Slow Play Becoming Hot Topic On PGA Tour

By Les Bailey
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

If you were able to watch the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines which was played on a Monday a couple of weeks ago, you have to agree, it was painfully difficult to watch. Tiger Woods, who was leading the tournament needed to finish eleven holes due to the fog out on Saturday’s third round, was in the final group behind Steve Marino, Erik Compton, and Brad Fritsch, had to wait twenty to thirty minutes at each tee, and at times 10-15 minutes in the fairways. It took over four hours to finish that round.

In his post game interview, Woods used some language that I can’t put on this blog to define how he felt about having to wait on every hole. It took him out of his game to the point where he dropped four strokes in the final five holes. He had a nice lead when the day began, so was able to win by four strokes.

On the final hole alone, while Tiger and his group waited in the fairway, Erik Compton hit his drive to the right, into the tents lining the fairway, and after taking 15 minutes to identify his ball, get a ruling, take his drop, he hit his second shot into the tents on the left. By the time his group putted out, Tiger had waited almost 45 minutes to hit his second shot. That’s ridiculous, and I don’t blame him for being upset. The action on television was so slow, I was watching re-runs of American Pickers waiting for the next shot.

The slow play rules at the professional level are in place, but like a lot of rules with the PGA, are not enforced. As a fan, watching on TV, we get the announcement that a group is being put on the clock for slow play. They continue to play slow, but there is never a penalty, or punishment passed out.

I have always thought the rule was unfair to the player in the group that was playing fast, but was stuck with someone in the pairing that was slow. Why does the fast player get punished by association? Oh! that’s right, no one gets punished anyway.

You might remember last year at the Players Championship, where Kevin Na was having trouble pulling the trigger on his shot. He would spend a lot of time in his pre-shot routine, get over his ball, but couldn’t get his backswing underway. He was on the leaderboard, and played the final round with Matt Kucher, who eventually won the tournament. Kevin was spoken to, and told he would have to speed up his game or else. Or else ..what? Na visited a sports psychologist and seems to have solved his problem, but is still a habitually slow player.

Like everything else in life, if the PGA doesn’t address this problem, and put some teeth in the rules regarding slow play, it will continue. When the Pros play slow, people all around golf will play slow. It is affecting your round at the local club. The people in front of you are plumb bobbing every putt, and getting a look from four sides of the cup like Tiger does, and the next thing you know, your four hour round of golf has turned into five hours. They need to come down on the people who are habitual violators, without penalizing their playing partners. The PGA is the only one that can fix the problem.

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