Without a shred of scientific evidence, after-50 golfers get more than their share of the blame for golf’s most irritating habit — slow play. Slow play is not an inherited trait. It is learned, and it can be unlearned. Several readers and golf writers have suggested that the answer to slow play is not “fast play,” but rather “efficient golf” or “ready golf.” Here is a summary of how to play efficient and ready golf.

The average length of a round of golf in the United States is 4 hours. In Scotland, the average is 3 hours. The Scots have taught us a thing or two about golf in the past, so maybe we should learn from them how to play “ready golf.” One other point: The fastest golf in America happens an hour before sunset, when players know they have a limited amount of time to complete a round. If we can do it then, we can do it anytime.

  1. Be ready to hit immediately when it’s your turn.
  2. Line up your putt before it’s your turn.
  3. Determine yardage before you arrive at your ball.
  4. Select your club while approaching your ball.
  5. Carry a spare ball; when in doubt, play a provisional ball.
  6. Limit conversation on the green.
  7. After finishing a hole, don’t take practice putts.
  8. Fill in your scorecard while walking to the next tee, not on the green.
  9. Give instructions to your friends on the driving range or the practice green, not on the course.
  10. Leave your cart or bag off to the side of the green and toward the next tee.
  11. If you can’t find your ball within three minutes, Use applicable lost ball rules.
  12. On the tee, let the first player who is ready hit.
  13. If your group gives you a “gimme,” don’t try to make it, anyway.
  14. Take a maximum of eight strokes on any fairway.
  15. Reduce or eliminate practice swings.
  16. Putt out (on short putts) rather than marking and waiting.
  17. Reduce or eliminate the use of cell phones.
  18. Watch others’ drives so you can help them locate their balls.
  19. Walk (briskly), don’t ride. It’s good for your health and, believe it or not, it’ll speed up play.
  20. Most importantly you can only go as fast as the group in front of you so don’t fall behind. Keep up with them.

By Hershel Sarbin and Jim Brown Golf After 50 Editors