Slow play causes problems at all levels of golf. From the Professionals on tour all the way down to those who simply play golf for fun or as most of them including myself like to be called, Amateurs. Critics can not get enough of slow players on tour and jump in with their less than encouraging opinions at anytime someone is accused of being slow.
The golfing world has gone into uproar over the last 72 hours after many players were ‘taking their time’ over shots in the Valspar Championship on the weekend.
When it comes to amateurs, slow play is normally down to a couple of things. Whether it be bad play, walking slowly, looking for golf balls or simply talking too much. At any level slow play can hinder the performance of those behind. Waiting for numerous amounts of time on each shot can put doubt in the player’s mind and throw them off their game. At amateur level it is fairly easy to overcome problems such as walking slowly due to many golf courses having buggies available. If someone is looking for their ball, it is common courtesy to let those behind you through.
But when it comes to the PGA Tour, European Tour, Sunshine Tour, Asia Tour or any Tour for that matter, slow play should be non-existent. Yes the Pros on tour have more to play for and yes they have to be on top of their game week in week out. But they have caddies to help them with decision-making and carrying their bag. They have the tournament staff and the audience to look for their balls and even the camera’s around the course could be used to find them. So why is slow play still a problem on Tour?
Last year the young Chinese amateur, Guan Tialang, was penalised for slow play in one of the biggest tournaments of his life. On the 12th hole he took 45 seconds to put his tee in after Matteo Mannessero pulled his shot to the left of the green. When walking down to the green Guan was warned about his slow play and was finally punished on the 17th with a penalty shot where he ended the hole with a bogey. He would have made nine consecutive pars on the back nine if it weren’t for the penalty shot, which justifies his appearance at the Masters. To punish someone so young on their first appearance in arguably the biggest golfing tournament of the year has to be deemed unfair. The pressure he must have been feeling before the shot penalty would’ve been bad enough and then to have the added pressure of the fact everyone is watching you not because of your golf but because of your slow play is indescribable.
John Senden’s win at the Valspar Championship was upstaged by Kevin Na who was trending on Twitter due to his slow play. Na is notorious for slow play but it seems like people have had enough and certainly made their views visible on the social networking site. The American says he has picked up the pace but his reputation as a slow player will always haunt him.
Where do we draw the line on slow play? Should it be three strikes and you are punished? Or should it be one simple warning and then action should be taken? It is a question nobody seems to be answering.