I shouldn’t have to write this post. Short of absolute beginners, etiquette on the golf course around playing through is – so I thought – fairly well known. However, recent rounds have proven me wrong, and thus, a reminder is needed.
Let’s start with the basics. What does “playing through” mean? It’s simple – when you’re playing golf, and a party behind you is continually waiting on you (because you’re slow, a larger group, you keep shanking balls into the woods, etc), you stop for a moment, and let the group behind you play on through you, allowing them to get in front of you, and not be slowed down.
Pretty straightforward concept.
So, how do you do it? The old “mind if I play through?” usually doesn’t get to happen, as the burden tends to be on the party in front of the faster party to manage the situation.
If you’re that slower party, with the other party behind you waiting on the tee box, walking up to you while you’re on the cart path, or staring you down as you reach in your bag for a range ball to blade onto the green, here are four time-proven ways to let those poor folks play through you, so everyone can enjoy their round.
On The Tee Box
Let’s start with the easiest scenario. You’re on the tee box, and the people behind you are on the green. All you have to do is wait! Just hang out for a couple minutes (find a nice shady spot, unless you’re at Cabot, where you should find any sun available), until the other folks walk up to the tee. If you’re in a cart, just stay in your cart, so they’ll know it’s good to play through. A simple “Hey, you can play through” should seal the deal.
On The Tee Box, After You Hit
Ok, this is a little advanced, but hear me out. Let’s say, in our last example, you’re a little ahead. The folks coming up on the tee behind you may be chipping up on the green, or maybe they just started putting. Either way, being the anxious group you are, you’re ready to hit that hosel rocket right into the condo off the 200-yd fairway trap.
No big deal! Because you know what your ball is (you…do…know your ball, right?), you can all go ahead and hit your tee shots, and by time you do, the group behind you should be walking up. Simply let them know you’ve hit, and that they’re welcome to go ahead and hit and play the rest of the hole. Brilliant!
At the Bathroom
You’ve finished your hole, and the folks behind you are making their approach. If there’s a bathroom between your hole and the next teebox, pull off, give yourself relief, and wait in the shade while they finish up. There might even be a water station there to refill your bottle! Pure luxury.
Once the group behind you finishes up, make sure to let them know they can go ahead while you check out the posh facilities.
At the Clubhouse
This is a bit of a special case, as it really only applies at the turn. It’s also special, because you can do the famous passive play through, where you hop inside the clubhouse for a dog and a Transfusion, while the other group, unbeknownst of your diversion, goes ahead and makes the turn.
Now, watch out here! If the other group comes in behind you and also sidles up for a libation, you’ll have a tricky dance on your hands. A friendly hello, a comment about the greens being so slow/fast/tricky/hilly/bumpy/recently punched, and a “Hey, we’re gonna hang out for a few, y’all go on out after you get settled up” should do the trick.
Letting someone play through doesn’t have to be hard. And, when you let someone play through, you feel less rushed, and they feel less impatient. Win-win.