Citing 'recent incidents', the PGA Tour have announced that they are looking in to their pace of play policies, and could use ShotLink technology to help
The PGA Tour announced in a release that they are in the process of taking 'a deeper look at it's policy on the issue' of slow play.
It follows the heavy criticism Bryson DeChambeau received for taking over two minutes to putt during Friday's round at The Northern Trust, and the lack of action taken over it.
It spread to a wider debate about the issue of slow play - something both Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka had blasted earlier in the week - and the fall out has prompted a response from the Tour over how it handles players who continually take more than the recommended time.
The current pace-of-play policy only addresses players whose groups have fallen out of position, rather than individual players, but the PGA Tour said that 'recent incidents' have them 'exploring whether to expand its policy to also address players whose groups are in position, but who take an excessive amount of time to hit a shot.'
“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 PGA 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.”
There are many factors to consider when deciding an appropriate amount of time to play a shot, Dennis said.
“We have learned over the years that pace has a lot of factors that play into it, and it’s actually quite complicated,” he added. “The overall time to play a round is affected by things like the number of players on the course, tee time intervals, amount of daylight, course set-up and the weather. Some of these are things we can influence, and some are not.”
In the release issued by the PGA Tour, they referenced two slow-play incidents with Bryson, including his self-defense and a quote from Justin Thomas - who was shown to be visibily frustrated while playing with DeChambeau during the first two rounds at Liberty National.
“I like Bryson as a person, but he’s a slow golfer,” Thomas said on Saturday. “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.”
As it currently stands, the Tour's policy puts players 'on the clock' when they fall out of position, but there is not a policy to hand out penalties of fines when players' groups are keeping to time - but it is something they could consider.
“We are really focused at the moment on leveraging our ShotLink technology to assist us with these factors,” Dennis said. “This year, we have rolled out version 2.0 of an application which allows the officials to monitor every group in real-time, from their positions out on the course, and respond more quickly when a group is getting behind.”
- "Under the TOUR’s current pace-of-play policy, players are “on the clock” when their group falls out of position. Players are given an allotted time 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."