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We know that slow play is bad for the game as a whole but new statistics from Arccos Golf confirms that it also makes you play worse. Our video talks through exactly how...
Comprehensive data for handicaps ranging from scratch to 20 shows that slow play has a negative impact on scores for golfers of all abilities, with rounds that take 4.5-5 hours costing golfers the most strokes. For every half hour extra on the course, golfers are impact by around 0.4-0.7 strokes, with 4.5-5 hour rounds costing golfers between 1.3-1.7 strokes compared to a round that was 3-3.5 hours.
The data shows that higher handicaps are impacted more by slow play, with 15-19.9 handicappers taking an extra 1.7 strokes when out on the course for 4.5-5 hours. This is 0.4 strokes more than handicappers below five, which are impacted by 1.3 strokes when playing a slow round. Handicappers from 5-9.9 are impacted by 1.4 strokes and 10-14.9 handicappers play 1.5 more shots in the longer rounds.
The highest stroke increase per extra half hour spent on the golf course comes for 15-19.9 handicappers when rounds enter the 4.5+ hour range. Golfers of this ability take 0.7 more strokes when playing a 4.5+ hour round compared to 4-4.5 hours. This can be down to many reasons but a primary factor will likely be concentration. By comparison a 0-4.9 handicapper is losing just 0.4 strokes.
There are factors that naturally affect pace of play like waiting for groups ahead, searching for lost balls and the length of the course, although the breakdown of course length for rounds that are 4.5- 5 hours is the same as rounds that are 3-3.5 hours. The weather was the only external factor that wasn't taken into account within the data set.
However, all data points to the trend that higher handicap golfers play worse when rounds take longer, with handicappers below 5 managing to deal with slow play ever-so-slightly better.
Take a look at the data for yourself:
Quite simply the answer is - play faster and you'll score better, especially if you play off a higher handicap.
Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016. He graduated in Sports Journalism in 2016 and currently manages the Golf Monthly news, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He has also covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as three Open Championships including at Carnoustie in 2018 when he was inside the ropes with Tiger Woods. He has played 31 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Alwoodley. He currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 4-6. His golfing highlight is making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, and he has made one hole-in-one.
Elliott is currently playing:
Driver: Honma TR20
3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max
Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max
Irons: Honma TR20B
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design
Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
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