Bryson DeChambeau has been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons at the Northern Trust – and he's not happy about it, as Alex Perry explains
Golf Twitter is angry. Golf Twitter is frustrated. Golf Twitter is tired. Golf Twitter wants to see Bryson DeChambeau kicked off the tour.
Hello. Look, another edition of The Slam, just two days after the previous – and the subject is pretty much the same. Slow play is back with a bang – did it ever really go away? – and it’s all thanks to a couple of incidents involving the one they call the Scientist.
If you haven’t seen the clip, here it is…
anyone need a nap?
here’s DeChambeau pacing off a 70-yard shot which took over 3 minutes to hit (couldn’t post the entire video it took so long) pic.twitter.com/7A3Azeftyu
— Eric Patterson (@EPatGolf) August 9, 2019
Now, it’s not a popular opinion – Golf Twitter made sure I knew that – but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt here. DeChambeau has pushed his ball wide of the 16th green. So wide he’s almost on the adjoining 6th fairway. He inexplicably decides to pace out the 70 yards to the hole, but if you look on the 6th tee behind him there is a group waiting to tee off. If the decision has been made to wave them on, then why is it not OK for him to go through this rigmarole why he waits?
The next clip of DeChambeau that surfaced, meanwhile, is unforgivable…
We can… pic.twitter.com/TOnRS4BXds
— Fantasy Golf Pod (@fantasygolfpod) August 10, 2019
Two and a half minutes to eye up an eight-foot putt from both sides, checking his green book at least three times, and then miss.
It’s nothing new, this has been going on for years. Anyone who’s ever been to a golf tournament can tell you that. It just so happens that the TV coverage caught this incident (why? there are so many other golfers on the course) and social media made it viral. And boy did Golf Twitter have a field day?
Just a friendly reminder that Bryson is a slow golfer, not a serial killer.
— Amanda Rose (@amandagolf59) August 10, 2019
Also, there’s a pretty simple solution courtesy of Mr Rory McIlroy.
How Bryson DeChambeau’s fellow pros reacted
Here are a handful of tweets from BDC’s peers…
Andrew I’m sorry you’ve stopped watching the @PGATOUR. There are a few players that continually disrespect their fellow pro’s and continue to break the rules without a conscience. It should be self policed but clearly this won’t happen.. so disappointing it hasn’t been stopped. https://t.co/yxfF2fFZ2D
— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) August 10, 2019
When it’s as egregious as Bryson was last night, and if they’re already behind, then shot penalties should be handed out. Fines don’t mean anything to these guys. You’d only need to hand out a few penalties and things would improve quickly!
— Eddie Pepperell (@PepperellEddie) August 10, 2019
All the governing bodies need to come together and find a solution. It ruins the game for players, fans that watch live plus at home on TV. Something needs to be done and done now
— Ross Fisher (@RossFisher) August 10, 2019
Hate to pick on Bryson, but in “the video” he his last to putt. Why didn’t he use the time when his playing partners were putting to work out his line, speed etc. If you need more time, use your time more affectively.
— Luke Donald (@LukeDonald) August 10, 2019
THIS HAS GOT TO STOP!!!!! @PGATOUR if you don’t do something about this, SHAME ON YOU!!! As a member, I’m OUTRAGED you can tolerate this. You talk about “protecting the field”, then protect it by penalizing/DQing this type of behavior!! ENOUGH!!!
— Rich Beem (@beemerpga) August 10, 2019
But has DeChambeau actually broken any rules?
Well, no. But I’ll leave that to NCG’s rules expert Steve Carroll.
Steve recently chatted to England Golf’s James Crampton, who refereed at the Open, to get the inside story of how pace of play is regulated on tour.
Is it as simple as just changing the rules?
Not really, otherwise it would have been done by now. And while McIlroy believes penalty shots are the answer, the PGA Tour’s vice president of rules and competition Slugger White disagrees.
“I hate slow play as much as the next guy, but I can’t agree with the idea of hitting players with penalty strokes,” he told Golf Digest in a recent interview.
And Justin Rose doesn’t believe it will work.
“If we change all the rules in golf to make it as fast as we could, I think we’ll save 10 minutes,” he explained after his third round at the Northern Trust. “It becomes kind of like traffic, it’s perfect at 5am when there are 20 cars on the road. But you put a full field out there, and you’re just going to run into trouble.
“We are at fault, for sure, but what’s the best case scenario? Ten, 15 minutes, and, that’s the best case scenario. Is it worth it? I don’t know.”
So what did DeChambeau have to say?
What followed was the most incredible press conference. Before a question had even been asked, DeChambeau announced that he would be discussing nothing but the incident.
“It’s an attack,” he said, before getting a few digs in at those criticising him on social media, including Eddie Pepperell, and having a swipe at caddies, among others, adding that players should “have some more balls to come up and speak to me to my face about [it]”.
I’ve put the full transcript of DeChambeau’s press conference on the next page because, though long, it is fascinating and he deserves to have his say.
The social media backlash is obviously not acceptable, and I can’t help feeling he should have just come out and apologised for a bad day at the office, but if we think targeting DeChambeau is the answer then we’ve got it horribly wrong.
This is a problem at the very top of the game. The PGA Tour has a policy in place to address pace of play…
For those wondering what the @PGATOUR Pace of Play Policy is for the 2018-2019 season. pic.twitter.com/bTYafmAKzo
— George Savaricas (@GeorgeSavaricas) February 18, 2019
As you can see, first offence, so one bad time, means no penalty. Second offence, so two bad times, means a one-shot penalty. Third offence is two shots and a fourth offence leads to disqualification.
What we consider an “unreasonable time” may differ from what a referee considers an “unreasonable time”. And if the man in the second-highest position on the PGA Tour’s rules committee isn’t willing to do dish out penalty strokes, then strap yourselves in because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
So will the PGA Tour do anything?
As the final round of the Northern Trust came to a close, the PGA Tour released a statement saying they would be “exploring whether to expand its policy to also address players whose groups are in position, but who take an excessive amount of time to hit a shot.”
The statement added that “our players and fans are very passionate about this issue” and that “we have leveraged our ShotLink technology to provide every player with a pace of play report that they can access which breaks down the varying parts of their game and gives feedback on the amount of time on average that the player takes to hit a particular shot.”
It concluded that “we have learned over the years that pace has a lot of factors that play into it, and it’s actually quite complicated” as “the overall time to play a round is affected by things like the number of players on the course, tee time intervals, amount of daylight, course set-up and the weather. Some of these are things we can influence, and some are not.”
Stay tuned, folks.
In the days after the Northern Trust, DeChambeau reflected with an Instagram post in which he promised to “find a solution”.
View this post on Instagram
Slow play affects the quality of the game for both players and our fans and I’ve always had the utmost respect for my playing partners, including JT and Tommy. I’m constantly trying to improve and I will do my very best to improve my pace. Golf is my passion and livelihood. It’s my responsibility to help improve the game to be more enjoyable for all. Pace of play has been an issue for golf at all levels for a long time, and I'm committed to being a part of the solution, not the problem. I want to be a good representative of the game and the @PGATour and I looking forward to working with the TOUR and fellow players to find a solution to slow play.Aug 12, 2019 at 12:37pm PDT
Call me a cynic, but not even a scientici mind as beautiful as Bryson’s can work this one out…
Head to the next page for the full DeChambeau transcript…