Slow Play Causes Huge Hold Ups In Abu Dhabi

The final group took over five hours to complete their rounds, with long delays occurring all around the course

Pieters waits for group in front
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Despite the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship (opens in new tab) providing some superb action over the first three days, it was slow play that unfortunately reared its ugly head as players were made to wait regularly throughout the third round on Saturday.

Although it was uncertain which groups were causing the slow play, the trio of Takumi Kanaya, Julien Brun and Ian Poulter (opens in new tab) were recorded waiting on one of Yas Links' tee boxes, with the group of Alexander Bjork, Shane Lowry and Thomas Pieters being made to wait on the fairway.

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With the last group teeing off at 11.50am local time, it would be more than five hours before they holed out on the 18th, finishing at around 5pm. 

It's fair to say that conditions at Yas Links this week haven't been the most favourable for the players. On Friday, winds crept up to nearly 40mph (opens in new tab), with some competitors having to come back on Saturday to finish their second rounds. On Saturday however, the weather was a lot tamer than that experienced the previous day.

Lowry waits in the fairway

Shane Lowry waits on the second hole.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

For those defending the slow play, it is maybe worth noting that new statistics from Arccos Golf (opens in new tab) confirm that slow play does actually make you play worse (opens in new tab), with comprehensive data for handicaps ranging from scratch to 20 showing that slow play has a negative impact on scores for golfers of all abilities, with rounds that take four and a half to five hours costing golfers the most strokes. 

The statistics show that, for every half hour on the course, golfers are impacted by around 0.4 to 0.7 strokes, with four-and-a-half to five-hour rounds costing golfers between 1.3 to 1.7 strokes compared to a round that takes three to three and a half hours.

The data also shows that higher handicaps are impacted more by slow play, with 15 - 19.9 handicappers taking an extra 1.7 strokes when out on the course for 4.5 - 5 hours. This is 0.4 strokes more than handicappers below five, which are impacted by 1.3 strokes when playing a slow round. Read the full article here. (opens in new tab)

Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.