Days after multiple videos featuring Bryson DeChambeau playing slowly at The Northern Trust, the PGA Tour has announced they'll review their pace-of-play policy.
The PGA Tour pace-of-play policy currently only applies to players in groups that have fallen off the pace. It's at that point a player has 40 or 50 seconds to hit a shot when they're on the clock. If a player receives a bad time while on the clock, they're warned. With a second violation while on the clock, a player receives a one-stroke penalty. The Tour has indicated an unwillingness to dole out stroke penalties for slow play because of the potential seven-figure impact it can have on players.
However, the pair of DeChambeau incidents, combined with outspoken players like Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka speaking up for more penalties, has apparently compelled the Tour to turn to exploring a policy that would cover players at all times during a tournament.
“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 Chief of Operations, to PGATour.com. “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.”
Of course, there are a number of factors affecting pace of play in a holistic sense, including tee-time spacing, course setup, crowd size and more. DeChambeau has been insistent that he walks quickly between shots so as to keep up with pace. However, keeping up with expected time par -- the amount of time the PGA Tour targets for players to finish each round -- is different than the time a player takes to hit a shot once it's their turn. Perhaps the Tour's announcement is a public acknowledgment that, while tournaments finish on time and players typically finish total rounds near the Tour's goals, individual players take a particularly long time to play and it gives them a competitive advantage over players who want to play faster.
The Tour said it is open to doling out penalties to players who are inordinately slow, even if their group isn't behind the overall pace.
The question is if anything will come of this. The Tour could decide to keep things the same in the short term while figuring out a new plan. They could decide to do nothing different. But at this point, it's clear the PGA Tour knows they have a problem on their hands in terms of fan perception and player satisfaction -- that is, at least the faster ones.