PGA Tour to implement slow play deterrent from April
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 15/01/20 3:12pm
The PGA Tour has announced "major enhancements" to its regulations on slow play, with tougher penalties set to be introduced the week after the Masters.
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New pace of play rules come into force on the European Tour in Abu Dhabi this week, with players incurring an immediate one-shot penalty if they are given two "bad times" in a tournament.
The PGA Tour has now followed suit and, following a three-month education period to give players the chance to adapt to a quicker pace of play, new deterrents will be implemented at the RBC Heritage in mid-April.
Fines for slow play could be increased as much as tenfold, while the Tour has warned that stroke penalties will be handed out more frequently when the players appear on the "slow list".
PGA Tour chief of operations, Tyler Dennis, said: "You talk to players, read articles, hear from fans, and what gets people, what gnaws at them, are these individual habits that people have.
"It's seen as bad etiquette, it's seen as a distraction, and we're targeting those individual moments to help their fellow competitors and assist our media partners with presentation. We want to keep the focus where it should be, on world-class shot-making."
Tougher slow play rules in Abu Dhabi
European Tour toughen up new regulations on pace of play, starting this week in Abu Dhabi
Paul Casey, a member of the PGA Tour's Player Advisory Council which has approved the new regulations, insists it is time for the professionals to take more responsibility in getting around the course in a more acceptable time, although he warned that the changes would not be significant.
"We're not looking for a massive change, we can't get around these golf courses that quick," said the Englishman ahead of The American Express in California. "It's just very difficult to walk some of these golf courses in the time we're meant to, this time-par thing always frustrates the players a little bit.
"We need to speed up, but it's not a massive change. We're just looking for 10 minutes here or 15 minutes there, ideally that is what we're looking for. We're looking for guys to take responsibility, because hitting a standard golf shot and taking two, two-and-a-half minutes to play it is not acceptable.
"So taking ownership of that responsibility, however you want to phrase it, that's all about education. And then the perception, then, drastically changes if you do those two things, which are fairly straightforward, fairly painless games, to be honest.
"And that's basically all it is, from our point of view. There's more to it, obviously, the policy. But that was our feeling. It's just, it should be a fairly simple thing to fix, so hopefully this fixes it."
PGA Tour: Two major enhancements to deter slow play:
The Observation List - Historically, the slow-play policy has focused on groups being out of position. The Observation List will put additional focus on individuals whom ShotLink data has identified as the most egregiously slow players. Those players will go on and off the list based on a 10-tournament rolling period and will be subject to a 60-second average for all shots. If observed by a Rules Official to exceed this time, that player will be timed individually even if the group is in position.
The list will not be made public, but players on the list will be notified that they are on it on a weekly basis. The goal, Dennis said, is for the Tour to help them change their habits.
Excessive Shot Times - Anyone in the field who takes more than 120 seconds to play a single shot, absent a good reason for doing so, will be given an Excessive Shot Time.
Additionally, fines and penalties for slow play have been enhanced significantly. Officials will now assess a one-stroke penalty for the second bad time in a tournament, not a round, and for every bad time thereafter in the same tournament. The fines for the second bad time in a season and for 10 cumulative timings in a season have also been raised to $50,000.
The fine for a second bad time in a season currently is $5,000.
Rules officials will implement the policy in part by using an app to monitor player times.