What to do when your friend is a slow player

December 02, 2019

Golf Digest's Ask Golf Digest column covers some of golfers' most burning questions each month in the magazine. This month's column tackles how to handle a slow player in your group, among other items.

Q: How do you tell good friends they’re taking way too much time? They’re fabulous people, but it’s becoming very difficult to continue playing with them. We’ve tried pointing out that we’re two holes behind the group in front of us and that we’re holding up the group behind us. Nothing helps. —CINDY WILSON, LAS VEGAS

A: Those “fabulous people” are golf’s equivalent of folks who drive 55 miles per hour in the left lane of the freeway. Though many don’t realize they’re disrupting traffic, there are some who slow down even more if you call attention to their slowness by flashing your brights. It’s a ticklish case, one usually addressed with gentle criticism and “while we’re young” gibes. Here’s another solution: Grab your phone, make a video of the whole insufferable process, and show it to them over drinks when you’re finished. Point out when they’re approaching—and exceeding—the 40 to 50 seconds allowed for PGA Tour players before officials begin to take note. Maybe compare it with a video of another player in your group who gets the swing underway a lot faster. Then leave it at that for a while. Chances are, they’ll pick up the pace on their own. If they don’t? Maybe they’re not so fabulous after all.

Q: I hit my ball in the weeds. When I took a hack at it, two balls came flying out. It was a friendly game, so we had a good laugh. Should I have been penalized for playing someone else’s ball inadvertently? —CHRIS BROCK, LOUISVILLE

A: Nope. Because you made a stroke at your ball, there’s no penalty for dislodging a concealed ball, the USGA rules department confirms. Just play your next shot as it lies.

Q: One of the USGA ’s new rules involving putting allows touching your line of play. Is it now OK to brush the green in the line of play to assess the grain? —JAMES ARONS, CHICAGO

Not if you do it intentionally. Rule 13.1e says that when playing a hole, you can’t deliberately test the green by rubbing the surface or rolling a ball on it. You’ll lose the hole in match play, and you’ll be charged two strokes in stroke play. Note, however, that you can rub a muddy ball on the green to clean it. Look carefully as you do it, and you might learn something about the grain.

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