When it comes to speedy play, Brooks Koepka is at the top of the PGA Tour list along with his buddy Dustin Johnson. Those two generally take no time between the time they arrive at their ball to when they hit it. They are free-wheeling players who see the shot and make a decision followed by an execution.
Brooks has been extremely vocal about the PGA Tour’s slow-play issue. He took a jab at Bryson DeChambeau earlier this season for taking over a minute to hit while doing all kinds of calculations. The stoic Koepka doesn’t understand what the issue is for players like DeChambeau and we can all see his point.
A lot of the slower players on Tour don’t appear to care whether they play slow because the PGA Tour doesn’t penalize them. These players arrive at their ball and then don’t appear to do any calculations or put their gloves on until it’s their turn to hit.
This brings us to the final round of The Open Championship, when Koepka’s personal hell was realized and he was paired with notably slow player J.B. Holmes.
The issues began on the first tee when Brooks took around 26 seconds to hit his tee shot and then had to stand there and wait while J.B. decided which club to hit. This was not only frustrating for Brooks, but for those watching as well. NBC analyst Paul Azinger commented on J.B.’s first hole indecision.
“He’s known what he’s going to hit off this tee for at least 23 hours and he still took his time pulling that club.”
This makes me wonder if Holmes is intentionally playing slow to get in the head of the most dominant major championship player over the last two seasons.
To his credit, Holmes had a miserable day and went from contending in the tournament to nearly finishing dead last on the list of those who made the cut.
Brooks was visibly annoyed with Holmes’ lack of speed or consideration for his playing partner and it was caught by NBC’s cameras multiple times.
— Matthew Wiley (@wiley77) July 21, 2019
According to Golf Channel’s Will Gray, Brooks even motioned for officials to do something about it after walking off the 12th green, but nothing was done.
Walking off 12 green, Koepka stares at an official and points to his non-existent watch.
— Will Gray (@WillGrayGC) July 21, 2019
However frustrated he was during the round, Brooks appeared to have some sympathy for Holmes, who shot 87 and made six bogies, four double-bogies, and a triple.
“Yeah, I mean, there were some times where I thought it was slow,” Koepka said. “There’s a lot of slow guys out here. What I don’t understand when it’s your turn to hit, your glove is not on, then you start thinking about it, that’s where the problem lies. It’s not that [Holmes] takes that long. He doesn’t do anything until his turn. That’s the frustrating part. But he’s not the only one that does it out here.
“I mean, [Holmes] had a rough day. But J.B. is a slow player. I know it’s difficult with the wind, but I didn’t think he was that bad today. I thought he was all right. The European Tour does an unbelievable job with the pace of play, posting it in the locker rooms. The PGA [Tour] doesn’t do that.’’
Brooks is right. The guys who play slow don’t appear to start their routine until it is their turn to hit, which obviously slows things down. This is especially obvious when guys like J.B. are playing with guys like Brooks. No matter how slow J.B.’s partner is, he still has from the time they both arrive at their ball until it’s his turn to actually put the metal on the ball.
Koepka could have easily slammed Holmes and brought even more attention to the issue, but he took the high road because Holmes had such a bad day on the course.
I’m not going to be as nice and Brooks shouldn’t have been either because this is an actual issue and kindness isn’t going to make it go away. Holmes, who once took over four minutes to hit a shot, needs to learn some etiquette. He’s not only slowing down his partner’s pace, but also everyone behind him who has to stand there on the tee and wait for him to put his glove on when he’s had plenty of time to do so while walking up to his ball.
There’s a thing called, “ready golf,” where players hit as soon as they arrive at their ball no matter the order. I’m not saying this is what the Tour needs to do, but they actually need to enforce a penalty on those who don’t seem to care about anyone else around them.
If the European Tour can manage to keep players on track, why can’t the PGA Tour?
It literally makes no sense and until the Tour starts enforcing a penalty with some meaning, nothing is going to change.
Michael is the founder and Editor in Chief of The Stiff Shaft. He is also the Senior Editor of Golfweek Custom Media and covers the World Long Drive for Golf Channel.
He has 8+ years of covering golf, is an LSU fan, and prefers to hit driver-wedge as often as possible.