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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 18, 2010

Doing a slow burn over slow play

 •  Holes in One
 •  Pro tour players from Hawaii
 •  Plantation, Prince courses on Top 100


By Bill Kwon

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Hawai'i Golf Hall of Fame member Bev Kim says slow play is inconsiderate and takes the joy out of a round of golf. "It's annoying and awkward and there's just no need for it," she says.

ADVERTISER LIBRARY PHOTO | June 27, 2002

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BILL KWON'S TIPS TO AVOID SLOW PLAY

1. Forget practice swings if you're already swinging 100 times a round.

2. Forget honors if you can't reach the golfers in the group ahead of you.

3. Always keep a "water" ball in your pocket.

4. Play only when the fairways are open.

5. Putt out if they don't give you those gimmes.

6. Don't go into a sand trap.

SLOWEST GOLFER EVER?

World Golf Hall of Famer Cary Middlecoff was notorious for his slow play. At the 1955 PGA Championship 36-hole final round, winner Doug Ford had his son carry a chair for him so he could sit while it was Middlecoff's turn to play. On the 14th hole, Ford says Middlecoff lit up a cigarette when he got to the green and didn't putt until the whole cigarette was gone. "That chair saved my legs," said Ford.

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You can tell Bev Kim is getting to be an old geezer like me.

A member of the Hawai'i Golf Hall of Fame, Kim is getting more grouchy these days. So when she found herself behind some really slow players on a golf course leading to 5 1/2-hour rounds all too often lately, the winner of tournaments in five different decades, including one as a grandma, had to speak out:

"No matter the course public, private, military or resort and no matter the event weekly club play, member-guest tournaments, state amateur championships and even on the PGA and LPGA tours slow play happens and turns enjoyable 4-hour rounds of golf into 5- and 6-hour tests of grit and survival. Why?" she asked in an e-mail.

"Maybe it's because of how the courses are set up. Like bunkers that are too many and too deep, yardage markers that are hard to find or don't exist at all, greens that are U.S. Open slick, rough that's hard to mow and allowed to grow, and distances from a green to the next tee that are almost as long than the hole itself.

"Maybe it's a course-management problem such as assigning tee times too close to one another, overcrowding the courses, and the lack of marshals to ensure that slower players pick up their pace or allow faster players to play through."

Most of the fault, though, lies squarely with slow players, Kim said.

"They're the ones who are jamming it up for the rest of us. They feel entitled to their time on the course (however long that might be) because they've paid for it. (Some) are new to the game and believe the only way to learn it is by being on the course. There are others who choose to play from the tips, knowing all along their games are more suited to the forward tees, who plumb-bob 12-inch putts and who don't think about taking more than one club for their next shot and wait for his cart partner to pick him up only to ride forward 30 yards to hit again with another club."

The most maddening delays, according Kim, are when players go through elaborate pre-shot routines and line up putts from the front, back and sides like his favorite pro does on TV. Doing so, especially with a group waiting, shows a lack of consideration and courtesy, which is what the sport of golf is all about, she added.

"It's basic to the spirit of the game. A group out of position unfairly affects every group after it. The USGA strongly believes that a round of golf should rarely take more than 4 1/2 hours to complete. Typically, a par-4 hole takes 13 minutes to complete, a par 5 takes 18 minutes and a par 3 can be finished in 10.

"Keeping up with the pace of play doesn't mean rushing your shots. It's about being ready to take your shot by knowing what club you'll likely be using and continue moving in the direction of your next shot as along as doing so isn't a distraction to another player who may be hitting."

Kim misses the good old days of 3 1/2-hour Sunday rounds at the Ala Wai Golf Course (lucky to play under five hours these days) and 4 1/2-hour rounds with 144 women walking Mid-Pacific Country Club in the Jennie K. Wilson Invitational, which she won in 1981.

"A good friend on Kaua'i, Anna Sloggett, enjoyed playing nine holes regularly at Wailua until her 102nd birthday last year," said Kim, who just talked to her the other day. "She said she played 'easily within two hours because I didn't want to hold anybody up.' "

Kim, who won her first tournament at 15 as Beverly Kong, says she's finding herself more and more a victim of slow play these days. "After playing the game for years, slow play's the only thing that has taken the fun out of golf for me. It's annoying and awkward and there's just no need for it."

And she enjoys being called an "old geezer" because she finds there's an advantage to being such an old fogey. It gives her a chance to rant and rave, she says. "Thanks for letting me sound off. I'll go take a nap now," said Kim, who'll be 64 on April Fool's Day.

Bill Kwon can be reached at billkwonrhs@aol.com