Back during his playing days, baseball player Mike Hargrove earned the nickname “the Human Rain Delay” for his ability to slow the pace of a ballgame to a crawl with his endless routines during every at-bat.
And if ever there were a time to bring back that nickname in a different context, golfer J.B. Holmes has certainly earned the moniker.
Holmes won the Genesis Open on Sunday in the shadow of the Daytona 500 and the NBA All-Star Game, so he might have flown below the radar of the average sports fan. But his pace of play, somewhere between “glacial” and “molasses in January,” got the internet and CBS announcers good and riled up.
Indeed, the group of Holmes, Adam Scott, and Justin Thomas took a mind-bending 5.5 hours to play their final round, with Holmes accounting for most of the temporal excess.
Golf, like baseball, has been suffering from diminishing fan interest due in part to the time investment required to sit down and watch it on television. Nobody wants to watch a four-hour baseball game, and absolutely nobody wants to watch three professionals take an average of nearly 20 minutes per hole to play a round of golf.
Even Jack Nicklaus in recent days has beaten the drum of speeding up the game, finding himself joined in those efforts by Tiger Woods.
CBS analyst Peter Kostis, calling Holmes’ round, finally got sick of all the waiting and called Holmes out.
JB Holmes takes an eternity to putt pic.twitter.com/uiAS1eBpEF
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) February 17, 2019
Kostis noted that Holmes was checking topographic maps of the green, going through his whole routine, and that, most egregiously, he didn’t do all that while the other players were making their putts, instead waiting until it was his turn to play to go through all that rigmarole.
And the bigger question must be asked … Can’t a professional golfer stoop down and read a green like all of his colleagues have in the entire history of the sport? Since when were topographic maps allowed, much less used by professionals?
Holmes took over a minute to putt. Then, when he missed, he took another similarly long time to make the next shot.
All of that adds up to a boring style of play where you just want to throttle the guy and say “hurry up and hit the ball!”
Maybe it’s time for golf to have a shot clock like basketball.
As CJ Fogler put it, “if you’re plumb-bobbing a 1 foot putt with me I’m throwing your bag in a lake.”
If you’re plumb bobbing a 1 foot putt with me I’m throwing your bag in a lake pic.twitter.com/uCrceicFaE
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) February 17, 2019
Holmes offered up the king of lame excuses, blaming the strong winds for his glacial play, as though he were under the impression that all the other players, who played faster than he did, didn’t have to deal with the same conditions.
“You play in 25-mile-an-hour gusty winds and see how fast you play when you’re playing for the kind of money and the points and everything that we’re playing for,” Holmes told GolfWeek.
Plenty of people in the golf community were quick to unite behind Kostis and praise him for calling out Holmes.
Good on @peterjkostis for not being scared to say what a selfish bit of work of JB Holmes to start his entire (painful) putting routine after both players he’s with have chipped. He had plenty of time. #GenesisOpen
— Robert Lusetich (@RobertLusetich) February 17, 2019
Another commenter referred to Holmes as a “disgrace”:
JB Holmes is a disgrace. The way the rules are currently enforced fast players have no choice but to slow down and become slower players. If they don’t they are at a huge disadvantage.
— Tee-k Kelly (@teekkelly) February 18, 2019
And yet another tweet pointed out that if the PGA Tour enforced its own rules on the books about delaying the game, Holmes would probably have a meltdown from not being able to stall and do all his little routines:
If JB Holmes was on the clock and being properly monitored he’d struggle to top 10.#breakingtherules.
— Gary murphy (@Garymurphy62) February 18, 2019
And indeed, with Holmes’ disgraceful performance, of course the golf media is getting their think pieces in about how the sport needs to speed up play.
Scott, meanwhile, has already pointed out the real reason nothing ever gets done. (And if you guessed “money,” move to the head of the class).
In an interview published Feb. 13, days before he was in the final group with Holmes, Scott told Golf Digest the score.
“There’s a big media fuss, a big feeling (among fans) that we play slow, and we do, but the tour is an entertainment business and a big money maker for a lot of people,” Scott said. “Until sponsors and TV tell the commissioner, ‘you guys play too slow and we’re not putting money up,’ it’s a waste of time talking about because it’s not going to change.”
And in the meantime, J.B. Holmes will be the most hated player in golf, the inheritor of Mike Hargrove’s baseball legacy out on the links.
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