Friday, August 21, 2009
I’m glad I’m not at this year’s Solheim Cup. Watching professional golfers take six hours to play four-ball matches isn’t my idea of fun.
Colleague Beth Ann Baldry called the first session of four-balls “painfully slow” in The Tour Blog. I say it was disgraceful!
Two weeks ago, John Paramor set a brilliant example to referees everywhere when he put Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington on the clock in the final round of the WGC–Bridgestone Invitational. Too bad that message didn’t reach the referees in charge of the Solheim Cup.
I’m glad I’m watching the match on TV so I can fast forward the action. I couldn’t watch it in real time. I’d go loopy.
What gets me is that each match has a referee. Why aren’t they taking a more proactive role to get players moving?
Knowledge of the rules shouldn’t be the only pre-requisite of being a referee. They must have an assertive nature and the guts to tell players to move it.
Since the authorities don’t seem intent on doing anything to stamp out slow play, here are 10 solutions to help speed things up.
1) Introduce a shot clock. When the time limit expires, dock the player one shot and reset the shot clock. That would get players moving.
2) Ban players and caddies from consulting on putts. In team play ban partners from conferring, too. This dialogue takes up immense amounts of time.
3) Stop caddies from lining players up. Alignment is one of the basic fundamentals of golf. It should be the player’s responsibility to get lined up properly.
4) Cut fields and play in two balls only.
5) Introduce time checks at the third, sixth, ninth 12th and 15th holes. One time violation is a one shot penalty. Two violations results in two shots. Haul the player off the golf course after a third infringement.
6) Change the format of tee times so that faster players tee off first and slow players last.
7) Play ready golf. In other words, furthest from the hole doesn’t go first, but whoever is ready to play.
8) Allow players to lift and clean the ball only once on the putting green. Once they’ve cleaned it initially, they don’t get to do it again. Marking and replacing the ball takes up a lot of time. You’d think some players were about to perform brain surgery rather than knock a ball into a hole from the laborious way they line up the ball. Honestly!
9) Allow distance measuring devices. They really do speed up play.
10) Clone John Paramor, and make sure only him or his clones act as rules officials!
There you have it: Some easy suggestions to speed the game up. This process took me about 20 minutes. The powers that be promised to do something about slow play a year and a half ago but are still trying to frame the terms of reference!
Stopping the snails isn’t rocket science. It just takes common sense and a willingness to act. Neither exists right now.
The way things are going, the 7-hour round is right around the corner. Heaven help us!