On the Clock


Lately I haven't been able to concentrate on my game because of little things that have been bothering me on the course. If I see someone on the tee behind me I try and hurry because I think I'm holding them up. Then I start hitting fat shots, hitting the ground two inches behind the ball. I start getting frustrated and my game goes downhill even more. When I let them play through it does not get much better. I try and play ready golf and have asked my partners to do the same when the course is busy. I'm trying to be time conscious and avoid slow play, but then I get nervous and think I'm the problem.
What can I do to concentrate on every shot and stay focused, but still have time to laugh?
I have been thinking of giving up golf.
' Gary

Please dont even think about giving up the game because you are distracted and intimidated by slow play.
Even the very best are distracted now and again. Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington were in a 'battle royale' at the recent WGC-Bridgestone Invitational when an official decided to warn Tiger and Padraig that they were playing too slow and would be 'put on the clock.' This means they have been warned, and subsequent similar occurrences may result in a penalty.
The timing of this incident ' which is necessary in most other circumstances to keep the pace of play going ' was unfortunate indeed as it came late (on the 16th hole) and seemed to have distracted and broken the focus of both players. It also may have decided the tournament, as Harrington wound up putting his fourth shot in the water and carding a triple-bogey 8.
Gary, continue to play without delay and ask your partners to do the same. Go through your pre-shot routine without wasting time, and stay focused on the shot at hand. Then move onto the next shot, have some fun and laugh a little when traveling between shots. If you do this then you know that slow play is not your problem and you can relax even though it may seem that others may be breathing down your neck.
Well done trying to speed up play, but dont even think about quitting.

Non-Conforming Chipper

Dear Frank,
On occasion I substitute a chipper for one of my clubs so as not to exceed the 14-club limit. The last time I played one a member of my foursome pointed out that because the chipper was double-faced ' it had a left- and right-hitting face ' I had to remove two clubs to stay within the limit. I checked the rule book and could find no specific rule.
Any help you could provide would be great.
Thank you. 'Jim

Jim, The two-faced chipper and two-faced Jigger ' virtually the same product ' were introduced in the mid-1950s, and are still available today. They are designed to be used for chipping from just off the green with the loft of each face being the same and equivalent to about a 6-iron. The intent in carrying this club is to not only chip the ball but also extricate oneself from a difficult situation where a left-handed club is called for ' or right-handed club if you were a lefty.
Unfortunately Jim, you cannot put this club in play today because it doesnt conform with the Rules of Golf. It violates Rule 4-d in Appendix II, which states:
Striking Faces ' The clubhead must have only one striking face, except that a putter may have two striking faces if their characteristics are the same and they are opposite each other.
Before the rule was changed several years ago ' an exceptionally good equipment related rules change ' you would be disqualified for carrying a non-conforming club in your bag even though you did not use it. Under the present rule, the penalty in match play is loss of hole where the breach was discovered with a maximum loss of two holes. In stroke play, a penalty is two strokes with a maximum of four strokes. However, you must declare to your opponents that the club is out of play as soon as this breach of the rule is discovered. If not declared out of play the penalty is disqualification.
Jim, I am not sure why you carried a two-faced chipper but if it is to get out of those awkward positions you sometimes find yourself in, then get two chippers ' one right-handed and one left-handed ' and make sure that you count both of them to make up your 14.
Now, both you and your friend know the rule and the two-faced chipper should stay in the garage.
Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf. Thomas is chief technical advisor to GolfChannel.com. He served as technical director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN system and introduced the Stimpmeter. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email letsbefrank@franklygolf.com
Frank Thomas