PGA Tour to Institute 60-Second Pace of Play Rules, Track Worst Offenders

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2020

CRANS-MONTANA, SWITZERLAND - SEPTEMBER 01: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland waits to put on the seventh green during Day Four of the Omega European Masters at Crans Montana Golf Club on September 01, 2019 in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

The PGA Tour has announced a new pace-of-play rule designed to punish the worst offenders, introducing an Observation List with warnings for players who exceed a shot time of 60 seconds.

Per ESPN's Bob Harig, the new rules will go into effect at the RBC Heritage in April. Players will be placed on the list after a first warning, and a one-stroke penalty will be levied after the second. Fines will be increased "substantially."

Crucially, the list will not be made public and only the offenders will be notified.

US player Bryson DeChambeau (R) plays out of the bunker to the 17th hole on the last day of the Presidents Cup golf tournament in Melbourne on December 15, 2019. (Photo by SIMON BAKER / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL
SIMON BAKER/Getty Images

PGA Tour COO Tyler Dennis explained the thinking behind the change:

"What comes with this is we need to make sure there is a deterrence in place. We wanted to make a statement as to how important this is to us. On penalty strokes, we have changed how we view this going forward. In the past, two bad times in a round meant a penalty, and that has happened very infrequently. Now we are changing that to a tournament, so a second bad time in a tournament would result in a penalty stroke."

Golf Digest's Joel Beall dug deeper into the pace-of-play issues that have plagued the sport, noting the last time the Tour penalised a player for slow play came in 1995. That policy was meant to tackle groups that are out of position, and per Dennis, said policy will remain in effect.

The new rule will look at a player's ShotLink data over 10 tournaments, with the aim of identifying the worst offenders. Once the players get on the Observation List, they will be placed under a 60-second shot clock. Fines for offences will begin at $10,000 and can reach $20,000 for repeat offenders.

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The issue of slow play is a divisive one, with plenty of players naming it as the issue that frustrates them the most on the golf course:

It became a major topic in the summer after fellow professionals complained about Bryson DeChambeau, who defended his style of play and blamed caddies.

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