Last week you probably heard about a golfer being stabbed by another with a broken golf club at Eagle Mountain Lake golf course. It all started when a marshal tried to “move things along” by asking a group of tortoises to let a 3-some play through. Things got very ugly – someone almost died.
The story was shocking, but after watching the pros play for a few years, I actually wasn’t all that surprised. A golfer’s right to “play his own game” regardless of its impact on others has created a sense of entitlement, whose roots took hold in the PGA Tour and were feed and nurtured by the man at the top.
Back in May 2010, John Feinstein shared in his column that it had been 18 years since a PGA Tour player received a penalty for slow play. And there is one reason why…Commissioner Tim Finchem.
When confronted by the media, Finchem made it clear he wasn’t interested in solving this on-going problem, “Slow play is a legitimate issue, but not to the point where I think we need to do something like that.“
I wonder how Mr. Finchem feels after the incident at Eagle Mountain Lake.
Perhaps it’s just a lack of patience on my part, but last week I stopped watching the Waste Management Open because the poster boy for slow play, Ben Crane, was in contention. I was fast forwarding every time he was on camera and finally gave up watching.
The same was true for at the Qatar Masters – Jason Day was so slow he could have been charged with loitering in the middle of the fairway.
This week at Pebble Beach, Charlie “wakey wakey” Wi is in the lead. I guess I’ll take a pass on watching the PGA Tour on TV again this week.
But in the midst of this frustratingly sloooow start to the season, there are some encouraging stories that give me hope.
I read an article last fall in Golf Business Magazine about a club in Minnesota that isn’t afraid to dish out slow play penalties. In fact, they’ll politely kick your butt off the course if you haven’t played your first 9 holes in under 1 hr and 55 minutes.
They post rangers at every 3rd hole to keep the pace. And if by the 8th hole, a group isn’t going to make the turn in time, they have the option of skipping 9 and heading straight to 10.
Hip hip hurray for Fast Play Friday at Deer Run Golf Club!
|Photo credit: Deer Run Golf Club|
Now one might think this “no tolerance” policy would raise a stink among the players, but it’s actually made owner and manager Tom Abts somewhat of a hero. It wasn’t easy in the beginning when lots of players were asked to leave, but Abts didn’t back down. If you couldn’t keep up, he’d refund you some cash and send you on your way.
And guess what happened…golfers started flocking to play the course. Even on busy Saturdays, players are making it around now in 3.5 hours.
Tom Abts…keep up the great work! I wish you managed the courses I play here in British Columbia.
BTW, have you ever thought of running for Commissioner of the PGA Tour? The Tour (and golf) could sure use you.
Although after seeing Mr. Finchem just accept another 4 year extension to his term, it looks like he’s taking his slow sweet time leaving.