Any time Jason Day wins – which, lately, is rather a lot – there are almost as many tweets devoted to the world No.1’s pace of play as the quality of it.
Let’s be honest: he’s not quick. It took him five-and-a-half hours to complete his round last Saturday at the Players Championship, which, by any measure, is brutally slow.
But, please, let’s cool it with the ‘slow play is killing golf’ chat. That’s nonsense. Slow play is not ‘killing golf’. It’s just one of a number of things that the game’s governing bodies haven’t quite figured out how to tackle (more of which later).
To my mind, a better debate to have is how to make golf more affordable.
You're talking hundreds and hundreds of pounds before you even hit a ball.
It’s not a cheap sport to play and certainly not relative to other sports. If I want to take up running, I need trainers, a T-shirt and shorts and off I go. Cycling? A bike and a safety helmet. Fishing? A rod, a reel and bait.
Golf? You need clubs, balls, a bag and various other accessories, as well as appropriate clothing and footwear, somewhere to play and, in all likelihood, a bundle of lessons.
You’re talking about hundreds and hundreds of pounds of an investment before you even hit a ball.
What’s the solution? Well, no more £300 drivers would be a great start. Why, after all, should club golfers have to foot the bill for the endorsement deals that top brands offer the game’s top players?
Anything that takes a bit of the expense out of the game has to be a good thing.
More realistically, however, I’d like to see clubs do more for total beginners.
- Waive fees for all primary school kids.
- Encourage members to donate old equipment for new members to use.
- Introduce one-month trial memberships, with a relaxed dress code so people can wear they like whilst sussing the game out.
- Experiment with graduated, points-based membership schemes that better meet consumer demands.
Things like that. Anything that takes a bit of the expense out of the game has to be a good thing.
People want to play sport, be active and keep fit – they just don’t want to shell out a huge chunk of their wages to do it. Golf is fighting for these people’s attention with other, cheaper sports. It has to rise to that challenge and not be distracted by trying to solving other, lesser issues.
Well done to The R&A for swiftly kicking Muirfield and its band of misogynistic duffers to the kerb following yesterday’s announcement.
However, I have to take issue with the organisation over the its ‘Pace Of Play’ manual, published earlier this week.
At 76 pages, it is a time-consuming read (ironically enough) and features some breathtakingly pompous advice on how to deal with slow-playing visitors. It suggests the following action:
• Asking such players to leave the course – either with or without a refund;
• Advising them ‘future bookings will not be accepted’ – i.e. banning them;
• Sending a report to their home club ‘advising of the unacceptable pace of play’’;
• A combination of the above.
Ludicrous, eh? At a time when most clubs are in desperate need of visitor revenue, the sport’s governing body recommends treating new customers – naïve, possibly, to the etiquette of the game – like naughty schoolboys.
Well done, guys. Top advice. <---- sarcasm
I was pleased to see Scottish Golf introduce plans for the inaugural Junior Scottish Open this year. A great, overdue idea. Only one gripe: why restrict entries to junior members of clubs affiliated to Scottish Golf?
This week I have been... laughing at the conspiracy theorists who think Tiger Woods deliberately dunked three balls in the water at the Quicken Loans media day. Just to be clear, he didn’t hit any of those three shots from a grassy knoll, nor (to the best of my knowledge) was the footage filmed by Abraham Zapruder. It was just another example of Tiger’s new reality, one blighted by serious issues with his game and body, as well as a bizarre tendency to suffer stage fright.
And finally… The defence of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers voting against allowing women to join seems to be that they were ‘right to stick two fingers up to the PC brigade’ and that they exercised ‘their democratic right’.
1. When did being politically correct become something we should resist?
2. Is democracy that engenders discrimination (a) working or (b) really democracy?
Michael McEwan / The Cut Line
Log-on every Friday morning to read The Cut Line, a new weekly blog by bunkered's Michael McEwan.-