Play Well, Play Fast. Play Poor, Play Faster

Pace-of-play issues are at the forefront again after The Masters

by Jim Bebbington

Golf advice has long been: never rush your swing, but move between shots like you have somewhere important to go.

Slow play in golf is a constant issue, never more visibly than during the final Masters round on Sunday.

Golf viewers saw tournament leaders Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm killing time on their own tee box, staring straight ahead, waiting… waiting.

Most commentators peg the delays on the play of Patrick Cantlay. Cantlay has won six times on the PGA, was the PGA Tour Player of the Year last year, and is ranked No. 4 in the world. Sunday, however, he ticked off his peers enough that Koepka later called the pace ‘brutally slow.”

Cantlay’s playing partner, Viktor Hovland, walked far ahead of him at times and at least once played a chip shot while Cantlay and his caddy were well back still approaching the green.

This may be a teachable moment.

“It’s a constant battle to get people educated for pace of play because we have so many new golfers now,” said Craig Parzybok, head golf professional at Fox Hollow and Homestead golf courses in Lakewood.

Craig Parzybok. Courtesy Golf Lakewood

Parzybok said that with a golf boom underway, course operators owe it to their players to resist the temptation to over-book their tee times.

“As golf pros we need to maintain adequate pace of play, but not over-crowd courses,” he said. “Everybody’s busy, and we can take our foot off the gas a little.”

Lakewood’s courses maintain a 9-minute gap between groups off the first tee.

But just as Rahm won the Masters despite four-putting his first hole on Thursday and snap-hooking his final drive on Sunday, the slow play showed how at times the pros can be just like the rest of us.

After rain delays “they were trying to get everything done on Sunday  and it just shows: even at Augusta National they can’t pack them in too tight,” he said.

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