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Thursday, 21 January 2016

By the Book

Once again, John Paramor finds himself in the news for calling a slow play violation on Jordan Spieth.  This is not the first time Mr. Paramor has made news and ruffled feathers by making a " by the book" rules call.  

He upset Paddy Harrington and Tiger Woods in a close fought battle they were fighting at the Firestone Tournament in 2009 by putting Harrington on the clock down the stretch.  Tiger went to Paddy's defence, claiming that, by inserting himself into the action, Paramor negatively affected what was a great contest.

Paramor really caused a stir when penalized Tianlang Guan, the young amateur who was battling to make the cut at the 2013 Masters.  Thankfully, for Guan and Paramor, the kid made the cut anyway, but the controversy prevailed.

The problem is, Paramor is doing his job.  He is following the rules--doing things by the book.  The reality, however, is that players and fans do not want to see a great contest determined by the interference of a rules official; whether that interference is "by the book" or not.

Paramor has a difficult, and sometimes thankless, job to do.  Many people support his willingness to insert himself into the action to make a point about slow play.  The problem, as I see it, is that no one seems to understand, or want to take the necessary steps to really curb the sort of things that are causing slow play.

For instance, we saw Spieth and Fowler, among others, consulting books they had been given showing a meticulous, laser printout of the greens in Abu Dhabi.  If you want to curb slow play, why on earth would you supply, or permit these books to be used during play?  Whatever happened to reading greens?  Green-reading is supposed to be a skill.  Now, for 50 pounds sterling, you can purchase a book to do it for you and slow up play in the process.  It makes no sense to me.  

It seems to me that slow play will always be a problem in golf.  There are always going to be guys who, for one reason or another, are dreadfully slow at pulling the trigger.  Too often, however, it seems to me that the whole group finds themselves annoyed, irritated, and distracted by being "put on the clock" because of the slow play of one member of the threesome.  Or it certainly looks that way.

The reality is that players who are slow--and we all know who they are--need to be censured by their fellow players, the tour officials, and the Press.  It's amazing how these things can cause them to change their ways.  A fine of a few thousand euros means nothing to these guys.  And, as fans, we don't ever want to see a championship won, or lost, because of a petty rules violation, or the interference of a rules official.  We need to use some common sense in the application of the rules.  Unfortunately, however, common sense isn't always that common.