In an effort to speed up play, some golf associations have started adding possible penalties for players who do not meet their time limits. That’s not a bad idea at all, but did bring up an interesting scenario at the Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship.
The eventual winner, Mackenzie Hughes, had to plead his case in a meeting following play to avoid a possible three-stroke penalty when his final threesome missed three of four time checkpoints. The appeal worked.
“It’s tough when you work hard like that all day and then you can almost have it taken away from you at the end,” he told SCORE Golf. “I was worried, for sure, because we had missed three checkpoints, so there was a good likelihood that we were going to be penalized, but the reasons we discussed with (rules officials) were what they wanted to hear and were what made the difference.”
Brent McLaughlin, director of rules for Golf Canada, indicated the penalties were not imposed because one of the officials had given the group incorrect information and because the dozens of spectators following that group also contributed to the delays.
“At the end of the day, we want to make sure it’s right,” McLaughlin said of the decision.
I think they did as some leeway needs to be considered for the final groupings, especially in rainy conditions.
The PGA of America tried to establish a pace of play time of 4:40 for its recent championship, but from what I read rounds took more than five hours, especially the first two days.
I recall that the NTPGA rules committee, which was made up of fellow competitors, actually handed out two-stroke penalties to all three players in the final group in an event at the old Columbian Club in Carrolton. Benny Passons holed a putt on the final green that proved very important, turning an apparent three-stroke win into a margin of one. The other two players dropped down in the final results.
The NTPGA board of directors later took my advice and got a rules committee composed of USGA officials and staff to enforce the rules of competition rather than asking players to do it.