Pete Cowen: Players can’t police slow play themselves

The only way to eradicate slow play is to hit the culprits where it hurts the most – on their scorecard. Banning green-reading books will play some part in speeding up play on the professional tours, but it’s not enough.

In terms of trying to sort the swing out from a physics sense I like the attitude of Bryson DeChambeau. He’s got some ideas which I think are good and some that are a bit cranky.  Yet promoting any sort of innovation can take you into the territory of being labelled a crank – and you’d definitely call him one. 

I’ve no time whatsoever for slow play on the course, so what I did when I was faced with it was to meet it head on. Ken Brown was particularly guilty, as was Bernhard Langer. They were among the slowest of my playing days. I used to police it myself. I’d say to Browny: ‘Get a move on today. I don’t want to play fast so you can play slow, so get a move on.’ Just as it was way back then, players have to police it themselves. One way to keep better time is to start all groups on the clock from the first tee onwards. The officials know who the slow players are. If it were up to me, I’d find the three slowest players and put them out last every day.

The doubling of fines is a waste of time to the multi-millionaire players at the top level. You’ve got to hit them where it hurts most – and that’s on the scorecard. It’s the only way. Langer is a classic example of what can be done, because he has two routines – one for when he is on the clock and one for when he isn’t.

Gamesmanship is often involved, particularly in match play situations. If one player is really quick, then the other one will deliberately take their time and go even slower to upset their rhythm. 

In regard to green-reading books – I would ban them. Players should learn how the greens perform during the practise rounds – much like you do the whole course. Graeme McDowell used to draw his own lines indicating the slopes on the greens in his course book, and he was better prepared as a result. That’s what should be common practise instead of having two books.

From a strictly Rules point of view, I would start everyone on the clock because at the end of the day, the players aren’t going to self-police and tell their pals that they’re slow. They don’t want the embarrassment. There are Rules in place – but no-one adheres to them. We know it’s a penalty shot for hitting it into a water hazard, but what’s the rule when someone takes longer than 40 seconds for a shot? How far do they have to go over that limit before action is taken? Nobody knows. When DeChambeau recently took over two minutes to hit his putt, no action was taken because, at that point, his group wasn’t on the clock. 

Looking at the FedExCup from the outside, the formula isn’t right, but they’ve done that many calculations to get it right that I don’t know what is right! That win for Patrick Reed at the Northern Trust, earned more points than Koepka has for his three wins this year – which obviously included a Major and a WGC. 

It’s not right, but they want to make sure that just about anybody can win it. The new formula for the Tour Championship isn’t fair either, with the points leader starting the tournament two strokes ahead of the guy in second place and ten shots clear of 20th place. I don’t know how it will evolve from this. But if you’ve had a year like Koepka has had, with his top fives in all the Majors and everything else – he’s got to be No.1 player of the year. No question.

Brooks likes travelling around the world. He has played in Abu Dhabi, Australia, Saudi Arabia, and the opportunity is there for the European Tour to put in place a schedule that will see more of the top players competing in their events once the PGA Tour is finished. 

I would like to see the World Match Play Championship resurrected at Wentworth. That brought massive crowds and a huge TV audience, and all the best players turned out in force. It was great, just 12 elite players in straight knock-out. It became an iconic tournament which everyone wanted to play – even Tiger played it. 

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