In March of 2011, I wrote “Slow Play Scourge” as a way to keep the problem highlighted. People have been talking about it for years, but some things never change.
But because of that simple fact, even Tiger Woods has chimed in. He believes that we should do away with all of these deferential rules that give a player all sorts chances to rack up nothing more than $5,000 and then $10,000 fines. Tiger says let’s just cut to the chase; one bad time, one stroke penalty.
His theory is that if a player had to choose between a $5,000 fine or losing $50,000 or more because a penalty stroke dropped him down the leaderboard, he’s always going to take the cheaper penalty stroke. So if the Tour really wants to stop slow play, start handing out strokes.
In “Slow Play Scourge,” I chalked up the slow play problem to players not trusting themselves. They have fallen so deeply into meticulously preparing for each shot, they have lost touch with the way they used to play as kids. Then, they just used to take it all in at a glance, pull the club and let it fly.
Now, the first player who arrives at his ball has 60 seconds to pull the trigger and each subsequent player in the group, 40 seconds. If you could take that kid-like dispatch and add a few seconds for more precise yardages appropriate for the professional game, you’d still be way ahead of 60 seconds; the caddies will have arrived at the ball first and already have the yardages.
That sort of expectation, that sort of tempo, would go a long way toward solving the other reason for slow play: lack of consciousness. Yes, there could still be the risk of lack of trust, but if the constant pressure of beating the clock raised consciousness there, it’s also possible that it could raise the player’s consciousness generally.
If you get into a conversation with a slow player, very few of them “know” that they’re slow except by the reputations they’ve gained. “Well, if everybody says I’m slow, I must be slow. But I don’t think I’m that slow.” If you have that reputation, you are that slow.
So in that higher level of consciousness, as I have pointed out in earlier posts, when a player gets into the zone, not only does he go into a deeper level of fascination with the task at hand, he also excludes the extraneous.
So in this instance, in a higher level of consciousness, the organic process of matching the yardage provided by the caddie to what the shot looked like and felt like to the player would match up sooner. All of the extraneous factors like wind and the green diagram in the player’s head would organically be included rather than laboriously pondered and double-checked into oblivion. In a perfect world, of course.
At golfchannel.com, Rex Hoggard writes, “Tour needs to impose harsh methods to curb slow play,” an excellent commentary on the status of the imperfect world golf finds itself in now.
But if Tiger has chimed in, there may be a seismic change around the corner. That’s what everyone was saying when he recently came out against long putters anchored to the player’s body.
It really would be a brave new world if he went 2 for 2.