Rebates for Fast Play Here Are Your Thoughts
Thanks to those of you who supported the idea. Thanks also to those who offered additional suggestions.
Thanks even to Glenn Clark, who ended his e-mail this way: Rebates...silly. Go somewhere else or take up another sport. Before that, Mr. Clark said he prefers to play at a reasonable pace that keeps his swing in sync. (I think I played behind Glenn once.)
To which I say, with no disrespect intended to Mr. Clark, that modern golf is like flying on commercial airlines. Its a communal activity, but everyone seems to think everyone else on the plane (or course) should cater to him or her. Golf is the same way. The other golfers on the course care no more about whether your swing is in sync, Glenn, than you do about theirs. But they do care about your pace, Im pretty sure.
Many of you came up with a concern that, I must admit, never crossed my mind. Heres what Jim Williamson had to say:
I see a problem with your strategy. Golf is suffering not only from slow play, but also from an influx of people who simply don't know the meaning of common courtesy. Like society in general, golf is forgetting its manners. Add to that the incentive to push the people in front of you and you have a potentially lethal combination. Simply put, the way most people will apply peer pressure is by hitting into the slower group in front of them. That's not just bad manners, but dangerous.
Thats not the kind of peer pressure I had in mind, but Jim and those of you who echoed his concerns are right. Ive seen it happen. I hope reason would prevail and post-round conversations would be the pressure of choice. A lot of you suggested better marshalling, which would be good for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it would prevent the kind of problems Jim and others of you so wisely noted.
Speaking of wisdom, some of you told me that at some courses, the financial incentive isnt the plum it appears to be. An e-mail correspondent identified only as PDoctorlaw chimed in thusly:
I admire your Admiral Farragut, 'damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead' approach, but where I play (at a semi private club in rural Virginia), offense is taken when a few have tried peer pressure. Of course, if everyone applied the pressure, it might work, but I doubt that will happen. Money talks but here the cart fee is $12 and the green fee is only $16 ' getting $2 or $4 back as a reward would not mean much.
Well, if the course is that cheap, no wonder its so crowded.
Golf writer Geoff Shackelford improved on my suggestions, correctly noting that course owners could overcome their reluctance to open the cash register by offering food and beverage or pro shop credit to fast groups. For the course owner, this could lead to that holy grail of mixed retail/service businesses: incremental spending increases. But we digress.
Thanks to all of you who sent suggestions about course design (tees closer to greens as in the Old School of design; and cart paths on the right, where most amateurs err, instead of on the left; abolition of paths-only policies), and to others who put in their two tees worth. I read em all, and Ill respond to as many as I can.
One of the best questions I got was, Have I put the issue before the National Golf Course Owners Association? The answer is no, but I plan to do so now. Ill send a copy of the column to that organization and report its response to you.
IN MEMORIAM: The world of golf communications lost two of its finest over the past week. John Morris, the PGA Tours vice president of communications, died June 21 while waiting for a heart transplant at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. And Peter Farricker, the longtime equipment writer for Golf Digest, died June 28 after a two-year struggle with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrigs Disease.
Morris was a thorough and capable press officer who kept the Tours interests at heart while approaching and understanding reporters as colleagues, not antagonists. Thats no small feat. He was a proud Penn State grad who loved golf and treated all he met with respect.
Farricker, who leaves a wife and young son, was known among colleagues and sources as one of the most knowledgeable people in his field. As a reporter, he got the job done issue after issue, year after year, always putting himself in the readers spot and writing accordingly. He was a big man with a big golf swing and an engaging smile that appeared often on a face framed with bright red hair.
Godspeed to both men.
TT postscript: This 65 better than Aronimink 62
ATLANTA – The start wasn’t much to look at, but that finish was something else. Tiger Woods eagled the final hole on Thursday and shares the 18-hole lead at the Tour Championship. Here are the things you know you want to know:
• First of all, let’s give a pat on the back to the man who most deserves it today: Me. Early this morning, I sent this tweet:
Less than an hour until tee time. Gotta good feeling about this week. Let’s set the O/U today at 66.5 on the par 70. And then take the under.— Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) September 20, 2018
Never doubt my good feelings. Ben Crenshaw doesn’t have my good feelings. We may have 54 holes to play, but I gotta good feeling we’re going to be changing that Tiger Tracker avatar Sunday night.
• Now onto Tiger. After all, he did hit 10 of 14 fairways, 14 of 18 greens in regulation and took 28 putts. It wasn’t looking good early when he had nine putts through four holes and was 1 over par. But he birdied Nos. 5 and 6, turned in 1 under, and really turned it on down the stretch with two birdies and an eagle over his final seven holes. And if you take a good look at the scorecard below you’ll notice he didn’t make a bogey after the first hole.
• How good is a 65 at East Lake? Better than his opening 62 at Aronimink, according to Woods: “This was by far better than the 62 at Aronimink. Conditions were soft there. This is – it's hard to get the ball closer. There's so much chase in it. If you drive the ball in the rough, you know you can't get the ball close.”
Woods added that you had to play “conservatively” and be patient – take what the course allowed. Tiger missed five putts – four of them for birdie – inside 15 feet. But in the 93-degree heat, he kept his composure and made putts of 26 and 28 feet for birdie, and 28 feet for eagle.
• This week feels different. It feels like Tiger is really ready to win again. He seems very serious, very focused. He talked about “getting the W” on Wednesday and said on Thursday, “[T]he objective is to always win.”
After shooting 65, Woods signed a few autographs and eventually made his way to the putting green. If he gets those 15-footer to fall, we’re going to be two wins away from tying Sammy.
• So, what about that eagle on 18, you ask? Tiger said he “hammered” a driver – which was listed at 320 yards – and then hit a 5-wood from 256 yards to 28 feet. As for the putt: “It took forever for that putt to start breaking, grain coming down off the left. But once it snagged it, it was going straight right.”
Right into the cup. Right into the lead. Our man is making history this week.
Watch: Highlights from Tiger's first round at East Lake
Tiger Woods is back at the season-ending Tour Championship for the first time since 2013, and he provided the fans in Atlanta with some highlights on the first day of competition.
Still looking for his first win of the year after coming close on numerous occasions, Woods started the day off by splitting the fairway on the first hole with the driver, not even bothering to watch his ball land.
Despite the picture-perfect opening tee shot, Woods would go on to bogey the first hole, but he rebounded with back-to-back birdies on 5 and 6, making putts from 26 and 15 feet.
Tiger's best shot on the front nine came on the par-4 seventh hole after he found the pine straw behind a tree with his drive. The 14-time major champ punched one under the tree limbs and onto the green, then calmly two-putted for par from about 40 feet en route to a front-side 1-under 34.
Woods added two more birdies on the par-4 12th and 14th holes, rolling in putts of 3 feet and 7 feet after a couple of great looking approach shots.
Woods finished his round with a vintage eagle on the par-5 18th hole, finding the green with a 5-wood from 256 yards out and then sinking the 28-foot putt.
Co-leader. pic.twitter.com/MMUZ8zptQ9— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 20, 2018
The eagle at the last gave Woods a share of the early first-round lead with Rickie Fowler at 5-under 65.
Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship
Tiger Woods is looking to close his season with a win at the Tour Championship. We're tracking him this week at East Lake Golf Club.
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Garcia (66) peaking for Ryder Cup?
Sergio Garcia might be finding his form just in time to terrorize the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
Garcia made seven birdies during an opening round of 5-under 66 to sit just two shots off the early lead at the European Tour’s Portugal Masters.
It was Garcia’s fifth consecutive round of par or better, a stretch that includes rounds of 66-65-67-70-66. That solid play at the Wyndham Championship wasn’t enough to extend his PGA Tour season – he didn’t qualify for the FedExCup playoffs – but the Spaniard is starting to round into form with the Ryder Cup on deck.
A few weeks ago he was a controversial selection by European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn. After missing the cut in all four majors, Garcia could have been left at home in favor of such players as Rafa Cabrera Bello, Matt Wallace (a three-time winner this season who, once again, is at the top of the leaderboard in Portugal), Matt Fitzpatrick or Thomas Pieters. But Bjorn tabbed Garcia, noting his Ryder Cup experience, his sterling foursomes record and his influence in the team room. If Phil Mickelson is the U.S. player under the most pressure to perform in Paris, all eyes will be on Garcia next week – especially since it could be one of his final opportunities to wear a European uniform, as he’ll be 40 for the 2020 matches.
Garcia’s 66 matched his lowest opening round of the year and puts him in position to secure just his second top-10 since March.