the group is “on the clock,” one bad time is a warning, the next one is a penalty.
Here’s what is not in the book — when players are put on the clock, that’s not their first interaction with a rules official. They first are asked to pick up the pace, a courtesy to allow for outside circumstances (such as a lost ball).
Secondly, while timing is not an exact science, players are not given a bad time if they go a few seconds over the limit. A bad time generally is a really bad time.
Either way, it’s a bad policy.
“If a slow player gets behind and they’re asked to pick it up, the first question they ask is, ‘Am I on the clock?’ Because if they’re not on the clock, they’re not going to change,” Haas said. “If they are on the clock, they change. I don’t like that. Because then all they do is run down the fairway.”
No one explained this better than Fulton Allem at The Players Championship way back in 2000.
“It would be like you going down the highway 160 kmph,” Allem said. “A cop says: ‘Listen, bud, you are doing 100. I am going to follow you now. I am going to measure your speed.’ You’re not going to go over the speed limit. You’re going to drive perfectly.”
Maybe the answer is no mention of being on the clock, and no warning.
Pat Perez suggested putting an official with every group and timing all players regardless if they’re out of position. That would work. That also would be an additional 52 officials for a 156-man field, and that’s not very practical.
There are other factors that make golf at the highest level different.
Total prize money this week is US$7.5 million (RM33.75 million). That cannot be overlooked. Neither can the size of the field, which this week is 156 players. Because the Zurich Classic was a team event, there were 160 players. That’s the largest field on the PGA Tour played over one course.
The greens are faster than ever and the pins are cut closer to edges. Putts on fast greens run three or four feet by holes when they miss. Those are marked and given as much care as the original putt. That adds to the time.
“Until the greens are slower, there’s nothing you can do,” said Brian Harman, another lightning-quick player. “I don’t have the answer other than making the golf course easier.”
Perez says he isn’t bothered by slow play because after 16 years on the PGA Tour, he’s used to it. Everyone seems slow compared with him. Perez also doesn’t expect change because of the nature of televised golf. More than a game, it’s entertainment.
Until the greens are slower, there’s nothing you can do. I don’t have the answer other than making the golf course easier.
“Until a tournament doesn’t finish because of slow play, that’s when it will change,” he said. “We always finish on time, somehow.”
Minus drastic measures that could do more harm than good, it’s not a simple fix. And the longer it goes without a solution raises the question of how big the problem really is. AP
Bill Haas is supremely qualified to discuss the subject.
Zach Johnson signs autographs for Aaron Guyton and Bob LaBant during the practice rounds for the Wells Fargo Championship on Tuesday.