In the course of one weekend someone named Andrew Loupe achieved something heretofore thought to be impossible in golf:
At least for now, he replaced the glacial Kevin Na as the game’s most notorious snail.
This tempest boiled over the lid of the teapot Saturday and spilled into the living rooms of everyone watching the Valero Texas Open on Golf Channel and NBC.
Loupe, mostly previously unknown, found himself in contention near the top of the leaderboard. And viewers found themselves wondering why a Tour pro who should know better needed more practice swings than a shadow boxer before every shot.
Commentator Johnny Miller voiced his displeasure. And after a round that got Loupe into Sunday’s final threesome, Loupe’s meeting with the media went like this:
Q. The guys on NBC were giving you a hard time on backing off, taking some extra swings. Is that normal? Were you a little bit nervous today?
ANDREW LOUPE: Maybe a little bit. Playing a little slower right now. We’re on the 18th tee and they’re still on the 18th green. You hurry up and wait if you want but I’m really – I don’t care.
Q. No apologies?
ANDREW LOUPE: No. I’m really playing golf.
There you have it. Andrew Loupe said, “I don’t care.”
Slow play is a spreading stain on a game struggling to clean up its pokey act. And somebody named Andrew Loupe doesn’t care.
Actually there’s plenty of blame to pass around here. Let’s start with the Tour rules officials who didn’t penalize Loupe. Then let’s move on to the bosses of the rules officials who don’t empower them to properly punish the worst slow-play offenders.
And while we’re young, or middle aged, or just plain old: Let’s heap a healthy helping of culpability on college golf where the competitive sloth of players like LSU’s Loupe were enabled. And by no means should we forget the forced marches that are turning people away from the LPGA at a time when that tour has so many compelling stories, compelling players and so much global reach.
Loupe didn’t win in Texas on Sunday. An Australian named Steven Bowditch did. And late in his round the cameras caught him lying on his back waiting between shots while, all around him, slow play was happening.
When the tournament was over Loupe said this: “Well, I thought I played faster today.”
Asked about the “bad time” he received during the final round, Loupe said: “Well, the wind’s blowing a lot and it’s gusting and it’s a very difficult course and I wasn’t the only person backing off shots out there. I think he said I had 54 seconds out of 50. So I’m not worried about that at all. We were fine.”
Actually, no, you weren’t fine. You were slow. And you weren’t always ready when it was your turn. Which, NBC’s Roger Maltbie pointed out on the air, is a key to proper pace of play.
“Well, I don’t think I always played as deliberate as I did yesterday,” Loupe added. “I just think that I kind of got in my own way a little bit. Maybe trying too hard a little bit on some shots.
“Today I just freed it up a little bit. I hung in there, man. I thought I played OK. Definitely wasn’t my best day, but all in all I learned a lot and it is my best finish so far, so I’m just going in the right direction, I’m just going to keep going in the right direction.”
So if we’re to believe that someone called Andrew Loupe thinks he has addressed the problem, why doesn’t it sound like he really “gets it” yet?
Isn’t that just the thing: The slow players are almost always the last ones to know they’re slow. Sometimes they never know.