Guidance on Running a Competition

Pace of Play

It is understandable that Clubs, public courses, resorts and competition organisers may have differing views on what constitutes acceptable pace of play. However, it is a fact that slow play detracts from the enjoyment of the game for many golfers, and few golfers are heard to complain about play being too quick.

Rule 6-7 governs in the event of slow play. It provides that “The player must play without undue delay and in accordance with any pace of play guidelines that the Committee may establish”. The penalty for a breach of Rule 6-7 is loss of hole in match play and two strokes in stroke play, and for a repeated offence, disqualification. However, Note 2 under Rule 6-7 states:

“For the purpose of preventing slow play, the Committee may, in the conditions of a competition (Rule 33-1), establish pace of play guidelines including maximum periods of time allowed to complete a stipulated round, a hole or a stroke.
In match play, the Committee may, in such a condition, modify the penalty for a breach of this Rule as follows: 
First offence – Loss of hole; 
Second offence – Loss of hole; 
For subsequent offence – Disqualification

In stroke play, the Committee may, in such a condition, modify the penalty for a breach of this Rule as follows:
First offence – One stroke;
Second offence – Two strokes; 
For subsequent offence – Disqualification.”

It is a matter for the Committee in charge of a competition to formulate its own pace of play guidelines, although in practice the nature of such a condition will be dependant on the number of Committee members available to implement it.

For example, at The Open it is possible to adopt a hole by hole pace of play guideline and, subsequently, shot by shot timing procedures if a group is out of position on the course and in excess of the prescribed time limit (see Appendix G for the full Pace of Play condition adopted at The Open).

Obviously, it is unlikely that such a policy could be successfully adopted at Club level. Therefore, if the Committee is having problems with pace of play, it may be necessary to formulate a simple condition whereby the Committee establishes a time limit that it considers is more than adequate for players to complete the round and/or a certain number of holes (which will vary depen