Slow play is a favorite topics among golf pundits and curmudgeons, not to mention golf course operators who would love to squeeze tee times even closer together. So when a PGA Tour player, Wesley Bryan, plays an actual round in an hour and 29 minutes -- and proceeds to post his best score of the week! -- the temptation is to ask what we all can learn from it.
For an answer, we turned to Bryan himself, who has caught his breath and rehydrated since sprinting his way to a 69 at Conway Farms on Sunday of the BMW Championship. Playing his last round of the 2016-’17 season, with no chance of making it into the top 30 of the FedEx Cup points list that would have earned a trip to the Tour Championship, Bryan knew when he woke up on Sunday that he wanted to play quickly. It had nothing to do with an afternoon flight, nor did he have any intention of setting a PGA Tour record.
“I just wanted to have some fun. But once I got through six or seven hole averaging five minutes a hole, I thought we should keep booking it,” he said by phone on Wednesday. “And then we got to the back nine, I got that hour and a half number in my head.”
The final holes were a blur, by the truest sense of the word. Bryan would hit and run after it, and putt and walk fast after it. He didn’t mark his ball, or mull club selection, but in a strange way, it ended up working for him.
“Definitely quick, decisive decision-making helps a lot. It’s why you see guys like Kevin Na a few years ago running in between shots and birdieing his last four holes,” Bryan said.
Granted, it’s doubtful other tour players will ever approach Bryan’s torrid pace—consider that a challenge, Phil Mickelson!—but it does strongly suggest that golfers can all shave unnecessary time off their rounds and not sacrifice much in the way of quality. That applies to the average players Bryan says take too many practice swings and are intent on telling longwinded stories when it’s their time to hit. And it also includes tour players who have become even more methodical in their approach thanks to their growing reliance on yardage and green-reading books.
“I feel like a round of three and a half hours is doable if people wanted to play quick,” Bryan said. “That’s not waiting at all, and everyone’s making quick decisions, and not just waiting for their turn to read their putt and take a minute a half to hit it. I think the pace-of-play problem is in the reading of putts and in the decision-making process in the fairway. Off the tee everyone just stands up and hits it. But once they get to their ball they have their yardage books and they start thinking about the shots they want to hit, and they start to take the time.”
As for everyone else, Bryan has one last piece of advice that might make purists cringe.
“Golf carts help you play faster,” he said. “If you’re at a golf course, pay the extra $18. It’s worth it.”