The consternation in the wake of JB Holmes’ four minute layup raises more questions than answers.
If you haven’t heard about the Holmes incident at the Farmers Insurance Open then I’m not sure where you’ve been. Needing an eagle on the last, the big-hitting American took four minutes (AND 10 seconds) to play his second on the 72nd hole at Torrey Pines – which ultimately ended up being a layup on the reachable par 5.
His post-round explanation was okay – he thought he could hole his third rather than risk flying the green with his second – but what wasn’t okay was taking so damn long to play his shot.
The final group (including Alexander Noren, who was forced to wait and wait before going for the green when tied for the lead and Ryan Palmer, who also needed an eagle to make the playoff) finished their round in six hours. SIX HOURS. That is surely way over the time limit – where were the tour officials making sure pace of play was respected? Why should the final group have such an advantage – even if you can get one by trudging around the course like that.
The professional reaction to the incident said it all really. And this in an age where pros are loath to take a swipe at their colleagues.
‘Last group was over a hole behind, we can all blame JB… and yes the player should take responsibility for their pace of play, but if they don’t that’s why we have Tour officials – they needed to step in a while ago.’ – Luke Donald
‘Most tour players aren’t slow but because of a handful of slow ones we all get a bad rep’ – Daniel Berger
‘1. JB needs to be fined or better yet given 2 shots
2. Needs eagle to tie. After all that lays up? Really???
3. Horrendous sportsmanship to Noren and Palmer
4. wow 😲’ – Mark Calcavecchia
‘I guess rules only apply for some players. That was ridiculous how long it took him to play that shot. The rules officials need to change your policy on slow play and be more active on slow players and you won’t have these 5 1/2 six hour round.’ – Ken Duke
And then came Bud Cauley…
‘I’ve seen some stuff on Twitter about pace of play. When it’s gusting 25, the pins are tucked, it’s hard to hold greens with wedges and the greens are poa where you mark from 2 feet every time. it’s going to take a sec’
The players find themselves playing for millions of dollars each week with each shot down the stretch potentially worth hundreds of thousands. That in itself is enough motivation for a player like Holmes to take his time and hit only when 100% comfortable.
The other side to that, and the one I support, is that playing for millions of dollars is a luxury and not a right. Pros have to set the standard for the rest of us to follow suit and there’s no ways you get to that elite level and can’t play much, much faster.
Holmes’ delay was unreasonable and amounts to poor sportsmanship and worse etiquette.
The PGA Tour have just two documented cases of a penalty being issued for slow play. The last one given in 2017’s Zurich Classic and the other 22 years prior – that in itself is laughable and sends the message loud and clear that you can take your time as long as you are not a complete unknown.
This example is going to be further ammunition for your regular playing partners who will argue that if the pros take that long to get it right, shouldn’t the amateurs do their best to play the way the pros do?
Get ready for even longer delays in your Sunday afternoon round …