Dear Bonnie,

I get anxious when there are players behind my group and my game suffers.  What can I do to keep my mind on my own game and not on them?

Pace of play is a responsibility of all golfers. I imagine you are concerned with your group playing too slowly and causing irritation for those behind you. Or you may be concerned about hitting a bad shot that the players behind you might see. Let’s talk about both of these issues.

The United States Golf Association reports the average round of golf is four hours. The recommended time allowed for a player stepping into the tee box and hitting the ball is 40 seconds or less. If your group members are following those guidelines, you can stop your thinking about the players behind you. Keep your thoughts focused on your game instead of theirs. If they are playing faster than your group, and it makes sense to let them play through, you can extend that courtesy. However, if the course is crowded, and it doesn’t make sense for them to advance, it’s up to you to keep your mind on your own game and not let it stray to those behind.

If you are worrying about what they are thinking about your group or how your shots look to them, it’s actually none of your business. You cannot control another person’s thoughts no matter how hard you try to meet their approval. You can be playing faster than average, hitting exceptional shots, and people can still choose to find something negative to think about you. Other people’s thoughts are out of your control. And not just on the golf course. Everywhere. No matter what you do, other people can think and feel however they choose. The same is true for all of us. We think and feel whatever we want. Others cannot control our thoughts and feelings either.

If you are playing within the recommended guidelines, you have nothing to think about except your play. If you hit a “bad” shot, by your standards, so what? It’s golf. It’s part of the game. Get your thoughts focused on your next shot and remember to have fun!

Do you have a question for Bonnie? Let us know in the comments, or send an email to, and you might just see your question answered.