Put on the Clock in Golf


Slow Play in Golf, Is it a Problem?

Henrik Stenson is not happy about being “put on the clock” on the 15th hole at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last weekend. He attributes to this poor play down the stretch to the ruling that his group (the last group) was out of position. This is not a usual ruling, but it generally is not enforced on the last group with the tournament on the line.

I did not watch the tournament, but Pete at White Dragon Golf has a good wrap up on Stenson’s views worth reading. We could discuss the merits of the call, but I have always viewed a rules official as someone who levels the playing field, but should not determine the outcome of any match. I am not sure this is the case at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and will sit on the fence as to whether it was the correct call or not.

What does being put on the clock actually mean? This information below is from golf.about.com. They have covered the topic pretty well. I have only cut part of the article out, so there is more about fines if you want to read on.

PGA Tour slow play rules and penalties are based on what the tour calls “bad times.” Let’s say Group X has fallen off the pace and is out of position (meaning, too much space – usually a full hole – has opened between this group and the group ahead of it).

A rules official or Tour official will notify all players in the group that the group is being put “on the clock.” Once a group is on the clock, PGA Tour officials begin timing each player. Once that timing of a group begins, each player has 40 seconds to play each stroke, except in the following cases when he has 60 seconds:

  1. He is the first of his group to play from the teeing ground of a par-3 hole;
  2. He is the first to play a second shot on a par-4 or par-5;
  3. He is the first to play a third shot on a par-5;
  4. He is the first player to play around the putting green;
  5. He is the first to play on the putting green.

Slow play is a problem in golf! We have discussed this topic (natural flow, May I Play Through)  several times and this weekend, Rule 6-7 Undue Delay / Slow Play might have cost a professional golfer about $500,000! Yes, about a half of a million dollars! Quite a bit of cash for just a few seconds here and there.

Depending on your perspective, the ruling this weekend at the Arnold Palmer Invitational might seem excessive. However, from a player who has endured 6.5 hour rounds in tournaments, slow play is a problem in golf. Unfortunately for Henrik Stenson, according to his perspective (and a person’s perspective is a person’s reality) being “put on the clock” was uncalled for and eventually cost him the chance to win.

I have never been put on the clock and generally, I play pretty quick. So a couple of questions to all the readers out there: Do you think slow play is a problem in golf? Was Stenson’s slow play ruling fair? Have you ever been called for slow play? Have you ever wanted to call someone for slow play? What are you thinking?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!



10 thoughts on “Put on the Clock in Golf

  1. Pingback: Top Golf Articles of 2015 from The Grateful Golfer | The Grateful Golfer

  2. I think slow play is a problem for amateur golfers trying to emulate pros. If the pros want to take a little longer on a million dollar putt go ahead. I heard that Stenson’s group actually played in about 4 hours. Not sure if it’s true and that is pretty slow for a twosome, but it’s not ridiculous. Either way, I am fine with a 5 hour PGA Tour round, but not at the local course with carts.


  3. Jim,

    I do think that slow play is a problem in golf, as I’ve commented before on previous posts. It’s a tough situation when you’re dealing with the last group on Sunday of a professional tournament. They aren’t holding anyone up, however, taking “extra” time than the groups ahead of you who are also trying to win the tournament “might” provide an advantage. In which case it is the right call to try and have them keep pace with everyone else. Where it gets tricky putting a group on the clock, is if the problem is only one player in the group, but everyone else is affected by it. This, of course, happens in casual amateur golf as well, where one or two slow players on the course can have a huge impact on everyone else’s enjoyment around them.

    Pace of play is a tough and complex issue, but I love the discussion.



    • Josh

      Thanks for the input. I agree that slow play is definitely an issue. In amateur tournaments, I would suggest the quality of play is a large factor on the speed of play. In the Pros, well some players are so slow, it is like watching paint dry. But, I would probably play slower if I was playing for 1 million dollars. It is definitely a tough call all around.


      Liked by 1 person

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