It’s 2021 and we’re still talking about slow play in professional golf.
I’m guessing we’ll still be talking about slow play in 2031, and 2041, and 2051, just as we were talking about it in 2011, 2001, 1991 and, well, you get the drift. We wouldn’t be talking about it now if there was a will among the professional tours to actually do something about it.
This perennial problem came up in discussion again yesterday in previews for the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open. Defending champion Stacy Lewis knows all about fellow professionals impersonating snails. She won last year despite having to watch playing companion Jennifer Song approach every shot as if it was a Mensa Test. The final group of Lewis, Song and Azahara Munoz took five hours and 16 minutes.
No one was penalised. Few ever are.
Lewis, one of the game’s faster players, got through the round by concentrating on a Taylor Swift tune. I suppose that was far better than screaming “HURRY UP!” at Song.
Lewis was asked about it yesterday in her preview press conference for this week’s Scottish Open at Dumbarnie Links. Lewis sounded a warning call that those in charge of the professional tours when she said:
“When I came out on tour, I would say there were a handful of slow players,” she said, “and now there’s a handful of fast players.”
“We need to realize as a tour, we’re going to lose people watching us and we’re going to lose fans because we are taking so long to play and I think that’s what really needs to be hammered home to people is we need to do it more from that side than anything."
Two years ago, Thomas Bjorn made exactly the same point when he said:
“We’ve got to come down on it hard because we have a product to sell. People have to turn on the TV to watch us play, and if it takes too long there’s too many alternatives. That’s destroying the game commercially. You’ve got to have a commercial hat on and say we’ve got to make our game better. People don’t have all that time to sit and watch a round of golf. Especially young people, and those are the ones we want to try and attract to our game.
“We’ve got to do something about it for the good of the game. The players have to understand that they are destroying it for themselves for the long term. The tours and the governing bodies need to realise this is too big an issue.”
Sadly, it is still an issue. It is still a turn off, and it’s about time those in charge of the professional tours took decisive action against the snails. Still, at least the governing bodies have decreed a recommended time of 40 seconds to play a shot...
R.I.P. The Voice of Swedish Golf
The world of golf is in mourning today at the news of Göran Zachrisson’s death at the age of 83, especially the world of European golf. Zachrisson was a much loved figure within the game, a highly respected man who had chronicled Swedish golf for nearly 60 years through his writing and his broadcasting career.
Zachrisson was a past president of the Association of Golf Writers, the first non-British person to assume that role. He was also the first AGW president to sing at the association’s annual dinner before the Open Championship, a highlight of the evening.
You only have to look at the tributes to his passing to know how much loved he was. Henrik Stenson took to Twitter to utter his sorrow:
Annika Sorenstam tweeted:
Sky Sports Golf commentator Ewen Murray perhaps put it best when he said:
“An outstanding man, wonderful colleague and a person it was a privilege to share time with. A conversation with Göran was a sheer joy and all his friends will miss that. Sad day."
I can echo Murray’s comments. I had the pleasure of dining with Göran quite a few times over the years. He was full of stories, anecdotes, possessing not just infinite knowledge of Swedish golf, but the game in general, and always seeking to further that knowledge. I did a lot less talking and a lot more listening during those meals, which I shall miss dearly. Göran Zachrisson was worth listening to. R.I.P Göran
#JustSaying: “If you play golf, you’re my friend.” Harvey Penick