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Pace of Play Issues In Golf

In light of the recent ‘Slow-Play’ penalty assessed to amateur golfer Tianlang Guan, who is 14 years old from China we only see it apparent that we should look into the issue that is slow play.  For years everyone has been talking about slow play and how to combat it.

From a competitive perspective penalties should be applied once the group and/or individual have been given a warning.  Let’s have a look at the official ruling.

“Under the guidelines for Rule 6-7, a player is permitted 40 seconds to play a stroke. This 40-second time limit includes the first to play from the teeing ground, from the fairway and from around and on the putting green."

The PGA TOUR rules for pace of play includes the 40-second time limit, but also allows an extra 20 seconds (for a total of 60 seconds) under the following circumstances:

  • The first player to play a stroke on a par-3 hole
  • The first player to play a second stroke on a par-4 or par-5 hole
  • The first player to play a third stroke on a par-5 hole
  • The first player to play around the putting green
  • The first player to play on a putting green

Under both sets of guidelines, the timing of a stroke on the putting green begins after a player has been allowed a reasonable amount of time to mark, lift, clean and replace his ball, repair his ball mark and other ball marks on his line of putt and remove loose impediments on his line of putt.”

As For Guan, according to Fred Ridley, The Masters Competition Committee Chairman, all three players in the grouping Guan, Crenshaw and Manassero were all out of position upon reaching the 10th hole.  Upon reaching the 12th hole Guan was put on the shot clock and began being timed.  Guan received his first warning after his second shot on the 13th and was penalized on his third shot on the 17th, when he exceeded the allotted 40 second time limit.

There has been a lot of talk over the past few months about pace of play in both the competitive and recreational landscape.  The last time a player was penalized at a major event was in 2010.  Maybe assessing this penalty at the Masters will draw more attention to the fact that slow play needs to be addressed.  As one of the most watched events of the year this may be the best time to implement this ruling, as long as it is consistently enforced across all events and all players, regardless of age.

As for recreational play assessing slow play is on the onus of the golf course.  Golf Courses spend a lot of time trying to come up with ways to bring down those long rounds of golf that occasionally happen.  There is no easy way around it without someone being offended or upset.  Here are some tips to help speed up your round:

  • Choose the appropriate tees for your skill level.  Playing from the back tees when you are not really good enough will not only add strokes to your game, but will increase the time it takes you on every hole.
  • Play ready golf.  When you are walking to your ball think about your shot.  Have a look at the line and determine which club you are going to use.  When you get to your ball and are ready, take your shot.  There are not penalties for shooting out of turn.
  • When you are taking a power cart on cart path only days take a couple of clubs with you to your ball.  This will save you time of walking back and forth.
  • Always carry an extra tee and ball with you.  You never know when you are going to need one.
  • Once you have finished putting make your way to the next tee then write down your score.  This way the group behind you can take their next shot.
  • Listen to the course marshals.  They are not there to pester you, they are there to help you.   If they ask you to pick up the pace, they are just doing their job to ensure everyone, including you enjoys their game.  They will even help you look for your lost ball, just ask.
  • The biggest way to ensure you are on pace is to “Keep up with the group in front of you.” If there is no one in front of you holding you up, but there are behind you, either speed up or allow them to play through.

By following some of these simple rules we can make the game more enjoyable for all.  We would appreciate comments or ideas on how to speed up the pace in the game of golf.

Tags: golf, Pace of Play