With slow play concerns one of the hottest topics in professional golf, leaders at the American Junior Golf Association are taking steps to ensure that rising stars learn to keep pace at an early age.
As part of its April newsletter, the AJGA announced a plan to set 'overall time pars' for each tournament course, with a goal to reduce pace of play for its events – which send players off in threesomes – to four hours and 19 minutes. According to AJGA documents, the average pace of play in 2012 was 4:23 after rising as high as 4:35 as recently as 2008.
The group, which describes itself as geared toward players who 'aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf,' has previously instituted a strict pace-of-play policy involving time cards. Players are given a 'red card' when their group is both out of position and behind its overall time par for the round, and receive a one-shot penalty in the event of a second red card if unable to get back on pace.
While the PGA Tour has not handed out a penalty stroke for slow play since 1995, the AJGA doled out 29 penalties across 96 events last year, according to its website. With volunteers stationed at six different holes to monitor pace of play, more than 3,000 total red cards were issued in both 2011 and 2012, while regulations are also in place for individual players to receive 'undue delay' penalties should they record five or more bad times during a single round.