Playing by the Rules - July 2013

First, let me reiterate, these opinions are strictly my own and do not represent the thoughts or opinions of the NEPGA or the PGA of America.

There seem to be two things that are dominating any Rules discussions this year. “Anchoring” and “Pace of Play.”

I have hinted at what I feel about the anchoring issue, it should never have gotten this far to begin with. How can something that a few players started to experiment with over a decade ago, not be addressed until now?
If this method of putting were such an advantage, wouldn’t everyone do it? Did it just dawn on the governing bodies that it is a distinct advantage?
It seems the alarm went off when players started winning Major Championships using an anchored stroke. I have the utmost respect for all the hard work and time the USGA and the R&A put in to making the game better. However, in this case, I really think they have taken advantage of their position of power and are just now, trying to correct something that they know probably should have been addressed at least five years ago.

We still await the decision by the PGA Tour on what they will do regarding the anchored stroke. Listening to a few recent interviews with players who anchor, Keegan Bradley in particular, it sounds like these players are starting to realize they may have to change their methods for making a stroke on the putting green.

Now for the “Pace of Play” issue.
Again, let me state how much I respect the USGA. But if they think the best way to combat slow play is to make a bunch of commercials featuring recognizable people saying “While we’re young” or even more bizarre, have people go on to a website and sign a pledge to play faster “While we’re young”?
Come on, the average person will go to usga.org, sign the pledge and think he/she has done his/her part.
Seriously, it isn’t that hard to play within a reasonable amount of time.
I have to say I am pretty lucky; you guys do a good job of keeping the pace going at our pro only events. There are a few of us who could “pick it up” a little, but in general, you guys are great.
I know who those “pick it up” players are, and I am sure you know the players at your facility who take more time than necessary to play a round of golf.
So forget “While we’re young” the next time someone is dragging butt at your facility find him after the round (maybe buy him a beverage of his choice) and help him with ideas so he can play quicker.
Maybe offer a to do a clinic with tips or if you have a club email write a short list of things your players can do to help them play in the four hour range.
Need ideas for that email? This is what I see as the greatest killer of pace:

1. When players are in a cart, they never take more than one club when they go to their ball.
2. Players wait until their fellow-competitors have hit their shot(s) before they even begin to find their yardage, select a club, and begin their pre-shot routine.
3. The putting green, YIKES! I truly can’t figure out why people who have taken four, five, six shots to reach the putting green suddenly think they are Tiger Woods and need to or will benefit from reading their putts from three, four, or five different angles. I hate to break it to them, but they would be better off taking a quick look from behind their golf ball and then concentrating on how far they need to hit the ball to get it close or in the hole.
4. Encourage all your players to help with the pace of play, no one should be afraid to tell a fellow-competitor that he needs to “pick up the pace.”
It amazes me that people who play at an acceptable pace will allow their enjoyment of the game to be compromised by someone in their group who is slow. You’re not accusing the guy (who looks at his putt from five different angles) of murder, you’re just asking him if he could play quicker. If anybody got mad at me for asking them to play quicker, I think that person should not expect to be part of my group in the future.

Some of the scenarios depicted in the USGA commercials look at things like, talking to the beverage cart girl, taking excessive time in searching for golf balls, etc.
All legitimate time consuming activities, however, golfers play to have fun and maybe an occasional beverage during the round; golf balls are expensive and people don’t like losing them. My view, you are going to have a very hard time getting your players to break these habits. But, if we can get them to actually play the game at a quicker pace, they will have time to chat up the beverage cart and look (not for more than five minutes of course, good luck with that) for that new Titleist they just sent flying into the woods, and still keep a reasonable pace.
So call me crazy, but I think a little personal encouragement and sharing of information from us just might do a heck of a lot more than having our players go on a website and sign a pledge.

Again, this is just my point of view, if you don’t like my ideas, or think you have some better ones, send them on (rgreen@pgahq.com) and I will share them with everyone.

See you down the road,
Greenie