• Alistair Tait

It’s A Snail’s Life


Step forward Grayson Murray, my Golfer of the Month of January award winner.


And he never even hit a shot.


Murray clearly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (a quick google search bears that out), but he deserves credit for calling out Kevin Na for impersonating a snail during the Sony Open in Hawaii. If only more tour pros would tell it like it is on slow play, then maybe we wouldn’t have to talk about it so much.


As I predicted, we are only two tournaments into the golf season and slow play has already reared it’s ugly head. Despite greens reading books consigned to the dustbin of golf history to speed up play, Kevin Na reverted to his old ways and took forever to hole putts.


In case you missed it, a Twitter spat broke out between Murray and Na over the time it took Na to putt during his 9-under-par 61 in the opening round of the Sony Open. Golf Channel commentator Chantel McCabe tweeted:

“Kevin Na walking in putts does not get old.”

Cue Murray’s response:

“Kevin Na taking 3 minutes to putt them does get old.”

Na didn’t let Murray’s riposte go unnoticed: He responded with:

“Missing the cut is getting old.”

Murray, winner of the 2017 Barbasol Championship, has missed 13 of his last 17 cuts, and hasn’t made the weekend since last March. He missed some of last year as he took time off to deal with personal issues relating to alcohol.


Mr MC and not everyone's cup of tea didn't let Na have the last word.

“If they penalized you like they should for slow play you’d never make another cut either,” he fired back.

Talk about juicy. Who needs Bryson and Brooks when you’ve got this sort of spat?


Murray may not have chosen the best medium to take Na to task, but tour pros spilling the beans on fellow tour pros acting like snails needs to happen more often. Let’s face it, many rules officials, especially on the PGA Tour, aren’t going to do anything to speed up the snails.


To be fair to Na, he has quickened up in recent years. A few years ago, one European Ryder Cup player became so exasperated with Na’s glacial pace of play in a PGA Tour event he had him up against a wall in the scoring trailer afterwards telling him in no uncertain terms what he might do to him in future if he didn't buck up.


When Na complained to the PGA Tour scoring official, the official informed Na that one function of the scoring trailers was to settle disputes such as the one he found himself in. In other words, not my problem, mate!


Wish I’d been a fly on the wall for that exchange.


Trying to find the last player to be fined for slow play on the PGA Tour is like trying to find the secret to golf. As far as I’m aware, Glen Day is the last player to be penalised by the PGA Tour for slow play … in the 1995 Honda Classic!


There’s a reason he was nicknamed “All Day” when he played the European Tour.


While the LPGA has been quicker to hand out slow play penalties, and European Tour officials do a much better job of moving players around than other circuits, PGA Tour officials have mostly looked on and done zilch despite talking a good game: it’s only two years since the PGA Tour promised to get tough on slow play with a new pace of play policy.


How’s that working out? Not very. No wonder Murray didn’t hold back.


I’m surprised more quick players – Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Tommy Fleetwood, for example – don’t lose the plot when paired with a snail. I wish they would. I wish more players would speak out.


Of course, we wouldn’t be talking about this if Rule 5.6b, Prompt Pace of Play, was properly instituted. That’s the diktat which says:

“It is recommended that the player make the stroke in no more than 40 seconds after he or she is (or should be) able to play without interference or distraction, and
“The player should usually be able to play more quickly than that and is encouraged to do so.”

That last sentence makes me laugh. The only way some of the top players are going to be encouraged to "play more quickly" is when 5.6b stops being a recommendation and becomes a hard and fast rule that slaps players with one-shot penalties. Until then, golf at the top level will continue to be a snail’s life.


#JustSaying: "Hey, hurry up, Gene, I've got a date tonight." Walter Hagen's quip to Gene Saracen before he holed his second shot on the par-5 15th at Augusta National when he won the 1935 Masters

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