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Stingers: Why golf needs a shot clock

May 14, 2012

I want to write about slow play but I can't get started.



OK, I'm good.


Pull the trigger!

Here's an idea: How about Commissioner Tim Finchem pulls the trigger? How about the game of golf pulls the trigger? How about we realize that as the world gets faster in every conceivable way, our game -- tour and amateur alike -- plods along at an excruciating pace. We're inching to a stop. We're pathetic. Golf has become not what you do when you hit the ball. Golf is what you do after you toss the grass in the air, look at your yardage book, make sure there's no one within four holes who might make a putt, and rehearse your swing. For the first of four times.


*Kevin Na's painful pre-shot routine is a notable example of golf's slow-play problem, but it's not the only one. Photo by Getty Images

This is not a plea to speed our game up so that we don't lose players. This is a HOWL to speed play up so we don't lose our game.

Here's how bad it is. Lacrosse has beaten us to the punch.  College lacrosse, by thinking about adding a shot clock, will address slow play before golf does! Are you kidding? Compared to college lacrosse, golf is a hitchhiker at the Daytona 500.

My inner John McEnroe went off about 150 times this weekend as I watched the Players... not play. "You cannot be serious!!!!!!"  I said, firing licorice bits at the TV.

I'm not only talking about Kevin Kevin Kevin Kevin Na. I'm talking about guys "waiting for the wind to shift," "rechecking yardages," "assessing this oh-so-tricky shot...." Are you kidding me? You guys hit 500 balls a day! Hit. The. Ball.

Let me start my routine again; I was bothered by my dog barking there for a second. The point: Golf needs a shot clock. It needn't be super-strict. How about one minute?  You get to your ball, you have one minute to hit. Once you hit, I have one minute to hit my shot. Go over that, add one. Under this rule Kevin Na shoots 102, Zack Johnson shoots 94 and Rickie Fowler shoots what he shot. If the Olympics conducted the Biathlon (ski and shoot) the way the major tours conduct golf, we'd still be completing the 1980 Winter Games.

Commissioner Finchem said last week that he didn't think at the Tour level slow play was a big problem.  He forgot to ask me.  Golf is hard, but not this hard. One shouldn't get an unlimited amount of time to settle one's nerves, discuss the state of the weather with one's caddie, recalculate distances and then settle into one's eye-aching routine.

Play! Or I'm watching soccer.

-- Bob Carney