PACE OF PLAY
Minimize your time on the tee
On the tee it is usually acceptable for players to “hit when ready.” You can also save time by playing a provisional ball (Rule 27-2) if you think your original ball might be lost or out of bounds.
Plan your shot before you get to your ball
Once you are off the tee, think ahead. Determine your yardage and make your club selection before it is your turn to play. Very often, you can do this while others are playing, without disruption. If you take your glove off between shots, have it back on before it is your turn to play. Even a small step like this saves time.
Keep your pre-shot routine short
Pick your line of play once and trust yourself. Try to take no more than one practice swing, then set up to the ball and play your shot. Most importantly, be ready to hit when it is your turn. Be efficient after your shot too. Start moving toward your next shot promptly.
Aim to play in 20 seconds
From club selection to pre-shot routine to execution, strive to hit your shot in 20 seconds when it is your turn to play. Help keep play moving at a brisk pace.
Develop an eye for distance
You do not have to step off yardage for every shot. If you need to determine precise distance, try to find a yardage marker before you reach your ball, then step off the yardage on the way to your ball. Or consider investing in an electronic range-finder or global positioning system for golf and use it when permitted by Local Rule. If others you are playing with are not familiar with the course, the Rules permit players to exchange yardage information without penalty.
When sharing a cart, use a buddy system
Do not wait in the cart while your cart mate hits and then drive to your ball. Get out and walk to your ball with a few clubs. Be ready to play when it is your turn and then let your cart mate pick you up. Or drive to your ball after you drop your cart mate off and then pick him or her up after you hit.
Be helpful to others in your group
Follow the flight of all tee shots, not just your own. Once in the fairway, help others look for their ball if you already know the location of yours. Volunteer to fill in a divot or rake a bunker for another player if needed. Be ready to attend the flag stick for others.
Be aware of how much time you spend looking for balls in the woods. Too many amateurs end up traipsing through the trees in search of a ball that will provide an unplayable lie even if found. Do not be afraid to declare a ball lost. Unfortunately, it is part of the game.
Keep up with the group in front of you
Your correct position on the course is immediately behind the group in front of you, not immediately in front of the group behind you. Arrive at your next shot just before the group in front leaves the area in front of you. If you are consistently not able to keep up and a gap opens in front of you, invite the group behind you to play through, irrespective of the number of players in the group.
Be efficient on the putting green
Mark your ball and lift and clean it when you arrive at the putting green so you will be ready to replace it when it is your turn to play. You can usually line up your putt while others are putting, without disturbing them. Do not mark every putt. If you have a two-footer or something just outside the leather, go ahead and knock the ball in the hole. You should not rush, but conversely, there is no need to slave over every putt as if The Masters is at stake. Leave your clubs on the side of the putting green closest to the next tee, and leave the green promptly after holing out. Wait until the next tee to record your score.
Remember that picking up your ball is permitted by the USGA Handicap System
If not in an individual stroke play competition, it is generally OK to pick up your ball and move on to the next hole if you are “out” of a hole and want to maintain pace of play. This applies in match play and many forms of stroke play, including Stableford and best-ball play.