Slow play in golf is coming under increasing scrutiny but forcing players to rush their shots would take all the skill out of the game, says David Howell.
The proposed introduction of a shot-clock as well as the speedy GolfSixes and World Super 6 Perth tournaments are just some examples of authorities trying to increase the speed or play.Embed from Getty Images
Players have hit back though with the likes of former-world-number-one Jason Day insisting he does not care about speeding his game up if it means he will be more successful.
Howell, chairman of the European Tour’s Players’ Committee, is the latest to suggest that high-paced play might not be of benefit to the game.
“I think it can prove that pros can get around in a really quick time but I’m caught in two minds about it because golf has never been a race,” Howell told bunkered.co.uk.
“Where we do struggle as a sport is trying to get across why it’s so slow and it takes four-and-a-half hours and I think – most of the time – it’s because we have 156 players playing and that’s a lot of players to get around.
“But that’s a really boring thing to try and explain. It’s much easier to just moan about a player taking 70 seconds to hit a wedge.”
Howell, who has won five times on the European Tour himself, continued on to state that for him speed of play is not one of the most prominent issues in the sport.
“Personally, I don’t see slow play as a problem massively, but I can understand why we’re trying to do something about it.
“When a crowd follows a two-ball at a weekend, I think fans would probably think we play quite quickly to be honest. Three-and-a-half hours is pretty good around a 7000-yard course.”
When asked whether he thought slow play was so focused on was purely a result of the focus itself, Howell agreed.
“I think there’s an element of that but, don’t get me wrong, pro golfers aren’t blameless.
“Ken Schofield our old CEO used to say, ‘Look, golf isn’t a race’ and it isn’t. It’s a game of skill.
“Should we play within a specific amount of time? For sure. But I don’t think golf will gain from giving people only 35-40 seconds over a shot and turning it into speed golf,” he insisted.
“Do that and we won’t see some of the amazing shots that we’ve seen over the years because we just won’t have time to do it.
“We need to be careful what we wish for. But it is also right to ensure we chop a few minutes off here and there where we can and that’s what we will continue to do.
“To get around the course quicker on Thursday and Friday, we have to have less than 156 players playing – and I would rather see those extra 12 or 24 players playing and being given an opportunity to play.
“If that takes an extra 15 minutes to get around, I don’t think it’s worth the trade off of taking that chance away from them.”