The thing is, no one likes slow play, except for that one guy who sent an e-mail and told us he is in no hurry to get home from the golf course and start in on that honey-do list his wife has waiting for him.
He needs to find the card room at the club and learn to play gin rummy for a penny a point. That will keep him occupied for a while and he won’t hold up the rest of us while we’re trying to play golf.
Besides him, everyone we heard from last week is on our side. Slow play is the scourge of our game. With the exception of the PGA Tour, which doesn’t have a pace of play problem – just ask them. Denial is a powerful force.
The real question is: What do we about it? Mike Keiser, who developed and owns the stunning courses at Bandon Dunes Resort, suggested that the PGA Tour put the slow players off last every day. That way, we’d identify them, expose them and perhaps shame them into playing faster.
It’s a great idea but impractical because if one or more of the slowpokes gets near the lead, they will have to co-mingle with the faster players on the weekend for television. Besides, there are only a handful of really fast players these days.
Vast numbers of PGA Tour players have fallen into the apathetic majority, which is to say that players who used to pick up the pace have slowed down considerably and now only keep up the tortoise-like pace. If the Tour allows you upward of five-and-a-half hours to play, you might as well take your time. There’s no valor in fighting a losing battle in this case.
Tiger Woods and Tony Romo’s foursome at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am took five hours, 38 minutes in the first round at Spyglass Hill. They can’t blame the amateurs for the funereal pace. It takes a threesome almost that long in a regular Tour event.
And the slow players don’t care if they are identified. They have no shame. Besides, if there are no consequences to pay, what’s the motivation to change your behavior?
The only way to affect the PGA Tour is to hit it smack in the pocketbook. So, I have a proposal and I need your help. What I’d like you to do is boycott PGA Tour telecasts. That’s right, don’t watch.
Tell the Tour how you feel about slow play by voting with your feet and your remote. I need you with me on this. Instead of watching the PGA Tour, go out and play nine holes. Take your child or your grandchild or both and head to the course. Golf is infinitely more fun to play than to watch. At the very least, go to the driving range and hit balls for an hour or so. If you live where winter is still a problem, find an indoor range where you can hit a bucket or two.
If you can’t go to the course, take a walk with your spouse. Get out of the house. Go to a movie. Visit a friend. Call your children or your parents. Actually talk to someone, have a conversation.
Read a book, a golf book if you insist. Anything by James Dodson, John Feinstein or Mark Frost will keep you company and hold your interest all of Sunday afternoon.
If you’re glued to the television, tune in to college basketball (but not the NBA). And don’t watch Full Metal Jousting. We have standards. Can’t do without golf? Go with the LPGA or Champions Tour. They aren’t slow. In fact, on average, the women and seniors are an hour or more faster per round than the big Tour.
For this to be effective and get the PGA Tour’s attention, we must have a groundswell. Tell five of your friends and relatives and ask them to tell five of theirs. Go on Twitter and Facebook. Spread the word to the members of your Saturday morning dogfight. Put a note on the club bulletin board.
Stand up and tell Ponte Vedra Beach that you’re mad as hell and you won’t take it anymore. Let them know that slow play on Tour begets slow play at your course. And the slower we play, the faster golf will shrink instead of grow. We need more players, especially fast ones, and nothing drives away new golfers with more certainty than the time it takes to play.
If you have other ideas to draw attention to this cause, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m glad to hear from all of you. Just make sure it’s practical.
In the meantime, join the cause. Let’s do something that really matters. If an issue ever needed to go viral in the golf world, it’s this. If we can stamp out slow play in our lifetime, the generations that follow will be indebted to us for as long as they play our game.
Our mission is to leave golf better than we found it. This is the way.