Time Ain’t On Our Side

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Hi, my name is James, and I’m a recovering waggler.

Okay, so now’s the time when you all are supposed to respond that you support me despite my lengthy pre-shot routine … Guys? Anybody? You still there?

Well, I feel your judgment, but you know what? I understand. It’s something I’m working through, like obsessive snacking or coffee dependence – all right, fine, I’m not working on either of those things, but I am working on my waggle.

And honestly, give me a break: I’m no Kevin Loupe.

Time is ticking

You probably saw the tiff last Sunday at the Valero Texas Open when rookie Andrew Loupe, he of 2013 Web.com success, was given an official warning about his agonizingly long pre-shot routines. Even the normally forgiving and kind (ahem) Johnny Miller quipped, “If everyone on Tour played like him [Loupe], I’d quit announcing.”

Slow play does have a lot in common with spotty wireless internet service in that it can throw rational human beings into psychotic rages.

And granted, Johnny, it can be almost comical to watch: the approaches, the backoffs, the waggling, the alignments, the practice takeaways of varying lengths, the pauses. And it’s even worse when, after all of that, Loupe breathes deep, commits, and pulls his drive into the far left trees – or maybe that’s just what I do.

On the LPGA Tour, the 2012 Sybase Match Play Championship was partially decided by a slow play penalty. When typically slow Azahara Munoz’s play put her semifinal pairing with Morgan Pressel on the clock, and Pressel was the one who actually got hit with a penalty, it decided their match and Munoz went on to win the tournament.

Fair or not, Kevin Na and slow play have been synonymous since he joined the Tour, especially since the 2012 Players Championship when media coverage followed the 36-hole-leader’s every idiosyncrasy (Na shot a 4-over on Sunday to finish T7).

Slow jamming the news

So the time issue is no stranger to PGA and LPGA headlines, and it’s certainly something the average golfer grapples with just about every round. In fact, the numbers don’t lie: with slow pokes like Na, Ben Crane, and now Loupe on the Tour scene, as well as a college game that’s slowed to a paint-drying-pace, and municipal course rounds taking the better part of a weekend, the game of golf could be said to be experiencing a bit of a crisis.

A round shouldn’t take 5+ hours, ever. And in a game that is so dependent upon muscle memory, on rhythm and pace, on patience and mental fortitude, the act of “waiting” can be corrosive for one’s enjoyment and one’s score.

Full disclosure: my waggle isn’t even an OCD thing, but it is a matter of comfort, of simply finding a grip that feels like I can let loose with confidence. And at my handicap, let’s be honest … “comfort” is in short supply.

But I get it. Life is short and time is of the essence for the game of golf, and if the sport is going to continue to flourish as a hobby and a spectator sport, then slow players are going to need to pick it up.

I’m doing my part. I swear. For the sanity of my foursome and for the future of the game. And hopefully the PGA responds in kind. You know, while we’re young.

James Lower
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