From the Rough

Golf without discretion

The day where time stood still at the Masters … but not in a good way

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Yesterday’s first round of the Masters will be remembered for a lot of reasons. It marked the beginning of Tiger Woods’ comeback to the game, as well as the return of Fred Couple and Tom Watson to the top of a star-studded leaderboard. All in all, there was a lot that went right on Thursday.

Went didn’t go right, however, was the pace of play at Augusta National. Golfweek’s Alistair Tait was the first to mention this problem on a day when most of the working media was filing stories on Tiger’s return.

Most probably didn’t notice it, but the pace of play was borderline absurd. During yesterday’s first round, the BBC’s Peter Alliss lamented aloud that the pace of play for Tiger’s group was moving at a snail’s pace. He was right. The 5 hours and 45 minutes it took to complete the round proved to us once again that the game has a problem with pace of play.

Now I know professional rounds today usually take upwards of 5 hours and 15 minutes to complete, but 5 hours and 45 minutes to play a round of golf? I’m sorry, but that’s pushing into municipal golf rounds on a Saturday afternoon in May. Only then should a six-hour round be the norm.

Tait, like many other before him, have been trying to push the idea of a shot clock in golf. Here’s how Tait see’s the future of golf being played: “The majors have the luxury of being able to put a referee with each match. Give the referee a stopwatch. If a player goes over his allotted time to play a shot then he is penalized with a stroke.”

It sounds like a good idea to me. I know we all love spending our afternoons watching the Masters when it’s on the television, but I for one can’t stand the thought of it taking that long for a group to get around the golf course.

There’s got to be a better way to enforce the rules at all events, and not just at ones that have countless hours to blow on air time. I for one hope the game considers the idea of testing out a shot clock going forward. Sure, it’s probably a lost cause at this point, but you can always dream, right?

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Written by Jonathan Wall

04/09/2010 at 11:42 am

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