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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Na VS Demons, Round 2

Today I just want to give you a quick head's-up about something you might have missed on Tuesday's Golf Central.

On the tails of the controversial slow play penalty at the Sybase Match Play this past weekend comes a new chapter in the larger slow play saga. Kevin Na is returning to action in the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial two weeks after his excruciating ordeal at The PLAYERS.

But Kevin spent the week off trying to change his pre-shot routine to speed it up... and he believes he has succeeded.

Golf Central shot footage of Kevin's new routine and showed it Tuesday. (I tried to find the video on the 'Net but had no luck.) Let's see if I remember this correctly... Essentially he's reduced it to:
  1. a practice swing, then
  2. he sets up,
  3. looks once at his target, and
  4. pulls the trigger.
Kevin doesn't know how well or badly he's going to play for the next few weeks, but he said he's determined to use this new routine and speed up his play. The video timed out at around 20 seconds, less than half the average time he was taking before.

Personally I have mixed feelings about this whole slow play debate. While I'm no fan of slow play, the "speedsters" are beginning to sound awfully self-righteous to me. I've heard players talk as if slow players destroy the rhythm of fast players, but fast players never do the same to slow players. Of course, we all know that Tiger traditionally played slowly when paired with fast players and quickly when paired with slow players to try and gain an advantage. And I don't care what you speed demons think, cruising around the course in 3 hours doesn't make you a hero. Some people like to spend a little longer on the course just to get away from things.

I view speed of play as just another condition of the course, like pin positions, tee placement, wind, rain, and all of those other aspects of the game. You're supposed to adapt to your opponent's speed of play just as you do to the weather; nobody is obligated to play at a certain speed just because it makes the game easier for you. Again, I'm not saying that extremely slow play should be the norm, but I think we should realize that some players are never going to be happy unless things are running (literally) at the speed they desire.

That ain't gonna happen, boys. No matter what is done about it, the game will never be played at a speed that satisfies everybody. If we're lucky, the best we'll eventually achieve is an average speed that doesn't please anybody! There will always be faster players and slower players, and they'll have to adjust to each other on the course. So regardless of which side of the debate you're on, grow up and learn to live with it.

In the meantime, I applaud Kevin Na for taking action to speed up his play. His inner demons weren't strong enough to make him hit bad shots, even when they were screaming in his head. To me, that says they aren't strong enough to make him listen to them... and I suspect he'll shut them up in fairly short order now. That slightly traumatic experience he went through at The PLAYERS was probably just the mental shot he needed to make him realize that.

So keep your eyes open for the new Na pre-shot routine this week at Colonial. You can bet GC will chronicle this newest twist to Na's journey toward a faster speed of play... and to the slow play debate as well.

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