

--Bob Carney