Different Strokes


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.

It’s understandable officials should give some leeway to players who are in contention for a title win, and also given the size of money on offer and that this is their livelihood, but as Paul Lawrie tweeted yesterday, slow play is arguably a bigger problem throughout the sport than the length of a putter. He has a point.

Belgian masters

For many, April 14th will be ring-marked in the calendar as the final round of the US Masters. This year, it will also serve as a rather special day for those involved in promoting golf in Belgium, where the deeds of Nicolas Colsaerts – on the back of his Ryder Cup heroics last year and a rise to 40th in the latest world rankings – have served to see golf earmarked as this year’s Sport of the Year in Flanders, the Flemish part of Belgium.

Masters Sunday will act as the kick-start for a year-long programme of events aimed at encouraging children to take up golf: some 500 school teachers will receive education and material to promote golf in schools aimed at reaching up to 100,000 schoolchildren, while open days at golf clubs are also planned to increase the sport’s profile.

Break for border

Unhappy as he may have been at his very early exit from the Accenture Matchplay, you can’t say that Tiger Woods wasted his time in the days following getting short shrift from Charles Howell III in the desert.

On the Friday, the day after his first round defeat to Howell, Woods hot-tailed it to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico to have a look at how his new course design was developing.

And, then, on Sunday, at a time when Matt Kuchar was getting one over on Hunter Mahan in the matchplay final, Woods hooked up with world number one and EA Sports and Nike cohort Rory McIlroy for 36-holes at the Medalist club in Florida near where the pair have homes in the Palm Beach area.

Quote of the week

"I learned a lot about myself, I learned that I'm good enough to compete at the highest level." - Shane Lowry after his Accenture Matchplay experience which included wins over world number one Rory McIlroy and Sweden's Carl Pettersson.

Number of the week


The odds which bookmakers Paddy Power have offered on a "Belly Slam" in this year's Majors. The bookmakers offer odds of 6/1 that someone weilding a belly-putter or broom-handle putter will sweep up at the Masters but offer 250/1 on a clean sweep of all four Majors in 2013.

Twitter talk . . . .

“Pace of play in golf a much bigger problem than belly putters IMO. Some players take shocking time to play straight forward shots.”

– Paul Lawrie on the real talking point in the locker rooms.

“Back into the top 10 of the world rankings. Moving in the right direction. Next goal back into the top 5. 2013 big year.”

– Ian Poulter gets over his failure to reach the final of the Accenture Matchplay and sets out his targets.

“Doing some work on the range tomorrow with Coach Cowen then play the next two weeks ... Honda Classic and WGC Cadillac. Game is very close.”

– Graeme McDowell getting ready to take on the Bear Trap at this week’s stop on the US Tour.

“Im looking forward to this week’s honda classic at PGA National close to my new house. Palm beach gardens is an awesome spot!

– Jeff Overton on getting ready for his new home-town tournament.

Know the rules . . .

QIn a match, A plays a stroke from off the green and his ball comes to rest against the flagstick. B, A’s opponent – concedes A’s next stroke and removes A’s ball. Despite B’s concession, is A entitled to have the ball replaced?

AWhen A’s ball was resting against the flagstick, Rule 17-4 applied and A was entitled to have the flagstick moved or removed to see whether the ball would fall into the hole. B had no right to remove the ball and concede the next stroke until A had had an opportunity to proceed under Rule 17-4. By removing A’s ball, B was in breach of Rule 18-3b and incurred a penalty stroke; A should then have replaced his ball against the flagstick and applied Rule 17-4.

In the bag

Matt Kuchar (Winner WGC-Accenture Matchplay)

Driver:Bridgestone J40, (9.5-degree) with an Accra M4+ 55 shaft

Fairway wood: Ping Anser (14.5-degree) with a Mitsubishi Diamana Blueboard 73X shaft

Hybrid: Ping Anser (20-degree) with a Fujikura Motore Speeder HB 90X shaft

Irons: Fourteen Golf (4-iron) with an Aerotech SteelFiber i95 Constant Weight S-flex shaft; Bridgestone J40 Cavity Back (5-PW) with Aerotech SteelFiber i95 Constant Weight S-flex shafts

Wedges: Bridgestone J40 (52-degree, 57-degree) with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 steel shafts; Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled (62-degree) with a True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shaft

Putter: Bettinardi Signature Model 1 (44.75 inches)

Ball: Bridgestone Tour B330-S

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