A golf course may boast pristine greens and wonderful hole design. But if the pace is slow, it can sour a golfer's whole experience. Scanning the 121,000-plus reviews written by golfers on Golf Advisor in 2015, perhaps the single greatest complaint in a mediocre-to-poor review is slow pace of play.
Pace of play, perhaps more than any of the other subcategories we track on Golf Advisor, is a very subjective category. A golfer can theoretically play a four-and-a-half-hour round on a challenging course, but if they aren't waiting on any shots, feel the pace was excellent. On the other hand, a fast-playing group could go berserk because the group ahead of them is on a five-hour pace and won't waive them through.
Policing pace of play, from the perspective of golf course management, requires walking a fine line. Staff must space out groups while still packing in enough foursomes each day to pay the bills. Rangers must enforce pace to slower groups while not offending or disrupting them to the point they may look for somewhere else to play next time.
Based on our ratings in 2015, some courses have performed this dance better than others. This top 25 has a very interesting mix of courses, from tough, championship layouts to high-end resort courses to semi-private and public courses.
With that said, these 25 U.S. courses made it through 2015 with the best Pace of Play ratings.
Top 25 courses for pace of play in 2015
What they're saying: "Had a wonderful time, played 18 in less than 4 hours." -- allenwayne
What they're saying: "There were others on the course, but the pace of play was great." -- JCS0011
21. North River Club
North Augusta, S.C.
What they're saying: "The course is extremely picturesque, challenging & in great condition. Pace of play was also good." -- golfert1965
What they're saying: "It's fun, well conditioned, and you can get around pretty quick." -- jim4298842
What they're saying: "Pace of play, course layout was good, we thought the staff were very friendly and helpful." -- Glee8514
What they're saying: "One of my top three courses open to the public within 40 mikes ok Oklahoma City." -- krpindel
What they're saying: "Everything was in PERFECT condition, not overly crowded, played in 3 1/2 hours." -- Jonathan4491615
What they're saying: "Every time we play here the staff is helpful and the pace of play excellent." -- zjlg01
Saint Simons Island, Ga.
What they're saying: "Great greens, good fairways and bunkers, pace was excellent." -- Don5300529
San Antonio, Texas
What they're saying: "Great value with wonderful conditions. Pace of play was great." -- rairving
What they're saying: "Staff was very friendly, as was everyone else I came across on the course." -- rdevans112
Lost Pines, Texas
What they're saying: "Very good time, pace of play excellent finished in little over 3.5 hrs." -- uDQQS2165DQ
What they're saying: "Pace of play was a non issue. Will play every time I vacation back to San Diego." -- brabbit22
What they're saying: "After playing there this one time its the only place I want to play." -- Andrew4731830
New Orleans, La.
What they're saying: "My friend and I finished the course playing a reasonable pace in just under three hours." -- tulsuduke
What they're saying: "They have some local rules that keep play smooth and quick." -- DavidandSandra
What they're saying: "Not a single slow down waiting for another group or a single time playing in front of another group." -- nelson35
Merry Hill, N.C.
What they're saying: "Scotch Hall Preserve is a world class golf course." -- Craig7315875
Fort Myers, Fla.
What they're saying: "Turned the round over as a twosome in sub three hours." -- dhamilton148
Green fees are based on latest peak-season rates and are subject to change. In the case of resort courses, stay-and-play packages and specials often greatly reduce the price of the green fee. Many of these courses also offer dynamic online tee times, off-season and twilight rates that lower the green fee.