Playing by the Rules - June 2012

With all the controversy over the last few weeks revolving around Kevin Na and Morgan Pressel and their pace of play issues, it got me thinking about our events. I have to say I am proud of you guys and the way you go about your business. Yes, some of us play quicker than others and occasionally we do have to encourage a group or two to “help us out” and close that gap in front of them, but overall I think our events generally move along at a nice pace.

We work with an unusually small on-course tournament staff (at many events, me) and it’s difficult to know if groups are out of position and why they are. Did they have to search for a ball, did they have to play a provisional or are they just taking a long time to play? Without your cooperation, we could certainly have some problems, but as I stated earlier, we rarely do, kudos to you.

I have often said my goal at events is to be invisible and my best days are the ones where at the end of the round players say “Were you here today?” Trust me, I am at all the Section events, and I see more of what’s going on than you realize. If you see me hanging around your group, it’s probably because I would prefer you play a little quicker. I think most of you who have been around a while know this, because in many instances I never have to say anything to you, your pace picks up and your group gets back in position.

Having said that however, I wondered if most of you even know what our actual Pace of Play policy is? It is contained in our Tournament Rules & Regulations and is available for viewing on the Section website, but I’m going to save you the time and effort and share it with you here.
We developed this policy after numerous conversations with other organizations and Rules officials. I encourage you to read it and if you have any questions drop me an email or ask me about it the next time you see me at an event.

Pace of Play

The NEPGA Local Rule for Pace of Play is in effect for all tournaments.

The administration of pace of play will be handled by the NEPGA Rules Committee. Any appeal of a penalty must be referred to the Rules Committee immediately upon the completion of the round and ITS DECISION SHALL BE FINAL.

(i) Definitions:
(a) Out of Position: A group is deemed out of position when starting play of any par three or par four hole that is clear, or any par five hole in which all of the preceding group of players are on the green, and/or the elapsed time for the round exceeds the allotted "time par" per hole pace in which all groups are expected to play.

(b) Undue Delay: A group out of position and/or over the time allotted on a per hole basis will be warned by an official. Unless there are recent mitigating circumstances such as rulings or situations where a player had to go back to his previous position to play; such as for a lost ball, unplayable ball, wrong ball, out of bounds or water hazard relief. The entire group will be warned and each player will be subject to being timed.

(ii) Procedures for timing and imposition of penalties:
(a) Notification to a group out of position will be given after all players have left the teeing ground and prior to playing any subsequent strokes.

(b) The timing of a player will not begin until it is clearly his time to play without interference or distraction.

(c) The time allotted per shot will be forty-five (45) seconds, an additional fifteen (15) seconds will be permitted for the first player to hit on a par three hole, the first to hit a second shot on par 4's and par 5's, and the first to play from on or near the green.

(d) A player will be subject to a fine if he has two or more excessive times. A player will be warned if he has one excessive time.

(e) Any player who is fined or penalized shall immediately be informed after playing from the teeing ground of the next hole, or, in the event of a penalty during play of the last hole of the round, in the scoring area.

(iii) Fines and Penalties
(a) First Out of Position Sequence
One bad time: Player warned. If group gets back in position, one bad time is removed.
Two bad times: Player will receive a $100 fine.
Three bad times: Player will receive an additional $200 fine and a one-stroke penalty.
Four bad times: Player will receive an additional $300 fine and a two-stroke penalty.
Five bad times: Player will be Disqualified.

(b) Subsequent Out of Position Sequences
The group will again be warned they are out of position. The procedure described in “(ii) Procedures for timing and imposition of penalties” will again be carried out. If a player should again have "Two Bad Times", the penalty will be progressive (i.e., if a player was fined/penalized the first time his group was out of position, he is now subject to a $200 fine as well as a penalty stroke).

The NEPGA Rules Committee, in administering pace of play procedures is acting in response to a clear mandate of the majority of the NEPGA Members, the direction of the Executive Director and the Tournament Committee. In performance of these duties, the official should not be subject to any abuse, oral or otherwise. Such abuse by a player may constitute conduct unbecoming a professional.

That’s it, the first part is pretty simple right? Stay in position and play your shots in a timely manner. The Fines and Penalties might seem complicated (and costly) but let me worry about that, you just keep playing in a timely manner, and it’ll never come into play.

See you next month,