Too often, the going has gotten tough in our great game.
And you know what the tough do: They get going.
It’s time (pun intended) for some tough love – penalties that hurt on the pro tours, extra fees that hurt for the rest of us – to eliminate slow play once and for all.
Frankly, I was thrilled to hear that several pros expressed their disgust with Bryson DeChambeau’s ridiculous 2-minute, 20-second 8-foot putt. He had a book that told him every break on the green, and yet he wanted to analyze the putt from every possible angle. He missed it, of course. Missed it badly.
Watching people like him and J.B. Holmes is bad enough for fans watching on television; I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like for the pros stuck with being in their group.
It sounds as if the players are willing to stiffen the penalties to get these guys to speed up. No more empty warnings. There should be just one notification that they’re “on the clock,” and then every shot should be timed.
The tours should come up with a reasonable amount of time to complete a stroke – 30 seconds, 45 seconds, certainly no more than a minute. The first time the slowpokes go over the limit, they’re penalized a stroke. Period. No questions asked.
And if the PGA Tour has any qualms about enforcing it, just look at what has happened in the National Hockey League.
Remember how fighting always was considered an integral part of hockey? “The boys just need to take out a little frustration,” the saying went.
So every team had a goon, and the goons frequently would square off … just because. Often, things got out of hand, and games turned into boxing matches.
Not anymore. You just don’t see it much. The goons are pretty much gone. Through strict enforcement of more severe penalties, the ugliness has been minimized.
Golf can do the same with its slow-play problem, and it needs to hurry (again, pun intended). Golf and baseball have the same challenge: They’re too slow sometimes. Baseball keeps looking for ways to step it up. Golf seems to just pay it lip service.
That applies to public courses, too. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: There needs to be a reward for fast play … or an extra cost for slow play.
It could be as simple as this:
Let’s say the greens fee is $40. But you pay $50 when you register, and the starter then records what time you hit your first shot. If you get to the 18th green before four hours are up, you get $10 back. If you don’t, tough luck. The tough need to get going.
Now, I realize that how fast we play often depends on the group in front of us. But what if everyone was hyper-focused on getting their $10 back? Wouldn’t that speed things up?
And, yes, every course is different. Some just naturally take longer to play than others, especially if they elicit a lot of lost or hard-to-find balls.
But golf’s new rules quieted that excuse by shortening the time you have to look for your ball and eliminating the need to take the “walk of shame” back to the tee to reload.
I also would contend that if we saw all the pros playing at the same pace as Brandt Snedeker and Rory McIlroy, more people would mimic that. And surely golf courses could come up with a fair system to not penalize groups that are stuck behind laggards.
I have a proposition for Golf Guide readers: Pass along your suggestions for getting people to make every day a fast day on the golf course. Either that, or tell us what constructive steps your course is taking to accomplish the goal.
I’d be curious to know if some creative ideas have been implemented out there. One thing’s for sure: It’s time for implementation, not just “You’re on the clock. Please hurry up. Pretty please.”
It’s time to levy some harsh penalties for slow play and then have one simple response to complaints: