What does Ready Golf Really Mean?

The spirit of ready golf is simply playing golf shots whenever you are ready to play and whenever it's safe to play REGARDLESS of honors or state of the match. The primary purpose of playing ready golf is to increase the pace of play which has been the biggest complaint of our league over the years. All golfers should play ready golf as a courtesy to your fellow competitors, but it's very important to play ready golf once your group falls behind the group in front of you. It is your responsibility to insure you and your group are following these guidelines.

Here are a few concrete examples of what ready golf means in practice:

Ready Fairway and Green Side Golf

Here's a situation where player A and B are on opposite sides of the hole, and player A is closer to the hole than player B. If the group in front of you is still on the green there is no reason player A can't play before player B if player A knows he can't reach the green. Even if there is not a group on the green there is no reason player A shouldn't play before player B if he's ready before player B. There's also no reason player A and player B can't play simultaneously if they can't see or hear one another. This guideline also applies for shorter shots around the green.

Furthermore, even if you don't play the shots simultaneously, whichever player plays second should time his pre-shot routine (including gauging the wind, selecting a club, and any practice swings) such that he's ready to swing as soon as possible. There's really no need to watch your fellow competitor's ball come to rest.

Ready Standing

You should always try to be as close to your golf ball as possible whenever you have a wait so you can play as soon as you have the chance. Make sure you are not distracting your fellow competitors by talking, moving, or obstructing their view. If someone is distracting you or standing in your way please let them know immediately. Pay attention to those behind you and protect yourself (hide behind a tree, cart, or your bag) while you wait. Use the time while you wait wisely. This is the perfect time to gauge the wind, improve your lie, clean your ball, select a club, and make any practice swings. Most of all just be ready to play when it's your turn.

Here's a situation where players C and D are much further away from the green than players A and B. If the group in front is still on the putting green players A and B shouldn't wait for them to putt out and then wait for players C and D to play before they walk to their ball. Players A and B should proceed to their ball, and walk in a route that is out of the playing lines of C and D in case the green clears while they are walking. If the green is still occupied when players A and B get to their balls they should spend this extra time assessing their shots. Once the green clears, A and B should take cover or at least turn around and watch C and D play their shots so they can avoid any wayward shots. Once C and D play, A and B should already be set to play their shots.

Ready Putting

Ready putting starts when you're walking up to the green from your approach shot. Make sure you set you bag down between the green and the next tee box so that after you finish putting you minimize the time it takes to retreive your bag and get to the next tee.

Once a group is on the putting green, the player closest to hole is responsible for tending or removing flagstick. Make sure you set the flagstick out of the way, and wrap the flag around the stick before you set it down so it doesn't blow around and distract others.

If you're on the green before others in your group there's no reason you can't putt while others are raking sand traps, lining up longer putts, or just walking to the green for whatever reason. When you fall behind you forfeit your right to "go to school" on others if they are not ready to putt. Here's a situation where player A got to the green first and player B just bladed a chip shot over the green, and player C is still walking to the green because he fell behind the others during a tragic lost ball incident.

Player A should putt first in the interest of time. Player D should tend the flagstick and replace it for player B as soon as player A is finished. If player C's ball is in his line, player D should mark player C's ball prior to the putt.

While you're on the putting green you should read your putts and rid your line of lose impediments while others are putting. You should time your pre-putt routine such that you're ready to putt as soon as others mark their ball or retrieve their ball from the cup. It's not courteous to make others watch you read the green when it's your turn to putt.

If you need to spend time to read your second putt you should mark your ball and read the green while others are putting. If you don't need to read your second or third putts (or can read it with a quick glance) please keep putting until you hole out. It's generally faster to keep putting while it's your turn.

The second to last player to hole out is responsible for replacing the flagstick. As soon as they hole out they should go pick up the flag and be ready to return it as soon as the last competitor holes out.

Also please don't stand around after you've finished the hole to write down the scores. You can do that at the next tee or when you wait for others in the next fairway.

Ready Driving

In the previous scenario, if player A is playing ready golf it's likely he will finish the hole prior to the others. There is no reason why player A can't proceed to the next hole and tee off while others are still putting. Remember, when you are behind you've lost your right to play with honors until you catch up to the group in front of you.

If your group does have to wait for the group in front of you on a tee box, the shortest hitter should hit as soon as those in front of you are out of his way.

If you're on a par 3 that you can't reach there's really no need to wait for the group in front of you to hole out. In the interest of time you should tee off as soon as it's safe to do so. The 4th hole at Hickory Woods and the 3rd hole at Deer Track are good examples. These are also good holes to wave the group up behind you since it's unlikely they'll hit the green on their first shot.

Ready Golf Carts

If you play with a golf cart you should be FULLY prepared for your next shot(s) whenever you leave it. This means you take EVERYTHING you will possibly need including a putter and a wedge if you are anywhere near the green. In the fairway you should take the club you think you're going to hit and the next shortest, and next longest club in case you change your mind. If you don't know what club you're going to hit take your entire bag. You should also take your entire bag if your cart partner has a lost ball or is on the other side of the world. Don't forget an extra ball and your range finder if you use one.

Try to minimize the number of transactions you make with your golf bag. You can save time by getting into the cart without putting your club(s) away from the previous shot if you know you will have to go back to your bag for the next shot anyway. If you hit the green on your approach shot you can get your putter out the same time as you put your other clubs away so you won't have to go back to your bag once you get to the green.

Ready Lost Balls

One of the biggest reasons for slow play is the time spent on lost balls. According to the SDRC league rules, players are only allowed 3 minutes to search for a lost ball. Lost balls are a reality that can't be avoided, but you must be conscientious when dealing with lost balls. Always carry an extra ball in your pocket, the club you are most likely going to use if you find the ball, and the club you will use if you can't find the ball while you search for the lost ball. If more than one player loses a ball you should divide into separate groups, and search simultaneously. Most of all you shouldn't exceed the 3 minute search limit regardless of the number of lost balls, especially if you're already behind. Remember to set your bag down near where you would play in the event you can't find the ball.

If All Else Fails Be Ready to Run Like Hell

There's no excuse for not keeping up with the group in front of you. You are responsible for knowing when you are falling behind and how to catch up to the group in front of you. If you can't play ready golf then you better learn to play faster golf. Besides you probably need the exercise.