However, if we as humans are somewhat resistant to change imagine what the routine laden golfer is like. If you were to watch the Pros play it seems that they have fallen foul of a few of the amendments. With a couple of standout cases in point.
Firstly poor Ricky Fowler after the horror show which occurred around the green of the 11th at the Waste Management. Though nothing to do with the new rules, he did show remarkable patience and professionalism after chipping across the green into a hazard, then dropping correctly, from knee high, going up to the green and then see his ball move from an at rest/in play position to tumble backwards into the same hazard for another penalty shot.
He then dropped the ball correctly, again, chipped to within fifteen feet and duly holed the putt for a triple bogey. He kept his head, held his nerves, looked squarely forward and went on to win the tournament, his fifth title of his career.
You would think that the golfing gods would have happily left him alone after that, thinking that he had passed the trial and proved himself worthy of being a Tournament Professional, almost demi god in status. You’d be wrong, they decided to up the ante on him by seeing if he could keep his cool after an opening hole shank at the WGC in Mexico last week.
It appears that not only did they want him to have an ‘unmentionable’ on his opening hole, the gods wanted it to go out of bounds. Ricky then dropped the ball from shoulder height, played the next shot from where it came to rest and was awarded a penalty shot for incorrectly dropping the ball. Goodness, when it rains it pours! Nothing he could say, nothing he could do apart from suck it up and walk on.
Yet it does seem that there is something unjust going on here, which is more earthly improvidence than anything to do with the golfing gods. If Ricky Fowler is going to be the persecuted hero of the piece then J. B. Holmes needs to be the villain, or at least the rules officials do. What I’m meaning to say here is that the inclusion and reworking of the rules was to help curtail the slowness of the game. Which is utterly useless if the Tour officials are not going to implement their own penalties for slow play. It took five and a half hours for J. B. Holmes, Adam Scott and Justin Thomas to play their final round. They were not held up and they didn’t have to look for a ball.
It led Peter Allis to tweet, “Congratulations to J. B. Holmes, who ground down his fellow competitors, spectators, marshals, TV viewers and TV commentators to win the Genesis Open. How slow can you go? Majestic.” Everybody on Twitter was in agreement, for the first time ever. It was painful to watch.
J. B. was totally unrepentant, giving reasons along the lines of it was windy and we are playing for a lot of money. A Tour Pro knows how to cope with such slowness, it wouldn’t affect his playing partners, the problem is that the worldwide audience watching, looking for a sporting fix of adrenaline are not going to stomach dismal dreary snail paced golf.
And nor should they. So instead of a shot penalty, a warning of any sort he was given his check and a two-year exemption (for winning the event) for the PGA Tour. Doesn’t seem right does it that the rules are changed and nobody takes any notice?
However, on a lighter note, my first sortie onto the golf course occurred last week and for the life of me I couldn’t get used to leaving the flag in the hole whilst on the green. But I guess that says more about the amount of golf I play than the rules!