How and When to “Play Through”
A rule was written in golf some 120 years ago that “A single player has no standing, and must give way to a properly constituted match.” This was written because it is presumed that a single is just on the course to practice and not competing in a match. I’m always amazed at how many single players come to the golf course at 9am on a Saturday morning and expect to play in under 3 hours. It’s just not going to happen. And if you do make a tee time at a golf course on the weekend as a single, there’s a very good chance you are going to be paired up with another group. Golf courses make money by selling tee times. Each group that tees off hole #1 without 4 people in it is money left on the table.
This brings up my main point, when and how should you let someone play through? If you’re a foursome and you know there’s 3 groups of foursome’s in front of you then you should not let a lesser group play through. Now if it is in the afternoon and the course is wide open it is common courtesy to let a lesser group play through if you feel “pressured,” or see the group behind you waiting on shots.
The best time to let a group play through is after you hit your tee shot on either a par 4 or par 5. The general rule of thumb is that you should never let a group play through on par 3. Once you hit your tee shot you can start down towards your ball and pull off to the side and wave your arm to let the group know to play though. Once the group playing through hits their tee shot you can begin to hit your second shot. This will keep pace of play moving. It’s always polite to thank the group that is letting you play through, because again, no one ever has to let you play through.
Keeping this in mind will make for a more enjoyable experience on the golf course.
Brian D. Joyner
Class A PGA Teaching Professional, Carolinas PGA Section
1(252)772-7022 ext 2