As if rules officials aren't
intimidating enough
Monty: Golf Could Use a Shot Clock
By Torleif Sorenson on 7/26/13
On Monday, January 28, Tiger Woods offered legitimate criticism of the frustratingly slow play during the conclusion of the PGA Tour's annual stop at Torrey Pines. Shortly thereafter, the USGA announced a research project into the problem. Then in April, Chinese amateur sensation Tianlang Guan was penalized one stroke for slow play during the Masters Tournament. On June 12, the USGA announced a series of "While We're Young PSAs designed to publicize the problem. One week ago, Hideki Matsuyama received a one-stroke penalty for slow play during the third round of The Open Championship at Muirfield.

The idea of professional golfers attempting to police themselves during tournaments and major championships obviously has not prevented these penalties. So...

Colin Montgomerie has a better idea: A shot clock.
"They should be playing in no more than four hours for any round of golf on any course. Unfortunately, they are given far too long. Why do you have to wait to be slow before you are put on the clock?

"There are 52 referees out there at major championships and they should all have a clock —
[they] should be able to put them on the clock on the first tee, to ensure they all get around in time. There should be an allotted time to play the game, like chess, where you have a certain time to play.

"If the first two groups take five or more hours to go round, then the day is gone — you can't make it up. But if that first group takes four hours and five minutes, then you have a chance."
Without a doubt, some of you will find yourselves stuck behind group after group during your round(s) this weekend. But 18 course rangers with stopwatches would be tough to deploy on many public-access courses.

What do you think about stopwatch-wielding rules officials on tour and during the majors? Don't be shy, oobers — weigh in!

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Image via Wikimedia Commons, Wouter Hagens

[ comments ]
falcon50driver says:
Good idea, my regular foursome, sometimes fivesome, will start very early when there is no one ahead. We don't play rushed but we usually finish in 2 and a half hours. None of us are great golfers, but we don't hit a lot of out of bounds, and when we do, we don't go looking for it.
mschad says:
I think this would be a great idea. Assign one official to each group. When it is a players turn, start the watch and give them x minutes with only 1 warning.
MJKern44 says:
I agree but let me play on an opposite idea...To be honest, I think the main problem is slow play for the recreational golfer who is turned off by 5 + hour rounds. If the concern is a decline in the interest of the game, courses would be better to employ a few "legit" rangers to enforce play time. Too many courses are short term thinking about the additional cost of such rangers. Faster play = more rounds per day = happy customers = more $. Will you piss someone off at times for enforcing the rules, sure, but those are not the kind of customers you want anyways... As for the PGA Tour, my thought is you're playing for a whole lot of money and it is your career. Although I think it is an issue, I think the bigger issue is the general public..
...the Murseless says:
NBA players are playing for a whole lot of money, and they have a shot clock; same goes for grand master chess players and professional curlers (for a given value of 'whole lot', of course). If every golfer in a tournament is under the same time constraints, and those constraints can be well-defined and subjective, than go for it.

It would definitely add extra levels of stress - meaning extra levels of viewing enjoyment :)
jrbizzle says:
Forget using more officials to police this, just set a violation for it, and make the caddies take care of it. Put a clock on every hole, and have it clearly listed on the scorecard what time the golfer should tee off at each hole depending on his start time. Then have a few guys responsible for making adjustments to later groups depending on how much early groups are falling behind. This is not that difficult.

I wonder how much of this is PGA/R&A pandering to sponsors. Longer rounds = more coverage - more commercials.
bkuehn1952 says:
I like the idea. Maybe have someone carrying the clock on a pole with each group so everyone could see the seconds ticking off. Of course, the players could defeat the system by walking slowly to give themselves more time to analyze the next shot. It might be fun to experiment but I don't see it happening.

On the casual golf side, it might be interesting to experiment with check points. After 3 holes a group would be told whether they are over, under or on pace. Same with 6 holes. At the turn, if they are off pace by a set amount or more they are refunded 50% of their green fee and asked to leave.
falcon50driver says:
I've played a number of courses with GPS displays in the carts. It'll come up with a message telling you if you're on pace or not. Also they'll rat on you if you drive out into the rough, or off approved areas.
bkuehn1952 says:
@falcon50driver: at one of our courses if you drive into a restricted area the cart shuts off and one can only drive backwards veeerrry slowly until out of the area. Good for some laughs when a buddy forgets - not so funny when I forget.
Matt McGee says:
If there's any excuse to be made as far as the "it's my career" argument goes, I'd say there are probably many pros who would prefer to play faster, and who would say that waiting on every shot is detrimental to their career.

It's not terribly difficult to monitor the speed of a golf course. If you can't afford the manpower to check times at various spots on the course, get someone in the marshal cart and have them drive backwards through the course until they find a gap between groups. The next group they get to is the first problem.
mjaber says:
How about a Flava Flav look-a-like contest? A bunch of guys with big clocks around their necks. And if you fall behind, a Brigitte Nielsen look-a-like comes out and pushes you along (in full "Red Sonja" attire).
jasonfish11 says:
and we have a clear winner. Nice job mjaber.

Can I add that if you are off pace someone is obligated to yell "Flava Flave" in the middle of your swing.
jpjeffery says:
Would there be an audible countdown over the last 30 seconds or so? It would be fun to see how they'd cope with THAT! :-)
Mike.pinney says:
I recently played Trout Lake Golf Club and they had clocks every three or four holes that were set so that if you were playing at the correct pace, you would hit each hole and the clocks would show your starting tee time. (i.e. if you teed off at 10AM, each clock should read 10AM when you pass it.) Simple system.
glenrich says:
How about this?
If a group gets significantly out of position and a certain player is found to be the cause, that player then has to wait and let all of the other groups play through before he can complete his round.
Ie. Rain delay for the human rain delay.
The humiliation should be enough to speed things up. May not even need to give a stroke penalty.
Torleif Sorenson says:
glenrich: VERY interesting! I'd have to toss it around in my head, but at first glance, I think I like that idea!
falcon50driver says:
How about a penalty box ?
mmontisano says:
don't they essentially already have a shot clock? they just don't enforce it?
slimpks1850 says:
Play the proper pace. If you fall behind you are fined. All money helps towards Phil's taxes. 2 birds, 1 stone.
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