Okay, so let’s get back to the topic of slow play. I feel I should since I claimed I was going to in an earlier post, and besides, these days it feels like we’re in a bit of a lull in the world of golf. The past week saw yet another Tiger injury story–my sympathies accompanied by a yawn– and this week we have the weirdly named Transitions Championship. I tweeted that this sounded like something you’d find at Gay Pride week, and lord have mercy, did I pick up some interesting auto-follows on Twitter.
But back to the topic at hand: slow play.
So what are the causes? Well, I think it can be said that while all slow play is not bad play–witness some of the times for rounds at recent Tour events–all bad play is slow play. It’s just simple math. The slowest round I ever played was with a young man whose pre-shot routine looked like the Tin Man on barbiturates. He’d address the ball, execute a slow-motion half backswing, return the
club to the address position, and then just when you’d expect him to actually hit the ball, he’d instead raise the club straight in front of him at belt height and do this lethargic chopping motion–which in a metaphorical sense was appropriate since we spent a good portion of the afternoon looking for his ball in the trees–and then, and only then, would he return the club to the address position for now the third time in the sequence and actually hit the ball. Or try to hit it. The end result was a succession of urologist shots: it was all squirt and dribble.
Where it got interesting was that at some point on the back nine I wound up retracing my steps to talk to the group in back of us, a foursome of Japanese women. You would have thought this was an easy pitch to make but I had to beg them to play through. I don’t think it was a language issue as much as what I was proposing had to feel to them like we were in some sort of weird role reversal exercise from an alternate universe. If this had been a cartoon the thought bubble above their heads would have read, “Why is the gai-jin asking us to play through? Doesn’t this usually happen the other way around?”
Another culprit is that deadly cocktail of overconfidence and technology. The incompetent grip-it-and-rip-it crowd has a whole new selection of distance enhancing balls and clubs from which to choose. This means that the guy who likes to crush it can go from being a mere Daniel Boone–barely grazing the perimeter of the wilderness– to full blown Lewis and Clark status and now has to plunge all the way into the woods.
A variation on this theme that doesn’t involve the grossly errant shot is the phenomenon of the guy who now thinks that he needs to see if he can be like the big boys and get on in two. Yeah, let’s bring the whole course to a standstill while you stand there, 260 yards out, waiting for the group in front of you to get off the green. Yes, the stars, sun and moon could align themselves, and yes there are lottery tickets that have all six winning numbers on them, but this generally doesn’t work out well. Got a suggestion for you fella: do us all a favor and play the par fives like it’s the 72nd hole and you have a two stroke lead.