February 12, 2015

Is It Going to Be a LONG Year?

15 pace of play penalties earned by players in January

2015 is off to a slow start...and we mean the golfers are off to a slow start! The month of January is one of the quietest months for the FSGA in regards to the amount of rounds conducted. In January, we conducted approximately 900 rounds of golf, and there were 15 one-stroke penalties earned by players for pace of play. In the month of June, we will conduct over 4,500 rounds of competition. Does that mean we can expect 77 penalties in June? We sure hope NOT!!!

Why are so many players receiving penalties? Let's examine:

The Policy (summarized)
  • Players will not receive warnings
  • Each group must finish the 9th and 18th holes either:
     1. under the allotted time, or
     2. within 15 minutes of the group ahead
  • There are two separate tests: the first checkpoint (the midway point) and the finish line (the final hole). Your group must reach the midway point on time AND the finish line on time.

Fact: The FSGA Pace of Play Policy is one of the most liberal policies around the country. Many associations use less than 15 minutes within the group ahead and most organizations set more aggressive allotted times. 

What is the Problem?
  • Players are unaware of their position and time on the course
  • Players walk slowly and don't walk ahead of other players on the side as they are preparing to play a shot
  • Provisional balls are not being played enough. Click here to read about a European PGA Tour player being penalized two shots for undue delay because he didn't play a provisional ball
  • Too much time being used to hit simple shots like a layup on a par 5
  • "Social hour" while walking down the fairway rather than walking directly to your ball
  • Leaving golf bag or clubs in a poor spot around the green
  • Not starting pre-shot routine while another player is playing
  • Lengthy pre-shot routine (looking at a putt from every direction)
  • Not trying to make up time after a ball search, ruling, or a bad hole
Some Simple Fixes
  • Carry a watch or phone and check your time against the times on your scorecard after every 2-3 holes
  • Keep an eye on the group ahead of you. Are they within 1-1.5 shots of your group?
  • Play a provisional ball any time there is a chance your ball might be lost or out of bounds. Don't play a provisional if you know your ball is in a water hazard.
  • Communicate with your group during the round. Encourage your fellow players to make your pace of play times.
  • After a ball search, ruling, or bad hole, encourage your fellow players to make up that time
  • Walk faster! Time yourself; it should take no more than one minute to walk 85-100 yards with your golf bag. 
  • Read and understand the Policy
  • Ask any Officials how you stand if you are unsure
  • Play "ready golf" if you must

"I'm not at fault, it's the other guy!"

Appeals and what to do when someone is bringing your group to a grinding halt.

Officials hear all sorts of stories and excuses after a group receives a pace of play penalty. The only time these excuses will be heard is during the appeal process in the scoring area before the scorecards are returned. Most stories and excuses will not change the fact that the group was in breach of a Rule of Golf which comes with a penalty. Only exceptional cases, where something out of the player(s) control contributed to the group being in breach, will the penalty be applied to only certain players in the group or none of the players.

If you have one or more slow players in your group you do have some responsibilities. First, point out to the group your position and time and encourage everyone to move faster to avoid penalties. Second, explain to an Official that you think your group may struggle with pace and that you think the cause of problem is not you. That Official should try to monitor your group and gain information for the Tournament Chairman in case a breach occurs and an appeal is held.

We hope this helps with your understanding of the Pace of Play Policy and encourages everyone to move faster around the course so we all may enjoy the game more. Please contact the FSGA Championships Department with any questions.


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