#AskAlan mailbag: Will we actually see stroke penalties for pace of play in 2020?

January 17, 2020
Penalties for slow play could be handed out on Tour as soon as mid-April.

In this installment of the #AskAlan mailbag, GOLF senior writer Alan Shipnuck fields questions about Pete Dye, Phil Mickelson, the Olympics and much more…

Odds on Charlie Woods winning a major? – @AdamPeters_Golf

10,000-1. Maybe longer. That Zapruder-like video sent a charge through the golf world but if you’ve ever been to an AJGA event you know there are an endless army of kids who swing the club like that. Pretty much every Tour player ever has taught their sons and grandsons the game. These kids had access to the best practice facilities and instruction. Only a handful have made it to the Tour, and none have won a major, at least not since the Dark Ages when the Willie Parks and Tom Morrises were roaming the countryside. Certainly Tiger himself is an X-factor. Can he transfer to his son the unparalleled course management skills and mental toughness and other intangibles that made him so great? Sports history says no.

#AskAlan: My favorite Pete Dye course is Harbour Town. What is yours (to play, to spectate, and for tournament play)? – @David_Troyan

To play: Teeth of the Dog. Dye’s masterpiece.
To spectate: Harbour Town. Such a pleasant stroll and demands shotmaking.
Tournament play: Sawgrass Stadium. Maximum architecture makes for a great stage.

Why didn’t Ryan Palmer hit a provisional from the bunker on 18? Palmer had to have known the chances of finding his 1st ball were slim. Couldn’t a rules official mandate he hit one prior to searching? In the name of pace of play, that was excruciating to watch. #AskAlan – @Aroma_Bean

That was an excellent window into the entitlement of Tour players, as well as their optimism that the fans or marshals will alway be around to bail them out. More charitably, Palmer was so locked-in trying to win a tournament it didn’t occur to him that his ball might be lost. A rules official can’t mandate a provisional but he can certainly encourage it. Palmer’s caddie or playing partner could have done so as well. Everyone swallowed the whistle at a critical moment.

Which is more likely: Phil qualifying for the U.S. Open via his season performance/world ranking or via sectional qualifying? P.S. If he doesn’t qualify, does he play the U.S. Senior Open as a backup plan? #AskAlan – @EthanZimman

I think Phil is going to have a very strong West Coast swing and play his way into the Open. Failing that, I’m sure the USGA would come through with a special exemption and spare him qualifying. I’d have no problem with that. Mickelson has been a keynote player at the Open for going on two decades, and for better or worse he is at the center of every recap of what happened the last time the tournament came to Winged Foot. He has to be there for the encore.

Over-under on how many stroke penalties will be applied under the new pace of play rule by the end of 2020? – @TurtleTraderBR

One. These guys can all play faster when properly incentivized. It’s basic human nature. I’m coaching high school basketball and we do a competitive shooting drill in which the losers have to run. No matter how much I exhort the girls to practice at game-speed they don’t quite get there until I start counting down the final 10 seconds, at which point the players begin sprinting around like the young Cheryl Miller. Same principle applies.

Penalties for slow play could be handed out on Tour as soon as mid-April.
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Why is there such a lack of coverage for the Korn Ferry Tour? One would think the PGA Tour would want to promote the stars of the future, especially given how marketable many of the young guns are… – @KyechSports

I feel the same way about the Latinoamerica Tour, which plays in truly exotic places. Ultimately the dearth of coverage has been more of a Golf Channel issue – they haven’t wanted to spend the considerable resources it takes to have full broadcast teams on the ground and then allot the necessary time slots. I’m hoping this will change with the new TV contracts. There has never been more attention paid to the KFT and the Tour has the power to make increased coverage part of any new package. Most of the golf fans I know, in real life and on Twitter, would prefer to watch the Korn Ferry over the Seniors. For decades I have been saying the LPGA should play their events Saturday-Tuesday. Maybe the KFT will fully embrace such an idea, making it easier for the tour to get the exposure it deserves.

Should the Euros flex their superiority and select Trinity Forest as a future Ryder Cup location, then bake it out like its meant to be played? #askalan – @JKnox_59

This is my favorite idea in a while. Nothing speaks to the poverty of Tour player imagination more than the neutering and now rejection of Trinity Forest, which could have been a fun and fascinating venue but is now a cautionary tale for any setup that strays too far from the bomb/gouge template which allows for the mindless repeating of Trackman-honed swings.

When your caddie is your swing coach (Steele/Mayson) is he allowed to give swing tips/advice during the round to his player? – @ChrisGlossner

Definitely. Even caddies who aren’t actual instructors give their player little tips and swing thoughts during a round. Nothing in the rules precludes the caddie from wearing both hats. But all caddies try to avoid technical discussions on the golf course; you gotta play with what you got and then fix your swing on the range.

How many 4 year cycles ’til Olympic gold sneaks ahead of the Players in the ‘unofficial 5th Major’ stakes? Will 2028 in L.A. seal the deal? – @askival812

Depends a little bit on who takes the gold. If it continues to be a major championship winner, and they celebrate their Olympic triumph as lustily as Justin Rose did, it won’t take long for the recalcitrant factions of the golf world to embrace what a big deal the Olympics has already become for the sport. Same thing if it’s a player from a smaller country that rarely wins gold in any sport and the champ is feted like a king. Rio was a homerun despite all the pathetic fear-mongering of the top players who selfishly and myopically skipped the Games. They’re all gonna come crawling back this time, making golf a marquee event in a country that is mad for the game. The interest and prestige will only continue to build.

Justin Rose touted his Gold Medal wherever he went in 2016.
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Who from the PGA Tour is most likely to want to be mic’d up for an event? – @Sam_Beishuizen

Conscientious brand-builders like Rickie Fowler and Bryson DeChambeau. Dudes in desperate need of image-rehab like Matt Kuchar and Sergio Garcia. DGAF types like Shane Lowry and Pat Perez. Nice guys who can’t say no like Marc Leishman and Tommy Fleetwood.

The pro-am format has got to go. This week and Pebble are terrible viewing experiences. Do we really need AmEx clients playing rounds with professionals on the PGA tour? – @DJohnsonsSwag

I fully agree. Decades ago the pro-am was an important part of the Tour’s business model, as much of the money collected from the amateurs went directly into the purse. Those days are long gone, as is the star power of Bing, the Rat Pack, and other A-listers who added a lot to the events. I love Bill Murray, and would miss his schtick if Pebble did away with the ams, but that would be the only real loss. In exchange we could have much more challenging and imaginative course setups and cleaner broadcasts. Sign me up.

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