S L O W Play – HIT THE BALL!

One Golfer’s Opinion: In order to make “the clock” work, the PGA Tour Officials program needs to be redesigned.

SLOW PLAY

Hit the ball!
Hit the ball!

Slow play is in the news again.  Is anyone shocked?  Slow play is clearly a significant detriment to the game and fully on display every week at the highest levels of our sport.  Frustratingly, the lack of commitment shown by the PGA tour and PGA Tour officials to enforce current policies is leaving me (and many other golfers) increasingly tired of the discussion.

To be fair, slow play is not just a tour thing.  Pace of play slows to a crawl at my home course as well with just $5 and $10 bets on the line.  I sometimes wonder why all the uproar and apparent surprise when over 1 million dollars is up for grabs?  I might read a putt from a few angles myself in those circumstances.

Yes, slow play exists at all levels of golf, but once again PGA tour players are front-and-center as clear examples of showing us what not to do.  Johnny Miller, the sometimes controversial golf commentator, “told it like it was” once again during round 3 of the Valero Texas Open.  Miller’s comments, concerning PGA tour player Andrew Loupe’s excessive pre-shot routine, “If every pro was this slow, I would quit announcing,” spoke volumes.

But here’s the problem, Loupe was never assessed a penalty, and for the better part of the round, kept pace.  That fact alone should speak louder than his pre-shot routine excesses exhibit themselves.  How is it possible for a player to take two to three minutes in shot preparation and execution and still keep pace?  The answer is simple; the majority of all the tour golfers are taking just as long.

PGA TOUR POLICY

Here’s how the PGA Tour defines its pace-of-play policy:

“Under the guidelines for (USGA) Rule 6-7, a player is permitted 40 seconds to play a stroke. This 40-second time limit includes the first to play from the teeing ground, from the fairway and from around and on the putting green.”

“The PGA Tour rules for pace of play includes the 40-second time limit, but also allows an extra 20 seconds (for a total of 60 seconds) under the following circumstances:

— The first player to play a stroke on a par-3 hole

— The first player to play a second stroke on a par-4 or par-5 hole

— The first player to play a third stroke on a par-5 hole

— The first player to play around the putting green

— The first player to play on a putting green

“Under both sets of guidelines, the timing of a stroke on the putting green begins after a player has been allowed a reasonable amount of time to mark, lift, clean and replace his ball, repair his ball mark and other ball marks on his line of putt and remove loose impediments on his line of putt.”

WHAT’S WRONG THEN?

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 12.07.17 PMSo the policy is set – but clearly is not being enforced. To even take effect; a group has to be first be noticed as out-of-pace and then the group is “put on the clock.” “On the clock” means all the players in the group will be timed according to the guidelines established.  If a player on the clock receives a “bad time” they are subject to warnings, penalty strokes, fines, and possible disqualification.

No, the problem isn’t with the policy itself.  The paperwork part of the program is complete.  It’s the action and enforcement part of the policy that has been duck hooked out-of-bounds.  So PGA Tour, take your penalty (no provisional needed – clearly OB) and let’s get going.  It’s time you began to set the example again.  Here are a few thoughts – just One Golfer’s Opinion.

HIT THE BALL!

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 12.00.17 PMReaddress and redesign the PGA Tour Officials program. With generally between only six to 10 total officials on site at any tournament, it’s pointless to keep beating up the Tour for an issue that is a tough to handle with limited staff.

Hire more officials to ensure the proper numbers of officials and a crew large enough to cover every hole on the course at all times.  I don’t know what the magic number is – but I bet the current tour officials have an idea or two.  This workforce upgrade will not only allow for better pace-of-play enforcement, but also will help to save time in other ways such as rulings on the course.

Organize and employ this staff of officials in the same manner as we see the traveling teams of professional officials in all other major sports (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL).  Officials (teams) could travel to tournament sites for all PGA events vice the current small staffs now traveling and depending on augmentation from other organizations and personnel.

That’s it, not rocket science – hire more officials and enforce the current policy already in place.  Time each group and player – from the start – with the 40- and 60-second guidelines in place.  I think you’ll find the pace will quicken and adjust once the players know the Tour is serious.  If in the future, the 40- and 60-second times are seen to be too harsh, the players and tour can sit down and readdress.

However, and PLEASE for sake of the game – PGA TOUR – “HIT THE BALL!” and start enforcing the current policy already in place.

Editor’s Note:  Are you bothered by slow play?  Do you play less golf because it takes so long to play?  Tell us your story and share a comment in the comments section.  We would love to hear from you. 

BIO: Keith Cook is a contributing editor for localgolfer.com. His career highlights include rounds in nearly every US state and numerous countries throughout the world. He is a retired 29-year US Military Veteran and Ashford University Alumni living in Michigan. Follow Keith and Local Golfer on Twitter @_KeithCook and  @LocalGolfer.

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Go USA! 2014 Curtis Cup Team-Strong Field

usga_templatelogo

USGA Announces 2014 USA CURTIS CUP TEAM

The United States Golf Association (USGA) has announced the eight players who will represent the USA in the 2014 Curtis Cup Match, to be conducted June 6-8 at St. Louis (Mo.) Country Club.

The players are:

  • Kyung Kim, 19, of Chandler, Ariz. (University of Southern California)
  • Alison Lee, 19, of Valencia, Calif. (University of California, Los Angeles)
  • Erynne Lee, 21, of Silverdale, Wash. (University of California, Los Angeles)
  • Ally McDonald, 21, of Fulton, Miss. (Mississippi State University)
  • Annie Park, 18, of Levittown, N.Y. (University of Southern California)
  • Ashlan Ramsey, 18, of Milledgeville, Ga. (Clemson University)
  • Mariah Stackhouse, 19, of Riverdale, Ga. (Stanford University)
  • Emma Talley, 19, of Princeton, Ky. (University of Alabama)

“We are very proud of these eight women who have been selected to represent the United States at the Curtis Cup Match,” said Daniel B. Burton, USGA vice president and chairman of the International Team Selection Committee. “While their playing records are exemplary, they also personify the ideals of sportsmanship, competitiveness and affability that are among the defining characteristics of this competition. We trust that they will represent their country in fine fashion come June.”

The Curtis Cup Match is a biennial international women’s amateur golf competition between eight-player teams from the United States of America and Great Britain and Ireland. Six-time USGA champion and two-time USA Curtis Cup Team member Ellen Port will serve as captain of the USA Team for the 38th Match.

“I am so proud of these players and excited for what is ahead for this team,” said Port, a St. Louis native. “Representing your country in the Curtis Cup Match is one of the highest honors a female amateur player can receive, and I know these women are more than up to the task. We are all looking forward to June and the opportunities that are ahead of us.”

Kyung Kim (Copyright USGA/Darren Carroll)
Kyung Kim (Copyright USGA/Darren Carroll)

 

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Alison Lee(Copyright USGA/Chris Keane)

Kim, a sophomore at USC, won the 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship and has competed in the past three U.S. Women’s Open Championships. She has three collegiate victories.

 

Alison Lee, a freshman at UCLA, was the runner-up at the 2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, reached the semifinals of the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship and has competed in three U.S. Women’s Opens. She captured two collegiate victories during her first semester at UCLA.

 

Erynne Lee  (Copyright USGA/Chris Keane)
Erynne Lee (Copyright USGA/Chris Keane)

 

Erynne Lee, a junior at UCLA, has competed in two U.S. Women’s Opens and has three collegiate victories. Lee, who has reached at least the quarterfinals at four U.S. Women’s Amateurs, represented the United States at the 2012 Women’s World Amateur Team Championship and the 2013 Copa de las Americas.

Ally McDonald photo courtesy USGA
Ally McDonald photo courtesy USGA

 

McDonald, a junior at Mississippi State, won the 2013 North & South Women’s Amateur Championship. She has three collegiate victories, including the 2013 NCAA Central Regional, and has finished outside the top 25 only twice in her collegiate career.

Annie Park (Copyright USGA/Chris Keane)
Annie Park (Copyright USGA/Chris Keane)

 

Park, a sophomore at USC, in 2013 became the seventh freshman to claim the NCAA individual title and only the second woman in NCAA history to sweep the conference, regional and national titles. Park reached the quarterfinals of the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur and has competed in two U.S. Women’s Opens.

Ashlan Ramsey (Copyright USGA/Hunter Martin)
Ashlan Ramsey (Copyright USGA/Hunter Martin)

 

Ramsey, a freshman at Clemson, was the runner-up to Kim at the 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship and won three important events in summer 2013, including the Women’s Eastern and Women’s Western championships. She earned two victories during her first fall season at Clemson.

Mariah Stackhouse  (Copyright USGA/John Mummert)
Mariah Stackhouse (Copyright USGA/John Mummert)

 

Stackhouse, a sophomore at Stanford, has four collegiate wins, including the 2014 UC Irvine Invitational, which earned her a spot in the LPGA’s 2014 Kia Classic field. Stackhouse, who has competed in two U.S. Women’s Opens, was a member of Georgia’s winning team at the 2009 USGA Women’s State Team Championship. She is also the first African-American player to be named to the USA Curtis Cup Team.

Emma Talley (Copyright USGA/Chris Keane)
Emma Talley (Copyright USGA/Chris Keane)

 

Talley, a sophomore at Alabama, won the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship and has competed in two U.S. Women’s Opens. She won the 2013 PING-ASU Invitational and was named 2013 Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year.

All eight players are among the top 25 of the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking, with Park (No. 2), Alison Lee (No. 3), Ramsey (No. 7), McDonald (No. 9) and Kim (No. 10) in the top 10.

The alternates for the USA Team are, in order of ranking: Doris Chen, of Bradenton, Fla., and Lauren Diaz-Yi, of Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Full biographical information on the eight USA players and Port can be found at www.curtiscup.org.

The Curtis Cup Match consists of six foursomes (alternate-shot) matches, six four-ball matches and eight singles matches over three days of competition. Among notable past USA Curtis Cup Team members are U.S. Women’s Open champions JoAnne Gunderson Carner, Paula Creamer, Juli Inkster, Cristie Kerr, Patty Sheehan and Hollis Stacy, as well as past and present LPGA stars such as Beth Daniel, Jessica Korda, Stacy Lewis, Nancy Lopez, Dottie Pepper, Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie.

GB&I won the 2012 Match at The Nairn Golf Club in Nairn, Scotland, 10.5-9.5, while the USA Team leads the overall series, 27-7-3.

Tegwen Matthews will again serve as captain of the GB&I Team, a position she held in 2012. The GB&I Team is expected to be announced on May 6.

About the USGA
The USGA conducts the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open, as well as 10 national amateur championships, two state team championships and international matches, attracting players and fans from more than 160 countries. Together with The R&A, the USGA governs the game worldwide, jointly administering the Rules of Golf, Rules of Amateur Status, equipment standards and World Amateur Golf Rankings. The USGA’s reach is global with a working jurisdiction in the United States, its territories and Mexico, serving more than 25 million golfers and actively engaging 150 golf associations.

The USGA is one of the world’s foremost authorities on research, development and support of sustainable golf course management practices. It serves as a primary steward for the game’s history and invests in the development of the game through the delivery of its services and its ongoing “For the Good of the Game” grants program. Additionally, the USGA’s Course Rating and Handicap systems are used on six continents in more than 50 countries.

For more information about the USGA, visit www.usga.org.

Editor’s Note:  What do you think about the upcoming Curtis Cup Team?  We’d love to hear from you!  Share your comment in the Comments Section.