Early in my career I was one of the slowest players on Tour.
I've made changes to speed up my pace of play, and those changes
have helped me become a better player. I got into the habit of
playing slowly in Abilene, Texas, where I grew up. I was a tall,
skinny kid and was blown all over the place by the wind, which
always seemed to be howling. The problem was, I never liked to
pull the trigger if I felt off balance. I remember being knocked
down by a tumbleweed during a high school tournament in Odessa
while I waited to hit a shot in a 60-mph gale.
I played the same way at Texas and didn't change when I got
to the Tour in 1988. Not long after that, though, Peter Jacobsen
took me aside--in a very nice way--to discuss my pace of play. I
decided to make it a nonissue, because there's enough pressure
out here without worrying that your peers think you're slow.
Many factors contribute to slow play. One is fear of failure. As
a young pro I put a lot of pressure on myself to keep my exempt
status. I was also playing in front of huge galleries and network
TV cameras for the first time, and I was afraid someone might see
me hit a bad shot. The fact is, you can't get into a rhythm if
you're standing around worrying about the consequences of a shot.
Your chances of success are higher if you simply go through the
process and hit without undue delay.
Another slowdown factor is being unprepared when it's your turn.
I've learned to plan my next shot and select a club while I'm
waiting for others to hit. The same goes for reading putts.
The players from whom I have learned the most are Steve
Elkington, John Huston, Nick Price and Vijay Singh. As I picked
up my pace, I had several top 10 finishes. In '94 I won for the
first time and rose to No. 14 on the money list. I've had
consistently good results since, which I attribute to changing
my pace of play.
Bob Estes, 34, is 66th on the 2000 money list, with $510,916.