You all have hollered, and the PGA Tour has listened. This week, the PGA Tour announced a new slow-play policy that will go into effect at the RBC Heritage the week after the Masters.
In a two-pronged approach to quelling slow play, the PGA Tour has decided to crack down on players who take an excessive amount of time to hit shots. This will be done two ways.
- Observation list: Players will be put on a list based on ShotLink data over their last 10 tournaments based on "egregiously slow" play. They will be subject to a 60-second shot clock at all times if they are on the list in the given week of a tournament.
- Excessive shot times: If anyone takes more than two minutes to hit a shot without a "good reason for doing so," you're given an excessive shot time.
The biggest change is probably that now you get penalized a shot for two bad times in a tournament, not just a single round, which is what the rule previously stated. Not only can you get penalized in the two new ways above, but all of the old ways still apply, too.
Here's Bob Harig of ESPN with a succinct breakdown of those.
Currently, any group that is deemed out of position — a hole behind the group in front or with a significant gap — is told it is out of position. That means any player in that group can be timed and if a time limit for various shots — typically 40 seconds — is exceeded, the player is warned. A second bad time results in a 1-shot penalty, which has happened in an individual stroke-play event on the PGA Tour just once going back to 1995.
So, I remain mildly dubious considering this type of incident has resulted in a stroke penalty one time in 25 years. But still, give it up to the PGA Tour for moving forward, for raising the stakes (literally) here and for the implementation of its two new rules.
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 (from $5,000).
"We felt we needed to ratchet up the deterrence," PGA Tour Chief of Operations Tyler Dennis said. "We've significantly upped the ante on stroke penalties. Currently it's by the round; now it's going to be over the entire tournament. It's more likely that a player could find themselves in this situation."
This is a story that won't go anywhere, especially as golf becomes easier and easier to view. Fans, other players and media will only apply more scrutiny to every scenario moving forward as the PGA Tour starts to prepare to handle it.