The PGA Tour fights slow play in golf (again)

The professional golf season is approaching its conclusion and, as per tradition, it is time for balances and evaluations.

by Andrea Gussoni
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The PGA Tour fights slow play in golf (again)
© Harry How / Getty Images Sport

The professional golf season is approaching its conclusion and, as per tradition, it is time for balances and evaluations. However, as has been the case for several years now, the problem of slow play is once again at the center of attention.

Slow play, statements

On this occasion, it is the PGA Tour that takes a decisive position, presenting the new anti-slow regulation during the last annual meeting of the Policy Board. This tool, called Average Stroke Time Infraction, will replace the current Observation List in upcoming Tour tournaments.
In an official note addressed to all players, the PGA Tour declared that, while recognizing the effectiveness of the Observation List as a tool for intervention on individual players, the new Average Stroke Time Infraction was introduced in order to improve the previous list, guaranteeing greater fairness between the average playing times, considering the different weather conditions and the difficulty of the courses.

To address the problem of slow play in golf, the PGA Tour has introduced new rules that involve comparing each player's average shot time to the average of the entire field at the end of each tournament. If the player's time exceeds the field average by at least 7 seconds, one infraction will be noted per season, resulting in a $20,000 fine upon reaching 10 infractions.

Subsequent infringements will result in further economic sanctions, which will increase based on the number of infringements committed. Despite the PGA Tour's laudable intentions in addressing the problem of slow play, there are questions about the actual effectiveness of these rules and their implementation.

In fact, the last fine imposed dates back to 2021, demonstrating the difficulty in enforcing these rules. However, it remains essential to pursue the goal of making the game faster and more efficient to ensure a better gaming experience for all participants.

To track down the last pace of play penalty that occurred at the Masters, we need to go back to 2013, when fourteen-year-old Tianlang Guan was penalized. Could the new rules represent a turning point? Most tournaments in the 2022-2023 PGA Tour regular season saw players finish their second round on Saturday morning, with varying levels of time overruns.

Is it possible that this will gradually cease starting next year? This is what we ask ourselves. We maintain a serious and professional tone without addressing the reader or using exclamation points.

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