After the breathtakingly pedestrian conclusion to the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines on Monday, the still-active-yet-unaddressed issue of pace of play came to light again. The ensuing Twitter debate about how this problem can be sorted out has prompted me to repost a piece I wrote back in February 2012 presenting, I think, a workable solution to the problem.
has been bubbling away for a fair while now with little in the way of
action forthcoming from the governing bodies or Tour committees. It has
almost got to the point of becoming a bit of a joke, with the usual
suspects becoming well-known for their pedestrian approach to playing
the game. When was the last time a player was sanctioned for slow play
during a tournament?
the amateur level, pace of play is a serious problem. From regular club
players through to the occasional weekend hacker, the experience of 18
holes taking five hours or more is becoming increasingly frequent, which
isn't great for the image and attractiveness of the game. Frankly
speaking, the amateur game takes its cues from the professional ranks -
the armchair fans who take to the course after watching their heroes
plod round the course are going to see the approach that the pros take
and want to try and emulate it.
order for steps to be taken, the Tours need to stand up and be counted
and I, for one, would like to see a bit more creativity and put some
genuine pressure on the players to improve this aspect of the game we
the grounds that the 'shot clock' (a mysterious infringement tool that
seems to disappear just when it's actually needed) doesn't seem to have
any discernible impact on the pace of play, cash fines have little
impact on players who drive cars like this, and that the Tours seem to enjoy the act of retrospective punishment (see my previous post
about Peter Whiteford's DQ in India), my suggestion would be for shot
penalties - a handicap, if you will - to be imposed for their next
tournament on the schedule. Any player whose playing time is above a certain, pre-determined limit would have to start their next event on that Tour with a handicap.
key to this working is an accurate technological solution to tracking
the precise playing time of each competitor. Perhaps it could be stated
that once the player has reached/found his ball and has commenced his
pre-shot routine, or started sizing up the shot with his caddie, the
clock is ticking and counting towards the full round total. This would
avoid penalising any player who is either looking for a lost ball,
taking a penalty drop or, indeed, caught up behind waiting for things to
happen. I'm sure that the statistical analysis software used by many
professional football clubs could be utilised and adapted to suit the
needs of golf.
the pro players have a huge amount at stake with each shot and so they
want to be able to perform at their very best and make each swipe count.
That said, they are experienced and skilled enough to not dawdle and
make sure that, particularly, a pre-shot routine is short and sweet.
Luke Donald was, for him, quite vocal at the end of last season (2011) on this
topic and even went as far as stating that 30s pre-shot was more than
sufficient time to be able to execute the correct shot.
Well, if it's good enough for the (2nd) best player in the world, that'll do me just fine.
I am the Part-Time Golfer