YOUR VIEWS

Golf World (UK) - - THE SPIN -

BROUGHT TO BOOK

I am not at all sur­prised to read that golf is rated very un­favourably as a sport to watch in a re­cent sur­vey and pre­sum­ably this will im­pact on the like­li­hood of new play­ers en­ter­ing the game.

Slow play is cen­tral to this con­cern and in­creas­ingly the PGA Tour con­tin­ues to set a poor ex­am­ple.

JB Holmes tak­ing four-plus min­utes to play his shot to the 18th at the Farm­ers is the most ob­vi­ous ex­am­ple, made even worse by the fact that the round took six hours to fin­ish.

While some older play­ers and Euro­pean Tour play­ers were crit­i­cal, many of JB’s con­tem­po­raries on tour saw lit­tle wrong in his ap­proach, Holmes in­cluded.

Re­cently I watched the Peb­ble Beach Pro-Am and the play was so ridicu­lously slow, even the ad­vert breaks came as a blessed re­lease.

In­creas­ingly, as with the last six groups in the Ge­n­e­sis Open, the first two rounds have to be cur­tailed by dark­ness and com­pleted the fol­low­ing day – again en­tirely due to slow play mean­ing ex­pected times are com­fort­ably ex­ceeded.

Too of­ten the play­ers re­treat to their green map books and en­gage in end­less dis­cus­sion with their cad­dies on dis­tances, type of shot, lin­ing up, wind di­rec­tion and so on.

They also seem in­ca­pable, with­out re­sort to a ref­eree, of in­ter­pret­ing ba­sic rules. It seems the main body of play­ers are obliv­i­ous to slow play and have lit­tle in­ten­tion of speed­ing up.

Con­versely, the Euro­pean Tour does seem to be try­ing to ad­dress this is­sue – the Oman Open was re­fresh­ingly far quicker – and to look at dif­fer­ent for­mats to ap­peal to the changing world.

It’s time for the PGA Tour to take ac­tion and the ban­ning of green map books would be a good start to re-es­tab­lish judge­ment in putting and move it away from the slow ex­er­cise as at present.

Clive Kenyon, Corn­wall

GAME OF TWO HALVES

The re­cent changes to the hand­i­cap­ping sys­tem, and in par­tic­u­lar the in­tro­duc­tion of hand­i­caps of up to 54, re­ally don’t seem to be a very sen­si­ble way of ad­dress­ing the is­sue of mak­ing it eas­ier to get peo­ple play­ing golf and keep­ing them play­ing. Such hand­i­caps will only slow up play and make it far more likely that ex­ist­ing as well as new golfers will get very frus­trated. I sug­gest hand­i­caps be de­ter­mined over each nine holes rather than 18.

This is com­pat­i­ble with the usual 18-hole round. If some­one plays 18 holes in a qual­i­fier, there would be two ad­just­ments, based on the re­sults of each set of nine holes, with both ad­just­ments ap­plied at the end of the round.

There are sev­eral ben­e­fits to this ap­proach. A nine-hole round is much quicker. It is more likely that a be­gin­ner will be able to main­tain a rea­son­able per­for­mance for nine holes and thus be en­cour­aged by be­ing able to hand in a de­cent card.

With an ad­just­ment made for each nine holes, hand­i­caps will change more and be a bet­ter re­flec­tion of abil­ity.

The main dis­ad­van­tage would seem to be those cour­ses where the 9th hole does not re­turn to the club­house, but in­tro­duc­ing this ap­proach does not in any way stop peo­ple from play­ing 18 holes if they want to or be­cause the lay-out of the course pre­cludes only play­ing nine. I know that with some clubs, nine-hole qual­i­fy­ing rounds are al­ready oc­ca­sion­ally adopted, but this ex­tends the prin­ci­ple to all rounds.

Ju­lian Hance, Email

BRING IT BACK

Is golf ball com­pres­sion the an­swer to the dis­tance is­sue? Golf ball com­pres­sions range from 70 to 110; the lower end (70 to 80) be­ing ideal for slow swing speeds – i.e. begin­ners, ju­niors and older golfers, the 100-110 end for top am­a­teurs and pro­fes­sion­als with high swing speeds.

For av­er­age, mid-hand­i­cap club golfers, 90 to 100 is ideal. To get a 110 com­pres­sion ball to per­form – i.e. go a long way – re­quires a high speed swing, so why don’t the R&A and USGA set an up­per limit on ball com­pres­sion of say 100?

This would re­duce the dis­tance the pro­fes­sion­als can hit the ball with­out ad­versely af­fect­ing most of us am­a­teurs.

The ban on higher com­pres­sion balls could be in­tro­duced to pro­fes­sional golf first and brought in to the am­a­teur game later as they did a few years ago with the spring-like ef­fect of driver faces and box grooves on irons.

Mark Shep­pard, Manch­ester

OUT OF OR­DER

That Justin Thomas re­ceived any kind of crit­i­cism for hav­ing an un­ruly fan ejected from the Honda Clas­sic stag­gers and dis­ap­points me.

Any­one who feels the need to shout any­thing other than en­cour­age­ment at a golf event has no right be­ing there in the

first place.

Neil Ed­wards, Email

Golf World re­serves the right to edit all let­ters sub­mit­ted to Your Views for style and length pur­poses.

JB Holmes: the em­bod­i­ment of golf’s slow play prob­lem?

Justin Thomas: was he right to have a fan root­ing against him ejected at the Honda Clas­sic?

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