Slow-Mo No Go

Slow-Mo No Go

Tony Finau plays fast because of mosquitoes. 

On the modest public course where the tall Utahn learned the game, he found that long pauses gave the skeeters a better chance to land, so he and his brother kept up a brisk pace. Brooks Koepka plays fast because there’s the ball and there’s the target and 10 more data points hurt more than help. Lanny Wadkins, once a stud PGA tour player, and now an announcer, played at a race walk because when he was a kid, he and his brother wanted to play 36 – if not 45 or 54 – and fast was the only way to get that done.

What, I wonder, went wrong in the childhoods of the very slow golfers that clog our game like hairballs in a J-trap?

At some point they must have succumbed to the instructors, psychologists, and probably parents who insisted on more ritual and more deep thinking before attempting any shot. Instinct, feel, and fun are not words such nerds use. Instead, it’s be careful, Jimmy! Take your time! Pretend you’re Jason Day or J.B. Holmes – and you’re on TV!  

Bryson DeChambeau’s hilarious two-minute eight-foot putt (which he missed) and three minute 70-yard pitch are well-known recent examples of the destructive slow-mo trend. Why did Bryson punish spectators and fellow players by making time stand still? Science. 

An insight into BD’s scientific mindset was unintentionally offered on a recent CBS-TV broadcast, when someone – I think it was Ian Baker-Finch – observed that Smith or Jones was really too short off the tee. What can he do to about that, Peter? IBF asked.

“There are three ways to increase distance,” instructor/commentator Peter Kostis replied. “The radial, the axial and the astrological.”

Not sure about that third one, because I started to lose consciousness at “axial.” The point’s the same, though: the scientific approach leads to self-absorption which leads to slow play.

The European PGA Tour just announced a four-prong program to attack the problem. One element is a very hefty fine for any player who is “put on the clock” for playing too slowly. In effect 15 times in one season. The fine is 26,000 pounds, which equals, at today’s exchange rate, $31,539.43. Enough to notice, even for those guys.

Were I made the King of Golf – a frequent fantasy – everyone would be on the clock. I’d speed the game up by borrowing one rule from Augusta National and by instituting a few of my own. 

I didn’t know this until a tour caddie told me: topographical greens maps at not allowed at the Masters, and players and caddies are not even allowed to make their own. A splendid idea! Maps slow down the game. Resorting to cartography also looks stupid and non-traditional. It’s just more data. Just read your putt and hit it.

Years ago, Chris DiMarco invented a strange and useless and annoying pre-shot move that is continued by Justin Thomas and is being copied by many lesser players: the halted, half backswing with a long look at the hands. What the hell is that for? A manicure check? Now, disallowed. Just hit the ball.

Let’s scrap our handicap system. We all know people who turn in their high scores and forget about their good ones, the object being to get as high a number as possible, the better to win net events. Looking at you, Danny…I think we should adopt the system used in the UK, in which handicaps are determined in only one round per month in what they call the “monthly medal.” Handicaps are more accurate in this system and there’s no need to grind away (or inflate) in rounds played the other 29 days. 

Also: Let’s play more match play, a lot more. Let’s stop keeping score so much. What are we, accountants? And since you’re not turning in your card because of our new handicap program, when you are beaten on a hole, you pick up your ball and get your ass to the next tee and try again. 

If at any time I can drink an entire beer in the time it takes you to pick a club and play a shot, you must drink two before your next shot.

You may not touch your range finder once your ball is within 100 yards of the green. You don’t need to know if it’s 88 or 68 to the hole. Use some touch and feel – it’s in there, for all of us. 

I’ve got more slow play cures but time grows short. One last thing: if my friends and foes would give me more putts, that would save about an hour.