Slow play is bad, but what can be done?

By Doug FergusonJanuary 17, 2012, 9:04 pm

HONOLULU - Luke Donald took to Twitter to vent about a contentious issue on the PGA Tour. If nothing else, it was refreshing to see golf with a No. 1 player who was willing to express his opinion freely and publicly.

As for that issue that stirred Donald from his holiday in Barbados?

Pace of play: a topic that is not going anywhere in a hurry.

Players can question whether the tour should change the FedEx Cup points system. They can debate the merits of the world ranking. They can be disgusted with the number of no-shows for the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. And a week from now, they might really get worked up when they hear details of a proposal to revamp Q-school.

Still, nothing gets them going like slow play.

Trouble is, no one has a reasonable solution.

Donald joined the fray during the final round at Kapalua, where the final four pairings featured Kevin Na, Ben Crane, Webb Simpson and Jonathan Byrd, none of them part of Lanny Wadkins dream foursome if speed were a factor.

It didnt take long for Byrd and Steve Stricker to fall nearly two holes behind.

Sounds like slow play is already an issue 1st week of the (at)PGATOUR season and its 2 somes. Sort it out please came the first tweet from Donald. He followed with some advice: Its not that hard, be ready when its your turn. Slow play is killing our sport.

Two tweets later, Donald got off his soap box with a final thought: I could rant all day long, dont think anything will ever change as the slow players dont realize they are slow.

Criticism is less meaningful when not accompanied by solutions, and there is no simple answer for slow play. If there were, it would have been fixed when Nixon occupied the White House.

Nonetheless, a few observations from the last month.

' Tim Herron took about two minutes to figure out how to play his second shot to the green on Friday of the Sony Open in Hawaii. His ball was in the rough, 187 yards to a flag tucked behind the bunker. Was the ball going to take off on him from that lie? How much? 6-iron or 7-iron? If it had been in the fairway, caddie Lance Ten Broeck told him it would be a smooth 6-iron. Aim at the corner of the trap and cut it back toward the flag? Play for the middle of the green?

The entire conversation took place while the group ahead was putting. As soon as the group left the green, Herrons shot was in the air. Thats how golf is meant to be played. Beautiful.

' It would be simple to blame the swing coach or mental gurus who preach the importance of routines, which are fine as long as they dont take too long. Regardless, it still comes down to a player not wanting to hit until he is comfortable over the shot.

Think of it this way: How much damage could Tom Brady do if he stood behind center as long as he wanted, not having the ball snapped until he felt everything was in place? The penalty is 5 yards in football. Should golf move players back 15 yards for every shot that takes them longer than 40 seconds? That would take even more time.

' This spring marks the 20-year anniversary of the last time a player was given a one-shot penalty for pace of play. To change the policy and make it a one-shot penalty when a player is over his allotted time sounds simple but wouldnt work. There are too many extenuating circumstances. Golf doesnt have many gray areas; this would be loaded with them.

Until someone gets a penalty shot, the stiffest punishment starts with a $20,000 fine for the 10th time a player is part of a group that gets put on the clock. Yawn. How about docking him 50 points from the FedEx Cup standings? Consider that a year ago, 50 points marked the difference between 125th (and qualifying for the playoffs) and 143rd (and getting a month off).

' Consider the lay of the land. Tour officials allotted 4 hours, 15 minutes for a twosome at Kapalua, built on a mountain with full-size SUVs used for shuttles between two holes. The final twosome at the Sony Open played in 3 hours, 39 minutes. Waialae is old school - flat, with tees next to the greens.

' Television cannot be underestimated when it comes to slow play.

It would seem that TV could at least draw attention from the pace by not showing a player until he is ready to pull the trigger. Two problems:

One, a number of players have perfected the art of backing off shots. Again. And again.

Furthermore, the beauty of television is spending time with the player before the shot, allowing the fan to anticipate the possibilities. It worked well when Nick Faldo took forever before deciding on a 2-iron to go for the 13th green, a key moment when he won the 1996 Masters. Padraig Harrington walking up to the 17th green to check the hole location at Brookline in the Ryder Cup? Not so much.

Heres the bigger issue with TV. Mark Russell, one of the chief rules officials, showed off his atomic watch at Sherwood last month. The seconds were ticking toward 6 p.m. EST, just as the last group on the last green was tapping in. The timing was perfect.

The next day? Not so much.

Despite being in twosomes, play took much longer because of a strong wind. That leads to more time in club selection and on the green. Yet tee times were left alone, thus the third round went well past four hours and the 6 p.m. finish time on NBC Sports.

That wasnt an accident.

The tour purposely wanted to go long on Saturday so that NBC could direct viewers to Golf Channel for the conclusion of the third round. It was another example of NBC Sports trying to help boost the visibility of Golf Channel now that both are owned by Comcast. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. Especially not when TV foots so much of the bill.

' Slow play at public courses has been attributed to amateurs trying to be like the pros. Maybe so. Russell made an observation about recreational golf years ago that is worth considering: Slow play is only a problem when you have to wait.

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Chamblee: Like Tiger in '13, Mickelson should've DQ'd self

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 19, 2018, 2:46 pm

Two days after Brooks Koepka left Long Island with the U.S. Open trophy, the third-round antics of Phil Mickelson are still garnering plenty of discussion.

Mickelson became a lightning rod of opinion after he intentionally hit a moving ball on the 13th green Saturday at Shinnecock Hills, incurring a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification. In the aftermath, he explained that he made a conscious choice to take the penalty to avoid playing back and forth across the crispy putting surface, and he tied for 48th after a final-round 66.

Speaking Tuesday on "Morning Drive," Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee shared his view that Mickelson would have been well-served to disqualify himself ahead of the final round. He also compared it to Tiger Woods' incident at the 2013 Masters, when he took an incorrect drop and, like Mickelson, received a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification.



"I think Tiger, at least it's my opinion that his year would have been less distracting if he had done so," Chamblee said. "And I think the same of Phil Mickelson. If he had withdrawn from the championship and said, 'Look. This is a little sketchy. It didn't play out the way I thought. I've given it some thought and it's in the best interest of the championship that I withdraw.'"

Chamblee added that Mickelson's antics were "really distracting" on a day filled with drama as the USGA lost control of course conditions, noting that Mickelson and playing partner Andrew "Beef" Johnston were the only tee time where both players failed to break 80 despite the difficult conditions.

But having had time to review the situation and having surveyed a number of peers, Chamblee is as convinced as ever that Mickelson made a mistake by showing up for his final-round tee time.

"What Phil did, I haven't run into a single person that hasn't said he deserved to be disqualified," Chamblee said. "Under any interpretation, a serious breach - if gaining an advantage is not a serious breach, I don't know what is. And he clearly said he was gaining an advantage and doing it for strategic reasons."

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Norman to pose in ESPN's 'Body Issue'

By Grill Room TeamJune 19, 2018, 2:05 pm

Professional golfers have, from time to time, appeared in ESPN's "Body Issue," which features athletes strategically posed in the nude. The list includes: Belen Mozo, Carly Booth, Gary Player, Camilo Villegas, Sandra Gal, Christina Kim, Anna Grzebien, Suzann Pettersen and Sadena Parks.

And now, Greg Norman.

Modesty has never been an issue for Norman, who has an affinity for posing without a shirt (and sometimes without pants) on his Instagram account.

He joins a list of athletes, in this year's edition, ranging from professional wrestlers (Charlotte Flair) to Olympians (Adam Rippon) to WNBA stars (Sue Bird). Click here for a full list of the athletes to appear.

 

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DJ listed as betting favorite for The Open

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 2:00 pm

With the U.S. Open officially in the books, oddsmakers quickly turned their attention to the season's third major.

Minutes after Brooks Koepka holed the winning putt to successfully defend his title at Shinnecock Hills, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook published its first set of odds for The Open. Jordan Spieth, who opened at 14/1, will defend his title as the tournament shifts to Carnoustie in Scotland for the first time since 2007, when Padraig Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia in a playoff.

Joining Spieth at 14/1 is 2014 Open champion Rory McIlroy, but they're both listed behind world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Johnson, who was a runner-up at the 2011 Open at Royal St. George's and just finished third at the U.S. Open, opened as a 12/1 betting favorite. Koepka, now a two-time major winner, is listed at 20/1 alongside U.S. Open runner-up Tommy Fleetwood.

Here's a look at the first edition of odds, with The Open just five weeks away:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

14/1: Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy

16/1: Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas

20/1: Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama

40/1: Phil Mickelson, Branden Grace, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Marc Leishman

50/1: Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Tyrrell Hatton

60/1: Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick

80/1: Tony Finau, Zach Johnson, Thomas Pieters, Daniel Berger, Xander Schauffele, Bubba Watson, Shane Lowry

100/1: Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker

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Golf Channel, Loch Lomond Partner on Claret Jug Tour Ahead of 147TH Open

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJune 18, 2018, 9:35 pm

Award-Winning Independent Scotcb Whisky Sponsoring Tour to Select U.S. Cities; Will Include Special Tastings and Opportunities for Fans to Engage with Golf’s Most Storied Trophy

Golf Channel and Loch Lomond Group are partnering on a promotional tour with the Claret Jug – golf’s most iconic trophy, first awarded in 1873 to the winner of The Open – to select U.S. cities in advance of the 147TH Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland. Loch Lomond Whisky’s sponsorship of the tour further enhances the brand’s existing five-year partnership with the R&A as the official spirit of The Open, initially announced in February.

“We are proud to partner with Golf Channel to support this tour of golf’s most iconic trophy,” said Colin Matthews, CEO of Loch Lomond Group. “Whisky and golf are two of Scotland’s greatest gifts to the world, and following the news of our recent partnership with the R&A for The Open, being a part of the Claret Jug tour was a perfect fit for Loch Lomond Group to further showcase our commitment to the game.”

“The Loch Lomond Group could not be a more natural fit to sponsor the Claret Jug tour,” said Tom Knapp, senior vice president of golf sponsorship, NBC Sports Group. “Much like the storied history that accompanies the Claret Jug, Loch Lomond’s Scottish roots trace back centuries ago, and their aspirations to align with golf’s most celebrated traditions will resonate with a broad range of consumers in addition to golf fans and whisky enthusiasts.”

The tour kicks off today in Austin, Texas, and will culminate on Wednesday, July 11 at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe one week prior to The Open. Those wishing to engage with the Claret Jug will have an opportunity at one of several tour stops being staged at Topgolf locations in select cities. The tour will feature a custom, authentic Scottish pub where consumers (of age) can sample Loch Lomond’s portfolio of whiskies in the spirit of golf’s original championship and the Claret Jug. The Claret Jug also will make special pop-up visits to select GolfNow course partners located within some of the designated tour markets.

(All Times Local)

Monday, June 18                    Austin, Texas              (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m.)

Tuesday, June 19                    Houston                      (Topgolf, 5-8 p.m.)

Wednesday, June 20               Jacksonville, Fla.        (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

Monday, June 25                    Orlando, Fla.               (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

Wednesday, July 4                 Washington D.C.        (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m. – Ashburn, Va.)

Monday, July 9                       Edison, N.J.                (Topgolf, Time TBA)

Wednesday, July 11               Lake Tahoe, Nev.       American Century Championship (On Course)

Fans interacting with the Claret Jug and Loch Lomond during the course of the tour are encouraged to share their experience using the hashtag, #ClaretJug on social media, and tag @TheOpen and @LochLomondMalts on Twitter and Instagram.

NBC Sports Group is the exclusive U.S. television home of the 147TH Open from Carnoustie, with nearly 50 live hours of tournament coverage, Thursday-Sunday, July 19-22. The Claret Jug is presented each July to the winner of The Open, with the winner also being given the title of “Champion Golfer of the Year” until the following year’s event is staged. The Claret Jug is one of the most storied trophies in all of sports; first presented to the 1873 winner of The Open, Tom Kidd. Each year, the winner’s name is engraved on to the trophy, forever etched into the history of golf’s original championship. It is customary for the Champion Golfer of the Year to drink a favorite alcoholic beverage from the Claret Jug in celebration of the victory.