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Bjorn Says Slow Play Is “Destroying The Game”

The desire to speed up the pace of play from a sheer enjoyment standpoint for the professionals on the world’s largest Tours is coming to a head, highlighted by Italian Edoardo Molinari publicly posting the European Tour’s slow-play logs on social media in April.

The impact stretches well beyond the players and fans on the ground, 2018 Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn said in a recent interview with Golfweek.com’s Alistair Tait, it could potentially destroy the game from a commercial perspective as well. 

Pro “Name And Shames” Tour’s Slow Play Offenders

“We’ve got to come down on it hard because we have a product to sell,” Bjorn said. “People have to turn on the TV to watch us play, and if it takes too long, there’s too many alternatives. That’s destroying the game commercially. You’ve got to have a commercial hat on and say we’ve got to make our game better. People don’t have all that time to sit and watch a round of golf. Especially young people, and those are the ones we want to try and attract to our game.

“We’ve got to do something about it for the good of the game. The players have to understand that they are destroying it for themselves for the long term. The tours and the governing bodies need to realize this is too big an issue.”

Bjorn, who was the chairman of the European Tour’s tournament committee for 10 years, has a solution that he thinks will work if implemented: self-policing. 

“Self-policing can have the biggest impact,” he said. “I’ve suggested for years, especially in our biggest events, that you have timing boards on every tee, so every time you walk onto a tee you can see if you are in front or behind your time. And then you can self-police it. In a day and age where everything is recorded digitally, you can constantly know where everyone is at any time. There has to a better way than guys (referees) driving around in buggies trying to figure out who’s out of position.

“I understand Edoardo’s frustration. I’ve sat on the committee for 15 years and this is a constant issue. Remember, 90 percent of the players want to do something about it, but the protections are for the 10 percent that doesn’t care.”

While Bjorn continues to bang the slow-play drum, the governing bodies are at least talking about it. European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said that representatives from the European Tour, the PGA Tour, the USGA and the R&A met to discuss the issue in April at The Masters and there are plans to continue the conversation next month at the Open Championship.

“What has to happen is we collectively as administrators have to get on the same page on slow play because it isn’t just a European Tour issue,” Pelley said. “There is a will to tackle this issue across the game.”

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