Slow play not an easy fix on the PGA Tour
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.