Dave Shedloski talked to a few players after Saturday's Open Championship third round when the R&A decided not to mow greens, leaving them at 9.5 on the Stimpmeter. Players were notified by text of the speed figure and plan to not mow.
First, we should commend the R&A for taking the cautious approach, learning from last year's St. Andrews no-play day fiasco. Woohoo!
The bigger question involves speed and the belief that faster surfaces are a greater test of skill. We know that speed is used to protect courses and certainly a reading of 14 will make players defensive. And slower to get around.
Saturday at Troon the scoring average was 73.370 and yet, twosomes got around in 3:30 generally because every 2 footer did not need to be marked.
Two players lead who are not known for their ability to make a lot of putts of late, yet they seem to be putting well. But you also don't sense there is an overemphasis on putting.
Yet this was an interesting take from the various comments Shedloski reports.
“If they were 10, you wouldn’t have to think about it [the pace]. You would be surprised,” he said.
“You would just be thinking about hitting a good putt. But once you get down to that sort of 9.5, even over an 8-footer you have to say to yourself, ‘Don’t forget to hit it.’ That’s not a good thought to have if you’re trying to hole a putt.”
Or, is it? After all, it's a putting stroke and act of skill to stroke it in a solid way that gets it to the hole, no?
Isn't that a more skillful act than merely starting it on a line?