The PGA Tour’s new pace-of-play policy, which will go into effect at the RBC Heritage in April, is not intended to turn tournament golf from a marathon into a sprint.
For the most part, spectators and television viewers won’t notice a big difference. The goal was never to shave 15 minutes off how long it takes a typical group to play.
What will be different – perhaps substantially – is how players adjust to the new guidelines, which are designed to single out the slowest players with increased fines and an enhanced chance of having strokes added to their scores.
“I love it. We’re proactive. That’s the first thing,” said Zach Johnson, a member of the PGA Tour’s Player Advisory Council, which had a big role in formulating the new policy.
“To be perfectly honest, the policy that’s in place has not changed and will not change. But there’s like a tangent arm to that that’s going to try to make the game a little quicker.”
James Hahn, who was also on the PAC last year, said it is on the individual players to adjust to the new policy.
“The fast players are going to feel good about it. The slow players, they’re going to want to talk to their accountants and money managers to let them know there will be a lot less money going into the direct deposit,” Hahn said.
“Anything to really motivate players to play faster is what the board was trying to accomplish. … Nothing has worked in the past. They’ve kind of taken a dramatic step, coming out with these new changes which hopefully solve the issue.”
So how will things be different?
If Bryson DeChambeau takes two minutes, 20 seconds to hit a short pitch shot as he did in a playoff event last year, it could get costly.
In a general sense, the biggest change under the new policy focuses on individuals rather than groups. In the past, groups have been timed based on their position on the course. If they fall behind the group in front of them, they can be warned and put on the clock. That will continue.
The difference going forward is that individual players will be monitored specifically.
Based on ShotLink data gathered over the previous 10 years, the tour will compile an “observation list” that will include any players who have averaged more than 45 seconds per shot over their previous 10 events. That’s the amount of time it takes a player to hit his shot after the previous player has played. There are exceptions – if rulings are involved, if there are rain delays, if the event is a pro-am such as the AT&T Pebble Beach tournament, if a player is first to hit in a group, etc.
The players on the observation list each week will be made aware of that before the tournament begins but the list will remain confidential. Other players will not know who is on the list.
If a player on the list takes more than 60 seconds to play a shot, he will be notified that he is being timed by on-course rules officials. The timing will cease if the player does not exceed 60 seconds over the next two holes.
The first bad time will result in a warning. A player given a second bad time in a tournament (not just one round) will be penalized one stroke with each additional bad time earning another one-stroke penalty.
“We certainly need a deterrent.” – Tyler Dennis, PGA Tour senior vice president for competitions
Also, players on the observation list or whose groups are deemed out of position will be fined $50,000 after the 10th warning with each subsequent warning adding another $5,000 fine.
The tour has also created what will be called “excessive shot times.” Any player in the field, whether on the observation list or not, who takes more than 120 seconds to play a shot will be given an excessive shot time. Any player who receives two excessive shot times in a tournament will be placed on the observation list. He will also be fined $10,000 with each additional excessive-time penalty costing him another $20,000.
“We certainly need a deterrent,” said Tyler Dennis, the PGA Tour’s senior vice president for competitions.
Dennis said the average playing time on the PGA Tour has not changed significantly over the past 30 years. On average, he said, threesomes play in about 4 hours, 46 minutes on Thursdays and Fridays while twosomes on weekends average 3 hours, 52 minutes.
Still, various incidents have drawn the attention of players and fans in recent years, increasing the pressure to make changes.
The European Tour announced on Tuesday a significant change to its pace-of-play policy, giving players a one-stroke penalty if they get two bad times in a tournament (like the new PGA Tour policy). Previously, players were penalized for two bad times in one round.
“I love it,” DeChambeau told reporters in Abu Dhabi this week.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Tell us how we can improve this post?