Report: PGA Tour updating pace-of-play rules, will use secret list of slowest players

Ryan YoungYahoo Sports Contributor

The PGA Tour is set to implement new pace-of-play rules early next year in an effort to speed up rounds, something that has been a growing point of concern on tour in recent years. 

Among other things, the PGA Tour is planning to create a secret list of the slowest players for rules officials to pay closer attention to, according to Golf Digest. 

“We’re not trying to blacklist anyone,” one golfer told Golf Digest on the condition of anonymity. “But it’s going to be much more fair to the majority of players.”

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The PGA Tour’s policy board “approved a number of modifications to the Pace of Play Policy” on Monday, and will put them into effect after the Masters in April, per the report. 

The biggest change is the shift to an individual-based system, using the secret list to do so. 

The list, according to Golf Digest, will be kept totally private — even from Tour pros. Once a golfer is on that list, “He is more likely to be timed by a rules official and would incur a one-stroke penalty for a second bad time during a round.” It’s not clear exactly how the list will be determined, or how players could get off the list.

The PGA Tour, per the report, is also considering adding two more rules officials at each tournament to monitor shot times more closely. 

Players are currently allowed 40 seconds to hit a shot, starting when it’s their turn to play “without interference or distraction.” After one warning, players are assessed one penalty stroke for each following violation. Once a warning is handed out to one player, the entire group is then “on the clock” and monitored by a rules official.

Among other changes, the PGA Tour will reportedly use a secret list of the slowest golfers to help speed up play starting next year. (AP/Peter Morrison)
Among other changes, the PGA Tour will reportedly use a secret list of the slowest golfers to help speed up play starting next year. (AP/Peter Morrison)

Slow play struck again last season

The slow-play debate rose again late last season, especially surrounding Bryson DeChambeau.

DeChambeau, who is one of the slower golfers on tour, drew immense backlash from fellow PGA Tour pros at The Northern Trust — the first of three FedExCup Playoffs events. Multiple videos of him taking more than two minutes to pace out and read shots in the second round of that tournament went viral, causing players like Justin Thomas, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and more to criticize his play on social media.

DeChambeau, who has five career Tour wins, eventually apologized for his slow play, but later claimed he had “data” to prove he isn’t the slowest player on Tour — except he didn’t share that data or explain what it was.

The PGA Tour is expected to announce its new policy officially early next year. It will also conduct an “education period” for the first three months of 2020, per the report.

“The goal isn’t to move the needle on Thursday and Friday from 4:45 to 4:30 when you have 156 players in the field,” a golfer told Golf Digest on the condition of anonymity. “It’s just not going to happen. What we are trying to do as a Tour is pinpoint where we are lacking, where certain individuals are lacking, in pace of play. 

“It’s more for the betterment of everyone playing. You see your pairings and you think, ‘Oh, God, I’m with that guy.’ We all know who the slower players are. They’re trying to move away from that group-based timing system because, say you are paired with the same four guys throughout the year, and you get put on the clock four times and your total is five times for the year. How is that fair? I can pretty much pinpoint why I’ve been put on the clock those times.”

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