10. Encouraging Prompt Pace of Play

 

Current Rule:  Although intended to support pace of play, the Rules do not affirmatively emphasise this issue or encourage players to play promptly:

 

Ø  Rule 6-7 provides only that “undue delay” is prohibited and that players must follow any pace of play guidelines if established by the Committee to prevent “slow play“. 

 

Ø  Although players are allowed to play out of turn to save time, this is neither highlighted nor particularly made clear in the text of the Rules.

 

Proposed Rule: New Rule 5.6 would encourage prompt pace of play by recommending that:

 

Ø  Players should recognise that their pace of play affects others and they should play promptly throughout the round (such as by preparing in advance for each stroke and moving promptly between strokes and in going to the next tee), 

 

Ø  A player should make a stroke in no more than 40 seconds (and usually in less time) after the player is able to play without interference or distraction, and

 

Ø  Committees should adopt a Pace of Play Policy (rather than only say they may do so).

 

In addition, new Rule 6.4 would expressly allow playing out of turn in match play by agreement, and for stroke play, would affirmatively allow and encourage players to play out of turn in a safe and responsible way to save time or for convenience (also known as “ready golf”).

 

Reasons for Change

 

Ø  By giving players affirmative guidance, support and encouragement on prompt play, these proposed Rule changes would help in:

 

o   Setting expectations for both beginners and experienced players on what types of behavior are considered prompt play, including the maximum amount of time it should normally take to make a stroke, and 

 

o   Encouraging players to play faster by confirming that it is proper to play out of turn in stroke play when it is safe and responsible to do so (that is, to play “ready golf”).

 

Ø  Enforcing pace of play would continue to be primarily up to each Committee, as there are limits to what the Rules themselves can do to insist that players play promptly.

 

Ø  For example, it is impractical for the Rules to impose penalties whenever a player does not complete a round or a hole or make a stroke in a time fixed in the Rules:

 

o   Golf is played in so many different settings and by so many different people that any such time limits may naturally differ for any given competition or course. 

 

o   There is also no practical way to require all players to follow (and to enforce against one another) any form of “shot clock” for each stroke made during a round.

 

Ø  These changes would enable Committees to point to specific expectations set by the Rules when using their authority to enforce prompt play, and encourage every

Committee to adopt a pace of play policy so that all players on the course, whatever the type or level of play, would know what is expected of them.

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