However, Stopwatch Patrol isn’t just limited to baseball. Golf also is squarely on my radar.
Slow play is a major epidemic in golf, making tournaments unbearable to watch on TV. The latest incident occurred in last week’s tournament in China. Saturday’s round took a mind-boggling 5 1/2 hours to complete.
Daniel Hicks of AFP reports (via Geoff Shackelford.com):
McDowell has led for all three days of the $8.5 million Shanghai event known as “Asia’s Major”, but he and playing partner Ian Poulter were angered by having to spend more than five and a half hours on the course in cold and damp conditions.
“Ridiculous,” McDowell told AFP after finishing in near-darkness, having teed off at 10.50am (0250 GMT). Play ended in the gloom at 4.30pm, just a few minutes before sunset.
“We got to the fourth tee, the par three, and there was already a group on it,” McDowell lamented.
“We’ve got threeballs, a lot of people out there and a couple of driveable par fours and a couple of two-shot par fives. Just a slow golf course. A long day,” said McDowell, the 2010 US Open champion.
Ryder Cup star Poulter was less diplomatic in his assessment of the day after a level-par 72 left him four behind McDowell.
“There’s no excuses. We need to be pressing and making sure people are keeping up to pace,” Poulter told AFP.
“Five and a half hours is too long to play golf. End of story.”
There were complicating factors: high, wet rough, split tee threesomes and reachable fours and fives for everyone because the ball goes too far. Still, just 76 players. 76! And they aren’t looking for lost balls.
Indeed, my threesome would be kicked off the course if we took 5 1/2 hours. And none of us break 80.
For years, critics like myself have been screaming at the PGA Tour and United States Golf Association to penalize players for slow play. For some reason, it hasn’t happened. The likely reason is that they don’t want to offend the delicate players who like to take their time.
Instead, golf fans get a 5 1/2-round in an event. Ridiculous.