The Kevin Na slow play phenomenon at the Tournament Players Championship has everyone in the golf community talking about slow play. Na has become the poster-boy for slow play and has been torched in the locker room and in social media. He was put on the clock in the third round of the tournament and then recorded a bad time, which means by PGA Tour Pace of Play guidelines, he is likely subject to an automatic fine.
Rule 6-7 in the Rules of Golf covers Undue Delay; Slow Play. The Rule states: “The player must play without undue delay and in accordance with any pace of play guidelines that the Committee may establish. Between completion of a hole and playing from the next teeing ground, the player must not unduly delay play.” Note 2 under this Rule says: “For the purpose of preventing slow play, the Committee may, in the conditions of a competition (Rule 33-1), establish pace of play guidelines including maximum periods of time allowed to complete a stipulated round, a hole or a stroke.”
The normal penalty for a breach of Rule 6-7 would be two strokes in stroke play. In stroke play, the Committee may, in such a condition, modify the penalty for a breach of this Rule as follows:
First offense – One stroke
Second offense – Two strokes
For subsequent offense – Disqualification
In Michigan PGA events, we define undue delay as taking more than 40 seconds to play a stroke. Other than on the putting green, the timing of a player’s stroke will begin when he and his caddie have had a reasonable opportunity to reach his ball, it is his turn to play, and he can play without interference or distraction. Time spent determining yardage will count as time taken for that stroke. On the putting green, timing will begin after a player has been allowed a reasonable amount of time to lift, clean and replace his ball, repair his ball mark and other ball marks on his line of putt and remove loose impediments. Time spent looking at the line from beyond the hole and/or behind the ball will count as time taken for that stroke. Our Pace of Play Policy has been adopted from USGA and PGA Tour events.
If you have any questions on the Rules of Golf you can submit them to “Ask The Pros” @new.mikefaygolf on Twitter or you can contact me direct at email@example.com I hope you are “Playing by the Rules.”
Frank Guastella, PGA Master Professional
Michigan PGA Rules Official
Staff Writer for Mike Fay Golf
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Earlier this week, I asked Mike what he thought would be a good topic to write about when it comes to the mental side of the game. He threw out the notion of #17 at Sawgrass which allows for insight into the mental anguish players may feel on the tee. The island green strips away the confidence of some of the best players on tour. In reality, a tour pro hits a wedge to a 145 yard pin daily without any issue. Not being inside of 10 feet with a wedge in their hand seems like a failure. On the 17th, though, flaws and commitment are magnified.
Although the 17th at Sawgrass is an excellent story by itself each year at the Players Championship, another story has emerged when it comes to the mental side of the game.
Kevin Na, admittedly, is taking an abnormal amount of time to hit the golf ball. His pre-shot routine has morphed into a waggle-ridden, backoff, waggle again-spectacle. His pre-shot hesitancy is precedented. (See: SergioGarcia–regrip)
The question is-what is going through Kevin Na’s mind prior to hitting the ball? He has been a somewhat obscure tour pro up to this point with not many tour wins. Wouldn’t we all like to be an obscure tour pro?
I am not a psychologist. I apply what I know to what I see. What I see with Kevin Na is a hesitancy in his mind about his shot which is manifested physically in his pre-shot routine. As many of us can speak to, we all have thoughts going through our head prior to a shot. Most of them, for me, are horrendously bad.
I will try and correlate some of my own experiences. Take pitching for example. When I was either on the mound or coaching a player who was struggling with walks, most of the time the pitcher was trying to be too “fine”. The pitcher was trying to “place” the ball exactly where he wanted it to go. When this happens, the pitcher does not deliver the ball in a free and easy-fluid motion and the pitcher either walks the hitter or the hitter takes advantage of the pitchers inability to hit his spot. Hitting your spot in baseball and golf is essential for success.
A lesson that was told to me when I experienced this on the mound was to pick out a “soft spot”. The “Soft Spot” was area that I would throw to instead of a fine spot where I was exactly aiming. For example, mentally, when I needed a pitch on the inside corner to a right-handed hitter, I would picture a one foot circle in which I was going to throw the ball to. In contrast, when I trying to be “too fine” with my pitches, I was throwing to a one inch circle.
Let’s bring it back to golf. When looking at a shot (any shot), tour pros can pick a leaf off a tree (fine spot). Many of us hit the tree when aiming down the fairway. When we stand over a shot, we should be looking in an area similar to the pitching example above. This soft spot gives the average golfer the confidence to hit the shot with an understanding that it does not have to be perfect. Left side of the green away from trouble, right side of the green because water is on the left-this is the process I’m speaking about.
Is Kevin Na trying to be perfect (by the way, he is leading the tournament)?
Is Kevin Na picking out a spot that is so fine, it is creating hesitancy which is manifested in his pre-shot routine?
Sometimes, grip-it-and-rip-it works because you’re not thinking about it.
Remember, golf and baseball are easy.
Baseball: throw the ball, catch the ball and hit the ball.
Golf: hit the ball in the hole in the fewest attempts.
Scott Kapla, Mike Fay Golf Staff Writer
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Kevin Na: http://www.pgatour.com/golfers/025396/kevin–na/