Torrey Slow Play: What Can Contractless Rules Officials Do?

Jason Sobel talked to Brad Fritsch this week about his group holding up Tiger Woods during the final two rounds of the Farmers Insurance Open. Fritsch had this to say:

At the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Tuesday, Fritsch maintained that not only was the threesome never put on the clock, they were never even warned by a PGA Tour rules official.

“Nobody ever even approached us,” he said. “I tell you what, all we ever heard on the Tour was, ‘We’re doing this to you guys now, because it’s worse out there in terms of them getting on you and staying on you.’ We didn’t see anybody all day.”

As you may recall, the rules staff has been working without a contract since the start of the year. And you may also recall Commissioner Tim Finchem gets the willies just thinking about a penalty for slow play, something that has not happened under his reign.

He infamously told John Feinstein:

"Slow play is a legitimate issue," he said, "but not to the point where I think we need to do something like that."

Considering that he's giving himself and his senior executives lavish bonuses and can't afford to take care of the people (outside of the players) most important to running a successful event, the contract situation is embarrassing.

But I also wonder if it's neutering the rules officials to the point that they don't want to upset the apple cart has created a situation where the Commissioner's attitude means they no longer feel empowered to get tough on slow play? I hope not, but it is a danger of letting such a silly contract situation linger, especially as Rules of Golf and slow play issues are such hot topics. Another danger of letting this linger is that the officials could be accused of doing nothing on purpose as a negotiation ploy.

Or as Finchem calls these things, "distractions."