Slow play is likely here to stay

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HONOLULU — Luke Donald took to Twitter to vent about a contentious issue on the PGA Tour. If nothing else, it was refreshing to see golf with a No. 1 player who was willing to express his opinion freely and publicly.

Webb Simpson, a player known for his slow play, lines up a putt during the Sony Open. Top-ranked Luke Donald complained about the pace last week.  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Webb Simpson, a player known for his slow play, lines up a putt during the Sony Open. Top-ranked Luke Donald complained about the pace last week.

As for that issue that stirred Donald from his holiday in Barbados?

Pace of play, a topic that is not going anywhere in a hurry.

Nothing gets players going like slow play. Trouble is, no one has a reasonable solution.

Donald joined the fray during the final round at Kapalua, where the final four pairings featured Kevin Na, Ben Crane, Webb Simpson and Jonathan Byrd, none of them part of Lanny Wadkins’ dream foursome if speed were a factor.

“Sounds like slow play is already an issue 1st week of the @PGATOUR season and it’s 2 somes. Sort it out please …” came the first tweet from Donald. He followed with some advice: “It’s not that hard, be ready when it’s your turn. Slow play is killing our sport.”

Two tweets later, Donald got off his soap box with a final thought: “I could rant all day long, don’t think anything will ever change as the slow players don’t realize they are slow.”

Tim Herron took about two minutes to figure out how to play his second shot to the green on Friday of the Sony Open. His ball was in the rough, 187 yards to a flag tucked behind the bunker. Was the ball going to take off on him from that lie? How much? 6-iron or 7-iron? If it had been in the fairway, caddie Lance Ten Broeck told him it would be a smooth 6-iron. Aim at the corner of the trap and cut it back toward the flag? Play for the middle of the green?

The entire conversation took place while the group ahead was putting. As soon as the group left the green, Herron’s shot was in the air. That’s how golf is meant to be played. Beautiful.

This spring marks the 20-year anniversary of the last time a player was given a one-shot penalty for pace of play. To change the policy and make it a one-shot penalty when a player is over his allotted time sounds simple, but wouldn’t work. There are too many extenuating circumstances. Golf doesn’t have many gray areas; this would be loaded with them.


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