If you’d stayed up late enough, you’ll have seen JB Holmes take four minutes and 10 seconds to hit a shot at the end of a Farmers Insurance Open final round that lasted six hours.

The golf world was up in arms, but Mark Townsend has a case for both sides of the argument. He explains in this week’s Alternate Shot…

Yes, says Mark Townsend

“It was between the 5-wood – I didn’t think it was going to get there – and the 3-wood would have gone back there where [Noren] was (over the green),” Holmes said. “That pin being in the bowl, I thought I had a better chance of holing out with a wedge than I did trying to chip one in.”

A big part of me thought what’s the big problem? The wind was obviously moving about, JB Holmes had a chance to make the play-off –  he needed to make an eagle to join the party – and he was in between clubs.

What was he supposed to do? Smash the 3-wood just so he could say he had ‘given it a go’ from 239 yards or hit the 5-wood in the hope that the wind would suddenly drop. Or, as he said, with the pin being in a little bowl lay up and take his chances with the wedge.

There was a lot on the line here and given that that PGA Tour officials never hand out any slow-play penalties why wouldn’t you take your time? This is the real shambles here.

The players were going to take six hours whether Holmes hit his shot straightaway or did what he did. In the end his lay up was a bit of a mess, maybe he was a victim of his own mind, but his third wasn’t too far off and, to his credit, he made the birdie.

Also, the other member of the threeball, Ryan Palmer, had to watch all this play out and then nearly holed his third to make the play-off so, a) wasn’t unduly bothered; and b) proved it was makeable with a wedge in your hands.

No, says Mark Townsend

What are you on about? The man’s a professional sportsman, he knows how long he has to play any shot and he was flagrantly abusing the rules. You have to hit the shot at some point whether you like what the conditions are or not. You’re on the fairway, there’s no questions to be asked about the lie. Take the shot.

You’re an entertainer, there are fans there and at home and they’re all waiting for you. Take the shot.

You’re a playing partner, you need to remember you have a responsibility to them. Poor old Alex Noren was swishing away trying to make a birdie to close out the tournament. He then had to change club, airmailed the green with his 3-wood and we’re still waiting to find out who the winner is.

Then again, in one final backtrack, who knows it may have kept Noren in the tournament. Maybe, just maybe, had Holmes hit his shot in good time then the Swede might have stuck with the hybrid and found the water.

Click here for the full Alternate Shot archive

Mark Townsend

Been watching and playing golf since the early 80s and generally still stuck in this period. Huge fan of all things Robert Rock, less so white belts. Handicap of 8, fragile mind and short game

Handicap: 8

Play Aldeburgh & Woodbridge in April for £224 per person


Subscribe to NCG