Ponte Vedra We Have A Problem: J.B. Holmes takes 4:10 to lay up as millions watch, wait

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Ponte Vedra We Have A Problem: J.B. Holmes takes 4:10 to lay up as millions watch, wait


Ponte Vedra We Have A Problem: J.B. Holmes takes 4:10 to lay up as millions watch, wait

Tim Finchem famously discouraged slow play penalties during his reign as Commissioner. Other than Glen Day in 1995 and an odd slow play stroke penalty at last year’s Zurich Classic, the PGA Tour has used a secret fining system to protect player brands and breed a culture of entitlement.

Rarely have things spilled over into as loathsome a display of self-centeredness as J.B. Holmes taking four minutes and 10 seconds to play one shot in the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open final round. He faced a decision of whether to go for the 18th green in two shots or lay-up. Two strokes back and needing eagle to make an eventual playoff, Holmes ultimately chose to lay up and did so terribly.

This nonsense was set against the backdrop of a round already nearing a six-hour pace due to blustery conditions on a firm, fast golf course lined by thick rough. CBS was already running over into their planned Grammy’s Red Carpet show, and now facing a decision whether to stay with the golf or go to the Grammy’s start at 8 pm ET. To their credit, CBS stayed with the last group completing play, then turned the broadcast over to Golf Channel.

Due to the Grammy’s bump, this meant millions were tuning in to watch music’s big night and getting a flavor of PGA Tour golf. What they saw was an embarrassment to the sport, a reinforcing of every stereotypical view and a painful product of a Ponte Vedra discouragement of slow play rules enforcement.

There was, however, one positive. Holmes was slammed on social media and some of it is quite entertaining, as this Golfweek roundup shows. Luke Donald excoriated his peer.

While no one wanted to see CBS put in a predicament, television networks have long exhibited ho-hum attitudes about PGA Tour non-enforcement of pace of play. Even known-violators like Holmes, who is inconsistent in his pacing compared to known turtles like Ben Crane or Jason Day, have escaped any significant censure by the PGA Tour thanks to twenty years of enforcement complacency.

To date, new Commissioner Jay Monahan has publicly suggested he does not see slow play as major issue as his counterparts in Europe introduce new rules and even a shot clock tournament. And there certaily are times where an indecisive player on a risk-reward hole makes for dramatic theater. However, when it’s a known slow-poke who ultimately doesn’t even take the risky shot in hopes of winning, the appearance is dreadful.

Perhaps a Monday phone call to Monahan from CBS Sports head Sean McManus or network honcho Les Moonves will convince the tour it’s time to embolden the rules officials to dish out more bad times so that a Holmes-at-Torrey fiasco is never repeated again.


More Golfweek