by Jeff Skinner
After watching Aaron Baddeley win Sunday’s Northern Trust Open I have to say he’s the type of golfer I’d like to play a round of golf with. He plays fast. Get me around the course in under four hours and I am as happy as Phil in a Five Guys. Have that round drag on toward five hours and I am ready to shoot myself and the foursome ahead of me.
Unfortunately for Badds, he was teamed up with Kevin Na who plays about as fast grass grows. Na would take forever to lineup his putt and then take a lifetime to putt it. But he’s not the only one. J.B. Holmes was timed taking two minutes and fifteen seconds to putt. All this adds up to the famous five and a quarter hour round that the PGA Tour has become known for. For decades the players have grown progressively slower and now a five hour round is a common as Nick Faldo’s rambling. It’s killing the game and it’s killing the telecasts. But this is a problem we have heard rumblings about before. Some say there is no easy way to improve the pace of play. But some action by the tour would be nice and it’s time they penalized someone. Maybe missing a cut or worse yet, finishing second by a stroke due to a slow play penalty would wake the slowpokes up.
Complaints about slow play aren’t new; they have been around for years. It’s the pace that has changed. At the 1950 U.S. Open the players were advised to pick up the pace of play. Joe Dey was the executive director of the USGA at the time and he handed out a notice to the player to “be observant, reach your decision quickly and execute your shots with promptness and dispatch.” Dey, who became the first commissioner of the PGA Tour was upset that the last groups were making their way around the course in four and a quarter hours. It would be a welcome miracle to see the golfers of today speed it up and shave some time off their pace. A four hour round is a good thing.