Caddie Confidential: What would you do to improve pace of play on Tour?
Welcome to the fifth installment of our “Caddie Confidential” series, with monthly, inside-the-ropes perspective from dozens of Tour caddies on rotating golf topics. Up this month: we tackle pace of play and all things related to it. Do the caddies think it’s an issue – and would rangefinders help?
Back in February, the PGA of America announced it would allow the use of distance-measuring devices in all its championships, including the PGA Championship this week at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course.
“We’re always interested in methods that may help improve the flow of play during our Championships,” PGA of America President Jim Richerson said in a press release. “The use of distance-measuring devices is already common within the game and is now a part of the Rules of Golf. Players and caddies have long used them during practice rounds to gather relevant yardages.”
While the casual golf fan may assume the use of rangefinders would be a good thing for the game when it came to speeding up play on the PGA Tour, players were quick to note the new rule might actually have the opposite effect.
How could that be? Unlike recreational golfers, those at the highest levels of the game chart their yardage books to pinpoint accuracy. They’re rarely shooting at just the flag. What if they need a yardage to the front of the green or a quadrant of the green? Maybe a specific area in a fairway? The rangefinders aren’t going to help with that.
We polled nearly four dozen PGA Tour caddies to get their opinion on rangefinders and what they would do to immediately speed of the game, promising them all anonymity in an effort to get their most honest answers. Here’s what they told us.
For pace of play, use of rangefinders at PGA Tour events would …
- 7.5% of caddies said it would IMPROVE
- 32.5% of caddies said it would WORSEN
- 60% of caddies said it would MAKE NO DIFFERENCE
We then asked caddies: If you could make one change to speed up rounds, what would it be?
Check out this selection of responses from caddies:
Eliminate greens contours books.
No greens books.
Tell slow people to start preparing for their shot before it’s their turn to hit.
Bring in a shot clock.
Smaller fields at events. There are just too many in the field as it stands now.
Ban green reading books.
Just enforce the pace of play rules in place.
No lines on the balls to line up and greens books should be illegal.
Shoot slow players. Just kidding. More closely monitor slow players and put those players individually on the clock and hold them responsible for their actions that cause “groups” to fall out of position on the golf course.
Dock strokes for not hitting shot within allotted timeframe.
No marking a putt under 2 feet. You must finish.
Play ready golf. It would take a few events for everyone to fall in line but once it has been around then it would catch on.
I would start with a 1-shot penalty for every bad time a player received.
Have a shot clock … no exceptions. Warnings and then shots.
I think pace of play is better with smaller fields.
One warning. Then penalty strokes to follow.
Play ready golf.
An official time clock for each group daily.
Once a player has replaced his ball on the green he cannot keep adjusting it to get the line right.
Provide groupings with feedback each hole relating to being in position, and being on time with their pace of play. Use a red card if the group is out of position and behind on time; a yellow card if you are either out of position or behind on time — and tell the group which of the two it is; and a green card indicating the group is in position and on time.
Nothing can be done.
Not a rule per se, but setting courses up easier speeds up play. Sure there’s slow players, but everyone gets slow when you are hitting 4 irons into par 4s with pins tucked 5 yards over bunkers, 3 yards from the right edge. But this is the highest level our sport can be played. It’s the big leagues, so it should be difficult. But this slows down play as much as the handful of chronic slow players out there.
Sixty-second shot clock on every shot.
I would like to eliminate greens books. Many players are looking at them on the green which adds time to the round.
Put the slow players in a category where they tee off first with officials watching and timing them.
Official in every group to help with rulings so groups do not fall out of position.
Not sure other than fewer players on the course at any given time.
Interested in more from our May 2021 installment of Caddie Confidential? Be sure to check out whether or not caddies think pace of play is an issue, as well as one slow-play story that either made a caddie laugh, or made his blood boil.
You can view all the results from our entire Caddie Confidential by clicking here.