Letting other groups play through.

Why does it leave such a bad taste in people’s mouths to let other groups play through?

I have been lamenting this question for 25 years. Is it emasculating to men? Is it submissive for women? I don’t understand why it is such a big deal. If I am in a foursome and a cart with two 70 year old women is pushing my group with no one in front of us…

“Ladies, would you like to play through?”…and I am happy to do it.

I have been a single late in the afternoon with a foursome in front of me and open holes in front. Instead of just waiving me through, they grind for score and run to their carts.

It is not uncommon occurrence for me to be a single, finish a hole and get to the next tee before the group in front of me has teed off. They finish, all give me a dirty look and drive off. I then get an even dirtier look when I skip the hole they haven’t even hit their second shots to and go to the next tee.

What’s up with that?

A perfect example of what I am talking about. A few years ago I was playing with all my friends (by myself, in other words) at around 4 or 5 PM. I teed off about 20 minutes after a foursome and I caught them by the 3rd tee. They saw me and didn’t offer to let me play through. One guy was giving lessons (not a pro, a 10 giving lessons to 20’s) to two of the other players and I was not happy. On a 340-350 yard par 4 they finished putting and started getting putting lessons. I whistled and raised my hands when they looked back. They kept on putting for another 2 minutes. I got tired of waiting so I hit my tee shot and hit it in the green side bunker.

When I pulled up by the green, they were still putting. Mr. Scratch looks at me and says, “you in some kind of hurry?”

I decided to treat this in the manner that seem most appropriate to the situation. I said nothing, hit my sand shot to a few feet, took out the pin, putted in, put the pin back in, went to the next tee and teed off.

Moral to the story: If there is no one in front of you and there is a single behind you, let him play through. It might be me and I am hostile, combative, a jerk and I will hit into you. 😉




  1. Mike Z

    I played several rounds at a rural course in Wisconsin recently, often as a single or a twosome in a cart. Literally every time I came upon a group in front of me with open holes, they let me play through within a hole of being caught. It was awesome, and I was able to play 18 holes in 2 hours routinely.

    The half-dozen rounds I’ve played since getting back to Southern California, I’ve only been waved through once, and it took the group 3 holes to figure it out that I was catching up to them on every tee. I wonder if the average SoCal golfer is less considerate than others around the country?

  2. Banner 12

    This is a major problem. Since I often play on Mondays the courses are somewhat empty and my partner and I almost always catch up to the group in front of us. If no one is behind us we will slow down (practice putting, chipping, etc.) to keep space. If someone is breathing down our necks and the course is wide open we will either try to play through and if unsuccessful get ahead of the slowpokes at the turn (where they usually have a long snack bar stop).

    Most memorable incident was playing Wilson at Griffith Park one day(where slow play is the norm) and seeing 5 groups(!!!) waiting on the 6th hole. We rode a bit up to see what the problem was and there were 4 awful players, each taking 10 practice strokes before each shot then scuffing it 10 yards and repeating the process all over again.

    So instead of waiting we simply skipped the hole only to find 5 holes open in front of us. We zipped through them and immediately went to the starter(no Marshalls were to be found) to inform him of Speedy and his friends. No nodded as if to say ‘what do you want me to do about it?’

    Last time we played there.

  3. hackgolfer

    This happens a lot on the chop/noob courses I play on in NoCal. I don’t know if they teach this sort of thing anymore. You can be a terrible golfer(like me) and still NOT be slow or inconsiderate. This along with people not fixing their ball marks on the green are my biggest pet peeves.

    • Monte Scheinblum

      Hack, you are so right. I have said before how many ball marks I end up fixing. Also, it has been my experience that the worst slow players are not bad golfers. They are 10-20 handicappers who think they are on the PGA Tour with their preshot routines, throwing up grass 10 times, stepping off yardage three times and parking over the ball for 45 seconds to go through their 15 step swing check list.

      Occasionally, you will see a beginner doing this and that is the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse.

  4. meateater

    Thanks for bringing this up. I find a lot of people are just clueless or don’t give a crap. I hate for someone to be pushing me, so I am happy to let them through, unless there is a backup in front. If I’m a single and riding, I’ll usually just go around a group rather than deal with it.

    Question: What do you do when you are a single and get matched up with a group of idiots by the starter? I’ve had situations where they were so slow the ranger is pushing us to skip a hole. Why should I suffer because they are morons? Of course, they will never let anyone through or even worse, think it’s funny to hit into the group ahead.

    • Monte Scheinblum

      That is a tough one. If they don’t want to let faster groups through and/or if they are just slow idiots, I just tell them I am going to play by myself ahead of them. If they don’t like it…tough!

      To me, I would much rather play with 3 guys shooting 110 having a great time and hitting the ball, rather than 3 guys who are shooting 75-80 thinking it’s the last 9 on Sunday of the US Open.

  5. torpet

    Just an example of how to waste time: A player hits it within a short pitch range to the pin and starts to run around looking for a sprinkler head with the distance to the center of the green. He finds it, adds/subtracts the distance from his ball to the sprinkler head and proudly announces – 37 meters (yes we are metric in my country). I ask him if he has a club for 57 meters but he doesn’t seem to get it.

    • Monte Scheinblum

      LOL. I don’t know if this makes you feel any better, but I had a friend play with a 10 year old kid the other day that stepped off all his putts…under the direction of his father, of course.

  6. Dave Garretson

    Great topic. A few years ago a starter put my friend and me ahead of 2 very nice Korean ladies. He lied to them and told them we had the time in front of them. They just smiled and let us go. After a few holes these 2 were riding on our butt every shot—we play 18 in 3:15 but these 2 played like they were on speed. Ran to and from every shot. So we let them play through and then just laughed at our own arrogance.
    The worst is following a 5-some that won’t let you play through. Have had that several times when I walk in the evenings. One guy told me that according to USGA rules a single player has no “rights” on a golf course. I tried to point out that according to the USGA a 5-some doesn’t even exist. So I just played 3 balls on each hole and kept my anger to myself–barely.

  7. Monte Scheinblum

    According to the USGA, you can commit a penalty even if you didn’t see it, sign your card truthfully and have a viewer call in and get you disqualified.


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