If you have been watching the PGA Tour these past several weeks, you very likely learned something. You may have learned how to play just like a touring professional. Or as I like to call it “How to play a round of golf in just under six hours”.
This past weekend, slow-play poster boy, Bryson DeChambeau, took two minutes and twenty seconds to hit an eight-foot putt. That's 140 seconds, or more than triple the time the Tour's rules allow. He missed the putt.
It seems that slow play is dividing many golfers. On one hand you have the golfers who play at a reasonable pace and feel that pros take far too long to hit a shot. On the other, you have those fans who feel that when playing for as much money as these guys are playing for each week, it's understandable and acceptable that they take more time to hit a shot.
Personally, I am in the “get your &%@! moving” camp. I realize that I do not play golf for a living, but slow play is a big factor in the dwindling number of golfers playing this game. We live in a world where most people want instant gratification and waiting 60 or more seconds for someone in your group to figure out the yardage, pick a club, and hit the ball is sending them elsewhere for there fun or relaxation.
At the same tournament this weekend, faced with a difficult 70-yard pitch, DeChambeau paced off the distance and took a full three minutes to hit the ball. Enough already. If the science involved in hitting the ball has become so involved that you need this long to make up your mind and pull the trigger, then you need to be penalized strokes. It isn't fair to the rest of the players in your group or those waiting behind you.
This problem leaves the PGA Tour in a dilemma. The Tour knows these guys are slow. A watching grass grow or paint dry kind of slow. However, the last thing the Tour wants to do is penalize a player, cost him a win, and hear the backlash from his fans.
As a result, the Tour has no backbone when it comes to enforcing its own rules. Seriously, what affect would a $500 fine have on a guy who just made an extra $25,000 by spending an extra 60 seconds making sure everything was good to go before hitting a shot.
The Tour has stated that it is going to re-evaluate its slow play policy. I hope they are a bit quicker at coming to a solution than the players are at hitting shots.
I have a couple of ideas that just may help out. If only they listen.
First, let the caddies us laser rangefinders. Most every golfer uses one, and the caddies spend plenty of time marking their books and getting distances before their pro hits the course. The Tour even hands out the pin locations for each day prior to the tournament so that players can spend part of their practice rounds putting to where the pin will be located each day.
Making the caddies rely on their notes and pace off distances from known monuments on each hole to give their pro an accurate yardage takes too much time. Chances are, unless they can't count past ten, they are going to be within a yard or two. Just give them the modern tool for the tournament rounds already.
Implement a “shot” clock. I'm sorry if you need three minutes to hit a shot that may be worth $500,000. The rules give you 40-60 seconds. If you can't execute your shot by then, then you get penalized. Don't like it? Find a job that lets you take your sweet time getting anything done.
On the greens is where the turtle race really shows. Players will prowl around the green like a lion stalking a gazelle. They check the break and distance of their putt from 36 angles. They check their “greens book” that shows contours and slope percentages to see how much each will affect their putt. Ban these books already! If you can't read a green by eyesight and feel, what are you doing on Tour?
They repair imaginary ball marks on the green that may deflect their perfectly struck putt. They may take exactly five practice strokes before hitting the ball. Most times it doesn’t even go in. So, they mark the ball, and start all over again.
Slow play needs to be addressed. It is hurting our beloved game at every level and is making golf on TV even more difficult to watch. Let's hope the PGA Tour starts enforcing its rules and policies or comes up with something better. Maybe we'll see it implemented and enforced in our lifetime.