Only strokes will prod Tour’s slowpokes
John Hawkins is spot-on (“It’s time to call foul on Tour’s stall tactics,” Nov. 6).
The problem is that there are no time requirements to make a shot. Everyone complains about slow play on the PGA Tour – 5½-hour rounds ... ridiculous. No one plays faster because there is no effective enforcement.
Dating to 1995, only three penalty strokes have been assessed for slow play in tournaments on the PGA Tour (Glen Day, third round, 1995 Honda Classic; Tianlang Guan, second round, 2013 Masters; teammates Miguel Angel Carballo and Brian Campbell, first round, 2017 Zurich Classic).
The only way pace of play will improve is if it costs the players strokes. Because there are no time limits to make a shot, the PGA Tour can penalize players only after they have a “bad time,” after a group has been “put on the clock.” During a 5½-hour round, there should have been a lot of groups “on the clock.”
What's wrong with enforcing the time limits that are used when a group is “on the clock” for everyone? If it's good enough to get a group back in position, it's good enough for all groups, all of the time.
Bring on the Dobermans!
Tour’s turtles need to pick up pace, so here’s how
A solution for slow play? (“It’s time to call foul on Tour’s stall tactics,” Nov. 6). It probably won't happen at the pay-to-play courses.
There is no question that the professional game influences how the public plays. “Ready golf” is not on display on the PGA Tour, as evidenced in Las Vegas last week.
Here is a far-fetched, wild-eyed idea for addressing slow play on the Tour: First, the walking rules official cannot be a fan or starry-eyed or want to be on the speed dial of the Tour player whom he is following. There would be no “you are on the clock” warning. There would be a “you have a bad time.” That's it. No further comments to the player. There would not be a stroke penalty or a monetary fine. For each bad time, the player would be required to put in 10 hours of community service to a Tour-designated organization.
A couple of bad times would catch the pros’ attention.
St. Johns, Fla.
Take penalty relief and move along
We need to speed up play and make it easier to know you are doing the right thing under the rules (“It’s time to call foul on Tour’s stall tactics,” Nov. 6).
I have been suggesting to the USGA for years that the relief from a penalty situation be two club lengths in any direction that does not put the ball into another relief situation, and then place the ball within that distance. I know what they will say because they’ve said it: My suggestion allows the player to move closer to the hole than the ball’s position. I don’t care. They’ve paid a stroke price to do it, and we can get on with the game.
For free drops, I stick with one club, complete relief and place the ball.
Let’s speed up play. Make it a no-brainer to take relief. In my experience, there is very little difference for the following shot between this and dropping.
Push for change, and it will happen
I agree that a stroke-penalty method is the way to go (“It’s time to call foul on Tour’s stall tactics,” Nov. 6). Once a few of these penalties are issued, the pace of play will pick up.
These pros quickly realize the cost, not just for one tournament, but for an entire season, at least for the mid-level pros and lower.
The more we talk about it and push for changes, the more you'll find that a lot of amateurs would love to see the pace of play increase, and this would apply to playing as well as watching on TV.
Even golf courses have gone lax on pushing for faster play, and shame on them.
No incentive for PGA Tour to change
Big-league sports such as Major League Baseball, the NFL and the PGA Tour do not have to answer to anyone except their advertisers and TV partners/subscribers.
The appeal of those sports is intensely regional in nature or incumbent to their “nut cases”: people who love the sport no matter what.
So, why make major changes, such as forcing golfers to play faster? They won't.
Understand that the PGA Tour is not about the charities but instead is about the players being enriched. That makes their pace of play even more of a problem that will not soon have an adjustment. Players want to take their time and do not care about moving faster. There is no incentive whatsoever.
Nobody really cares. The players will never, ever approve anything that takes away from their pace.
Boca Raton, Fla.
A problem with a solution, if we dare
I agree 100 percent with John Hawkins, but if Slugger White is not on board, I don’t think anything will happen (“It’s time to call foul on Tour’s stall tactics,” Nov. 6).
I don’t agree with White’s logic and do believe that stronger enforcement of the time rules and penalties in strokes rather than money is the only thing that will get these guys’ attention. And, yes, if one guy is penalized a stroke and he were to miss a cut or the top 125, it’s too bad, but that will get everyone’s attention.
Now we have another one: Bryson DeChambeau, aka, “The Professor,” or, as Tiger Woods called him, “Rainman.” DeChambeau might be slower than Bernhard Langer.
But it can be done. Baseball did it; basketball did it. It just takes a commitment from the top to the bottom, and I’ve never really seen that in golf, from juniors all the way up.
It might make some difference if the PGA Tour would release publicly its fines and penalties. Players might not want to see themselves painted in that light.
Stay on this one, or the real problem might become no audience.
John T. Doyle
The withering effects of slow play
I have been in the golf industry all of my life and have seen the decline in golf rounds due to slow play (“It’s time to call foul on Tour’s stall tactics,” Nov. 6).
I hardly watch live golf anymore. I record it and watch it in one hour.
I am glad that I don't have to earn my living fighting the slow-play problem anymore. The PGA Tour and golf-equipment manufacturers have made so many statements about making the game better. Blah, blah, blah.
Prescott Valley, Ariz.
(Catanzarite is the director of instruction at StoneRidge Golf Club in Prescott Valley, Ariz.)
Tour needs to take action
I totally agree with you regarding pace of play (“It’s time to call foul on Tour’s stall tactics,” Nov. 6).
Nothing takes away from the game more than watching a pro take five minutes to decide on a shot: testing wind, changing clubs, etc. PGA Tour players seldom have to search for misdirected balls in hazards or deep rough because there are spotters on almost all holes to flag the ball position.
Still, playing in twosomes, they have difficulty completing 18 holes in less than four hours. However, average golfers in foursomes, whether walking or in carts, are pressured to complete a round in this same four hours – no more than 4:20 – while having to search for balls, rake bunkers, etc.
The Tour needs to take action, for the sake of the game. A shot clock or similar method that would limit a player's time to hit a shot must be implemented. A warning, followed by a one-stroke penalty, followed by a DQ would solve the problem quickly.
As in other sports, time clock would work
The time pros take on the greens clearly leads to slow play. The PGA Tour should experiment with a shot clock on the greens (“It’s time to call foul on Tour’s stall tactics,” Nov. 6).
Time clocks in football and basketball are perfect examples of pros having to execute at the highest level and subject to a time clock. Pros would have to put greater trust in their “first reads” and their “first ball alignment” if they putt with a line. Pros practice and try to perfect every part of their game. Practicing "time management" on the greens can be perfected easily.
If you give the pros advance notice of a shot clock, they will perfect a routine that will not put them in jeopardy of a penalty. The Tour would be foolish not to at least experiment with the time clock and analyze the results.
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