Billy Payne's second ever sitdown with the slingers...
How's this for a revelation?
Immediately after this press conference, we are encouraging all golf fans to go to Masters.org, CBSSports.com, ESPN.com, BBC.co.uk, and in Japan TBS.co.jp, and between now and June 1 register and tell us how they believe golf could be improved and promoted around the world.
Registration forms will be available immediately after this press conference on our Web site with promotional instructions in English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. We want to know, how can we capture the interest of children in this great game; can golf be made easier; why did it take so long to play; what is the best way to get kids involved at an early age.
We look forward to what we believe will be tens of thousands of responses that we receive and honestly expect to report to you at a later date that we have uncovered some really great concepts and ideas which can be incorporated into our own initiatives and efforts.
Send your pleas for Tom Fazio's ouster as consulting architect here. Imagine the USGA doing such a thing? Soliciting suggestions! Perish the thought. I do feel bad for the poor lad who has to read all of the stuff.
Q. Chris Berman is not going to be here; was that something that you guys --
CHAIRMAN BILLY PAYNE: I have never had a discussion about that. We don't tell our broadcast partners who their on-air talent can be.
Notice how the scribe couldn't even finish the question before Billy answered. Hmmm...
Okay here comes your annual question about letting a Woman-American join. Have to say the scribes are getting more clever.
Q. You talked about allowing boys and girls 8 to 16 to come in.
CHAIRMAN BILLY PAYNE: Yes, sir.
Q. Half of that equation, the boy half when they ask the person who brought them in, "But Daddy, sometimes I would like to join the club," and the girl part of the equation can't join the club. Do you see that changing?
CHAIRMAN BILLY PAYNE: I would tell you what I've told you in the past, that I don't talk about membership issues; that that's reserved for the private deliberations of the Members, and other than that, I'm not going to talk about it.
And now a word about the rough.
CHAIRMAN BILLY PAYNE: You know, we have always had different length grass here all the way from the very beginning.
Yada yada...we know...
I listened very carefully to the player interviews the last several days and looked back at last year's, and they are split almost right down the middle about their opinion about the second cut.
Now Billy, don't make me go tabulating comments. It's 50% hate it and 50% saying it doesn't impact play. No one's in love with it. Oh, except you...kinda.
But I think, first of all, we like it. We think that it does put a premium on driving accuracy. However, we do believe that when you're in the second cut, it's more difficult to reach some of the pins because it does impact the ability to spin the ball.
The opinion I've just expressed, if you ask a hundred people, 50 would take the other side, but we like our side, and that's what we're going to do. We like it. Other than tweaks maybe for Patron flow, drainage, otherwise, you could expect to see it for a long time in the future.
Because there are some mistakes we just won't admit. Though acknowledging that it's debated and that half of the people you ask don't like it is a big admission. Especially since the 50% includes just about every living former champion.
A pace of play question picked up by Fred Ridley. Check out the target time...
FRED RIDLEY: That's right. Obviously for the enjoyment of the game for the players and the Patrons is to move the field along. We look at that every year. As a matter of fact we have actually tightened up the pace of play this year. Our target time is four hours and 45 minutes, which is a seven-minute reduction from last year.And...
Now, whether or not we can achieve that is another story, but we think by encouraging the players and letting them know that this is the expected time, because that is one of the elements of whether or not a group is out of position, we think that we might speed up the play marginally, which I think would be good.
Q. Going back to slow play, because of the size of the field and the independence of the organization, you're probably in a better position than anybody to do something about it. Is there a possibility in the future you might start penalizing players shots in a meaningful manner that will change their behavior?
FRED RIDLEY: Well, we have a pace of play policy that we think is appropriate. And it provides some very detailed parameters for how quickly a pace we expect the players to play, and we think our officials, who are the best officials from around the world, understand that policy, and they will enforce it when it's appropriate.
So we are comfortable that we have a good pace of play policy. This is a golf course that just takes some time to play, but we are monitoring it very closely.
All in all, a very nice job by the assembled scribbs to get some answers. Of course, I'm always a sucker for slow play talk.