The PGA Tour fined six golfers, including Kemper Open winner Fred Couples and his two playing partners, $200 yesterday for slow play during Sunday's final round at Congressional Country Club.
PGA Commissioner Deane Beman, in Harrison, N.Y., for the Westchester Classic and a special players meeting tonight, said he expected stiffer penalties to be imposed for slow play before the week is out.
"We cannot live with what we have now," Beman told The Associated Press. "We cannot live with the current situation. We must take a look at this question immediately."
It was learned that CBS Television complained to the tour about the slow play Sunday.
It was unclear last night whether stiffer penalties would include larger fines for first offenders, or one- or two-stroke penalties during the round. And whether fines would be made public. Although yesterday's fines were announced, that was unusual under tour policy.
Beman and other members of the 10-man Tournament Policy Board were meeting last night to discuss the problem of slow play. The issue reached a head Sunday when the final threesome of Couples, T.C. Chen and Scott Simpson were still putting on the 15th green when the next-to-last threesome was finishing the 18th hole. It took 5 hours 54 minutes to play that round and two playoff holes.
Also fined for playing too slowly was the threesome of Ronnie Black, Buddy Gardner and Tom Jenkins. None of them were among the leaders.
Network commentators Ken Venturi and Pat Summerall had made critical comments on the air about the slow play. According to spokesmen for the tour and CBS, the network complained that slow play has caused three of CBS' 10 golf telecasts this year to run beyond their time slots.
Because of what CBS spokesman Jay Rosenstein said was the slow play of Jim Colbert at the recent Atlanta Classic, CBS missed the opening 4 1/2 minutes of the the first game in the National Basketball Association championship series.
Sources at Congressional Country Club said CBS golf producer Frank Chirkinian, recognizing it was likely the last threesome would play slowly, asked tour officials to start the final round earlier. Jack Tuthill, the tournament director, scheduled play so the final group could finish in 4 1/2 hours and the network telecast would end on time.
"We expect them to be able to enforce their rules," Rosenstein said.
Tour rules, as recently as 1978, included a two-stroke penalty for slow play. Now, a player is fined $200 for each of the first two offenses, $500 for a third offense, $1,000 and given a three-week suspension for a fourth and $5,000 and a three-week suspension for the fifth and subsequent violations within a three-year period.
The two-stroke penalty, a part of the rules of golf used by the LPGA Tour, was eliminated by the PGA Tour.