If you follow me on twitter you’ll know that my biggest pet peeve in golf is slow play. Kevin Na, who’s become the poster boy of slow play, once again found himself on the clock of rules officials and on the nerves of his playing partner, Robert Garrigus. Garrigus is regarded as one of the faster players on the big stage, but after finishing in 4 hours and more than a hole behind the penultimate group, his caddie Brent Henley felt compelled to make headlines by claiming “It ain’t fair playing with Kevin Na.”
On average, those 220 golfers shoot about 0.4 strokes higher when playing with Na.
Luke Kerr-Dineen of Golf Digest took up the task of running the numbers and found some predictable, but still surprising results. Golfers who played with Kevin Na shot a full 0.4 strokes higher than when they played with another partner during that same round at a different tournament. As Luke points out, that could equate to over $150,000 dollars in prize money, and that’s only the difference between a T-3 and T-4.
It’s obvious that a playing partner can have a profound effect on ones ability to play golf. Whether it’s two friends able to keep each other loose, or two longtime rivals one-upping each other for 18 holes, the luck of the draw is part of what makes the PGA TOUR as exciting as it is. But as a regular duffer who’s spent way too much time practice swinging, stretching and trying to stay warm while waiting for a guy to look over his 3 footer for double bogey; it’s nice to finally have some statistical validation to help back it up. The question now isn’t “is it fair”, but rather how much longer do we have to wait for the PGA do something about it.