PGA Tour's pace-of-play policy tees off in April

The PGA Tour has unveiled a new pace-of-play policy that will include keeping a list of its slowest players on a week-to-week basis and levying penalties for “excessive shot times.”

Based on ShotLink data the tour compiles, players will be placed on an observation list with warnings given if they exceed 60 seconds to play a shot and a second bad time resulting in a 1-stroke penalty.

The fine structure the tour has in place has also increased substantially for various warnings.

One catch: The observation list will not be made public, and only those players who are on it will be notified.

“What comes with this is we need to make sure there is a deterrence in place,” said Tyler Dennis, the PGA Tour’s chief of operations. “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.”

The PGA Tour announced in August at the Northern Trust tournament after a significant slow play issue involving Bryson DeChambeau that it was speeding up its work on a new plan that it had been considering for months.

A trial period will commence with the new regulations to go into effect the week of the RBC Heritage in April.

Dennis said the previous system concerning groups that are out of position will remain in effect, as well.

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.

To get on the observation list, a player’s historical ShotLink data will be reviewed over a 10-tournament rolling period to identify the slowest players. Those players will then be subject to a 60-second timing for all shots. If a player exceeds 60 seconds, then he will be timed on an individual basis even if his group is in position. If no infractions occur within two holes, he will no longer be timed.

Another timing situation will also be instituted: If any player in the field is observed to take more than 120 seconds to play a shot (without a good reason for doing so), he will be given an excessive shot time.

Fines will begin for a second excessive shot time in a season at $10,000 and increase to $20,000 for each additional offense. A player who has 10 cumulative or observation list timings gets a $50,000 fine, with $5,000 added per each additional timing.

“We talked long and hard about the observation list,” Dennis said. “It’s going to be kept confidential. We will notify each player each week who is on it and make sure they understand what it means to be on it. Our goal with this is to really educate the players. In a perfect world, nobody would be on the observation list. We’re going to put a lot of energy into this and really try and work with everyone.”

Dennis said that all timing of strokes would be done by on-course rules officials.

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