Extra rules officials will be working the fairways to prevent a repeat of the painstakingly slow rounds that marred last year’s historic first dual-gender Australian Open in Melbourne.
Some rounds over the weekend stretched to almost six hours with organisers blaming a two-cut format and too many players on the course at once as the main reason, rather than competitors being laborious.
PGA Tour of Australia boss Gavin Kirkman is confident, with some tweaks, that slow play will be stamped out this year, especially at the Australian Open from November 30 to December 3 in Sydney.
The Open will revert to the traditional one-cut format featuring a halfway cut of 60 players and ties for the 156-strong men’s event and 32 players and ties for the women’s tournament featuring a 84-strong field.
But players will also be reminded of their responsibilities before teeing off.
The PGA Tour of Australasia’s speed-of-play rules are consistent with the world’s other major circuits and exactly the same as the DP World Tour.
Notably, the first golfer to play a tee shot at par-4s and par 5s have 40 seconds to hit, while the first away on par-3s are allowed 50 seconds to tee off.
First to play approach shots or chipping or putting have 50 seconds to hit and the second or third golfers in the group must play within 40 seconds.
Players will be on the clock and Kirkman said anyone breaching the rules can expect a two-stroke penalty.
Tellingly, Spain’s Carlota Ciganda was disqualified after arguing a slow-play penalty and refusing to sign her score card after the second round of last week’s Evian Championship in France.
“Before any tournament starts, the players are all addressed. It’s then up to rules officials and the tournament committee to adhere to that and put the penalties in place if things get out of hand,” Kirkman said.
“It comes down to our tour teams working together and making sure the players are versed well in advance of expectations, making sure that we’re consistent with the speed-of-play regulation.
“For this event we’re going to have global rules officials coming out.”
The Lakes and The Australian golf clubs will co-host this year’s Open and Kirkman said it was also important that both courses were set up conducive for players to complete their rounds efficiently.
“You’re always going to have some players in fields that play a little bit slower than others,” he said.
“But all those things have been fully addressed and we’re confident of a good players’ experience but more so a great fan experience as well.”