(Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
By Joel Beall
Brooks Koepka is the best player in golf. And he’s quickly becoming one of its most outspoken, at least when it comes to slow play.
Throughout the past season, Koepka has sounded off on the game’s pace issues, highlighted by calling out Bryson DeChambeau in February and demonstratively expressing frustration with J.B. Holmes at the Open Championship. Speaking with the media on Wednesday at the Northern Trust, Koepka again hammered home his displeasure with the sport’s speed or lack thereof.
“I think it’s just gotten out of hand,” Koepka said at Liberty National. “It seems now that there are so many sports psychologists and everybody telling everybody that they can’t hit it until they’re ready; that you have to fully process everything. I mean, I take 15 seconds and go, and I’ve done all right. So I don’t understand why they’re taking a minute and a half.”
Koepka said he’s frustrated and baffled at what his fellow players are doing on the course, particularly with relatively easy decisions.
“Sometimes they might be trying to decide what club to hit. Well, you’ve had a day to think about it, and it’s pretty clear what the tee shot is,” Koepka said. “I mean, I just don’t get—a lot of times it’s on the simpler shots. The difficult ones, you already know what to do with it, but it’s the simpler ones where guys seem to take their time.”
Koepka relented that, in his position, there’s only so much he can do, saying the onus falls on rules officials to enforce pace.
“What I don’t understand is, if I hit in the water, I have to take a penalty stroke. It’s in the rule book,” Koepka said. “And then you have 40 seconds to hit a shot. That’s in the rule book, too. … They’re all in the rule book. So figure it out and penalize somebody.”
The reigning Player of the Year wasn’t the only one to address the subject. Tiger Woods halted his practice round after nine holes because of stiffness but still made his way to the flash area to answer questions after a stroll around the course Wednesday morning. When asked his thoughts on slow play, the 15-time major winner shared how some players are battling the issue.
“We’ve had guys—I’m not going to mention any names here, OK. … But we’ve had guys that have played with slow players, that will play slow on purpose to put them on the clock, so the group will play fast,” Woods said. “They want to play fast. And that’s their version of combatting slow play is they will play even slower.”
Unfortunately, Woods said, that creates a separate problem, as that decision creates a pile-up in the groups behind.
“We can only go as fast as the group in front of us goes,” Woods said. “It’s important that the first group goes out and sets the pace because as you know, the times get slower as you go on, and if the first group goes out slow or has rulings, hits the ball badly, it just logjams everyone behind them.”
Though Woods said slow play has been an issue since he arrived on tour, Koepka warned that failing to take action will damage the sport in the long run.
“I mean, five and a half hours to play golf is a long time,” Koepka said. “Everybody’s going to get bored.”