Looking at the golf landscape as summer slides into fall 2019, I can see that this whole slow play thing is still, well, a thing.
In fact, it’s enough of a thing that the European Tour is taking direct and decisive action to stem the molasses-like flow of many players in the throes of competition. Their new four-point plan includes steeper fines for serial offenders, a one-stroke penalty after two warnings within a round, a new tracking system to make sure guys keep up with the group in front of them, and more.
I applaud it. We all should, and the PGA Tour on this side of the pond should adopt these rules ASAP, and others if they can agree on them. If the two top players of the year, Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka, can rack up the wins without dragging their feet from shot to shot, why can’t everybody? Sorry, J.B. and Bryson: Get with the “while we’re young” program, will ya?
Still, we’re talking about a tiny sliver of the golfing population here. What about the average Joe and Jane out there in the bogey-bound trenches?
Here’s my idea: Fines for every obvious infraction against time, nature and the rest of us trying to get home before midnight. Here you go:
- $5 per infraction for looking for balls that are either wet or obviously lost in the trees, weeds or worse. Forget the new time limit. Just leave it and dig for a new pill. If you carry a ball retriever, you pay an automatic $10 fine.
- $10 per second for every second over 15, once a club is selected and a shot process is underway. Nicklaus took forever, you say? True, but I think he would agree with me on this one. Just step up, get your pre-shot routine dialed to a few seconds, and go.
- $10 for each instance of lollygagging at your cart after hitting a shot, if you’re using a cart. If you’re walking, which is, on balance, way faster than riding, good for you. You’re exempt.
- $20 for actually following the “stroke and distance” rule after failing to find a lost ball. Don’t go back to the tee. Just drop and move on. Sorry, USGA, but unless we’re in serious competition, we’re blowing this one off.
That’s it for now. I’m sure I’ll think of more. Oh, and for all of the above, you get a $5 credit for every ball mark you fix. Take your time.