Perhaps the factor most responsible for perpetuating the problem of slow play on the PGA Tour (and golf in general) is that no one ever admits to playing slow. In a recent anonymous survey of tour pros by Golf Magazine, 100 percent of responders said they play at an acceptable pace. And if you took a poll of your weekend playing partners, odds are you'd get the same ridiculous results.
So it's no surprise when PGA Tour pros are told they're playing too slowly, they're usually not thrilled. And Charl Schwartzel became the latest example of that during Thursday's first round of the Honda Classic. After the 2011 Masters champ's group was put on the clock on the 18th hole, the usually cool-headed South African got "heated" as described by NBC/Golf Channel's Dan Hicks during Friday's coverage.
"We're showing you Charl Schwartzel having a heated discussion with PGA Tour official Andrew Miller," Hicks said. "And normally, Schwartzel is a, you know, very mild mannered, quiet kind of guy, but he was heated up. This was after he completed his 18th hole and was done."
Here's a look at the confrontation, which included Schwartzel, who opened with a solid 67 at PGA National, angrily pointing at Miller:
However, it's possible Schwartzel wasn't part of the slow play problem—especially when you consider one of his playing partners was the infamously deliberate Ben Crane. A man whose snail-like pace once prompted another playing partner, Rory Sabbatini, to leave him in the dust during the 2005 Booz-Allen Classic. In another screenshot, Schwartzel appears to be pointing at someone else. . .
Hmm. . .
In any event, neither Schwartzel, Crane or the third member of the group, Anirban Lahiri, received a penalty because the PGA Tour hasn't handed out a penalty for slow play in a non-team event since 1995. But maybe, just maybe, the tour is getting closer to doing that. And when it does, the player reaction might make this one look tame by comparison.