Time to start naming and shaming the players killing golf

The Scoop

Another weekend of slow play and moronic golf fans on the PGA Tour. And it's time to put an end to it, writes Alex Perry in Dialled In

Hello. Welcome to another edition of Dialled In. Slow play? It’s almost become laughable, hasn’t it?

I had a bit of a whinge about the TV coverage in this very column a week or so ago, but it’s actually got to a point now where, well…

My Sunday evenings recently have been a bit like Groundhog Day: Watch a bit of golf, get annoyed, watch something else, give the golf another chance, realise nothing’s changed, watch something else, I wonder if the golf has finished yet, oh it’s a play-off, fall asleep while we watch footage of players signing their cards, wake up to cheers of the winning putt.

This week at the Honda Classic, Webb Simpson was the butt of everyone’s irk. Plenty of golf media’s finest minds had their say, so here’s a Colin Montgomerie parody account…

You just get to a point where you think the players are having some sort of bet with each other. It is not possible that Simpson thinks this is acceptable.

So how do we solve this? Perhaps it’s time to start naming and shaming? Paul Lawrie had a go at that after the final round of the Qatar Masters

Oh. That’s me told. But although he doesn’t think it’s the answer, that didn’t stop him going to town on a few playing partners…

All good fun for those of us watching on from afar. Lawrie believes the only way to solve slow play is to have a referee with every group at every tournament.

Of course that would work, but would come at some cost.

But while calling out players in this way might not be the classiest way of going about things, there is no doubt the culprits will see this and rethink their routine.

I know if I was a young player getting outed for slow play by a well-respected tour veteran – and former Open champion, no less – I can guarantee you I’d be the fastest player on the course the following week.

Would this happen on the PGA Tour? Not a chance. Imagine Fred Couples laying into Patrick Cantlay. You can’t, can you?

Shouted and outed

Now onto another problem, though this one seems to be specific to the PGA Tour in recent years: ignorant fans. For years we’ve put up with cries of “GET IN THE HOLE!” and “MASHED POTATO!”

While I will never see the point of this, it’s relatively harmless – provided it’s not affecting the players.

But Sunday provided a new one…

If you can’t hear it, Justin Thomas calls out a fan for crying out for his ball to “GET IN THE BUNKER!” right after he hits it.

 

Twitter was fun after this incident on Sunday. Many calling the eventual winner “spoiled” or “entitled”.

Moronic behaviour, I’d be surprised if anyone reading disagreed with Jamie’s views here. In fact many American fans replied saying that the minority of idiot fans don’t represent the majority – an opinion itself well worthy of satire but you can do your own jokes.

But as I said in last week’s episode of The Slam, the PGA Tour actually created this.

As soon as they stuck that stadium around the 16th at Scottsdale and encouraged fans to get hammered and dress up and generally act like football fans, that behaviour was, of course, always going to transfer to other events.

So now it’s up to the PGA Tour to sort it out because, technically, the fans aren’t breaking any rules.

And while I don’t believe JT should have been getting involved – he was co-leading a tournament with three holes to play – if a handful of high-profile players start doing it then maybe it will slowly start to eradicate it.

The most annoying thing is the chap that was escorted off the premises for his ignorance will probably be boasting to all his pals today that the World No. 3 had him booted out of a golf tournament.

So what is to be done? The powers that be have two very different but very serious problems on their hands. And while misbehaving fans are a mere irritant – an itch that you can’t reach to scratch, if you will – slow play is a cancer killing golf.

Pepped up

In happier news, how great to see Eddie Pepperell land his maiden major European Tour title in Qatar.

Pepperell seems very well liked, which is nice to see. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a reaction from fellow tour pros like that before. You only have to scroll through the European Tour’s Twitter feed to see just how popular this win was, but our favourite tweet was from Eddie’s brother Joe…

My grandfather told me years ago that he coached Pepperell as a junior in Oxford and said he’d be a European Tour winner one day. Well grandad, you were right.

And what a first trophy to win…

Imagine how much red wine he can get in that.

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