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« Even Table Tennis Rolled Back The Ball! | Main | The King Must Be A Saint To Put Up With Stuff Like This »
Thursday
Aug092012

CBS Execs Do Not Mind Slow Play

During this week's conference call, Ed Sherman asked CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus and producer Lance Barrow about slow play and not surprisingly it's not on their radar, with McManus noting that it might even add to the drama.

I’m not terribly concerned about it. Having watched a lot of golf this year, I know (slow play) has been a topic of discussion. But I haven’t seen it affect too many of the broadcasts. If they play slow because of the course conditions being tough at Kiawah, it adds to the drama.

Sherman isn't convinced and I'm actually of the mindset that CBS usually likes it when tournaments run long.  Four hour rounds for twosomes do not bother them because they simply have the tour, or in this week's case the PGA of America, adjust the tee times according. And let us never forget the importance of running long to give 60 Minutes a strong lead-in on the east coast. The real reason we're playing so late on Sundays.

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Reader Comments (24)

These are TV people - I'm sure they honestly believe it's the 'broadcast' that's exciting and NOT just the sport that they happen to be covering while building their narrative. They'd probably also use the word 'craft' and/or 'art' in that previous sentence, I'd imagine.

When you think of it that way, it totally makes sense that they like the long rounds. It gives them more chances to package in fluff and involve their 'personalities' and order new fancy cameras and graphics. They can cut back and firth and show more of their precious putting. Maybe throw together a few more 'let's cut to [guy who's out of it and hasn't been shown at all] for this loooong look at birdie on 17'.

If the players played faster, when would they get to all the on-air personality shots? What of the essays? The graphics packages? Konica-Minolta BIZ HUBS!?? These people need to eat too, you know.
08.9.2012 | Unregistered Commenterdsl
When the last twosome at the Canadian Open finished at around 5:25p, it was hilarious/painful to watch CBS fill until they could go off the air at 6p. If they had another 5 minutes, my round that day would have been mentioned.
08.9.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTwoNuse
To be honest, this constant, arrogant harping about slow play gets on my nerves. I'm a 1 handicap, play 25 to 30 tournaments of one kind or another a year, and I'm not a slow player (played a USGA senior open qualifier round, walking, in under 4 hours; I was first off).

BUT, I do know that tournament golf is nothing like your weekend round with your buddies, and the idea that a pro, playing for zillions of dollars, can't take the time to make up his mind about a club or shot is ludicrous.

I applaud CBS; they're right. A rational pace allows for more players to be seen, for the drama to build.

Here's what I tell my weekend/weekday golf buddies who complain if they can't play 18 in 3 and a half hours: golf should be fun, and you should do your best. Doing your best requires considering a few options on most shots, which sad to say, takes a bit of time.

If you're more concerned about pace of play than your score, you're on the golf course for absolutely the wrong reasons.
08.9.2012 | Unregistered Commenternmonroe
@ dsl: You nailed it.

@ TwoNuse: If they had been forced to mention your round it would have made my day.
08.9.2012 | Unregistered Commentergov. lepetomane
I get seriously annoyed with slow play when I'm actually playing, but when it's on the TV I'm not really bothered. I mean, if the producer cuts out the deliberations with the caddie and most of the pre-shot routine, who cares how long the player has taken to prepare for his shot? Tighter pins, firmer greens, bigger distance gaps between clubs due to distance increases...there are more variables to be concerned with these days than just 20 years ago. Sure, I've got little time for three practice strokes over two-footers, but spending lots of time over a makeable 15-footer, given how pure greens are these days and the amount of money they're playing for, is quite understandable. I remember reading an interview with Peter Thomson when he said that nobody really tried to be a great putter in the 50's and 60's, the greens were so unpredictable that it was simply a waste of time reading the line - for everything outside 15 feet it was just about lagging it up there inside the leather and moving on. Times change, as they have always tended to do.
08.9.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
nmonroe,
Have you considered a job working in golf administration, you have just the attitude that has us to this point.

But seriously, if you are a player, you can't like seeing slow play leading to the reduction of playing opportunities, which is what the PGA Tour is grappling with now. As play slows, it's not inconceivable to see qualifiers and other events start reducing field sizes to accommodate the entitlement culture you so eloquently outlined. No?
08.9.2012 | Registered CommenterGeoff
I still say that there was at least one moment on Sunday where I'd swear that a CBS on course cameraman, or a line producer, or both, were mocking Keegan Bradley by going close-up and trying to follow the movements, which a neurologist might define as tardive dyskenesia.

If Keegan Bradley is in contention every Sunday going forward, I may quit watching golf. Furyk has become almost as bad. It's not a rules problem for me; or any major slow play/etiquette thing. It is just unwatchable.
08.9.2012 | Unregistered CommenterChuck
@Hawkeye and nmonroe
Screw anyone who would actually go to see a tournament in the flesh! Perhaps, CBS can digitally create a crowd.

@DSL
Great point!!
08.9.2012 | Unregistered CommenterIan McAllister
CBS Execs Do Not Mind Slow Play...

And why should they ?
If the ad rates for the PGA were lower than 60 Minutes then you might see some corporate pressure, but I'm guessing that at the end of the day the billing rate for the Tour exceeds the next program up.
Remember, we are talking about bean counters here...
08.9.2012 | Unregistered Commentermainuh
Nicely done, Geoff. Perfect timing too as it prevented me from getting in trouble.
08.9.2012 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
@nmonroe: Nice crib job from Bob Jones, who probably never took more than 3.5 hours in a medal round while winning 13 Major Championships...
08.9.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Geoff,
I get a lot of material from folks with attitudes like monroe, so please don't neuter them until they've said something else I can use.
Thank you.
08.9.2012 | Unregistered CommenterLudell Hogwaller
All you fast play nuts must love going home to mow the grass and unclog the drain ASAP.
08.9.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRon
@Ron

No, we enjoy having a drink at the bar and playing 36.
08.9.2012 | Unregistered CommenterIan McAllister
@Ian: As a spectator "in the flesh" it can certainly be extremely tedious to watch some of the players' extreme deliberations on the greens, yes. But on full shots I tend to pretty quickly get over the time it took the player to prepare for the shot once I've heard the pure sound of the strike and seen the beatutiful flight of the ball. Besides, when I go to watch a tournament, I'm not really in a hurry to get home! I realize that I'm in a minority on this matter here, but I'm just voicing my honest opinion and not trying to convince anyone else to change theirs.
08.9.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
For some reason this reminds me of the long putter legal arguments. The game takes longer because the players are fussier now, or because the courses are much longer? Why not create a shot clock for golf? If the ball is in play, you have 45 seconds upon "your turn" to play. Give a rules official a stop watch. if you have a difficult shot, such as a 200 yard shot from rough over trees, or a plugged bunker lie, you just may not have time to attempt a miracle shot. Just get it out safely and play on.

It seems to me that the long round times have to do with some poor guy who gets in an odd drop location and has to call a rules official. A player who frequently plays in the last groups, probably has adapted by playing at a slower pace throughout the round. If there is a backup on the course he will get caught up.
08.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMatt H
A few follow up points: KLG, that's a ridiculous comparision. Bob Jones played courses that averaged 6,000 to 6,100 yards in length (some less), as opposed to 7600 for the PGA, which alone is more than a MILE of additional walking. With courses getting longer and longer and increasingly difficult with harder, faster greens, it's logical to think the time needed to get around the course is going to increase. As course difficulty increases, players take more time.

Point two: as a still working recreational/competitive golfer, I go to the course to enjoy myself, pure and simple. My greatest enjoyment comes from shooting low scores, executing shots, playing well. (Last weekend: 70, 70, 73, 72; I had fun and won a few bucks). That's what golf is about - scoring, executing, playing the game.

How long did each round take? I really don't know. We waited on a few holes, never held anyone up, and played at a nice pace. We had a beer and a salad after each round; we enjoyed ourselves.

I started playing golf at 40; I'm 61 now, and I'm proud to be a near-scratch player; it took a lot of effort, time, and work, and I dearly wish I had played in my youth. But what attracted me to the game at 40 still attracts me today: a chance to relax, get away from the world, enjoy the outdoors, improve, succeed at a game, be with friends.

Who wants to artificially race through that? (There is speedgolf if you're so inclined.)

Not me, and as one who well remembers the days of being a beginner, not anyone who's just taking up golf. (I think that's something the game is concerned about as well - recruiting new players. Want to scare them off? Threaten them about their pace constantly. That will send them home in a heartbeat.)

In a couple of weeks, I'll be playing in my fourth state senior championship. In every prior event, they've always given the trophy to the guy with the lowest score, not who played the fastest round. When that changes, let me know.
08.10.2012 | Unregistered Commenternmonroe
Blah, blah, blah. Sounds like your arms aren't long enough to reach the right place on your back. They only reach just below coccyx, which is where you should be grabbing with both hands if you knew where to find it.
08.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
@nmonroe: Best of luck to you! Let us know where you finish in your fourth state senior championship. As Bob Jones his own self put it, there's golf and then there's tournament golf. And you sound like quite the tournament golfer. Welcome to ShackLand, btw.
08.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
On the PGA TOUR it is the players that set policy, and Commissioner Finchem's role is to implement and put into practice that policy. The players have requested time and time again that rounds end in 41/2 for threesomes, and 31/2 for twosomes. The rules officials answer to someone, and that somebody informed us all earlier that slow play wasn't a concern for him. Well, not only is he not doing his job he's in complete subordination. Or better known as arrogance. Slow play drags the better players down to the pace of a lesser talented player. The best players can't get into a rythem and pull the trigger right away because the less talented player is still trying to figure out which of three different options he should go with. With lack of experience competing at the highest level of golf how could Commissioner Finchem understand the importance of requiring a strict pace of play so his stars could shine brighter? He couldn't , therefore it's easy to understand his complacency. Even a simple game of scrabble has a time limit, guess why.
08.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRGT
......insubordination
08.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRGT
I agree that the time issue -- at least for for televised events -- is more in the hands of the guys in the truck than the players.

Compare events televised by different networks, for instance, and for different levels of tournaments. NBC tends to use quicker cuts to more players, which makes the viewing experience "feel" faster. This is especially true at smaller tourneys where fewer big name players are present on the course. They have to use pace of cutting to make the broadcast more interesting, and miracle of miracles, it works. Now if only they'd do that even when the big guns are on the course. I'm sure a guy like Keegan Bradley could be quickly "trained" to lose the stutter steps and annoying twitches just by limiting his screen time, which would limit his exposure, his marketability, his popularity (i.e., his income). Even Tiger could be tamed (at least a bit) by not showing him circle EVERY putt from EVERY conceivable angle, mark and remark, etc -- which has become torturous now that he's no longer sinking the putts after all the fuss... I fast forward or turn away any time Jim Furyk is on the screen. Watching his swing is guaranteed to mess with yours, and watching him fake you out standing over a putt will make you despise even walking onto a green.

And as discussed here before -- and picked up by Geoff in a later article -- the easiest way to knock 20 minutes off "the show" for all golfers is to allow ball marking on greens only for the first putt, with all players required to putt out continuously unless they're standing directly on another player's line. There's where you easily control the players for the benefit of all -- and especially the viewer.
08.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJJT
@Ian That's a lot of walking;)
08.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRon
"My greatest enjoyment comes from shooting low scores, executing shots, playing well. (Last weekend: 70, 70, 73, 72'

Wow...thanks for the unique insight into your greatness...we are in awe.
08.10.2012 | Unregistered Commenterrb

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