From The Inbox

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Put pace-of-play onus on golfers

Clearly efforts to date to resolve slow play on the PGA Tour haven't worked. Any argument there?

The list of reasons why is many and varied. So how can it successfully be accomplished? It comes down to applying a leadership philosophy versus a micromanagement philosophy.

A proven leadership principle is that human beings respond well when given a clearly articulated goal (the what) and they are empowered to find their own means to achieve that goal (the how).  

Human beings do not typically respond well to being told how to do something by somebody else, especially if the prescribed how doesn't really achieve a desired result (the what). That is ineffective micromanagement.

Dictating that you must hit a shot within 40 seconds is micromanaging only a portion of what constitutes a round of golf. It misses the point of what the real goal should be. Every shot easily could be executed within the constraints of the shot clock and a round still could take five-plus hours, because there is a lot more to it.

A simple way to achieve rounds completed within a desired time frame is this:

1. Establish the expectation (the what) that every group finish its round in no longer than a stipulated amount of time from its tee time (e.g., 4:15 for twosomes; 4:30 for threesomes – not exactly stretch goals).  

2. Exceed the stipulated time and a one-shot penalty is given to each player in the group; exceed it by more than 10 minutes and two-shot penalties are given (e.g., a twosome finishing in 4:22 gets one-shot penalties; a twosome finishing in 4:28 gets two-shot penalties).

3. No aspect of the players' activities during their rounds therefore needs to be micromanaged. It's up to them to self-police and make it happen. It would be amazing how quickly players would adapt their playing styles (the how) to achieve the goal, or they would pay the penalty.

4. Judgment is removed from the equation. It becomes black and white. The only bad guys would be the offending groups.  

5. The Tour indeed would need to ensure that rules officials are immediately available on each hole to make quick rulings.

There are very few exceptions that would need to be dealt with. With bad weather or extreme course conditions, the stipulated time could be adjusted before play starts, as a last resort. And for each group behind an offending group, the offending group's time overage would need to be added to the stipulated time for the remaining groups. 

Simply set a clear expectation (the what), with a defined non-judgmental consequence, and let the players figure it out (the how) and be accountable. Then watch the problem go away.

Andy Jackson
Fort Worth, Texas


A step ahead of the Luddites

I can play a shot much faster than my Luddite friends who refuse to use the DMD technology (“DMDs narrow the distance for Tour use,” Jan. 31, The USGA permits them in all but a very few competitions, so officials see it as a way to play while we're young.

It's too much trouble for me to draw a line on my ball, and it usually comes out crooked anyway (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Feb. 5, I use the brand name as an alignment aid. I cannot use a Callaway ball for putting because it would result in hooks and fades, depending on which way the ball is facing.

Jim Kavanagh
St. Augustine, Fla.


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