Rymer: Slow Play is Here to Stay

The recent Genesis Open at Riviera put the issue of slow play back in the spotlight – and sparked a public debate on what the PGA TOUR’s role should be in mitigating it. Charlie Rymer has a simple message to those who don’t like the pros’ pace of play: get used to it.

By Charlie Rymer

There’s a lot of discussion out there right now about slow play. And it’s nothing new. Let me dish some truth to you about it, and let’s start with some underlying facts.

1. It is NOT the mission of the PGA TOUR to “Grow the Game.” The PGA TOUR exists to conduct professional golf tournaments for as big a purse as possible for its membership.

2.Professional golfers play golf to “put meat in the pot.”

3.Through its last two commissioners, the PGA TOUR has been very forthcoming and consistent in stating that it doesn’t view slow play as an issue.

Here’s why. In televised sports, it’s a huge advantage to have predictable times for the completion of a competition. The PGA TOUR has that data from years of play at the same golf courses with very similar pace of play rules in effect. It’s not foolproof, but they pretty much know within a few minutes at Hartford how long it will take the last threesome to complete play on Saturday, with wind predicted at 10 to 15 miles per hour from the west and a 30 percent chance of rain. Hitting these off-air times is good for business. It makes the television partners and sponsors happy.

And this is HUGE. If policy for slow play is changed, then all that historical data becomes useless. Nobody is grumpy right now except the fast players – and people who think the TOUR should set an example for the pace at which amateurs should play.

As for the players, there is not a single allotted time frame for a round of golf on the PGA TOUR that will satisfy all of them. My guess is that 20 percent think play is way too slow, 20 percent feel like they are being pushed, and 60 percent don’t care either way.

This is NOT a guess, and it’s something that a lot of people don’t understand. If I am a slow player and I’m in a pairing with a fast player, and one of us is going to win $1.3 million and slow play helps me while simultaneously aggravating my opponent, why in the world would I speed up – especially when there is almost ZERO chance I will receive a penalty?

This is the big leagues, folks. There is a lot at stake, and it’s a fierce competition. In sports and in life, sometimes you have to get up in your opponent’s kitchen to go home with the big check. Varying your pace of play to your advantage is just a part of the game.

So stop whining and get used to it. It’s NEVER gonna change.