The PGA Tour’s new pace-of-play policy will go into effect at the RBC Heritage in April with a fresh emphasis on how long it takes individuals to play and with a heightened emphasis on penalties, both financial and strokes lost.
The new guidelines are not designed to drastically reduce playing time on tour – there may be a small decrease in the average playing times – but to put the onus on players to play in a reasonable amount of time.
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 in the previous 10 years, the tour will compile an “observation list” that will include any players who have averaged more than 45 seconds a shot during 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 tournament is a pro-am such as the AT&T Pebble Beach event, if they are the first player 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 he is being timed by on-course rules officials. The timing will cease if the player does not exceed 60 seconds on 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.
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 also has 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. That player also will be fined $10,000, with each additional excessive shot time costing them another $20,000.
“We certainly need a deterrent,” said Tyler Dennis, the PGA Tour’s senior vice president for competitions.
Ron Green Jr.