LOS ANGELES: PGA Tour players guilty of slow play will face tougher fines and more frequent stroke penalties under tough new rules due to take effect in April, tour officials said on Tuesday.
A PGA Tour statement said maximum fines for slow play will be increased tenfold from their current level while players taking too long to play shots will be placed on an observation list.
“You talk to players, read articles, hear from fans,” PGA Tour chief of operations Tyler Dennis said.
“What gets people, what gnaws at them, are these individual habits that people have. It’s seen as bad etiquette, it’s seen as a distraction, and we’re targeting those individual moments to help their fellow competitors and assist our media partners with presentation.”
Under the new slow play policy, data from the PGA Tour’s Shotlink database will be analysed to identify players guilty of slow play.
Players will be placed on the tour’s observation list and subjected to warnings if they exceed 60 seconds to play a shot. A second breach of the time limit in a tournament will result in a one-stroke penalty.
The observation list however will not be made public. Players will be notified if they are on the list on a week-to-week basis.
Any player in a tournament – even if they are not on the observation list – will also be penalised if they are found to take longer than 120 seconds to play a single shot without good reason.
Players will face a one-shot penalty for the second time breach in a tournament – rather than a round – while the maximum fine for cumulative bad times over a season has been raised to US$50,000 from the current level of US$5,000.
“We felt we needed to ratchet up the deterrence,” 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.
“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 new regulations will go into effect at the RBC Heritage in South Carolina in April.
Anger over slow play has simmered amongst professionals for years, but came to a head last August after criticism of Bryson DeChambeau, who was recorded taking two minutes and 20 seconds to line up an eight-foot putt.
World number one Brooks Koepka confronted DeChambeau over his slow play, while Rory McIlroy later called for more frequent stroke penalties.
“That will stamp it out right away,” McIlroy said.
“We are not children that need to be told five or six times what to do.”