Is A Player Entitled To Wait Out Wind As Long As He Wants?

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Of course not!

J.B. Holmes epitomizes the same weird entitlement Matt Kuchar and Sergio Garcia exhibited in recent weeks after years of the PGA Tour coddling players.

And while his reading green books, not playing ready golf and in general taking his sweet time amounts to offensive behavior, couple that with the suggestion of a right to wait out gusts, and you are dealing with a mindset only remedied by penalty strokes.

From his post 2019 Genesis Open victory press conference:

So I was never even close to being on the clock all week.  I mean, yeah, when I first got out here I was really slow, but I've sped up quite a bit.  Like I said, the conditions made it tougher, too.  Sometimes you're waiting for the wind to stop blowing 30 miles an hour.  Like I said, I've gotten better.  There's times when I'm probably too slow, but it is what it is.  I was never on the clock.  Nobody ‑‑ never even got a warning.  TV wants everything to be real fast all the time.

The irony of the PGA Tour fearing the negative press from penalties? Situations like this, which have overwhelmed the “day after” chatter at the Genesis Open and overshadowed a great leaderboard, a win, a famous tournament host, amazing work by all to get the tournament in and the sponsor.

It is, after all, a player organization!

JB Wins Genesis, Pushes Back On Slow Play: "You play in 25 mph gusty winds and see how fast you play when you're playing for the kind of money and the points and everything that we're playing for."

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JB Holmes overcame a four-stroke deficit to fellow Kentuckian Justin Thomas in winning the Genesis Open.

My Golfweek game story on a weird day to wrap a weird week.

Obviously Holmes is no fan favorite after last year’s debacle at Torrey Pines but today’s conditions certainly were difficult. That said, as the video embedded below shows, there is a lack of urgency and ready golf issue, as well as a green reading book in this example.

But first, his comments after a final round 70 at Riviera:

Q.  The conditions made things really tough, but there was a lot of discussion on the broadcast and social media about the pace of play today.  What were your thoughts about the pace and is that something you were thinking about or working on?

J.B. HOLMES:  Well, you play in 25 mile an hour gusty winds and see how fast you play when you're playing for the kind of money and the points and everything that we're playing for.  The greens are fast, the ball  Adam had a putt, he kept setting the ball down and it was rolling.  

You can't just get up there and whack it when it's blowing that hard.  You've got to read wind and there's a lot of slope on these greens.  It's not an easy golf course and you throw in winds like that.  On 13 or 14, the par 3, I hit a 5iron and it stays pretty good.  He hits a 5iron really good and a gust of wind comes up and he comes up like 15 yards short, and I think he hit it better than I hit mine.  It's very tough.  Then when you get putting like that, it's just not going to be fast anywhere. 


And…

Q.  Adam Scott said just before that we know J.B.'s a slow player and there was some discussion on the broadcast.  Do you think that's a fair assessment?

J.B. HOLMES:  I've been slow in the past.  I don't think as slow as  I mean, I'm not the fastest player, but I mean, like I said, it was really windy today and we waited a lot early.  At the end, I took a little bit longer at the end, but you're talking about getting down to the tournament, you're talking about the last nine holes of the tournament.  I mean, I think  correct me if I'm wrong, but I think a lot of times the last group of the tournament gets a little bit behind.

So I was never even close to being on the clock all week.  I mean, yeah, when I first got out here I was really slow, but I've sped up quite a bit.  Like I said, the conditions made it tougher, too.  Sometimes you're waiting for the wind to stop blowing 30 miles an hour.  Like I said, I've gotten better.  There's times when I'm probably too slow, but it is what it is.  I was never on the clock.  Nobody  never even got a warning.  TV wants everything to be real fast all the time.

Earlier today on the fourth hole:

It's Come To This Files: Adam Scott Begs To Take A Slow Play Penalty Just So The PGA Tour Will Finally Start Enforcing Its Rules

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Over the years I’ve seen my share of slow play stories and silly quotes—mostly Tim Finchem’s infamous moratorium on penalizing slow pokes—but this takes the cake.

After the 144-player Genesis Open officially became a 120 player event in part because pace dictates a change, Adam Scott has offered to be the first player (of note) to be penalized in hopes of the PGA Tour finally enforcing its rules.

It’s come to this. And Scott isn’t even slow.

From Brian Wacker at GolfDigest.com:

Adam Scott said he recently told the PGA Tour’s chief of tournaments and competitions Andy Pazder that he’d be willing to take a penalty in order to get guys to speed up, the theory being that the tour would show that it was serious about pace of play and enforcing a penalty that is rarely enforced.

“Make me the victim,” the 2013 Masters champion and 13-time PGA Tour winner said. “I’ll take the penalty. The only way it’s going to work is if you enforce it.”

Scott goes on to explain that some of the problems with pace—like spending 20 minutes around walking to back tees—is out of the player’s hands. Some is solely a slow-poke issue. And all of it starts at Tour HQ where, for over 25 years, the idea of tainting a player’s brand with a penalty stroke has been considered sinful.

90 Years Later: Slow Play Escapades Were Part Of Riviera's First Los Angeles Open

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Ninety years since Riviera hosted its first $10,000 Los Angeles Open and fourth played, the world’s best return to play for $7.4 million and a Genesis luxury automobile.

Just getting tees in the ground and 72 holes played that week was a miracle, as organizers were having trouble raising funds for the purse and days were too short for getting a full field around the brutal test Riviera posed.

A December Sportsman’s fundraising dinner was hosted by comedian Will Rogers—fresh off an aborted run for President—at the incredible price of $100 a plate. Rogers paid his way at what was called the first $100 a plate dinner. A total of $9000 was raised for the Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce to host the event, which founded by Scott Chisholm, Sherman Paddock and Willie Hunter (gracing the 1929 program cover below and later Riviera’s longtime pro).

As I detail here for Golfweek, headliner Walter Hagen threw a bit of a fit when faced with a slow pairing alongside Tommy Armour. Given Brooks Koepka’s recent criticism of inconsistent pace enforcement, some things never really change. Well, Hagen never used a private parts reference. That we know of.

But as I note in the piece, the slow play issues at Riviera are now less a player-driven issue and more of a product of traffic jams brought on by the shortening of holes. Fitting for this city.

My Instagram post of the 1929 program:

Koepka On Pace Of Play: “Guys are already so slow it’s kind of embarrassing."

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Brooks Koepka sat down with Golf Monthly’s Michael Weston in that progressive haven known as Saudi Arabia to discuss various topics for a podcast. Inspired by Bryson DeChambeau’s pace last weekend in Dubai, Koepka expressed a lack of patience for slow pokes.

“I just don’t understand how it takes a minute and 20 seconds, a minute and 15 to hit a golf ball; it’s not that hard,” Koepka said.

“It’s always between two clubs; there’s a miss short, there’s a miss long. It really drives me nuts especially when it’s a long hitter because you know you’ve got two other guys or at least one guy that’s hitting before you so you can do all your calculations; you should have your numbers.

“Obviously if you’re the first guy you might take ten extra seconds, but it doesn’t take that long to hit the ball, especially if it’s not blowing 30.

“If it’s blowing 30 I understand taking a minute and taking some extra time with some gusts, you know changing just slightly, I get that but if it’s a calm day there’s no excuse.

“Guys are already so slow it’s kind of embarrassing. I just don’t get why you enforce some things and don’t enforce others.”

The full pod is available at the link.

Field Size Isn't Always To Blame: 33-Deep And Final Group Cannot Break Four Hours At Kapalua

Whenever PGA Tour slow play is discussed, field size is the go-to excuse for tepid pace in a world that has little patience for golf taking even longer.

Yet as Xander Schauffele was posting a magnificent 62 to Gary Woodland’s final round 68 at the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions, pace seemed fine even as Rory McIlroy hit a few wayward drives. Yet the final tally of 4:13 time for the final twosome in a 33-player field, with no obvious slowpokes dragging the field down, might have been considered embarrassing at one time. Now over four hours for twosomes constitutes the new normal.

Even with some shuttle rides thrown in, light rough, marshals to look for your ball and amazing athletes who never have to stop for air, the pace at Kapalua wasn’t great. File it away the next time someone says the best players in the world, even making a ton of birdies, are only slow because of bloated field sizes.

Shriners Field Reduced To 132 Players, 70 Break Par And They Still Can't Finish Before The Sun Sets!

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Just work with the idea that 70 players broke par, 51 broke 70 and 11 shot 66 or less led by first round leader Peter Uihlein.

Not many strokes being played, right? No high rough and crazy tough conditions to slow down the pace, correct?

No.

The Shriner’s Hospital For Children Open, already facing a reduction of 12 spots this year to help get the field around before dark (as reported by Rex Hoggard a few weeks ago), still could not finish the first round.

Why? Sure, today’s players are slow but more than the usual tedium, their prodigious driving distances mean the entire field is forced to wait for every par-5 green to clear and every short par-4 green to become available to their drives.

But as you know, nearly all players and their recent Commissioners have stated that slow play is not an issue, nor is distance in the game causing problems for getting a tournament field around.

Hopefully next year the Shriners shrinks to 120 players. Because maybe losing two-dozen “playing opportunities” will help the players and officials realize there are some very basic financial ramifications for chasing distance.

Tour Slow Play Wars Taking On Added, Enjoyable Dimension: Chipping Away At Field Sizes

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For those who’ve watched the various Tours and players defend the pace of today’s game and fight to preserve the rights of entitled, selfish daily repeat-offenders, I have good news!

Field sizes are about to take start taking hits. If there will ever be one thing to make players actually stop defending slow pokes, the loss of playing opportunities might do it.

Rex Hoggard at GolfChannel.com reports on the continued player chatter after Corey Pavin—not known as a super slow player like Bernhard Langer—got zapped with a PGA Tour Champions penalty last weekend.

On the PGA Tour, the inability to finish at tournaments in the winter and spring months is putting pressure on officials to reduce playing opportunities. As it should be. The players can’t play fast enough? Time to start reducing fields!

The Tour’s policy board approved a plan to reduce the field size in Las Vegas from 144 to 132 players. According to a memo sent to players, the decision was made “to give the tournament a better chance of completing Rounds 1 and 2 on schedule.”

To be fair, part of this problem was driven by the event’s move from mid-October to early November, when the daylight window is slightly larger. But there’s no denying the fact that if threesome rounds didn’t regularly stretch past the five-hour mark, this would not be an issue.

Correctorama!

This was a fun fact. Television masks this, but think of the fan in attendance who can expect to lose valuable minutes of their life watching a player prepare for a shot.

Perhaps more eye opening are the Tour percentages. Eighty percent of all players took between 31 and 44 seconds to hit shots so far this season, while only 40 percent took between 35 and 40 seconds, which in theory should be the goal given the fine print of the circuit’s policy.

Which means a very large percentage took more than the Rules of Golf allow for. Charming.

But hey, they take their hats off at 18 to shake hands and call penalties on themselves!

Fingers crossed the Genesis Open at Riviera is next on the chopping board. 156 players used to get around there in January. Now at 144 in February, that’s too much for today’s turtles even with almost no rough. Let’s cut those playing opportunities so the serial slow pokes are protected!

The Final Numbers Are In: Faster And Better Play) In Shot Clock Masters!

I didn't see much coverage of the final Shot Clock Masters numbers, so here they are from the European Tour.

Note the scoring improvement...

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European Tour Chief Keith Pelley talked about the response of players, social media and referees:

Stop This Clinical Study Now And Save Critical Time! The Promising Shot Clock Masters Early Results

We’ve all heard of those drug studies proving so effective that clinical trials are stopped midway and the most dire cases are allowed to receive the new, revolutionary remedy. 

Pro golf has been on a slow play sick bed for too long.  But after just one round of the Austrian Open/aka Shot Clock Masters, the results speak volumes: as much as 55 minutes faster than the typical European Tour three-ball, rounds 19 minutes faster than the allotted time and no apparent decline in the quality of play. 

The European Tour employed 24 rules officials—the biggest logistical impediment to making shot clocks permanent—who did not hand out a single violation in round one.

Players, as Dylan Dethier notes for Golf.com, are giving positive reviews both on-site or via social media. 

Best of all, while watching there appears to be no sense of gimmickry or a compromise in quality. Just a better flow and a reminder of faster days. 

Time Is Of The Essence: Shot Clock Masters Preview And Primer

The European Tour's Austrian Open is the "shot clock Masters" and it could not come at a better time for golf, as players bog down for reasons both legit (backups due to reachable par-5s) and not so legit (they take forever and don't play ready golf). 

Here are the five things you must know about this event according to the European Tour.

Essentially you need to know this: 50 seconds to hit a shot, 40 if you are the second or third in a group to play. You have two timeouts to call in case you need extra time.  Otherwise, penalty strokes will be flying.

MorningRead.com's Adam Schupak talked to Keith Pelley about the origin of this idea and to some players who are for the Slow Play Masters, and some against it.

So, Pelley canvassed his players with a simple two-question survey. First question: Do you think slow play is a problem on the European Tour?

"If you answered ‘no,’ the survey was over," Pelley said. "But if you answered ‘yes,’ you got one more question."

Do you want the European Tour to act seriously on curbing this challenge?

Within two days, 70 percent of the membership had responded in favor of taking action.

"We need to try and modernize our game," Pelley said. "The millennials have an attention span of 12 seconds. The Gen Z have an attention span of eight seconds. We're living in a society that is completely different, and I think every game and every sport and every business is looking to modernize themselves, and if you don't, then you run the risk of falling behind."

Matt Adams and I discussed on this week's Alternate Shot:

Slow Play Stat Reminder: So Much Time Waiting And Walking, So Little Time Hitting Shots

Rex Hoggard takes the much-talked about Patrick Cantlay display from the 2018 Memorial for a state-of-slow-play piece.

As painful as Cantlay's 13 looks at the green appeared to be, it's still a fraction of the time spent walking to back tees and waiting for all of the par-5 greens to clear. Hmmm...what do those things have in common? 

Even the Tour’s own statistics prove this point. The circuit average for a player to hit a shot is 38 seconds, although that number varies for specific shots (42 seconds to hit a tee shot, 32 seconds for a putt). Based on that information and on Sunday’s scoring average at the Memorial (71.2), the total amount of time in which a player is actually executing shots during a round is about 45 minutes.

Slow Play Files: Cantlay’s Pace Earns Rav(ing) Reviews

Golf.com's Josh Berhow does a nice job rounding up the social outrage from Saturday's 2018 Memorial, when Patrick Cantlay took as much as 40 seconds over the ball, not including the pre-shot prep time. 

The PGA Tour resists penalties or doing anything to speed up play, but the fans are pretty clear: this is not acceptable.

Everett Pulls NCAA Upset, Team Match Play Draw Not Full Of Many Surprises

The 152nd ranked player who'd never won a college event birdied the first hole of sudden death to win the NCAA men's individual golf title. Broc Everett of Augusta's upset win over Auburn's Brandon Manchedo comes in contrast to the final 8 teams headed to match play, where Duke's fine play surprised.

Kevin Casey of Golfweek on Everett's improbable win. He's a senior playing in his last event and picked a nice time to finally win. 

As Ryan Lavner notes for GolfChannel.com, the win is also a huge boost to Augusta, a program that has fallen on hard times since it's glory days the last time the NCAA's were at Karsten Creek.

Everett broke down the day on Golf Central:

Team Match Play begins with quarterfinal action on Golf Channel from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. ET, followed by semi-finals from 4-8 pm ET.

Team Match Play Quarterfinal Matchups:

Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M
Duke vs. Texas
Texas Tech vs. Alabama
Oklahoma vs. Auburn

Texas made the most valiant effort to get to match play and with two seniors making clutch birdies on the last hole--both Walker Cuppers--they should prove formidable, writes Golfweek's Brentley Romine.

The Golfweek boys have very different views on who will win the match play portion.

Lavner isn't happy that this year's first and second ranked teams are playing in the quarters (OSU v. A&M), arguing in a GolfChannel.com column that once again the national rankings and season-long efforts count for nothing in match play.  

If you were wondering why play seemed slight faster than last week's women's championship--key word seemed--turns out they handed out some slow play penalties in this year's event. Though players in some cases were never warned and as Lance Ringler writes for Golfweek, the NCAA Championship time par system differs from regular season policies.

One thought for the next coaches meeting: using a coach as a rangefinder target for a par-5 layup shot on national TV isn't the best look. Especially on a playoff hole taking 30 minutes to play:

"Tyrrell Hatton reveals rules official left him "raging" over Mickelson incident"

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Tyrell Hatton joins Andrew Coltart and Josh Antmann on the Sky Sports podcast and expresses his displeasure at perceived preferential slow play treatment for Phil Mickelson (thanks reader SE for sending).

Michael McEwan summarizes the beef Hatton had with an official for putting everyone in the WGC Mexico City final round grouping but eventual winner Phil Mickelson.

A rules official approached Mickelson, Hatton and the third member of their three-ball, Shubhankar Sharma, after they had hit their tee shots at the 15th hole. Hatton and Sharma were informed by the official that they were on the clock – but Mickelson was not.

Hatton explained: “Sharma wasn’t that slow, to be honest. He was fine. But I feel like Phil was taking quite a lot of time on certain things. We’d had a warning earlier on in the round to speed up and we kind of did but not massively.

“I’d just birdied 14 to tie with Phil and, you know, you’ve got four holes to go and it’s kind of crunch time. We had all hit good tee shots up 15 when one of the officials charged over and said, ‘Phil, you’re exempt but Tyrrell and Sharma, I’m going to start timing you.’

“Phil goes, ‘Oh, he obviously likes me’. I was raging.

Na Pushes Back At Heckling Cricketer, Tells A Magnificent Lie To Bolster His Case

The embarrassingly slow Kevin Na, who should be put on the clock daily, given penalty shots regularly and run off of the PGA Tour until he makes an effort to speed up, scored a few points in countering cricketer Kevin Pietersen's heckling. Yes, the "tap-in" was three feet on a Sunday where big money was at stake.

But in this Instagram post, screen captured just in case he decides to edit out the hilarious lie, suggests that Na's group was "on pace all day" and "waited, if anything," and therefore his antics were unfairly criticized.

Naturally, as someone who was at the Genesis Open, I and approximately 30,000 witnesses can attest to the Na group falling a hole behind by the 7th tee only to briefly catch up thanks to a 10th tee back up. They again fell behind by the time I saw them again at the 14th tee, if not earlier. 

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Ogilvy: "The things taking the fun out of golf"

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Geoff Ogilvy covers most of the things you'd expect someone of his character and wisdom to not care for in the modern game. Still, he offers his usual honesty and strong takes that makes this piece for Golf Australia worth your time.

On slow play, he describes something I once again saw multiple times at last week's Genesis Open, including from one player when his group was a par-5 behind the next group.

Penalty strokes would, of course, fix this...

If you do all the little things between shots quickly, you can almost take as long as you want over a shot and not fall behind.

On Tour, the most frustrating aspect of slow play is being ready to hit, then looking over to see the guy with the honour just about to start his pre-shot routine. In other words, he has been doing something else entirely at a time when he should have been working out his yardage and figuring what club he needs to use. It is just so thoughtless and selfish. And it drives me nuts.

I get that some players can have trouble taking the club away from the ball – Kevin Na, Sergio Garcia and Ben Crane spring to mind. And I have sympathy with such a problem. But still. It is relatively easy to get to that point quickly – even if you then struggle to start the backswing.

Na, We Don't Have A Problem: Retired Cricketer Mocks PGA Tour Slow Play

H/T to Alex Myers for spotting the latest gem for the slow play files: a cricketer mocking last weekend's Genesis Open slow play and in particular, prime culprit Kevin Na. As we know, the PGA Tour embraces slow play and seems to think that as every other sport on the planet tries to speed up, apparently this kind of nonsense will fly.

Retired English cricketeer Kevin Pietersen is my kind of guy, he’s trying to save the rhinos and he’s openly mocking Kevin Na taking over a minute to hit a tap in putt last week at Riviera. Do I need to point out that it’s not a good look for golf when athletes in other sports are openly mocking golfers for taking too long? Or, in the case of the former cricketeer with 3.6 million followers, filming a follow up how-to video?

And his follow-up how-to for Na:

PGA Tour Going Against The (Sports) Grain On Pace Of Play

The European Tour introduces a shot clock tournament this year in response to a growing sense the pro game takes too long. And while we have not seen the slow play "personal war" predicted by Chief Executive Keith Pelley when he took the job in 2015, the European Tour continues to suggest that it sees where the world is headed: toward shorter, tighter windows for sporting events.

Major League Baseball is working desperately to shorten games. Bold proposals will be floated at the upcoming owners meetings, even to the point of experimenting with radical plans for extra innings. This comes after the first wave of pace initiatives did not go far enough.

The NBA has already limited timeouts at the end of games and cut TV timeouts. The end of a game moves better.

The NFL attempted to address fan concerns about their long games but only made a half-hearted attempt at picking up the pace. At least they tried.

Even professional tennis is experimenting with a much faster product for the "NextGen".

The PGA Tour avoids enforcing its pace of play rules and, as we saw at Sunday's 6-hour Farmers Insurance Open that was tainted by J.B. Holmes, this is a tour rallying around a player who openly defied (paying) fans, his playing partners and common sense. He knew he could not be penalized so why rush?

We could blame the PGA Tour's slow-play apathy to now-retired Commissioner Tim Finchem's disdain for penalty strokes and his obsession with vanity optics (such as players taking off their caps to shake hands). Those concerns of the Commissioner's office about a player's brand taking hit made enforcement impossible for the tour's referees, who also face pressures in moving fields around from faster greens and distance-driven log-jams on half-par holes.

There was hope new Commissioner Jay Monahan would follow the progressive lead of colleagues like Adam Silver (NBA) or Rob Manfred (MLB) and realize that younger fans are far more interested in action sports that take less of their time. But forget the kids. Who can watch a sport that takes over five hours and featuring players who have no regard for anyone else but themselves? Imagine paying $55 to watch a guy not play ready golf and playing only when he absolutely feels ready.

By signaling this week he sympathized with the supposed plight of Holmes, Monahan confirmed he will not use the power of the Commissionership to speed up play. All Monahan had to do was suggest that with high winds and pressure, it was a tough spot but the fans were right to believe this was a less-than-ideal look for the sport, particularly at a time millions of non-golf fans had tuned in for the Grammy's.

Instead, Monahan made it hard to believe his tour is interested in gaining new fans or in addressing the concerns of longtime fans that some of today's players are just too slow to watch. The Holmes incident captured on camera what paying fans all-too-often see during a PGA Tour event: a player taking much longer than their allotted 40 seconds.

Meanwhile, the European Tour is forging ahead with pace-related initiatives on multiple fronts designed to draw in new fans and intrigue those bored with the sport. While some of the measures are extreme and a middle ground with the PGA Tour position is the ideal, at least the European Tour is building off of the prevailing view after golf's 2016 return to the Olympic Games: the professional sport is woefully ill-equipped to compete in the global sports marketplace at its current pace, scale and preferred format. The pro game will fade into irrelevance if it does not adapt in a world that loves sport more than ever, just in smaller doses.

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