x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

PGA Tour must start punishing players for slow play

The Valero Texas Open added more fuel to the fire that the PGA Tour must get tough on pace of play. Officials need to target individuals, and finally follow through on legislation.

Even the eventual champion Steven Bowditch was guilty of slow play at the Texas Open. Darren Carroll / Getty Images / AFP
Even the eventual champion Steven Bowditch was guilty of slow play at the Texas Open. Darren Carroll / Getty Images / AFP

It is an issue almost as yawn-inducing as the indiscretion itself. Slow play continues to be a hot topic on the PGA Tour, much as it has been for seemingly every season before, with Sunday’s final round at the Texas Open providing yet more painstaking evidence.

It took 36 players more than three hours to play the front nine in San Antonio, with several groups, including the one containing the eventual winner Steven Bowditch, instructed to speed up. Yet the problem endured. And endured.

And endured.

There are two areas the PGA Tour needs to address: firstly, individual players must be targeted, not the entire group; and, secondly, once warned, officials must exercise the law.

Tour policy states that, should a group be deemed out of position, then a warning is issued. Next offence, a one-stroke penalty, then two strokes, and if found guilty for a fourth time, disqualification.

However, 1995 was the last time a player was penalised a stroke. The Tour simply does not follow through on the legislation. So, the solution is obvious: begin hitting players with penalties and they will soon hasten their step.

And go after individuals. It is not right to place a group on the clock when not everyone is culpable. Find an objective means of singling out the snails, and stick to that four-point policy. Even make public who the repeat miscreants are.

Do that, and slow play would be quickly remedied.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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