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We Need to See More Slow Play Penalties on Tour

By: | Mon 31 Jul 2023

AND about time too. Carlota Ciganda was disqualified from the Evian Championship (won by Celine Boutier) after being penalised for slow play and then refusing to add the two-stroke penalty to her scorecard.

She had shot a 72 but the two-shot penalty took her to six over par after 36 holes and meant she missed the cut by a stroke.

Slow play remains a curse of the modern game and Ciganda is a serial offender. She is by no means alone. Anybody who sat through the final round of the Evian will not need me to tell them that the pace of play was funereal, to say the very least.

PGA Tour players have 40 seconds to hit a shot. 

They have 60 seconds in the following circumstances:

  • When they're the first to hit a tee shot on a hole
  • When they're first to hit an approach shot
  • When they're first to hit a third shot on a par five
  • When they're first to hit a shot around the green, such as a bunker shot or chip
  • When they're first to hit a putt on the green

As far as the timing of a putt is concerned, the PGA Tour says timing begins "after a player has been allowed a reasonable amount of time to mark, lift, clean and replace his ball, repair his ball mark and other ball marks on his line of putt and remove loose impediments on his line of putt.”

A group, or even an individual player, can be put on the clock in a PGA Tour or other professional event because of their specific timing issues causing the entire round to go slower. A group can even be put on the clock when they're the last group on the course, if they're not keeping up with the group in front of them and playing in a reasonable amount of time.

Players can be fined by the PGA Tour if they rack up a series of bad times over the course of the season.

Carlotta Ciganda

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

You may have missed it, but England’s Richard Bland was given a one-stroke penalty at the LIV Golf event at Valderrama in July after taking 84 seconds to hit a tee shot on a par three. You can criticise LIV Golf for many things but not for their attempts to make golf fast-moving and entertaining.

The last slow-play penalty handed out on the PGA Tour came at the 2017 Zurich Classic, when the team of Brian Campbell and Miguel Angel Carballo was docked a shot. That was the first such penalty on Tour since 1995. Two more slow-play penalties have been assessed at major championships in the past decade – Tianlang Guan at the 2013 Masters and John Catlin at the 2021 PGA Championship. Guan was just a 14-year-old amateur playing in The Masters when he was penalised. It is one of golf’s more shameful moments. This was a kid making history as the youngest male ever to compete at Augusta National. He was a rabbit caught in the headlights.

The likes of Kevin Na, Bryson DeChambeau, Ben Crane, JB Holmes, Jordan Spieth and Keegan Bradley have made careers out of boring us all to tears with their slow pace.

I just don’t understand the reluctance to hand out penalties. Patrick Cantlay may be one of the best golfers in the world but he is also one of the slowest. When he gets into contention, I find something else to watch - like paint drying.

I may be wrong but I would bet serious amounts of money that Ciganda will be speeding up her pace of play. Fines are a waste of time. The only thing that is going to work is handing out one or two-stroke penalties. Eventually, the penny will drop.

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Tags: slow play PGA Tour lpga LIV Golf LET FedEx Cup european tour dp world tour

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