R&A Warns Of Open Championship Slow Play Crackdown

Martin Dempster covers an array of topics in a story about the R&A firing a gentle warning shot about this year's Open Championship, while also touching on slow play talk at last week's R&A Global Conference That No One Really Knew About Globally.

For the world’s oldest major, the R&A insists it is happy to leave it to the players to read them in their own time in preparation for the event.

“We continue to have a big concern that pace of play is affecting the game and spoiling the enjoyment for many people,” said Jim McArthur, chairman of the R&A’s championship committee. “We are determined to do whatever we can – and that applies to the Open Championship. There is a schedule that we will be applying stringently in The Open and we assume professionals will read all the documentation sent to them.

At the conference, R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson had this to say about Guan Tianlang's slow play penalty at Augusta.

“All that we can do is apply the rules as they have been distributed to the players,” he said. “I was a rules official at The Masters and was listening on the radio to what was going on. If a group gets out of position, they go on the clock. The experienced players catch up and, within the rules, they’re fine.

“The young amateur perhaps didn’t have the experience and, despite many, many warnings, he was caught out badly on more than one occasion. The rules official had no option but to apply the rules. I’m quite sure that, if a professional had done the same thing as the young 14-year-old, he would have had a penalty, too. But the professionals are perhaps more wily."

Wily is the word, especially if you read Jaime Diaz's comprehensive look at slow play in last week's Golf World where he had this to say about the Guan incident.

The fact is the gruff but highly respected Paramor had painstakingly implored Guan on four separate occasions to play faster. The teenager had nodded receptively, but then persisted in taking way too long to hit a shot. Sentiment aside, it was a case of a player -- even one of Tianlang's tender age -- unable to break an ingrained habit. Indeed, when American golf writers later approached three Chinese journalists to ask if they thought their young countryman had been unfairly victimized, their answer was unequivocal. "Oh, no," said one, as the others nodded, "he's really slow. He must speed up."