Only in professional golf can something that makes the sport take even longer be called an innovation.
Even better, this breakthrough involves putting, which already was the slowest part of the game. Apparently not slow enough.
PGA Tour pros who don’t rate as the greatest putters will do anything to get the ball in the hole. There have been all sorts of approaches used to read greens.
Aimpoint Express Is Like Watching Paint Dry
But there’s never been anything like Aimpoint Express, in which a golfer straddles the intended line of their putt at various points to feel – through their feet – the slope of the green. This is in addition to lining up the putt from behind the ball, the usual method, but that’s been stretched out too. We get to see them using their fingers to confirm through the Aimpoint system how much the putt breaks.
That’s right. Aimpoint adds an entirely new process that is as slow as molasses and excruciating to watch, and then adds an extra step to what golfers already were doing to make that take even longer.
It’s enough to make you reach for the remote. I get the Aimpoint, but I don’t get the Express, unless the pace of it is modeled after the Pony Express.
The Wells Fargo Championship
Aimpoint has been around a while, but last weekend we were treated to a showcase of slowness at the Wells Fargo Championship in Potomac, Maryland. Both players in the final pairing, eventual champion Max Homa and runner-up Keegan Bradley, are Aimpointers. That meant a day of watching “the process” again and again. And by the way, if the first putt does not end up at tap-in distance, they go through the process again.
At home I go through my own process. It’s called hollering at the TV screen, “Good God man! Hit the putt!”
There was one point when Homa was straddling the line, standing very still with his eyes closed, almost meditating. I’ve had this look myself, only I was standing in Aisle 5 at the grocery store trying to remember if I got everything on the list. And that took less time.
Even if you understand golf, Aimpoint is annoying. If you don’t understand golf, you’re thinking, “Why is my TV screen frozen?”
A Grand Idea
On Tuesday I was listening to teaching pro Michael Breed’s show on PGA Tour Radio, vicariously enjoying his rant against Aimpoint Express. Breed said it’s a bad look for the game, especially on TV, and even pondered whether the USGA should ban it. A grand idea. The challenge would be enforcing it, as it might get silly in policing the difference between “straddling the intended line” versus simply walking off a putt.
One of Breed’s guests, PGA Tour Champions player Steve Flesch, who picked up another win last weekend, offered an idea I’ve always liked – a shot clock for golf. “I don’t care what you do, just do it in 40 seconds,” Flesch said.
Exactly. The problem with the Tour as it stands is faster players are punished. That’s because slow players always slow down faster players, but faster players have no impact on the slow ones.
A shot clock is not going to damage the sport – the sport taking too long to play is what hurts it. No one wants to watch Aimpointing.
If some players think it helps, so be it. But the point is to hit the putt, so get to it.