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SLOW PLAY: What is the recommended time limit to play a golf shot?


Slow play in golf is a persistent problem that affects both professional and recreational players. It can cause frustration, boredom, loss of concentration, and reduced enjoyment of the game. But what is deemed as slow play in golf and how does it impact the sport?


According to the Rules of Golf, slow play is when a player takes too long to make a stroke or move between strokes, affecting the progress of other players on the course. The recommended time limit for a stroke is 40 seconds, but this is not enforced by a fixed rule. Instead, it depends on the judgment of the rules officials, who can penalize players for undue delay if they fall out of position or breach the pace of play policy.


Slow play in golf can have negative consequences for both the players and the game as a whole. For the players, slow play can disrupt their rhythm, lower their confidence, increase their stress, and make them lose interest. For the game, slow play can reduce its appeal to spectators and potential participants, especially younger generations who value speed and excitement. Slow play can also affect the profitability of golf courses and tournaments, as fewer rounds can be played and broadcasted.

To address the issue of slow play in golf, various suggestions have been made by players, experts, and governing bodies. Some of these suggestions include:


  • Introducing stricter penalties for slow players, such as shot penalties or disqualification.

  • Implementing a shot clock system, where players have a fixed time to play each shot and are penalised for exceeding it.

  • Educating players on the etiquette and rules of golf, and encouraging them to play ready golf, where they hit when they are ready instead of waiting for their turn.

  • Simplifying and modernising the rules of golf, and reducing the number of rulings and interventions by officials.

  • Designing golf courses that are more playable and less challenging, and setting appropriate tee times and intervals.

  • Using technology to monitor and improve the pace of play, such as GPS devices, mobile apps, or smart carts.


Slow play in golf is a complex and controversial topic that has no easy solution. However, by understanding its causes and effects, and by implementing some of the suggestions above, we can hope to improve the pace of play and enhance the enjoyment of golf for everyone involved.

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