Golf’s best slow play controversies of the year, ranked!

December 14, 2018

As 2018 concludes, it’s time to reflect on the year that was in golf. There were plenty of great shots, landmark victories and young stars on the rise — and we’ll get to those. But this piece is about appreciating the game’s spicier moments.

Golf’s “controversies” are often borne of small issues — perceived slights, arcane rulings, over-served fans — but that just serves to make them more entertaining. So here, as determined by a GOLF panel (of one), are GOLF’s Slow Play Controversies of the Year. (You can read the rest of the year’s controversies HERE.)


Everyone says they hate slow play — players, fans, announcers, governing bodies. And yet these turtles dawdle along anyway, as those around them simmer, and simmer, and finally boil over…

The finalists:

4. PATRICK CANTLAY vs. THE FANS – While in the mix at the Players, Cantlay appeared to be having trouble taking the club away, leading to long, frustrating TV shots of the rising star standing over the ball. Nick Faldo echoed the sentiments of viewers at home with his unsparing commentary: “You’ll have time to go make a coffee or double espresso before he hits the ball.”

3. TYRRELL HATTON vs. PHAVORTISM – With four holes left at WGC-Mexico, Hatton and Shubhankar Sharma were put on the clock — but their playing partner, Phil Mickelson, was not. Hatton, who has never been accused of levelheadedness, was apoplectic. “Phil goes, ‘Well, he obviously likes me.’ I was raging,” Hatton relayed after the round. Bogeying 18 to miss a playoff by a shot didn’t help matters.

Tyrrell Hatton Phil Mickelson slow play
Tyrrell Hatton was no fan of being put on the clock while in contention at the WGC-Mexico.
Getty Images

2. J.B. HOLMES vs. THE GRAMMYS – J.B. Holmes quite literally held up the Red Carpet ceremony at the Grammy Awards while he spent close to four minutes choosing to lay up on No. 18 at Torrey Pines. Laying up! Into the rough, by the way…

And the winner is…

1. MAN vs. FINGER – During a pace-of-play “disagreement” at Southers Marsh, a (clever and underrated, actually) course just outside of Boston, a golfer bit off a fellow golfer’s finger. Bit it off! Three need-to-know things from the news report: 1. The man pled not guilty. Not guilty! Bold. 2. Witnesses described the sound as crunching “like a Dorito.” 3. Believe it or not, “alcohol was involved.” Talk about things getting out of hand (ducks).

Slow play is just the tip of the iceberg: You can read a complete breakdown of 2018’s wildest golf controversies HERE.