Reaction to JB Holmes’ slow play might be a defining moment in golf

The condemnation of JB Holmes’ slow play was swift and harsh. Was it enough for the PGA Tour to take notice?

The scourge of slow play is nothing new to anybody but the unwillingness by golf’s biggest professional tours to do anything about it is becoming more frustrating by the day.

The reaction to the glacial pace of play from Genesis Open winner JB Holmes on the weekend was not just limited to armchair critics on social media.

Vocal critics of Holmes’ slow play included former PGA Tour players, Holmes’ playing partner Adam Scott and the broadcast commentators watching the whole thing (slowly) unraveling before them.

Here is a recap of what happened.

JB Holmes played the final round of the Genesis Open with Justin Thomas and Adam Scott. Thomas held a three shot lead when they teed off.

In cold, blustery conditions almost five and a half hours later, and after falling a good hole or so behind the group in front, the threesome holed out on the 18th hole; Thomas finished with a 4-over par 75, Scott with a 5-over par 76 and Holmes grabbed a one stroke victory courtesy of a 1-under par 70.

But it was this moment early in the round at the par-3 4th hole that started the criticism.

Holmes is a known slow player on tour and here he took 79 seconds to make this putt – after his playing partners had already putted.

And then he went and plumb bobbed a two footer for par. Watch for yourself.

You can hear that even the broadcast commentators had had enough, and both Peter Kostas and Jim Nantz let it be known they weren’t happy with Holmes’s slow play.

Quizzed about his snail-like pace on the golf course after the round, Holmes blamed the wind and the amount of money at stake.

“I was never even close to being on the clock all week. I mean, yeah, when I first got out here I was really slow, but I’ve sped up quite a bit. Like I said, the conditions made it tougher, too,” Holmes said.

“Sometimes you’re waiting for the wind to stop blowing 30 miles an hour. Like I said, I’ve gotten better. There’s times when I’m probably too slow, but it is what it is. I was never on the clock. Never even got a warning. TV wants everything to be real fast all the time.”

And he is right, he never got close to being put on the clock. Which is where it gets really frustrating.

Brooks Koekpa recently said the PGA Tour doesn’t have the balls to penalize anyone for slow play and Adam Scott went on record as saying he would be happy to be the first player penalized if it meant the tour started to get serious about pace of play.

Scott, who is usually very reserved and collected when it comes to contentious topics let his frustrations be known after the round. Albeit in a nice, Adam Scott kinda way.

“We know he’s [Holmes] generally a slow player. When you get conditions like this, everyone turns into a slow player,” Scott said. “We know he’s a slower player. It wasn’t affecting things. I mean, it just takes a long time to get around.”

And then Scott’s frustrations were made obvious when he added a few more thoughts.

“I mean, I’ll tell you my thing on slow play is it’s never going to change. I think, just get over it,” Scott added.

“Until television and sponsors say, ‘No more money,’ slow play ain’t going to change.”

And there was plenty more criticism on Twitter from many former players and from other sectors of the media.

Andy Maher was rightly furious in his rant as part of the Inside The Ropes podcast this week:

And former PGA Tour player Robert Damron went to town on JB Holmes suggesting he was the reason for his playing partner’s poor form. Not just in last week’s event, but many others in the past as well.

We’ve all experienced slow play – some of it we should all take some responsibility for. But there is no doubt that slow play can negatively impact others. So Damron’s argument has merit.

We can’t help but think this may be a defining moment for slow play in golf.

The criticism has been swift, rightly harsh and from more than just your average golf fan.

Of course we’re not naive enough to think the PGA Tour will act and act fast. Any changes to the way golf is played usually arrives at the pace of JB Holmes.

But with The Masters around the corner and Augusta National having made a minor statement in 2013 penalizing an amateur for slow play, and putting several groups on the clock last year, we think a few penalties may be just around the corner.

Again, this may not be enough to deter the slow players from playing slow. But it may be a start in the right direction.

Stay tuned.

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