Improving pace of play: 5 entities that do it right

By Randall MellJune 25, 2013, 2:02 pm

If slow play is a plague, there are remedies.

In pockets of the game, from public courses to private, from junior and amateur tours to the pros, there are forces working to cure what ails pace of play.

Here’s a look at five entities aggressively trying to curb slow play:

American Junior Golf Association

There’s no slow poking it in AJGA events.

Time par and color-coded cards make sure of that.

In AJGA events, officials are stationed at a minimum of six checkpoints to gauge whether juniors are meeting the time-par designation for that particular course. Players within time par when reaching a checkpoint are signaled with green cards. Players who are out of position are flashed a red card, a warning. Players with red cards who do not catch up with their time par by the next checkpoint receive double red cards and a one-stroke penalty. The double red card can be assessed to the entire group or a player deemed to be responsible for the slow play. There are also penalties for individuals who accumulate five or more “bad times” in a round.  A bad time is incurred when a player takes more than 45 seconds to play a shot once it is his or her turn to play. The policy calls for “ready golf,” with the first player holing out required to go directly to the next tee box and play first.

According to AJGA officials, the organization issued 29 slow-play penalties in 96 events last year.

H. Smith Richardson Golf Course, Fairfield, Conn.

Six years ago, this public golf course unsnarled its traffic jams with a pace-of-play policy that has made rounds 4 hours and 15 minutes or shorter.

Here’s the policy in a nutshell:

• All groups teeing off between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. receive pace-of-play time cards.

• The pace-of-play cards match a group’s tee time and provide time par. For example, if you tee off at 7a.m., you should be standing at the No. 2 tee at 7:13 a.m. If you’re on pace, you should be on the No. 3 tee by 7:27 a.m., etc.

• If you fall out of position, a ranger issues you one warning. You then have two holes to get back on your pace-of-play time. If you fail to do so, the ranger will instruct your group to pick up its balls and move to the tee box that matches the correct pace-of-play requirement.

• Head professional Jim Alexander says the key to the policy is in how it has “deputized” recreational players to enforce the policy.

Country Club at Castle Pines

This private club outside Denver makes pace of play a public matter within the club.

If you’re a slow poke and you don’t complete 18 holes in at least 4 hours and 20 minutes, the club calls you out. You get a letter warning you for your slow-play transgression. If you’re found in violation again, your name is posted on the club’s pace-of-play board in the clubhouse. If slow pokes still don’t pick up their pace, the club’s golf committee will suspend their morning tee time access and can suspend membership.

To help members meet their allotted time, the club has installed atomic clocks in every cart, with time cards showing each group what time it should be finished teeing off at every hole.


While LPGA officials acknowledge there’s more work to do to speed play, the organization is significantly more aggressive in addressing the issue than the PGA Tour is.

While the PGA Tour has not penalized a player a stroke for slow play since 1992, the LPGA has already levied two-stroke penalties for slow play four times this season and nine times over the previous two seasons.

Also, Heather Daly-Donofrio, the LPGA’s senior vice president of tour operations, said recent tweaks to the tour’s pace-of-play policy has led to threesomes finishing rounds an average of eight minutes faster this year than last year. She reports threesomes are finishing rounds in under an average of 5 hours and that threesomes finished the first round of the Lotte Championship in an average of 4:42 earlier this year and finished the second round in an average of 4:51.

The LPGA made an aggressive statement about slow play last year when Morgan Pressel was penalized the loss of a hole in her semifinal match at the Sybase Match Play Championship, a late setback that might have cost Pressel a spot in the finals.

The LPGA’s 2013 pace-of-play policy requires players to keep pace based on a time-par standard and based on their position in relation to the group in front of them.

Here are key points of the LPGA’s pace-of-play policy. 

• Rules officials designate a time par at every venue, based on the length of the course, the walk between holes and the difficulty of the course. The maximum time it should take to play nine holes is posted at the first and 10th tees.

• One warning per round is issued to a group that is deemed out of position, though officials are not required to issue warnings. Once warned, if the group doesn’t improve its position through the following hole, it may be timed. A group may not receive a warning if it is deemed to be so out of position that a warning is not appropriate.

• A player is timed based on how long it takes to play a hole. Each player is allotted an average of 30 seconds to play a shot once it is her turn to play. On a par 3, for example, that means a player is allotted 90 seconds to play three shots. However, there is an additional 10 seconds added to the time if a player is the first to hit a tee shot, the first to hit a second shot into a par 4 or par 5, the first to hit a third shot into a par 5, or the first to play from off the green, or the first to putt. Under this timing procedure, a player who takes 45 seconds to hit a shot can make up for it by speeding up on the rest of her shots over the entire hole.

• A player can be penalized for taking more than 60 seconds to hit any single shot.

• A player who exceeds the allotted time to play a hole by just one second or more is credited with a “plus time” and subject to a fine. A player who exceeds the allotted time by 11 or more seconds is credited with a “penalty time” and subject to a two-stroke penalty. That means a player who takes 91-100 seconds to play three shots into a par 3 can be fined. A player who takes 101 seconds or more can be assessed a two-shot penalty.

• The LPGA doesn’t release the amount it fines players for slow play, but the fine escalates with each subsequent “plus time” until a player has gone a full year without a “plus time.”

• Three pace-of-play penalties in a single round result in disqualification.

Golf Channel Amateur Tour

Check points are keys to the Golf Channel Amateur Tour’s pace-of-play policy.

On the Am Tour, there are two check points, following nine holes and 18 holes.

All groups playing a tournament are given allotted times for reaching checkpoints. Groups must reach a checkpoint within the allotted time designated on scorecards, or within 14 minutes of the group ahead. Each player in a group that fails to meet a checkpoint’s requirement is penalized one stroke for one checkpoint failure and another two strokes if they again fail to meet a second checkpoint’s requirement. There are exceptions in the policy when it’s evident a single player is preventing a group from meeting its allotted time requirement. In such cases, players can ask that an official monitor that player and group. If warranted, an official can apply a penalty to a single player and rescind penalties from the other players in the group.

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

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Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

“I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

“It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

“Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

“It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

“This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.