Compiled by Philip Reid
Getting to grips with slow play
The whole hoopla about anchoring of long-putters and belly-putters is occupying many minds these days, but it remains just one issue among many in the direction in which golf – especially among the elite, professional player – is headed.
Slow play on tour, and the lack of any discernible move to punish the guilty parties, is arguably a bugbear that needs to be addressed more quickly than whether putters can or can’t be anchored.
From the spectators’ viewpoint, slow play is, quite literally, a pain.
Interestingly, the RA have quite definite guidelines for play of “normal” golf, as in players going about their business at their home club: two-balls should take no more than three hours and 10 minutes; three-balls shouldn’t last more than three and a half house, and four balls should be completed in three hours and 50 minutes. For most, such timeframes to complete a round would appear rather fanciful. But at least it sets a standard to which to aspire.
On tour, it is different. Given players are actually earning a living, some leeway would appear to be given to them.
However, Ross Fisher became the fall guy, as it were, last year when given a one shot penalty and a monetary fine for slow play during the final round of the Wales Open. Fisher’s offence at the time was he had taken 55 seconds over his first putt on the 12th green, while Morgan Pressel was also penalised last season for slow play in the women’s matchplay.
At least the European Tour and the LPGA Tour were bold enough to take some action, even if there are worse culprits on tour than Mr Fisher or Ms Pressel.
In contrast, the PGA Tour has been very
hesitant to do anything about upsetting players who go about convoluted pre-shot routines or take an age standing over the ball. It is over 20 years since a gentleman by the name of Dillard Pruitt had the distinction of copping a one-shot penalty on tour for slow play. Since then, the problem has gotten progressively worse, as evidenced in the recent events.
When Tiger Woods went out to complete his weather-delayed round in the recent Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, he was constantly left waiting over shot after shot by the slow play of the group in front. It took Woods three and three-quarter hours to play 11 holes which, by the RA’s guideline to regular club players, was about the time it should take for a four-ball to complete all 18.