Slow play not an easy fix on the PGA Tour

New Straits Times - - Sport - BILL HAAS


IN a re­cent mag­a­zine sur­vey of PGA Tour play­ers, 84 per cent said they believe slow play is a prob­lem. That might sug­gest the 16 per cent who don’t are the only ones caus­ing the prob­lem.

And it leads to a broader ques­tion: Just how big is the prob­lem?

Bill Haas con­tem­plated this on Tues­day at the Wells Fargo Cham­pi­onship, and he didn’t have an an­swer. Haas is supremely qual­i­fied to dis­cuss the sub­ject be­cause if ev­ery­one played tour­na­ment golf like Haas, no one would be talk­ing about it.

Instead, that’s all any­one does — talk.

“My dad has said it’s been talked about in player meet­ings since he was a rookie,” Haas said. His fa­ther, Jay Haas, was a PGA Tour rookie in 1977. “What are we go­ing to do about it?”

Oddly enough, it took the tour do­ing some­thing to get ev­ery­one talk­ing about it again.

Tour of­fi­cials as­sessed a oneshot penalty for slow play last week at the Zurich Clas­sic, the first one at a reg­u­lar PGA Tour event since 1995.

This one was pe­cu­liar be­cause it hap­pened at the first team event in 36 years in a for­mat (al­ter­nate shot) that had never been used at an of­fi­cial tour­na­ment.

Miguel An­gel Car­ballo was given a bad time on the 12th hole at the TPC Louisiana. His part­ner, Brian Camp­bell, re­ceived a bad time on the 14th hole. Typ­i­cally, it takes two bad times for a player to re­ceive a penalty shot, but the Rules of Golf de­fines part­ners in four­somes as one player.

Once the shock wore off, the di­a­logue shifted from “it’s about time” to “what took so long?”

All that was miss­ing was a so­lu­tion.

The prob­lem is with the pol­icy. The rea­son some of the no­to­ri­ously slow play­ers on the PGA Tour have es­caped penal­ties for tak­ing too long to play their shots (50 sec­onds for the first to play, 40 sec­onds for the oth­ers in the group) is be­cause they know the sys­tem, and it’s easy to beat.

Play­ers are timed only when they are out of po­si­tion, either based on the sug­gested time it should take or if the hole ahead of them is open. Once they are no­ti­fied

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.

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