Time To Get Moving
Continued (page 2 of 2)
Nager said the USGA "must also work to promote the nine-hole round as a complete and enjoyable golf experience." Certainly, one of the staples for growing the game -- the nine-hole league -- has been ignored in recent years. We need to get back to that.
While the USGA can work to take the slow-play message to the masses, it is going to need help from the professional tours. Many recreational players learn bad habits by watching the endless pre-shot routines of tour players on TV.
And while the LPGA goes on its occasional flurries of issuing slow-play penalties -- just ask Morgan Pressel -- the PGA Tour hands out penalty strokes at a glacial pace, the last being issued to Glen Day in the 1995 Honda Classic. Is there any reason to think the tour will crack down on slow play?
"We had commissioner [Tim] Finchem here yesterday," said USGA executive director Mike Davis. "He is very supportive and wants to be a partner and work together on this."
That's one of those time-will-tell things. Basically, the tour lets the tail wag the dog on many issues, including slow play. There is a reluctance on the part of the commissioner -- who, unlike the heads of the teams sports doesn't have a collective bargaining agreement with the players -- to infringe upon what we are constantly reminded are independent contractors.
But these are guys, and in some cases gals, who are making millions of dollars. They need to be held accountable for the overall health of the game of golf.
Here's my suggestion: Each week the tours should publish a list of the 10 slowest players. The PGA Tour does not make disciplinary actions public -- independent contractors, remember -- and I think that is a huge mistake. We only found out about the multiple disciplinary actions against John Daly when he sued a newspaper and in a countersuit, the paper got his personal file released.
I think a very effective way of modifying bad behavior is public humiliation. I'm guessing a player's endorsement partners won't be happy if one of their guys -- or gals -- appears on a slow play list.
And then there is the misconception that playing slower will make you score better because you are being more careful. There is simply no evidence to support that notion. In fact, many times when a player is put on the clock they start to do better.
Two years before Sorenstam won that Women's Open at Newport, Meg Mallon took home the trophy at the 2004 U.S. Women's Open at The Orchards in South Holyoke, Mass. As Mallon sat in the post-tournament interview room, she made this observation about Annika, who finished second.
"I hope young players, and their coaches, pay attention to the fact that the best player in the game is also the fastest player in the game." Amen to that, sister.
Except for her caddie from 1999 through 2008, Terry McNamara, I probably walked more holes with Sorenstam than any other human being. She was the most meticulous, most prepared player I ever saw.
And one of the fastest. There is a lesson in there for both recreational and professional players. Without a serious effort to take on the pace-of-play issue, golf will die a slow death. Good job, Glen Nager. Now back up your words. Time is running out.