PGA Tour players plod as Tour condones pace
The PGA Tour, because of its inaction, has been encouraging slow play for decades (“Pros explain slow play: It’s the other guy,” Nov. 14).
While the players are more than capable of maintaining a steady, acceptable pace of play, some of them – perhaps unintentionally, at first – find ways to play slowly. Eventually, that occasional slowing or lagging becomes habitual and, unfortunately, becomes that player’s normal. Those slower players aren’t fearful of being called for it, because it seldom happens; when it does happen, the consequence is trivial.
No long-standing behavior survives without sanction, and the PGA Tour is providing that sanction. The Tour refused to enforce the pace-of-play rules and so essentially has told everyone for years to play at your own pace, whatever that pace may be.
That whole mindset is bad for TV viewership, bad for people who go to view tournaments, and bad for the recreational golfer because many will emulate the pros whom they see on TV each week, thus slowing public/private golf.
Putnam Valley, N.Y.
Be quicker to slap slowpokes with fines
The slow-play solution is simple (“Pros explain slow play: It’s the other guy,” Nov. 14).
Adam Schupak wrote that golf's slow-play problem is that "no one ever thinks that he is a slow player," and PGA Tour official Mark Russell added that the players “all think they're fast.” Clearly, they all don't have a grasp on reality.
How can the PGA Tour talk about slow play for nearly 40 years and not come up with a solution? If the PGA Tour hasn’t come up with any solution in that time, then the officials really don’t care about slow play. As Schupak wrote, "Anyone accumulating 10 bad times during the year is fined $25,000. (It used to be $20,000!)"
That's the best the PGA Tour can do?
The players track all of their stats, and how close they are to the "10 bad times” limit certainly is one of them. Here's the simple solution: Fine them $25,000 after the second bad time. That way, they don't have to write down how many times they have been slow. Two bad times in one round should be a one-stroke penalty.
Start timing players but include a few timeouts
Whether at the pro level or among weekend golfers, players will not play quickly if they have no desire to play quickly (“Pros explain slow play: It’s the other guy,” Nov. 14).
The obvious step for the pros to give them the desire to play quickly, as has been noted by many readers in Morning Read, is to assess strokes for slow play and to actually apply the rules.
The devil is in the details. Under the current approach, one can be timed only if out of position, and then the timing starts and penalties can accrue. Players then pick up the pace and conform to the timing requirements but frequently complain that it negatively affects their game.
If a fast player is on the clock due to being in a group with slower players, or because the other players have needed some rulings earlier in the round, that player can legitimately grumble that he had to change his pace of play to his detriment when he had no responsibility for the group being out of place. Even worse, a player who knows on the first hole that he is with two slowpokes may get out of his normal rhythm in order to keep their group from falling out of position.
I suggest that the answer is to time all players on all shots but to give them a certain number of timeouts that they can request when needed. That way, they will develop a rhythm of play which will accord with the time allowed for shots but will also avoid the situation where a player is about to play a shot and is distracted by a camera or some loud noise or a big gust of wind. The PGA Tour could experiment with various numbers of timeouts, and it could be variable depending upon conditions. On bad-weather days, a slightly longer time to play also could be put in place.
By addressing slow play in this way, one avoids the potential of a player being affected by the slow play of others but will indoctrinate all players into a faster pre-shot routine. Allowing laser rangefinders also would facilitate such a routine.
John G. Dives
Victoria, British Columbia
Bold putting leads to time-consuming comebackers
It appears to me that the current group of under-30 players on the PGA Tour have a very aggressive way of putting (Rickie Fowler is the best example). They seem to hit their putts firmly in order to reduce the amount of break. This leads to many 20-footers that roll 4 feet past the hole, and these 4-footers get marked 90 percent of the time (“Pros explain slow play: It’s the other guy,” Nov. 14).
Instead of threesomes, the PGA Tour players look like they are playing in sixsomes when they get on the greens.
Some of the networks show a disproportionate amount of putting versus tee and fairway shots, and this can lead to some boring broadcasts.
Alignment aids knock pace of play off line
One of the great contributors to slow play is the alignment lines on the ball (“Pros explain slow play: It’s the other guy,” Nov. 14).
The number of players and the number of times that many of them set the line and then re-set the ball to indicate putting direction is ridiculous. I have no idea what that represents in time lost, but I would guess in a full field of players that it is substantial.
What would happen if there were no alignment lines allowed on the ball – not those provided by the manufacturer nor those applied by the player? How many years and how many great players have we seen over the years who did not have an alignment aid on their ball? I can’t even imagine how they could have putted without the line. Maybe we could finish a round of golf on tour in less than five hours, or at least save some time and aggravation during a round of golf.
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