“Hey, you guys have 5 minutes to finish the hole or you’ll each incur a 2-stroke penalty…”

What? Really?….”Really?”, I said.

“You’re 21 minutes behind the group ahead of you.”

How the hell did that happen? I thought we were.…. “Hey, Mike, let’s go.” I yelled back to my partner. “We’ve got 5 minutes to finish the hole. Need you to move.” Mike barely managed a trot from 125 yards out where he was looking for his second ball.

Hurriedly, I swatted my third shot onto the green, furiously pushed my cart near the hole, snatched my putter, stood over my ball for 2-3 seconds and, somehow, drained the putt for a par from 16-18 feet (I guess), then ran into the clubhouse and had my scorecard punched.

After shooting a respectable but not terribly thrilling gross 70, net 66 (50% handicap), in a one-man scramble—where 5 temporary greens were in play—I was pleased. But only fleetingly.

The tournament director, the same gent who had approached us on the 18th, approached me in the bar and told me the sour news. Unless I could present a decent case, all 3 of us would incur a 2-stroke penalty. He gave me an out. Did I have any reason why we were 21 minutes behind? In my stunned state, I had little idea. I offered the temporary greens. No go. That didn’t explain it. Did we lose time at the turn? Not really. Were we holding up the group behind us? No. Not once. Nothing immediately added up. I had no explanation.

However, in hindsight, things began to add up. My partners languished over putts, marking the smallest of putts when they should be finishing out. They sauntered in between holes; I often found myself waiting on the tee. And, worst of all, they didn’t play ready golf—often waiting for someone on the opposite of the fairway to hit. And in several instances, the hunted for balls that were clearly lost in the swamp from the rain, or the ball is clearly OB. Let it go.

I blew it all off. I guess. And it cost me a tie for a third.

I couldn’t be more pissed—mostly at myself for not recognizing what was happening. I knew we were almost a hole behind. I knew the rule. I knew the consequence. The thing is, I fucking hate slow play—and no, I won’t apologize for the words. I detest it. I avoid the 5-hour weekend rounds at all costs. I’ve berated groups ahead of me for doing it. Yet here I was in a group that was violating the code of play and I didn’t see it—or I did and was ambivalent toward it since the group behind wasn’t waiting.

All i can say is lesson learned. Big time.

To anyone ever playing with me, tournament or not, pray that we never fall behind. Rest assured if we do, it won’t be from me. And I will dress your ass down.

 

UPDATE: The WSGC finally posted the results late last week, and I would have finished out of the money even without the 2-stroke penalty. Still….grrr….

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