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  • Alistair Tait

Golf needs a slow play czar like Scott Hend

The European Tour wouldn’t have a problem with slow play if it listened seriously to Scott Hend. Or Edoardo Molinari. If they were in charge, professional golf would probably get back to four-hour rounds.

Many of us wanted to punch the air listening to Hend offering simple solutions to speeding up the game. As someone who’s played the European Tour for the last 12 years, the three-time winner has suffered his fair share of five hour rounds. Maybe that’s why he’s uncompromising when it comes to slow play. As he should be. Hend said:

“I think it should be money. Like, straight up, bang, money, Not a warning. Bang, money. And then second, bang, shots. Give them shots.”

The Australian has no time for anyone who makes other players suffer because of he can’t seem to hit a shot unless he approaches it as if he was trying to find a cure for cancer.

“Don’t ever tell me the guy’s a nice guy, but he’s slow. There’s no such thing. A slow player is a guy who thinks about himself and himself only. He doesn’t care about the other two guys in the group, because I’ve played with guys that are slow and they take advantage of two guys that are quick. It’s all about themselves, and no one can convince me any other way.
“If you’re walking up to someone after the round and saying, ‘Thanks for the game, mate, I’m very slow, I’m working on it,’ don’t tell me you’re sorry and don’t tell me you’re working on it. Just go and work because that’s what you should be doing on the range. Work on your pre-shot routine so you can get your shot done.”

Hend’s right. There is no excuse for slow play. It comes down to pure selfishness. Problem is, fast players like Hend suffer as a result. It happens at club level too. How many times have you played with someone slow in your group and felt YOU needed to speed up? It’s happened to me a fair bit, and I’m not a slow player.

Pace of play was a huge issue throughout the professional game last season. Molinari lost the plot during the Trophée Hassan II in Morocco when he had to endure a five-and-a-half-hour round. The former U.S. Amateur champion went further: he tweeted a picture from the European Tour tournament office of a list of repeat slow play offenders.

The most frustrating thing about slow play is that everyone knows who the snails are. We go out of our way to avoid them at club level. Tour pros such as Hend and Molinari don’t have that option. They have to play with who they’re drawn with, and then stand helpless as the slowpoke takes forever.

Eddie Pepperell issued a tweet last year about getting drawn with Padraig Harrington and Paul Dunne. Pepperell made two observations: they would chip him off the course and the group would be put on the clock.

To be fair to the European Tour, steps have been put in place to speed play up. Molinari had a lot to do with a new pace of play policy introduced at the end of last season since he sits on the tour’s powerful tournament committee. The PGA Tour is also implementing tougher measures.

The worry is that the tours will disappoint Hend and Molinari by not following through on the guidelines. Remember, we’ve been here before. European Tour CEO Keith Pelley committed to cutting rounds by 15 minutes at the start of the 2016 season. Yet rounds just got slower.

The proof will be in the pudding when the European Tour finally gets back to business. However, things would be a lot easier if the tour just made Hend or Molinari the slow play czar. Tortoises would soon turn into hares if those guys were in charge.

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