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Overanalyzing slow play

By |  October 3, 2019 0 Comments
Bryson DeChambeau lines up putts during the practice rounds of the Tour Championship at East Lake. (Photo: Seth Jones)

Bryson DeChambeau lines up putts during the practice rounds of the Tour Championship at East Lake. (Photo: Seth Jones)

I am writing today from Atlanta, here to take in the Tour Championship. East Lake was closed to the public Tuesday, but my media credentials allowed me on the course. I was there to follow the action of the maintenance team, but of course I also watched the golfers when they came by. It was strange having this access, as I’m used to rubbernecking among fans. Rubbernecking alone felt like an invasion of the pros’ privacy, like I was watching something I wasn’t supposed to.

Most of the players didn’t even notice me, while one player asked Golfdom Digital Editor Tyler Gunter to take his camera elsewhere. 

One player who didn’t mind our analyzing his analyzing was Bryson DeChambeau. “The Mad Scientist” has been in the headlines lately as the poster boy for slow play on the PGA Tour. A video of him looking at a putt for what seemed like forever made its way to social media, and the ensuing criticism was fast and furious. Then, Brooks Koepka entered the fray, and we had some real drama on Tour. There even was an intense conversation at Liberty National, where people thought the two might throw hands. DeChambeau came out afterward and said on SiriusXM Radio that the conversation was cordial, but that if it came down to a fight, Koepka would “kick my ass.”

DeChambeau had an interesting gizmo with him at East Lake. It threw a laser line on the green to help read the line. DeChambeau was alone aside from his caddie and his crew, so he took his time.

With all the recent talk of slow play, the PGA European Tour announced a four-point plan for 2020 to eradicate slowpoke play. The plan includes smaller fields, fines, a one-stroke penalty for slow-play infractions and a lessened amount of time to hit a shot. The PGA Tour seems less likely to make such moves.

In my mind, slow play on the PGA Tour is an annoyance, but at least those players are playing for some real stakes. If DeChambeau finishes last, he’ll still take home $395,000. 

More frustrating is how slow play pervades the game beyond the professionals. It’s bad for the golfers and the golf course. I wonder how many people who hassle DeChambeau on Twitter for slow play are guilty of the same thing at their local muni. It’s one of those problems everyone seems to agree on, yet we can’t overcome. 

Maybe we all need to be more like the PGA European Tour. Penalty strokes don’t mean anything to a weekend foursome barely keeping score, but instead, maybe you could make every foursome slap down a $20 deposit as slow-play insurance. As long as you return your cart within the allotted time, you get your money back. 

And if that doesn’t work, go with the PGA Tour’s method for stopping slow play — the fear of Brooks Koepka kicking your ass. 

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