Date: August 12, 2019
Author: Martin Blake

US Tour to review pace-of-play

The US PGA Tour has announced a review of pace-of-play regulations, although it remains to be seen what will come of it.

After a tumult over Bryson DeChambeau’s slow play at The Northern Trust at Liberty National in New Jersey this week – including trenchant criticism from fellow-professionals and a spirited defence by the player himself – the tour made an announcement today.

Through the tour’s website, it said that in future, scrutiny could move to players who are in position, but take too long to play. The tour is also hoping to use Shotlink, the scoring and data system, to track players.

“We know that the individual habits of players when they are preparing to hit a shot can quickly become a focal point in today’s world, and our players and fans are very passionate about this issue,” said Tyler Dennis, the tour’s chief of operations. “We have leveraged our ShotLink technology to provide every player with a pace of play report that they can access which breaks down the varying parts of their game and gives feedback on the amount of time on average that the player takes to hit a particular shot.

“We are currently in the process of reviewing this aspect of pace of play and asking ourselves, ‘Is there a better way to do it?’ We think technology definitely plays a key role in all of this and we are thinking about new and innovative ways to use it to address these situations.”

Under the  US tour’s policy, players are put ‘on the clock’ when their group falls out of position.

Players are given between 40 and 50 seconds (depending on factors such as order of play) to hit a shot. The first bad time results in a warning, while a second bad time in the same round is a one-stroke penalty. Players are fined for a second bad time in a season, and each bad time thereafter, and for each time they are put “on the clock” after the 10th time.

DeChambeau was filmed taking almost three minutes to hit a putt during the Northern Trust, and also walking out a 60-metre pitch shot before he played. The video went viral and various professionals have weighed in, including Justin Thomas, his playing partner that day.

“I like Bryson as a person, but he’s a slow golfer,” Thomas said later. “I hate saying this because I don’t want Bryson to think I’m throwing him under the bus or anything like that, but it’s just unfortunate where the pace of play is in the game at the moment.”

DeChambeau’s group completed their round in four hours, 51 minutes on Saturday at Liberty National, and the American said he felt like he was under “an attack” because of his manner of play.