The Round Table: Opposing the rollback, saving a job and a real slow play penalty

Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan has returned to work and in his first communique to players he announced that the Tour would not support the proposed rollback of the golf ball. If the Tour won’t play nice with the USGA and R&A on this, that essentially leaves the U.S. Open, the Masters and the Open Championship all alone. The manufacturers have already indicated their lack of support for a change in the ball. Without PGA Tour support, is this proposal dead in the water?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): If it IS dead in the water, that may have far larger repercussions on the governance of the game.  It would indicate that any body can do whatever they like, depending on whether they like the “edict” or not.  Mind you, amateur players tend to do whatever they like anyway (outside of competition).  But for the PGA Tour to thumb their nose at the rollback means the world’s best players will continue to reduce golf courses to driver-wedge competitions, further boring spectators and viewers.  I personally think this is a bad decision on the Tour’s part, but I can’t imagine Monahan would have had any other choice from his members.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: This ship sailed in 2000 when the Pro1V hit the market the USGA should have put a halt to it during the design approval stage which was probably in 1997 or 98. Since then, the entire Golf World has adjusted to the new length through the purchase of additional property and the re-design of courses similar to the introduction of the Haskell ball 100 years ago. The real news is the announcement comes at a time when Jay Monahan needs some cover to hide behind. Something to deflect the barrage away from him and it is buried among layers of L1V controversy. True to past performance!

TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): I’m not sure how much power the PGA Tour is going to have moving forward in the world of golf given what’s gone on the past couple of years.  Obviously, it’s still where the best players in the world play, but if the R&A and Masters adopt a new rule about the golf ball, I’d have to think the PGA Tour would be pressured to follow suit eventually.  But who knows where the PGA Tour stands in the next couple of years when this PIF merger is finally sorted.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Monahan is presumably echoing what the majority of his members want, despite a few key players voicing support for a rollback. At a time when the Commissioner could be providing valuable leadership and helping steer a progressive rule change, he’s cowering before his angry troops and trying to save his job. Without PGA Tour support, the governing bodies might just as well throw in the towel. I can’t imagine the majors using a “shorter” ball without full buy-in from the Tour. That would be a dog’s breakfast.

The Commissioner also announced a new hire to help deal with the PIF merger, outlined a framework for rewarding players that didn’t jump to LIV Golf and talked more about the Tour’s future. What was your take on Monahan’s chat and was it enough to reassure players looking for his scalp?

Deeks: I think the only answer is “time will tell”.  If, however, it does turn out that the PGA Tour came out on top of this whole charade, then Monahan may well be seen as a genius, if he can last that long.

Schurman: Loyalty payments are a joke. I was offered a new job similar to my current position for significantly more money. I turned it down because I didn’t want to move. I like it here and my family likes it here. I’ll make less but at least we are all happy. After all, everything isn’t always about more money. Last week, the company who made me the offer bought my company. I am keeping my job in the same town but I’m looking into making them pay me the difference between what I was offered a few months ago and what I was happy to accept before the merger. Now, that I see some of my fellow employees who left the company and are returning with promotions/pay increases, I think if I and my family had more money, we’d be happier. I think that about sums it up.

Rule: I’ll be honest, I’m so sick of all of this merger stuff, I try not to pay too much attention anymore, so I didn’t see his chat.  I understand they are looking at rewarding those who stayed, which makes sense, but that won’t be easy to figure out.  How far down the list do you go?  He’ll have to satisfy a lot of players to save his job, and I’m not sure there’s enough money to make that happen.

Mumford: One can only imagine what Monahan is thinking but it might go something like this: “Ok guys, I know you’re pissed at me for being a hypocrite and making a deal behind your back with the evil Saudis that’s going to make me richer and more powerful than ever but I’ve got this PIF money to play with now and I can get a lot of it for you too. We’ll penalize those LIV golfers, not cuz they took the filthy Saudi money – that’s ok now – but because they were disloyal. So, you loyal guys just need to get behind me and we’ll all come out of this with plenty more. Oh, and I’m still in charge too. OK?”

Carlotta Ciganda was disqualified at the Evian Championship after refusing to sign her scorecard which included a slow play penalty. Apparently, she took too long on a ten-foot putt on the final hole. She argued that she wasn’t holding anybody up on the par-5 hole as the following group wasn’t even on the tee yet. What do you think of the penalty? Does she have a point? 

Deeks: In my opinion, no.  Slow play is slow play regardless of most “external” circumstances.  (Waiting for a ruling is about the only reason for a holdup.)  Everybody has to play to the same clock, what’s the point of having a clock if you ignore it and then try to get away with it?  Regardless of whether she was holding up anybody behind her, she was holding up her fellow players on the green, and that’s inexcusable.  Boohoo, Carlotta, you got what you deserved, now grow up and play by the rules.

Schurman: Question 1. Was her group out of position? #2 Had they been warned?  #3 Were they on the clock? Every group is entitled to a period of time to play the round. Every player has a responsibility to play within the allotted time. I’m curious to learn “if Ciganda’s group was out of position, were there other groups out of position as well (including the group behind her). If every group is in position, the length of time to play the round should be acceptable. If is unacceptable, which groups were out of position and how were they treated? The only other answer is that every group was slightly over their allotted time, but nobody was far enough over to be out of position. Her only complaint can be unequal treatment.

Rule: I’m not a fan of slow play, as I’ve mentioned in this space many times before.  So, any penalty for slow play that is warranted is good in my books.  And clearly, she had been warned they were on the clock, so it doesn’t matter if the group behind wasn’t on the hole.  I wonder if that would have happened if it was player in contention though, that never seems to be the case.

Mumford: The penalty was warranted, and it doesn’t matter at all if she wasn’t holding up the group behind – she was holding up her playing partners. My beef with slow play penalties is they’re rare, arbitrary and only applied to obscure players or someone well out of contention. If every guilty party got hit more often, the whole field would speed up and the game would be all the better for it.

The Round Table
The Round Table is a panel of golf writers, PGA members and industry experts.

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