Pace of Play

How to Play Ready Golf 

Written by Pat Barry/Jill Hammergren


BEFORE THE TEE    Learn the Etiquette


  1. Men generally hit from the white or middle tees. They tee off first before the women, who generally hit from the red or forward tees. Ready golf means that the first person with golf club, tee and ball in hand should step up and tee off, regardless of who won the previous hole. This speeds up play on the course. 
  2. If you believe your tee shot is out of bounds, hit a provisional ball at the tee box. This saves time later when you discover that the ball is in deed out of bounds. If you end up playing your provisional ball, you are laying 3.


  1. This same rule pertains to a shot hit from the fairway out of bounds. Hit a provisional from the original position and then determine which ball is playable. Don't forget, any time you play the provisional ball; it counts as an extra stroke. 
    Another opportunity to keep pace is for a player with a ball in the middle of the fairway to hit ahead of another player, who is searching for a ball either in the woods or tall grass.   
  2. Players lined up similar distances from the green should always make their club selections then proceed directly to their balls. This helps players to get ready to hit when their turn arrives. 


  1. Players on the fringe may hit onto the green while a player analyzes how to hit out of the sand. Again, this keeps play moving, as long as you are safely out of the other player's way. 
  2. When a player hits toward the green, but the ball goes beyond the green, another player may hit up to the green to get her ball onto the putting surface. The first player will then have time to get to her ball and prepare to hit again.


When entering the sand bunker, always enter from the low side, so as not to break down the integrity of the design. Take a rake with you and put it near your ball location. Thus, it will be available for grooming immediately after you hit your ball.    


  1. All players but one are on the green, one is on the fringe, but closer to the hole than one other. TEST: who hits first? Per USGA rules, the person farthest away on the putting surface hits first. But in ready golf, the player on the fringe may prefer to have the flagstick left in the hole. So, the player on the fringe may go first and then the flagstick is removed from the hole. Or the player farthest away may hit first and another player tends the flag. Pull it immediately after farthest player putts. Replace the flag for the player on the fringe, if requested. Again in ready golf, if the player farthest from the hole is not ready, another player may putt first to keep the pace moving. 
  2. Tending the Flag - Stand out of all players' lines of putting and be aware of your shadow. Do not allow it to cover the hole or the line of the putting player. Also, hold the flag itself so it does not blow in the wind. Flagsticks must be out of the hole whenever a ball is putted from the green.  
  3. Marking your ball - When a ball reaches a green, each player should mark it, without waiting to be asked to do so. Be aware of other player's lines. Do not walk on them. The proper place for the marker is directly behind the ball. If another player prefers you to move your mark out of their line, then ask them which direction. First mark it where it lies and then move it one putter foot length in the direction requested. When replacing your ball, again use the putter foot length to put the ball back where it originally stopped. 
  4. If a player hits a long putt and the ball stops within four feet of the hole or closer, that player could choose to finish putting out. It is faster to do this than marking the ball and waiting for another player get ready to putt. This is only a choice, as some putts may require more analysis or may put a player in another player's line.  


After you finish the hole, leave the green immediately. Write the score when you reach the next tee box.