This Week In Game-Killing Pace Of Play, Slowheim Cup Edition

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Four-ball play has become a glacial-paced nightmare at all team events, yet appears to be festering in new and amazing ways at the 2019 Solheim Cup, writes Golfweek’s Beth Nichols.

The day one debacle, which did not improve as day two conditions deteriorated and matches barely finished in daylight, earned this rant by Golfweek’s Alistair Tait.

Snails, turtles and tortoises move faster than some of these players, especially in the fourball matches.

Yet only one player was given a bad time.

Just one!

How slow were they? The first fourball match featuring Suzann Pettersen and Anne van Dam against Danielle Kang and Lizette Salas took 2 hours and 57 minutes for nine holes. Nine.

They took five hours and 11 minutes to play 16 holes.

USA Captain Juli Inkster added:

"Yes [it was an issue], it's painfully slow out there," said Inkster. "I know we had maybe a couple on our side that are maybe a little bit slower, but they have a few on their side, too, that are a little slow. So I don't know, I don't know what to do.

During Saturday’s play, pace talk took up much of the broadcast as players often took shockingly long over putts and poor weather added to the misery.

That said, the matches are tied heading to Sunday singles and things should move faster.

And Here Is Why The PGA Tour Is Taking Their Time Changing Slow Play Rules...

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Joel Beall followed Bryson DeChambeau during round one of the Tour Championship, and like Andy Johnson did earlier this year, timed DeChambeau.

In neither case was it very pretty.

However, this East Lake timing at the 2019 Tour Championship comes as the PGA Tour announced it was reviewing some of its pace of play policies, with the possibility of using data to time individual players.

I encourage you to read how fast Bryson played up to the point when his green reading book came out and the task of putting was involved. But here’s Beall’s conclusion, which explains why the Tour won’t be rushing out any four point plans anytime soon.

If that theoretical shot clock existed, DeChambeau would have racked up 10 over-50-second violations through his first nine holes, 14 if the bar was 40 seconds.

After the Northern Trust, DeChambeau welcomed possible penalization. "I am not opposed to it one bit, because if it is my issue and I'm taking too long a time, absolutely penalize me," he said. "I've got no issue with that. That may come as a shock to a lot of people, but I'm okay with that because it's my fault, if it's warranted, and that's where we've got to talk about that and see what happened and when we are timing and how things are going along."

Commish On PGA Tour's Pace Of Play Efforts: "When we’re ready to talk about what we’re going to do, I’ll be excited to talk to all of you about it.”

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PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan met with Tour Championship media Tuesday and talked about his round Saturday with Donald Trump, Fred Ridley and Pete Bevaqua (Steve DiMeglio reports here) along with the slow play debate.

DiMeglio endorsed Monahan’s view that the PGA Tour should take things more cautiously, despite the European Tour’s aggressive moves this week. Here was Monahan’s remark:

“I wouldn’t say we’re going to be influenced in any way,” by the European Tour’s freshly minted directive, Monahan said. “I think everybody looking at this, talking about it is a good thing, and they’ve obviously decided that that’s the right thing for the European Tour. And when we’re ready to talk about what we’re going to do, I’ll be excited to talk to all of you about it.”

Rex Hoggard at GolfChannel.com saw Monahan’s comments differently, sensing the Commish did his best Heisman pose in a contradiction of the tour’s normally boundary-pushing efforts on other fronts, calling the current strategy “reactionary at best and indifferent at worst.”

Hoggard writes of the tour’s plan to keep studying data:

Still, it’s difficult to imagine how endless data points can speed up a game that’s been grinding along at a snail’s pace for decades. Or how the Tour, which leads the game on so many fronts, can become more than just a follower when it comes to pace of play.

Also confounding: every major sport is looking for ways to speed things up, trim game or season time and the PGA Tour has gone the opposite direction, resisting such efforts and endorsing exploding distances that only add time to rounds.

Edoardo's Whistleblower Tweets Instigated European Tour's Slow Play Crackdown

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Edoardo Molinari’s Tweets earlier this year exposing Europe’s slow pokes was the final straw for European Tour Chief Keith Pelley and his Tournament Committee.

Luckily for Molinari, they agreed with his views that something more drastic needed to happen. From Phil Casey’s report:

The former US Amateur champion was true to his word and published the data, even though his brother Francesco, the 2018 Open champion, was among the offenders.

“I spoke to Edoardo shortly afterwards and while I didn’t necessarily agree with his chosen method, he was entirely right to confront the problem and it prompted a discussion at the next Tournament Committee meeting, held at the Betfred British Masters in May,” said Pelley, pictured.

“Thankfully, our Tournament Committee shared Edoardo’s belief that enough was enough, and they were prepared to make some hard decisions, accepting the need to be more punitive.”

So no matter what happens, he’ll always have this.

Will Name Players Get Policed Like The Rest Under New European Tour Policies?

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I was excited about European Tour Chief Keith Pelley’s rollout of enhanced speed of play techniques and do believe they will make a difference until I read what Golfweek’s Alistair Tait wrote.

While he liked many of the changes—including the name shaming of showing groups where they stand in terms of on-course positioning—Tait has been on the pace of play situation for years and will not be surprised if little happens. This was interesting…

My other fear is that “name” players will escape censure while others will take the brunt of the action. Appearance fees are still a regular occurrence on the European Tour. Sponsors pay large amounts to lure stars to places like Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, etc. Some sponsors won’t be happy if the guy they’ve spent a small fortune on is put off from returning because of a one-shot penalty for impersonating a tortoise.

Jordan Spieth played in that 2016 Abu Dhabi tournament and was warned for slow play. The Tour was correct to implement the pace of play rules, but sponsors weren’t happy. It’s a moot point if that slow play warning is the reason Spieth has never returned to Abu Dhabi, but it clearly hasn’t helped.

We shall see soon enough as the policies announced Monday will see a trial run at the 2019 BMW PGA in September. But given the precedent set with Sergio Garcia’s non-suspension for vandalizing greens during competition in January, Tait’s concern is legitimate.

Slow Play Wars! European Tour Ups The Stakes In Policing And Ridding The Game Of Rude Slow Pokes

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You know they’re serious—they’ve developed a four point plan! And put it in writing.

 Let’s take a look: 

1. Regulation

» When players are out of position and either being monitored or timed, a one-shot penalty will be incurred after two bad times – currently a player would be ‘monitored’ and if he breaches the time allowance (50 seconds for first to play, 40 seconds for second or third to play) he will then be ‘officially timed’ and would then have to breach twice more before being given a one shot penalty. Players will, however, have the option to request one time extension per round, giving an additional 40 seconds to hit a shot on this request.

One “extension” is needed for those random moments when you have to wait on a crowd to move or one fairway over or it’s crunch time. Shoot, I’d start with two extensions just for fun and chip it away later if proven one is enough.

» In Position timing, introduced at the same time as Monitoring, has been strengthened. The time allowed to play a shot when being monitored in position (currently double the out of position times above), will be reduced by 15%, from 100 and 80 seconds down to 85 and 70 seconds respectively for first and second/ third to play.  Referees are now mandated to be proactive in targeting known slow players for in position timing. 

I’m sure they got a raise for what essentially makes their job much tougher.

» Fines for consistently slow players who are regularly officially timed during the season will increase significantly. For example, a player who is timed 15 times in the 2020 season will have to pay £26,000 in fines as opposed to £9,000 this season.

Ouch.

2. Education

» All new members will be assigned a dedicated referee to help educate them on pace of play at the start of their European Tour career

Ok that’s just treating them like children.

» As part of retaining their membership, every member will be required to pass an interactive online rules test with this being implemented for existing members towards the end of the 2019 season and all new members early in the 2020 season. This will be repeated every three years for existing members.

Interactive…meaning lots of pictures and video!

 » Regular educational videos will be produced by the European Tour’s social media team on key rules and pace of play policies and shared with the players throughout the season in an effort to avoid unnecessary rulings and ensure they better understand the Pace of Play policy.

 Oh, funny pictures and videos!

3. Innovation

» A trial Pace-of-Play system will be conducted at the BMW PGA Championship from September 19-22, 2019. This will provide referees with the times for every group through every hole to make sure that no gaps are missed.

 No crack will go unfilled!

» As part of this system, and in a ground-breaking development, on-tee displays on a minimum of three holes will provide groups with their position in relation to the group in front.

 Now we’re talking. Sign shaming.

4. Field sizes

» Field sizes at fully sanctioned events will be reduced from 156 to a minimum of 144 so long as all entered players in Category 18 (the final 111-125 on the previous season’s Race to Dubai) and above make it into the event. This will create space for referees to push groups over the Thursday and Friday rounds.

 144 is enough anyway, but good to see playing opportunities being cut as this gets the attention of players over everything.

You want to let distances keep swelling and backing up all the par-5s and drivable 4’s? Fine, 12 fewer of you will get the privilege. Carry on…

» Larger starting intervals will be built into play on Saturday and Sunday to create a better flow between groups.

Yes well that should have happened a long time ago.

Overall, a pretty impressive effort. Will the PGA Tour follow suit?

Did Phil Inadvertently Make The Case For The De-Skilling Role Of Green Reading Books?

After Bryson DeChambeau cited his green reading book’s confusing data as part of the reason he took forever to hit a six-footer, the episode reminded plenty just how silly it is that an already slow game where key skills are less necessary would get slower and easier.

That DeChambeau suggested it was his right to set up shop due to the book read being so very, very wrong, reminded me what a stain on the game these are and that they simply need to go.

Today on Twitter, as Bill Speros notes for Golfweek, Rickie Fowler’s green-reading assistant and bagman Joe Skovron made clear he didn’t have a stake in the green book debate, but suggested they do help speed up play.

Phil Mickelson, in a rare reply, probably wrote too much:

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Mercifully for the green reading book world, Mickelson’s terrible stats this year strongly contradict his statement.

Skill was a key element in the governing bodies questioning the role of these books and rules were changed in an attempt to reduce their efficacy. Thomas Pagel of the USGA when the books were kept legal, with restrictions:

“We have looked carefully at the use of these green-reading materials and the extremely detailed information they provide and our view is that they tip the balance too far away from the essential skill and judgment required to read subtle slopes on the greens. It is important to be clear, however, that we still regard the use of yardage books and handwritten notes to be an entirely appropriate part of the game.”

They probably will not use Mickelson’s remarks to consider a ban given his season stats in the areas where he claims they gain him time and strokes. But Mickelson seems to admit that the books allow him to spend less time studying a course to learn how to read the greens or tackle the design.

There was also this from Luke Donald, one of the best putters of his or any generation:

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WSJ: "Hurry Up! Sports Has a Time Problem"

Thanks to reader Todd for this column by the WSJ’s Jason Gay on the time problem all sports are grappling with.

Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, he writes:

These are hard days for unhurried athletes. Take too long to putt, to pitch, to pass, to kick, to serve, and you’re going to be targeted for impatient ridicule. This is a world, after all, where people pay extra to cut the line at the amusement park. This is a world where people buy gin and tonic in a can. That’s right: we’re all in such an urgent scramble, we don’t have the two seconds it takes to mix gin with tonic. 

Sports say they are trying to get better. They’re installing time clocks and cutting commercial breaks to lop minutes off the game. 

They might want to get more aggressive. We’re on the go, barreling around, barely tapping the brakes. There’s no more luxurious leisure anymore. The era of the meandering sporting event is over. There’s a pre-made gin and tonic waiting at home. And I think that movie has finally loaded. 

We’ve known this has been looming for some time and many golf writers have addressed (ad nauseum) the various slow play issues on both pro and recreational levels.

Other than the European Tour’s one-off event and more aggressive enforcement by their officials than the PGA Tour—but less than what the USGA and AJGA are doing most weeks—the sport has yawned at any substantial effort to adapt to the times. And this is all long before other sports went into their current panic modes, where some pretty radical changes are on the table.

Take the suggestion of nine hole matches at the Olympics, where rapid fire competition and head-to-head matches within pool play decide medals? That’s generally scoffed at and ridiculed because no championship is currently decided that way or it’s not normal, even though it would have shown the world a shorter, faster, more economical and dynamic side of golf.

How about more match play in general, as golf audiences of all ages are drawn to its better pacing, emotions and strategy? Nope. The TV networks get blamed there even as television networks fueling the passion for more match play.

Until last weekend’s social media fueled outrage over Bryson DeChambeau taking his sweet time, there have been few seminal moments to point to as evidence that we’ve lost the plot. Now the sport has one, it’s just a shame that Bryson is the poster child as he’s a good-hearted soul who genuinely loves the game. While spectacularly immodest at times, he’s also incredibly sensitive to the health and perception of the sport more than most professional golfers.

He just has no support system in the form of penalty strokes to make him play faster.

Oh, and no golf professional should be put on the spot about their role in controversy moments after an 18th hole bogey.

So the bickering will continue, ShotLink will be leveraged and pro tours will stall on the most pressing issue in the sport, the real concern should be about fans both in person and watching at home. I haven’t heard much concern for them, only what would happen to a golf professional’s bank account if we were to penalize them.

If the professional’s livelihood continues to be the focus, the insular world of professional golf will quickly lose fans for not adapting quickly to the times.

Kumbaya Monday: Pepperell Walks Back His Twit Jab; DeChambeau Vows To Solve Golf's Pace Of Play Issue

Eddie Pepperell called out Bryson DeChambeau when he was taking forever to hit a simple putt.

Eddie has now apologized for labeling Bryson a twit, while Bryson has apologized for acting like a twit.


PGA Tour Vows To Tackle Slow Play By "Leveraging Our ShotLink Technology To Assist Us"

If there was any doubt about the gravity of pushback received at PGA Tour headquarters over Bryson DeChambeau’s slow play boondoggle, look no further than the operation’s first significant comments on slow play in decades.

After Commissioners Tim Finchem and Jay Monahan have both done their best Heisman pose to slow play questions for two decades now, they issued quotes from the Tour’s Chief of Operations Tyler Dennis in a house-organ piece by “Staff” as The Northern Trust played out.

Not often you get a major change in position from a sports organization in the middle of a playoff game, but that’s what occurred Sunday as Patrick Reed was en route (and on the clock) to winning the 2019 playoffs’ first leg.

Let’s get to the story and then assess what this says of the Tour culture after.

Staff writes:

The TOUR’s current pace-of-play policy only addresses players whose groups have fallen out of position. The TOUR is now exploring whether to expand its policy to also address players whose groups are in position, but who take an excessive amount of time to hit a shot.

“We know that the individual habits of players when they are preparing to hit a shot can quickly become a focal point in today’s world, and our players and fans are very passionate about this issue,” said Tyler Dennis, the PGA TOUR’s Chief of Operations. “We have leveraged our ShotLink technology to provide every player with a pace of play report that they can access which breaks down the varying parts of their game and gives feedback on the amount of time on average that the player takes to hit a particular shot.

“We are currently in the process of reviewing this aspect of pace of play and asking ourselves, ‘Is there a better way to do it?’ We think technology definitely plays a key role in all of this and we are thinking about new and innovative ways to use it to address these situations.”

Publishing those numbers would clean up the problem via simple exposure of slow pokes and incentivizing to not be at the bottom of the list.

Those numbers have been compiled for thirteen years, yet only now the Tour is looking at using them to make meaningful change.

I’ve wrote a column in 2010—2010!—suggesting that a sponsor wanting to be associated speed could put up a bonus pool purse and it’d be watched a lot more closely than Wyndham Rewards chase, that I can assure you. The data and ShotLink 2.0 technology has only made the information more accurate since.

The story took on an Onionesque tone when it went to this comedy:

“We have learned over the years that pace has a lot of factors that play into it, and it’s actually quite complicated,” he added. “The overall time to play a round is affected by things like the number of players on the course, tee time intervals, amount of daylight, course set-up and the weather. Some of these are things we can influence, and some are not.”

The amount of fans and media following a group also can impact the pace of play, said Justin Rose.

“The crowds are a lot bigger here and a lot more vocal and there's a lot more movement and distraction, I think which obviously creates the atmosphere that we want to play in front of,” Rose said. “You can't have it both ways. You can't have it fun and rowdy out here and yet expect guys to hit shots on a clock through situations where the environment isn't ready for them to play.”

This generally impacts one player and one player only. But a fine try to soften the blow of the DeChambeau debacle which was at least explained in detail. Then touted the best players in the world, in a limited field event, playing in 4:51 with people carrying their clubs, volunteers finding lost balls and playing lights-out great golf.

DeChambeau’s group still played in 4:51 on Friday. That was just one minute slower than in Round 1 and consistent with other groups in the second round.

The TOUR has seen positive results from increasing the intervals between tee times this year. “We are seeing great improvements to the flow and in particular to the speed with which we can recover following an issue with a group that results in a momentary slow-down in pace,” Dennis said.

Of course, the issue is not these understandable bits of logjamming, but the pure selfishness of some entitled by a lack of significant penalty strokes or bank account-damaging fines.

And there was one more plug for ShotLink…

“We are really focused at the moment on leveraging our ShotLink technology to assist us with these factors,” Dennis said. “This year, we have rolled out version 2.0 of an application which allows the officials to monitor every group in real-time, from their positions out on the course, and respond more quickly when a group is getting behind.”

The PGA Tour referees, the best in the business when it comes to knowing the players, knowing how to time, understanding complications and keeping an eye on pace, do not need ShotLink to assess a slow player. They need the backing of the players and Commissioners to dish out a few penalties to those who everyone knows are taking too long to hit golf shots, with a workable policy that lets them target repeat offenders.

As for what the Tour’s method of breaking news, keep in mind that Dennis was not made available to press at the Northern Trust or in a conference call, and no statement was sent to media as is the case with things like failed drug tests, quotes about the passing of legends or other significant PGA Tour news.

But as the social media firestorm and ensuing player backlash proved in forcing this policy “review”—mainstream media was not the cause—slow play is the sport’s biggest perception and business matter and has been for decades.

Bryson Sticking With I-Walk-Faster-To-The-Ball Justification For Glacial Pace, Criticism Of His Pace Turns Ugly

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One of the many downsides to the PGA Tour turning a blind eye to slow play all of these years: eventually the glacial practices would become sacrosanct. The process of hitting a ball, in the wrong hands, is an act of entitlement, not a privilege.

While the loathsomely slow and inconsiderate Ben Crane will always be leader in the PGA Tour slow play clubhouse, Bryson DeChambeau’s making a strong push to be known as the PGA Tour’s slowest and least considerate player.

After two episodes on PGA Tour Live went viral—Featured Group coverage can not jump to another hole to mask how long some players take to figure out a shot—DeChambeau was blasted by many, including fellow pros. (You can also watch the episodes in question, if you can carve out the time).

Following his round Saturday at The Northern Trust, DeChambeau opened his press conference with a diatribe that essentially returned to his views shared earlier this year that he gets to his ball faster than most, therefore earning rewards of a sort in the form of extra seconds to contemplate.

“A lot of it’s the caddies. A lot of it’s the other players,” DeChambeau said. “They don’t care about walking fast. I play a different way out there. I take my 40 seconds that’s allotted, sometimes over, absolutely. Totally agree. It’s maybe 5 percent of the time. But I’ll tell you that it’s really kind of unfortunate the way it’s perceived because there’s a lot of other guys that take a lot of time. They don’t talk about this matter and for me personally, it is an attack and it is something that is not me whatsoever. People don’t realize the harm they are doing to the individuals.”

Imagine what he’d think of the harm of being put on the clock and it ended in penalty shots.

But back to the original issue at hand: the PGA Tour’s inaction over the years. It has led to this festering situation where top players Koepka and McIlroy are speaking out, where players are calling each other names and where fans are responding in droves on social media that DeChambeau is the poster child for why they watch less golf.

All of the avoidance of penalty strokes, to protect a player’s brand and keep golf out of the headlines with negative press, has led us to a point where the bickering is getting louder, uglier and more expensive for the PGA Tour if nothing continues to be done.

Playoff Focus Turns To...Slow Play As Brooks, Rory Talk "Out Of Hand" Problem

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One symptom of not acknowledging the slow play problem is that it is prone to rear its head at all the wrong times.

Say, when the sun is setting and a network is past enjoying the whole lead-in audience thing as a non-star sets up camp debating the merits of going for a green.

Or, I don’t know, any tournament where the sponsor wants the focus to be on the event instead of a problem ignored for too long.

Sorry Northern Trust.

Andy Kostka of Golfweek has the blissfully honest remarks and context of FedExCup top contenders Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy from Wednesday at Liberty National. Both players have the credibility to vent given their amazingly quick pace.

Koepka:

“I get that you can take a long time for your thought process, but once you’re done thinking about it, just go. What else is there to do? That’s been the problem I have,” Koepka said Wednesday. “It’s just gotten out of hand. It seems now that there are so many sports psychologists and everybody telling everybody that they can’t hit it until they are ready, that you have to fully process everything. I mean, I take 15 seconds and go, and I’ve done all right.”

Don’t forget agents, physios, short game instructors vs. long game instructors, launch monitor technicians, Soul Cycle instructors and dietitians, too.

This has actually been an issue for decades—do not hit until you are committed—but the lack of support from Tour HQ to enforce the rules has prevented real action.

Rory has a simple solution:

“For me, I think the guys that are slow are the guys that get too many chances before they are penalized,” McIlroy said. “So, it should be a warning and then a shot. It should be, you’re put on the clock and that is your warning, and then if you get a bad time while on the clock, it’s a shot. That will stamp it out right away.

Deducted FedExCup points have been mentioned as a sound solution, too. And it would get the FedEx mentions up, too!

But Koepka ultimately hit on the most problematic issue of all for golf: the game just takes too long to play at all levels, but it’s especially hard o watch at over 5 hours for a round. The days are too long for fans, volunteers and TV, and it’s hard to see how that time span isn’t deadly. Especially when you put it the way Brooks did:

“Five and a half hours to play golf is a long time. Everybody’s going to get bored,” Koepka said. “There’s not much action in golf. If you really think about it, you’re probably only playing for about five minutes — maybe six, seven minutes total — and the rest of the time, I’m just walking. You try walking by yourself for four, four and a half hours, and see how boring it gets.”

Hey, on that note, coverage of the Northern Trust starts with PGA Tour Live Thursday and no galleries until 10 am after a nasty storm blew through Liberty National.

U.S. Girls' Junior Finalists Got Over Four Hours To Play 18 Holes...

Jillian Bourdage lost to Lei Ye in the U.S. Girls’ Junior and a few days later, he deliberate pace was noted on Twitter.

The pre-shot routine for a very short putt is painful and frankly, bizarre given that it’s not gamesmanship:

The criticism has been flowing, though I’d say from a general skimming of remarks, much of it is directed at adults for not better policing young players.

Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols warned that it’s a dangerous precedent to pin slow play issues on a young player and I would not disagree.

Particularly after reading this generous pace of play allowance in a match where the course is only available to two players:

A few things to consider about the Girls’ Junior finale that make this the perfect storm for slow-play critics:

  1. It was a commercial-free broadcast

  2. This was the only match on the course

There’s no cutting away during the boring stuff. Plus, the players were never warned about being out of position. Officials checked the time after each hole of the match.

The first 18 holes took 4 hours and 4 minutes. Officials allowed 4 hours and 12 minutes for the second 18, and they beat that mark.

Four hours and 12 minutes for two players on a wide open course after an almost identical time par in the morning?

That’s only 16 minutes faster than the average AJGA round…with a full field on the golf course and threesomes.

Report: PGA Tour Players On A Random Clock And It's Not Ideal (Kisner Exempted)

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Nice work by Andy Johnson at FriedEgg.com to time one grouping at the U.S. Open for nine holes.

While it’s still not as powerful as the visual of watching the difference in how these players work, anyone with any imagination can easily envsion the agony of watching some of the longer debate sessions that took place. As other professional sports fret about the length of their games, the PGA Tour has made clear slow play and the slowest players are just not a a big deal. Even the USGA, which has had amazing success with time par systems, backs off at the U.S. Open out of fear of upsetting the most important people on the planet.

Given that players have 40 seconds to play a shot, the regularity with which they break the rules is, frankly stupefying given how rarely penalties have been dished out. And we know how hard it is to watch in person.

Unless Kevin Kisner is playing or Justin Thomas is hitting a tee shot…

As DeChambeau, Kisner, and Thomas worked their way through Pebble Beach’s front nine, I recorded the amount of time it took each player to hit each shot from the moment that it became clear the previous shot had ended. I also noted the order in which they played their shots within the group. To determine the exact start time for each shot, I simply used common sense. On approach shots, I started the clock when both caddie and player had arrived at the ball and the group ahead had vacated the green. On successive shots within the group, I started it when the previous shot had clearly ended—that is, when the previous player had picked up his tee, or when the preceding putt or chip had been marked, etc.

The results are below. The numbers in the left column—1, 2, and 3—represent the order in which the player hit the shot within the group. 1* signifies shots for which a player was first in the order but had to wait on the group ahead or called for a ruling. Finally, I have color coded the times: green = a time under 40 seconds; yellow = a time between 40-60 seconds; and red = a time over 60 seconds.

Oh and the red flows…

Five Families Slow Play Talks To Resume At The Open, Center On Ways To Make Slow Golfers Go Faster

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If there is one thing to like about the youth obsessed Five Families of golf, it’s that they recognize the kids do not dig watching people stand around. At least, let’s hope that’s what the children of executives are saying since that amounts to their focus group testing.

With that in mind, Alistair Tait looks at the European Tour’s efforts and potential for more as they recognize the urgency more than any other golf organization. Slow play hater Edoardo Molinari was called into the headmaster’s office and says we may see action soon from Chief Executive Keith Pelley.

“I obviously can’t tell what was said in that meeting, but something will be put in place,” Molinari added. “There will be something coming through in the next month.”

Pelley told Golfweek that steps are being taken.

“What has to happen is we collectively as administrators have to get on the same page on slow play because it isn’t just a European Tour issue,” Pelley said. He added that administrators from the European Tour, USGA, R&A and PGA Tour met in April in Augusta, Ga., to discuss the issue. Talks will resume at the British Open at Royal Portrush.

“There is a will to tackle this issue across the game,” Pelley said.

Tiger On Hitting His Numbers, Five Hours As A Grow The Game Killer

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Tiger Woods was in good spirits to kick off his return to Bethpage Black and the 2019 PGA Championship, touching on an array of topics from Olympic golf (nice if it happens) to the state of his game and the Black Course. Steve DiMeglio with the full round-up here for Golfweek.

Two quotes stood out in his comments.

Q. You haven't gone major to major without playing all that often in your career, but as you look ahead now, is it something you might consider doing more often? And just sort of how do you weigh the need for reps versus the need for rest at this point?

TIGER WOODS: You know, that's a great question because the only other time where I've taken four weeks off prior to major championships is going from the British Open to the PGA. Usually that was my summer break, and take those four weeks off and then get ready for the PGA, Firestone and the fall. So I'm always looking for breaks. Generally it's after the Masters I used to take four weeks off there. Now, with the condensed schedule, it's trying to find breaks.

You know, I wanted to play at Quail Hollow, but to be honest with you, I wasn't ready yet to start the grind of practicing and preparing and logging all those hours again. I was lifting -- my numbers were good. I was feeling good in the gym, but I wasn't mentally prepared to log in the hours.

Ok first we had players wanting to his certain Trackman numbers. Now gym numbers?

Coming here is a different story. I was able to log in the hours, put in the time and feel rested and ready. That's going to be the interesting part going forward; how much do I play and how much do I rest. I think I've done a lot of the legwork and the hard work already, trying to find my game over the past year and a half. Now I think it's just maintaining it. I know that I feel better when I'm fresh. The body doesn't respond like it used to, doesn't bounce back quite as well, so I've got to be aware of that.

And this seemed to be a nice statement for those leading the game who insist there is nothing wrong with five hour rounds, or slow play in general.

Q. Tiger, more minorities and young women are taking up the sport than before because of all of the initiatives in place, but that isn't reflected in the college participation numbers. Asians are the only minorities that are showing an increase. What do you think is happening? Why aren't the kids who are taking up the game sticking with it?

TIGER WOODS: You know, that's the question for all of us that's been a difficult one to figure out, to put our finger on. The First Tee has done an amazing job of creating facilities and creating atmospheres for kids to be introduced to the game, but also have some type of sustainability within the game.

But it's difficult. There are so many different things that are pulling at kids to go different directions. Golf is just merely one of the vehicles.

Now, with today's -- as I said, there's so many different things that kids can get into and go towards that honestly playing five hours, five and a half hours of a sport just doesn't sound too appealing. That's one of the things that we've tried to increase is the pace of play and try and make sure that's faster, because most of us in this room, if you've gone probably five minutes without checking your phone, you're jonesing. Kids are the same way; five hours on a golf course seems pretty boring.

Players Keep Forgetting The Slow Play Discussion Is About The Fans...

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Since PGA Tour executives and players do not actually pay to attend and watch their product, the slow play discussion has always been a mystery to them. When a player has turned up to watch this year to watch, he was astounded at what he saw.

But as Randall Mell notes in this GolfChannel.com rant, we all grasp that some slow play issues can’t be resolved when caused by distance gains, longer courses and faster greens. But the slow pokes exposed at select times by things like Edoardo Molinari’s tweet, and who everyone on the various tours know take their sweet time, could be addressed for the fans.

McDowell, as usual, is probably right about the overall numbers, but this is more about the viewing experience, about the frustration fans feel watching a professional take three minutes to make a two-second swing with his group a hole behind. That’s what this is all about.

“Until sponsors and TV tell the commissioner you guys play too slow and we’re not putting money up, it’s a waste of time talking about, because it’s not going to change,” Scott said.

He’s right, too. The answer may ultimately lie beyond what a player police force can do, but at least Molinari’s willing to lead a revolt that could lead there.

Slow Play Wars: Molinari Posts Bad Time And Fines, GMac Says It's Old News

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Edoardo Molinari, former US Amateur champion, European Tour golfer and brother of The Open champion, has taken taken the slow play debate up a few notches while helping us figure out who should not play the Slow Play Masters.

He first posted this after his 5:30 minute round in the Trophy Hussan in Morocco:

Encouraged by his Twitter followers, he posted these “bad times” and the (very few) fines that ensued. These are European Tour times but obviously included the Masters given the names that popped up.

When asked about the effort, Graeme McDowell reiterated what most players and tour officials tend to say about slow play discussions: old news, we play for a lot of money, deal with it.

From Brentley Romine’s GolfChannel.com report:

“It’s not a dead horse, but it’s pretty dead. What do you want to do? We can’t get around there much quicker. Is 20 minutes going to change his life? Listen, I like Edoardo, nice kid, but I think he’s just frustrated.”

McDowell pointed out that he feels like the pace-of-play policy on the European Tour is more stringent than the PGA Tour’s policy, though he said even that is “getting tougher and tougher.”

“Listen, golf courses are long, golf courses are hard, we’re playing for a lot of money, it’s a big business, it is what it is,” McDowell said. “There’s just no way to speed the game up really. You can try these small percentiles, but at the end of the day it’s very hard to get around a 7,600-yard golf course with tucked pins with a three-ball in less than 4:45, 5 hours. You can’t do it.”

He is correct that getting around such a big course at modern speeds is becoming all but impossible, particularly given the back-ups on par-5s and drivable par-4s.

Of course, there could be remedies to this…

Bryson's Pace Of Play Theory: Walk Quickly Then Analyze Deliberately

This was an interesting and legitimate claim made by Bryson DeChambeau in his Monday Masters press conference, unfortunately for him, the rules only address the amount of time taken when reaching the ball.

Q.  Where is that balance between trying to play at a pretty good pace, and getting all the information you want to get before hitting a shot? 

BRYSON DECHAMBEAU:  Well, that's a great question.  I think we do a fantastic job of taking all the information we can in the allotted amount of time. 

Now the one piece of information that a lot of people miss is the walk to the ball.  There's a three‑minute walk, 2 1/2 minute walk that people don't take into account.  You can gain a lot more time by walking 15 seconds quicker to the ball than you can by five seconds over a shot. 

So people don't take that into account when we talk about slow play.  I may be a guy that hits it up there farther than someone, and they are taking their merry time getting to their golf ball and it's behind me and I'm already up there and I can't get any of my numbers because I'm right in their line of sight. 

Once they do their whole process that takes maybe 25 seconds compared to my 35‑second to 40‑second preparation to hit the shot, by the time we walk back over and get the number, do all that, you can view me as a slow player.

In the end I look at it from another standpoint saying there's a whole other piece to this puzzle that we are not looking at yet.

The Real Reason Nothing Is Done About Slow Play: Players, Executives Don't Ever Pay To Watch Pro Golf

Eamon Lynch explored the lack of movement on the slow play front even Rory McIlroy called it an epidemic last week. Furthermore, the 2019 Players was not able to get the field around Thursday and the broadcast ran 20 minutes long Friday to show the conclusion of a star group.

He writes:

Like a persistent rash, pace of play was again an irritant at the Players Championship. When the first round was called for darkness — despite daylight saving time — Anirban Lahiri still faced a short putt on the final hole. He had to return Friday morning to finish up. The Tour’s invariable stance is to insist there’s nothing to see and that everyone should just move along (at their own pace, of course).

“They don’t do anything about it. It’s become somewhat of an epidemic on Tour,” Rory McIlroy said after his second round, which took more than five hours to complete. “Look, it’s our livelihoods and people are going to take their time, and as the course dries up and gets firmer and gets tougher, guys are going to take their time. But the fact that someone didn’t finish yesterday … I mean, that’s unacceptable.”

“Honestly, I think they should just be a little tougher and start penalizing shots earlier, and that would be an easy way to fix it,” he added.

Even easier? Make executives and players pay to watch golf in person. They’d learn the art of standing around watching others stand around and other tedious acts like not-ready golf.

The conclusions they would reach are summed up in this Tweet from Steve Flesch, who attended last week’s Players: