Golfers welcome clampdown on slow play

LOS ANGELES • PGA Tour players guilty of slow play will face tougher fines and more frequent stroke penalties under tough new rules due to take effect from the RBC Heritage in South Carolina in April, tour officials said on Tuesday.

The fine for a second offence in a season will be increased to US$50,000 (S$67,400) from the current US$5,000. Players will be placed on an observation list which will not be made public.

"You talk to players, read articles, hear from fans," PGA Tour chief of operations, Tyler Dennis, said.

"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."

Under the new slow-play policy, data from the PGA Tour's Shotlink database will be analysed to identify players guilty of slow play.

Players will be placed on the observation list and subjected to warnings if they exceed 60 seconds to play a shot. A second breach in a tournament will result in a one-stroke penalty.

Players will be notified if they are on the list on a week-to-week basis.

Any player, even if they are not on the list, will also be penalised if they take longer than 120 seconds to play a shot without good reason.

There will be a one-shot penalty for the second breach in a tournament rather than a round.

Anger over slow play has simmered among professionals for years, and it came to a head last August after criticism of Bryson DeChambeau, who was recorded taking 140 seconds to line up an eight-foot putt. He was confronted by world No. 1 Brooks Koepka while Rory McIlroy later called for more frequent stroke penalties.

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    Number of seconds golfers are allowed before taking a shot. After that, they will be warned and placed on the PGA Tour's observation list.

"That will stamp it out right away," McIlroy said. "We are not children that need to be told five or six times what to do."

World No. 17 Paul Casey also said it is time for players to "take responsibility" for their slow play.

"Hitting a standard golf shot and taking two, 21/2 minutes to play it, is not acceptable," he said.

"So taking ownership of that responsibility, however you want to phrase it, that's all about education. It should be a fairly simple thing to fix so hopefully this fixes it."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2020, with the headline 'Golfers welcome clampdown on slow play'. Subscribe