3. Slow play appears to be reaching a tipping point on the PGA Tour in 2014. Last week, Kevin Na was heckled at Bay Hill. This week, Johnny Miller said he’d quit announcing if everyone played like Andrew Loupe and the final group Sunday took three hours to play the front nine. Do you sense that the Tour might take some action to address slow play? Why or why not?
BAMBERGER: I don't know, but if the choice is watching Na or listening to John, I'm going with John every time.
LYNCH: The Tour can only take action if the Tour admits there is a problem, and that hasn't happened because Tim Finchem has his head buried in a pot bunker on this issue. Calls for action from players have been ignored but perhaps there's a lesson to be drawn from the R&A's about-face on membership policies: if sponsors complain, action may follow. As it is, current pace of play policies and enforcement are solely aimed at nudging tortoises gently toward the finish line. If the people call for me as commissioner, I promise that offenders will get one warning, then a stroke penalty, then a DQ. Repeat offenders get suspended. Plus, known slow players are last off the tee Thursday and Friday. Let them putt on chewed up greens! But I admit this last one is just Chris Christie-style spite.
VAN SICKLE: I don't see the Tour changing any rules in midseason. I think they think their rules work as well as anything is going to work. The best way to speed up the Tour's turtles is to lose the cloak of anonymity. The Tour should start the World Slowpoke Rankings and players would be ranked according to who's gotten put on the clock the most, the most bad timings and the most fines. Announce the fines, PGA Tour. Put a spotlight on the perpetrators instead of covering for them.
SENS: I'd like to give you an answer, but I need to consult my caddy first, then consider the question from six different angles, then toss some grass up to see which way the political winds are blowing before summoning an official for a ruling. Please cut to one of other panelists in the meantime.
PASSOV: Very tough conditions, on a tough course, balls diving into rocky rough and burying into bunkers and such, with two wildly inexperienced leaders in that final. That explains a little. With so much money at stake, and such tough greens on Tour, I'm not positive how you can crack the whip more often or more efficiently than what they do now. Make the courses easier and you'll speed up play.
RITTER: Oh, sure, the Tour might decide to act, but in a sad irony they have already .... taken .... way .... too .... long.
SHIPNUCK: Yawn. This debate is decades old. Wake me when there's a solution. (It's gonna be a long nap.)
4. The TPC San Antonio's AT&T Oaks course, the Greg Norman-designed venue for this week's Valero Texas Open, features a large bunker in the middle of the green at the par-3 16th. Is this the kind of fun design feature that lends spice and variety to PGA Tour setups, or is it a silly gimmick that should be shelved?
VAN SICKLE: It's a gimmick, and yet Riviera's sixth hole has a bunker in its green and that course is considered a "classic." PGA Tour players pick tournaments to play because of their dates and the courses. If you're wondering why so few top players teed it up at Valero, look no further than the course.
BAMBERGER: Not a gimmick. Fun, odd, interesting. I've never been to the course, but it looks very cool on TV.
SHIPNUCK: Both. It works at Riv. Here, less so. Three of 'em would definitely be too many.
SENS: I have played quite a few Greg Norman courses featuring 18 holes that should all be shelved. But a bunker in the middle of the green is not itself a White Shark gimmick. No less a course than Riviera's got one. It works as a refreshing rarity.
PASSOV: I like the doughnut green in that it spurs folks into discussing and debating design. Norman did one of these in his 2002 design of Doonbeg. One of those per design career should be the limit.
LYNCH: Singling out one hole for special criticism on a Greg Norman design is like picking out one pimple in a mass of acne as being particularly unappealing.