Everyone’s talking about Patrick

In the parallel universe of golf social media, everyone is rather annoyed at someone called Patrick again

If you spend any amount of time in the online golf space, you’ll soon realise it can, at times, be somewhat detached from reality.

I came to this realisation, again, while reading opinions on Patrick Cantlay (I know, not the Patrick you we’re expecting) and his pre-shot routine.

Opinions on the matter ranged to the extremes on both sides, with some asking if it mattered, others demanding he be banned from the PGA Tour immediately, and others left questioning why they use social media anymore as the discourse is so angry and combative.

Taking a step back from the shouting (or block capital letters as the adamant keyboard warrior prefers) it comes down to a simple question – does slow play make PGA Tour golf more boring?

For Patrick there’s one solution – as he offered in a post-round interview at The Masters – “If you really wanted to make guys play faster, you would put the tees up, you would put easier hole locations, and the greens would roll at 10 if you really want to, and you hope it never blew more than 10 miles an hour.”

That’s an interesting theory. If courses were shorter, it would take less time. Easier golf courses also lead to more birdies, which is more exciting. A win-win scenario it would seem.

But jump forward to the PGA Championship and the incredibly difficult Oak Hill. For me, that was far more interesting than a birdie-fest. Sure, it was a major, but it was also played on a visually interesting golf course, setup to challenge players and require imagination around the greens.

The solution then, as is so often the case, is in compromise.

Players should be tested mentally and physically by golf courses, and that requires thought. However, sport is about making decisions under pressure and executing your technique effectively. Proper policing of slow players – at all times, not just when they are deemed out of position – would avoid situations like the one Patrick found himself in. Much like the much-applauded pitch clock introduced in baseball, the requirement to play in a managed amount of time would lead to greater excitement. Players would be forced to make choices quickly, leading inevitably to mistakes and ultimately more interesting golf tournaments.

While I deplore slow play in club golf, because nobody is paying to watch us, the professionals on the world’s leading tour’s should take a little bit of time (let’s say one minute per shot)… just not too much time as we’d like to get to bed on Sunday night rather than Monday morning.