Slow play a bigger issue than long putters

2013-09-27 00:00

RECENTLY, American left-hander Bubba Watson said that slow play is a far more important issue than long anchored putters.

Of course, he was having a dig at the authorities because he is a user of the long broom-stick type putter, so his comments may not be taken too seriously.

But he is entitled to his opinion and he has highlighted a problem in slow play. The professionals do take far too long to play 18 holes of golf.

In tournaments, professionals play in pairs to speed up the pace and, unlike weekend amateurs, they don’t break after nine holes, but it still takes up to five hours for a round.

The U.S. PGA will need to deal with this aspect of the professional game because it does have implications for the sport. Amateur golfers, especially the younger guys, tend to copy their professional heroes. You will sometimes see a pro looking at a putt from all angles, shading his eyes from the sun, giving it a plumb-bob, a discussion with the caddie and then after what seems like five minutes, the putt is over hit by a metre and, believe it or not, he marks the ball.

This is clearly not acceptable and Bubba Watson makes a valid point. It has been suggested that continuous putting will improve matters. This means that once you have your first putt, you continue putting until you have holed out.

In theory, this sounds okay but if the golfer still takes forever to hit his ball, nothing much is gained. Nevertheless, don’t be surprised if this change to strokeplay rules is made sometime in the future by the governing bodies.

Regarding the long and anchored putters, the U.S. Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient have already made a ruling they will become illegal from January 2016. It is interesting to note that the users of the to-be-banned putters are still using them — no one yet has made the change to the short conventional type.

• Last Sunday, the annual Jack Mathews Trophy was played between Victoria Country Club and Maritzburg Golf Club. VCC were the hosts and regained the trophy, scoring an aggregate of 410 points to 360.

Jack Mathews wrote the golf column for The Natal Witness for 42 years. The column was called Out of the Rough and he wrote under the pen name Pin High.

From the 19th hole:

Three old golfers, Sam, Harry and Fred, were sitting together after their weekly game of golf. These are some of the things they were overheard saying to each other:

Sam said: “I went off the rails when I was younger, I guess I wasn’t cut out to be a train driver.”

Harry said: “Last night I dreamed that someone shouted at me, ‘On your marks, get set, go’. Then I woke up with a start.”

Fred said: “I sat next to guy on the plane who couldn’t fasten his safety belt. Then it suddenly clicked.”

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