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Slow play: '5 hours 1 minute' for final group at '61 Open

By John Strege

Slow play has received quite an airing in recent days, weeks, months, even years, to wit: the penalties assessed at the recent men's NCAA Championship, Tianlang Guan's slow-play penalty at the Masters and Golf Channel designating June as "Pace of Play Month."

Then there was Mike Stachura's story in the June issue of Golf Digest, on the '81 U.S. Open at Merion. The headline: "Slow Play's Darkest Day."

Professionally and recreationally, slow play is a problem that, as many have said, resembles the weather. Everyone talks about it, but nothing is done about it.

Indeed. I recently stumbled across a short New York Times story from June 14, 1962, on the eve of the U.S. Open at Oakmont. The headline: "Open Players Are Told To Speed Their Rounds."

"It took 5 hours 1 minute for the last group of three to play the second round last year," Joe Dey, the executive director of the USGA, said in the story. "Every player surely must agree that this is bad for golf."

That was 52 years ago. At the Open next week at Merion, five hours, one minute might represent an ambitious goal.

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