'Play Through' (or 'Playing Through') in Golf

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The terms "play through" and "playing through" refer to the act of a faster group of golfers on a golf course being invited to or allowed to pass a slower group - for the faster group to get ahead of the slower group.

Ideally, this happens at the invitation of the slower group. Let's say you're in the Slow Group, and you notice that the Fast Group behind you is always waiting on your group. Yet, there is room in front of your group - the hole ahead is open. In this case, it is good golf etiquette for the Slow Group to invite the Fast Group to "play through."

The Fast Group

The Fast Group might also request to play through the Slow Group. If that happens and you're in the Fast Group, be certain that there are holes open ahead of the Slow Group (somewhere for you to play through to, in other words), and that you are polite in making the request. If the request is granted, be quick about playing your shots and move ahead briskly.

Playing through can be contentious when groups disagree over whether to make the maneuver. In such cases, groups should talk to a course marshal if one can be found.

How to Proceed

Playing through most typically occurs in one of these ways:

  • The Slow Group is on the green while the Fast Group waits in the fairway. Slow Group waves Fast Group up to the green. After Fast Group plays approach shots, Slow Group putts out. Slow Group waits on next tee and allows Fast Group to tee off first, moving them ahead.
  • The Fast Group reaches tee box while Slow Group is still teeing off. Slow Group allows Fast Group to tee off and move ahead.

If the hole ahead of the Slow Group is occupied by another group, then the Fast Group will just have to deal with waiting because there is nowhere to play through to.