Stephen Gallacher has backed world number one Rory McIlroy’s call to speed up golf, but wants repeat offenders suspended from tournaments.
The 40-year-old Ryder Cup player thinks a system similar to the one operation in international cricket – England captain Alastair Cook was recently banned for a one-day international in Sri Lanka after two breaches of slow play regulations – is the way to solve golf’s problem.
Gallacher was given honorary membership of the PGA in Scotland at their annual lunch in Glasgow yesterday and agreed with McIlroy’s call golf had to be speeded up to make it more attractive to young people, something he has noticed in the Foundation he runs in his native West Lothian.
“We are on at the kids all the time to speed up,” he said, while admitting the real key to the problem was at the top end of the game.
“Apparently all the committee guys on the European Tour say every week that’s what they talk about, but nothing happens.
“I think on the pro tour we have to make it ruthless and say it’s a shot penalty. You can’t have a monetary thing.
“In cricket if the captain doesn’t meet his over rate he can be out of the next game. In golf, two two-shot penalties and you are suspended the next week, and that week might even be the Open.”
Gallacher thinks slow play can, at times, be considered cheating, particularly when players speed up when put on the clock and then slow down again later.
“I think the two paces of play is cheating,” said the scot.
“Those guys who are slow, who know they are slow and get fined all the time but don’t do anything about it are putting people off, they’re certainly putting spectators off.”
Players not being ready to play, even at the highest level, was unacceptable, he added.
“I go out with my mates and go round in two and a half hours,” he said. “We are always ready, with the glove out and club chosen.
“Guys on tour still have to get the glove on and get the yardage book out and I think ‘Are you kidding?’ Or the third guy to putt doesn’t look until it’s his turn and ends up looking at it from four different sides.
“When I started on tour we had a time where officials showed the new guys on tour the ropes, got some former tour pros in to show them what to do. They should do that again. Not many of us have bad times, the older generation.”
Gallacher has completed a wonderful season as he enters his 40s – jumping from 66th to 35th on the world rankings, winnings of £1.35million, being the first man to retain the Dubai Desert Classic, winning a place in the Ryder Cup – but knows he still has to get better.
“It’s one that’s going to be hard to top, for sure, I’m going to have to work even harder and really be on the ball, but the key is not to panic and try to do too much,” he continued.
“I think I had a first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth place this year. But I can never look back. I have to bottle the formula and improve on it.
“I’m getting more consistent, my bad shots are now better and I found just improving one shot a round is enough to take me from 100th in the world to 35th.
“I just want to improve slightly in places, that wee bit here and there – and who knows, you could be in the top 10 as quick as that. It’s such a fine margin.”