• Says it's a particular problem among junior golfers
• "The problem is that most of them have no routine"
Paul Lawrie has reacted with disbelief to the findings from an R&A investigation into the pace of play at grassroots level, saying: “It just goes to show you how many people play slow.”
A report published by the governing body towards the end of April revealed the results from the organisation’s biggest-ever survey into the amount of time taken to play a round of golf. Over 56,000 players from 122 countries took part in the poll, of which around 70% said they were largely happy with the duration of their rounds.
Former Open champion Lawrie, a regular and vocal opponent of slow play, described that particular statistic as ‘incredible’.
“It makes you wonder, who are they polling?” said the two-time Ryder Cup star. “I can’t believe that figure, to be honest, but if that’s what they’re saying, that’s what they’re saying.”
"You wouldn’t believe the stuff you see from some of the kids" - Paul Lawrie
Lawrie added that the problem is particularly rife amongst junior golfers.
“I watch a lot of junior golf through my foundation and, obviously, having watched my boys, Craig and Michael, growing up,” he added. “You wouldn’t believe the stuff you see from some of the kids.
“The problem is that most of them have no routine. Some of their chip shots, they take three practice swings, then it’s eight, then it’s ten. I mean, come on! Get a routine, play within your time, pick up your bag and go.
“Not having a routine is half the battle. So, when they go to play in a medal and they’re going well, they slow down because they’re telling themselves, ‘Take your time, take your time’. But that’s the kind of thing that results in bogeys because, the longer you take, the more that negativity and bad shots are likely to creep in.”
Lawrie believes that it was the influence of his late coach, Adam Hunter, that helped foster his own brisk pace.
“He used to time me when I practised,” added the Scot, who will host his first European Tour event, the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Matchplay, at Murcar Links this summer. “He would walk around during practice rounds and say, ‘Right, that was 19 seconds’, ‘That was 31 seconds’, and that sort of thing. He had the stopwatch out and everything, not because I was slow but because, when you’ve got a chance to win a tournament, you’ve got to stick to your routine. If you go out of it, then you’re just making it harder.
“Look at Norman at the Masters in 1996. He went from taking 19 seconds over some shots to over well over a minute for others. I mean, you just can’t play your best golf when your routine is that varied. Some of the guys you see, they don’t have their gloves on until it’s their turn to play and their caddie isn’t allowed to give them the yardage until it’s their turn to hit, and that sort of thing. You can’t do all that in 40 seconds. And, you know, 40 seconds is a long time - but not when you’ve got all of your stuff to do and then hit it. It’s impossible.”
On the European Tour, Lawrie reckons that, in a full field event of 154 players, there will be over 100 who don’t play within their time.
"Let’s invest in getting an official out there with every single game" - Paul Lawrie
“It’s a massive problem,” he says. “It’s difficult, though, because there aren’t enough officials out there to stamp it out completely. You need officials with every game but that’s something I’d like to see them try one week and I’m going to suggest it to them. I’m going back on the committee and I’m going to put it out there that, just one week, let’s invest in getting an official out there with every single game, just to observe and take notes of how long everybody’s taking because, believe me, some players don’t know how long they take.
“Some people you speak to, they don’t think that they’re slow players but if you were to time them on every single shot, you’d be amazed and so would they. It needs to improve. There’s no question about that.”
The Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Matchplay takes place from July 30 to August 2 at Murcar Links. One-day tickets are priced at £15 (Thurs-Sun), with an adult season ticket costing just £35. Under 18s are admitted free of charge and receive a Paul Lawrie Foundation cap on entry. Free on-site parking is also available. Click here for more information.
Paul Lawrie :: Slow play
Do you agree with the 1999 Open champion's comments on slow play? Leave your thoughts in the 'Comments' section below.