Ivan Morris - The voice of Limerick Golf
SERGIO Garcia had only one week of everyone talking about him and being declared the undisputed bad boy of golf before he was usurped by the uncrowned King of the Slowpokes, J.B. Holmes.
Holmes had me spending another week of asking myself what is wrong with golf, instead of thinking about the great shots hit and the short putts missed during the Genesis Los Angeles Open on one of the most demanding golf courses on the PGA Tour, especially when the wind is blowing.
It seems neither the European Tour or PGA Tour is prepared to vigorously apply the rules and confront their delinquent players and punish them appropriately.
Holmes played so slowly down the final stretch when winning the LA Open that every media outlet and golf blog I have encountered since has remarked on the five and a half hours of 'eternity' that Holmes spent studying his shots while pouring over his note books, plumb bobbing his putts at least twice and walking around in circles sizing things up from all angles.
All of the information he gathered while taking his own sweet time (possibly waiting for the wind to die down) before making his far from text book golf swing cannot have been within the time limit nor would it have made his task any easier. Ready golf it most certainly was not and it makes one wonder why the authorities, in their latest attempts to "modernize' the rules, some of which are so innocuous as to be invisible, refuse to enforce the rules on slow play?
Holmes made matters worse by exhibiting a misplaced sense of entitlement when he defended his actions by saying “Well, you play in 25 mile an hour gusty winds and see how fast you play when you're playing for the kind of money and the points and everything that we're playing for”
There's times when I'm probably too slow, but it is what it is. TV wants everything to be real fast all the time. Watching JB Holmes play golf is a grim experience. It is one of the main reasons why the game is losing its popularity as a spectacle.
Paint dries faster than some (not all) of the pros play golf. If the chronic problem of slow play is not addressed fewer and fewer fans will bother to watch it.
One day soon the sponsors will discern a drop off in interest by fans and they will decide to spend their money elsewhere on faster moving and more exciting events. Then, Holmes & Co can take all the time they want playing for nothing.
This is what Rule 5.6b in the Rules of Golf actually says about 'pace of play'.
“Each player should recognise that his or her pace of play is likely to affect how long it will take other players to play their rounds, including both those in the player’s own group and those in the following groups”
The rule offers a series of recommendations, including considering the time taken to prepare for and make each stroke and to move from one place to another between strokes. It also (significantly) adds that a “player should prepare in advance for the next stroke and be ready to play when it is his or her turn”
That is what ‘ready golf’ means. When it is his turn to play, “it is recommended that the player make the stroke in no more than 40 seconds . . . . the player should usually be able to play more quickly than that and is encouraged to do so.”
As this is only a recommendation it is open to interpretation. A rules official may decide (arbitrarily) the complexity of a particular shot or the difficulty of the conditions meant the player had played sufficiently promptly – even if taking more than the recommended time to do so. It is why arguments over slow play constantly arise. Until we see a fixed time put in place under tournament conditions, or time penalties are applied on a regular basis, players will continue on with their self-absorbed and selfish bad habits.
It’s Time to Tackle Course Vandals - basic responsibilities, such as repairing ball marks, raking bunkers, replacing divots are being neglected like never before. Even the most casual golfer will know that when he is in a bunker and it should be raked before he leaves.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen. Players are expected to leave the course in the same condition as they find it.
Most of the tidying up can be done while playing partners are hitting their shots. I rarely leave a green without repairing two or three pitch marks and I see others doing the same.
It adds up to an awful lot of other golfer's unrepaired pitch marks. It takes only a few careless golfers to wreak havoc on a golf course, especially bunkers.
There is no excuse for not taking proper care of the golf course!
Words of the Wise
There are a lot of slow players. A lot of them are very good players, too, which is the problem. It's weird how we have rules where we have to make sure it's dropping from knee height or the caddie can't be behind you and then they also have a rule where you have to hit your shot in 40 seconds, but it is not enforced. You enforce some but you don't enforce others. Slow players are breaking the rules but no one has the balls to penalize them - Brooks Koepka