Should Tour Pros Get Shot Penalties For Slow Play?

We ask golfers their views after former World No.1 Stacy Lewis said that she'd like to see more penalties for slow play

A golfer is seen being awarded a penalty by a referee
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We ask golfers their views after former World No.1 Stacy Lewis said that she'd like to see more penalties for slow play

Stacy Lewis had this to say last week in Scotland about slow play including handing out shot penalties for the slowcoaches...

“I would like to see if an official is there and you take too long, you should get shots. Because I think as a tour, we need to make this game more enjoyable, make it more fun to watch.

"Carlota Ciganda got a penalty shot at the Match Play, she had a loss of hole and it lost the match. Everyone initially was, 'wow.'

"I don't know if she was out of position or not, but it is harsh, and it looks harsh to the media and everybody on the outside.

"But I do think we need that. Because you start playing with shots that affects where you are on the leaderboard, affects how much money you're making, it affects your status at the end of the year.

"That affect things a lot more than $1,000 fine does ultimately. I'm OK with it and I'd like to see more of it.”

We took a poll on who was in agreement with Lewis or who thought it wasn’t the right way to go. Here's what golfers said...

Yes, say 82%

I voted yes because slow players affect the games of faster players behind or playing with you. On the tour the way it is going they will have to reduce the field size so so they can all get round before dark. So there will less opportunity less for players to join the tour and get a game.

The expected time for a Saturday medal where I played back in the 80s was 3 hours 20 minutes. Players used to have to put their start and finish time on the cards so the secretary could see where any hold ups were coming from and speak to the players involved.


I voted yes as there is no reason why they should be taking so long. It's a habit they've all got into and needs to be addressed. Alternatively, instead of docking shots, remove one club from their bag every time they go too slow. Putter first, then driver, then wedge would be my favourite. 


Yes 100%. It's a blight on the game. Contrary to the thoughts of some golfers are there to entertain, yes they are, and slow play goes against that. They can play quicker, they have chosen not to and now it is largely habit. We need to break that habit and docking shots is likely to be more effective than the paltry fines that clearly do not work.

Lord Tyrion

If I were at work (I'm retired) and took as much time as I "felt" I needed (too much time) to do my job......which would negatively effect other workers and the business, I think my boss would tell me to stopping mucking about and get going.

May or may not be easy to do, but there are plenty of people getting paid to make these decisions. If they could make the time allowed rules sensible and simple........ Like a lot of people though....if there are loopholes golfers will take advantage of them.

- What happens if a footballer takes too much time for a thrown in? They get zapped.

- What happens if somebody in track+field takes too much time? They get zapped.

- What happens just fill in the sport/job etc? They get zapped.

Golf is just a sport...why should they get all the time they "feel" like they need to the detriment of other people?


Golf is (supposed to be) an honourable sport where consideration for and of others is as important as what is good for self.


Most tour pros need to speed up and penalising them strokes is the only way to affect their behaviour. Too many are never ready to play when it's their turn; they then spend minutes talking things through with their caddie and browsing through charts before pulling a club - all with complete impunity because the policies that the tours have in place currently are far too easy to manipulate and avoid penalties, or the penalties are financial and of nominal value to the player. There is simply no reason why highly competent professionals playing in a 2-ball, or even a 3-ball, cannot get round any course in under 4 hours.


A golfer pictured with the shot clock seen during the 2018 Shot Clock Masters in Austria

Shot clock with a couple of timeouts available for the genuinely tough decisions. It worked well at the Austrian Open a few years ago. Scores weren't adversely affected, play was brisk, and almost no penalties were required. The players just got on with it. Perhaps if people started shouting "hurry up" instead of "mashed potatoes"?


Would love to see both the PGA and the European Tours apply time penalties, but I’m not holding my breath (who are they afraid of??) Equally I have been watching some women’s golf and they can be really slow in some cases! It’s just a bad example to set to juniors coming through (and some of the adults).

The annoying thing is when you tell the slow group in front of you that you want to get home before it’s dark/ the 10 O'clock News comes on,/etc etc. and they only start to move when you say that you're going through them at the next tee!


Corporal punishment for a first offence, capital punishment for a second. That would quickly sort out slow play then you needn't add strokes which would only work for those in contention.


Have two sets of winners. Every time a player gets round in under four hours they receive two shots. Apply this over the four rounds to the scores and dole out the prize money to this set of players. The actual winners can have the prestige but quicker players get the dosh.


No, say 18%

If consistently applied to every single member in the field on the same basis, so in reality, no.


It makes hardly any difference, how many people watch or are watching on TV the Cazoo Classic from the London Club, very minimal numbers, would they increase 10 fold if they started going round in 15 to 30 minutes quicker? Do you really think the seeing the pros rushing around is going to make your medal rounds quicker, I've been playing since the 1970s and, when courses are busy, it has always taken up to five hours to play.

Steve Wilkes

It’s their job. Take the time they need.


I've voted no as I think there's a danger they start being given out unfairly or inconsistently. I'd maybe say yes if they were only given out rarely in the most extreme circumstances. i.e. someone takes a VERY long time over shots on more than three occasions or something. I just think the amount of money that rides on it for them, they should be allowed to take their time over key shots.


Even if you overcome the massive challenge of application across 156 players and across four days, penalties will be dished out to the less known names before the fan favourite and I don't really want a winner decided by a penalty stroke issued for slow play anyway. As TV viewers the pace has very minimal effect to the event if TV production is done well.

In saying the above the game at all levels wouldn't suffer if pace was improved so something should be done to improve it but I don't believe stroke penalties are the answer.


Or maybe?

I think it is a little blunt right now, with a whole group put 'on the clock' even if one of them is not being slow. It is also interesting that lower profile players or foreigners tend to get penalised, even though some big name players are slower than evolution. Those players know how to game the system.

The day a US household name and tournament leader is slapped with a penalty on the 17th is the day I believe the PGA Tour is serious about this.


What about this? Pros have to get round 18 holes in five hours. Sounds slow but it takes care of waiting for crowds, extra long courses etc etc. If they lose their place on the course, they get a 20-minute bonus for letting the group behind through.

If there's no group behind, and they are not keeping up, and it takes more than five hours, then they get a penalty up to and including a million strokes.

This is a decent example to set, keep up, don’t unduly delay other groups, and let faster groups through.

Only variable we don’t know about, is if TV has any influence. For instance American Football regularly delay plays to wait for TV broadcast commercials to finish, maybe the same happens to final groups? Maybe not... but one thing is pretty certain, soon every round played in pro golf would take four hours 55 mins, TV would love that!

sweaty sock

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Mark Townsend
Contributing editor

Mark has worked in golf for over 20 years having started off his journalistic life at the Press Association and BBC Sport before moving to Sky Sports where he became their golf editor on He then worked at National Club Golfer and Lady Golfer where he was the deputy editor and he has interviewed many of the leading names in the game, both male and female, ghosted columns for the likes of Robert Rock, Charley Hull and Dame Laura Davies, as well as playing the vast majority of our Top 100 GB&I courses. He loves links golf with a particular love of Royal Dornoch and Kingsbarns. He is now a freelance, also working for the PGA and Robert Rock. Loves tour golf, both men and women and he remains the long-standing owner of an horrific short game. He plays at Moortown with a handicap of 6.