You should be ready to play as soon as it is your turn to play. When playing on or near the putting green, you should leave your bag or cart in such a position as will enable quick movement off the green and towards the next tee. When the play of a hole has been completed, you should immediately leave the putting green.
It is a group's responsibility to keep up with the group in front. If it loses a clear hole and it is delaying the group behind, it should invite the group behind to play through, irrespective of the number of players in that group. . Don't worry about how far ahead you are of the group behind you, focus on staying a reasonable distance from the group ahead.
Choose the correct set of tees from which to play. If you're a 20-handicapper, you have no business playing the championship tees. Doing so only adds strokes, which add time.
After teeing off, walk directly to your ball. Members of the group should not travel together as a pack, walking first to one member's ball, then to the next. Each member of the foursome should walk directly to his or her ball.
Don't stand or wait if not necessary.
When two players are riding in a cart, drive the cart to the first ball and drop off the first player with his choice of clubs. The second player should proceed in the cart to his ball. After the first player hits his stroke, he should begin walking toward the cart as the second golfer is playing.
Use the time you spend getting to your ball to think about the next shot - the yardage, the club selection. When you reach your ball you'll need less time to figure out the shot.
If you believe your ball may be lost outside a water hazard or is out of bounds, to save time, you should play a provisional ball. If you are playing a recreational match with, shall we say, a "loose interpretation" of the rules, then simply drop a new ball somewhere around the area where your ball was lost and keep playing.
If you're following the rules, you won't be using mulligans. But if are using mulligans, limit them to no more than one mulligan per nine (you should never hit a mulligan if players behind you are waiting - or if you want to later claim that you played by the rules).
Begin reading the green and lining up putts as soon as you reach the green. Don't wait until it's your turn to putt to start the process of reading the green. Do it as soon as you reach the green so that when it's your turn you can step right up and putt.
Never delay making a stroke because you're having a conversation with a playing partner. Put the conversation on hold, make your stroke, then pick up the conversation again.
If using a cart on a cart-path-only day, take more than one club with you when you walk from the cart to your ball. Getting to the ball only to find out you don't have the right club is a huge time-waster on the golf course.
After putting out, don't stand around the green chatting or take any practice putting strokes. Leave the green quickly so the group behind can play. If there is no group behind, then a few practice putts are fine.
When leaving the green and returning to your cart, don't stand there fussing with your putter or other clubs. Get in the cart, drive to the next tee, and then put away your putter.
Likewise, mark your scorecard after reaching the next tee, not while lingering on or near the just-completed green.
When using a cart, never park the cart in front of the green. Park it only to the side or behind the green. And don't mark your scorecard while sitting in the cart next to the green (do it at the next tee). These practices open up the green for the group behind.
If you're the type who likes to offer tips to playing partners, save it for the driving range - or only do so on the course when you're sure that you're not slowing down play.
If you are searching for a lost ball and are willing to spend a few minutes looking for it, allow the group behind to play through. If you are playing a friendly game where rules aren't followed closely, just forget the lost ball and drop a new one. If you're not playing by the rules, you should never spend more than a minute looking for a lost ball.
Don't ask your playing partners to help you search for a lost ball - unless you are absolutely certain there is time for them to do so (e.g., there is no group behind waiting). If the course is crowded, your partners should continue moving forward, not slow things down further by stopping to help your search.
On the tee, pay attention to your partners' drives. If they lose sight of their ball, you can help direct them to it and avoid any searching.
When waiting on the tee for the group in front to clear the fairway, don't be so strict about order of play. Let the short hitter - who can't reach the group ahead anyway - go ahead and hit.
Work on building a concise pre-shot routine. If your pre-shot routine is a lengthy one, it's probably in your best interests to shorten it anyway. Limit practice strokes to one or two at the most.
Don't bother marking lag putts - go ahead and putt out if it's short enough.
Walk at a good pace between shots. No, you don't have to look like a race-walker. But if your between-shot gait can be described as a "shuffle" or an "amble," you're probably going too slow. Speeding up your gait a little is both good for your health, but also might help your game by keeping you lose.
Carry extra tees, ball markers and an extra ball in your pockets so you never have to return to your bag to find one when needed.
When chipping around the green, carry both the club you'll be chipping with plus your putter so you don't have to return to the bag.
Play "Hit When Ready" golf whenever it's appropriate where order of play is based on who's ready,
not on who's away.
If you are not playing golf in an actual tournament or other sanctioned event, it is okay to play "ready golf."
Ready golf means the golfer who is ready to hit can do so even though he or she may not be farthest away from the hole. Just agree ahead with the others in your group that you will play ready golf when it makes sense. That way they won't think
you are just unaware of the rules. It is good courtesy to acknowledge that you are playing ready golf to move things along.
Ready golf can really help to speed things along, but before you hit be sure that everyone in your group knows that you are going to hit and that you are aware of where everyone in your group is. You certainly do not want to hit someone who is
not paying attention, nor do you want several people hitting at one time.