For Immediate Release January 21, 2020
The Western Golf Alliance defines meaningful and effective rules for slow play
Approach penalizes players' slow behaviors, not meaningless 'timings' and 'position'
LAS VEGAS. Today, the Western Golf Alliance announced new policies to address the epidemic of slow play during official events. Unlike other supposedly industry-leading organizations, like the PGA Tour, the Western Golf Alliance is willing to take action to improve the enjoyment of both playing and watching golf. The announcement was made from the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas during the organization's annual Board of Director's meeting.
"Slow play is an issue plaguing tournament golf all around the world, and the PGA Tour is exacerbating the situation by constantly refusing to even enforce the pointless and ill-conceived rules they already have," said Brian Gray, WGA president. "The poor example of pro players on tour has created this sport-wide problem, and clearly we are the only major golf organization willing to even try to provide a meaningful solution."
The WGA's new policies all address actual slow-play behaviors, not 'timing' or 'position' on the course, which are completely and utterly meaningless as these things are influenced by subjective situational factors, such as the speed of other groups on the course, variations in course conditions, or specific situations occurring during play. The policies - effective immediately for the 2020 season - are as follows:
-- Players, partners, or caddies can measure their distances by either using range finders, or walking off a yardage to a marker or landmark within 30 yards of their ball, only.
-- Players are expected to evaluate and discuss their distance, options, and shot while waiting for their turn to play, with reasonable allowances for avoiding disturbing other players, and be prepared to play when it is their turn.
-- If a player is searching for a ball within the time allowed under Rule 18, or validly seeking a ruling regarding any rule of golf before playing, other players must proceed and play when ready.
-- Once a player approaches his ball, neither he nor his caddie may wander more than 30 yards away from the ball for any reason until it has been played, unless the player intends to seek relief under a Rule of Golf.
-- If, on a par 5, the player waits for the green to clear before taking his second stroke, he must fairly attempt to reach the green and not subsequently decide to lay up.
In addition, the WGA clarified that green reading books meet the definition or Rule 4.3(a) as such a book "artificially eliminates or reduces the need for a skill or judgment that is essential to the challenge of the game" and thus is deemed illegal equipment. This is a decision that departs from the nonsensical "interpretation" issued by the USGA, which is itself contradictory to their own rules.
The penalty for all violations is 1 stroke for each occurrence.
"These are all no-brainer types of behaviors that any golf organization that cares at all about the great sport of golf could adopt. In fact, they are really just common sense, and some are even already parts of the Rules of Golf if an organization would just grow a pair and enforce them properly," concluded Gray. "The basic concept is that a player goes to their ball, figures out their shot, and hits it, without any ridiculous and time-consuming extraneous explorations of the golf course. As clearly the only organization in North America with the courage to address the slow play issue, we knew it was our obligation to do so."
# # #
About the Western Golf Alliance: The Western Golf Alliance is the premier golf organization in the United States. The WGA exists to further the greatness of this grand sport of golf through the improvement of golf play by its members, the promotion of golf rules, etiquette, and tradition, and the ability to gather together from time to time for golf events and tournaments. The regional organization spans five western states, and is organized into nine geographic regions. Further information is available at http://www.westerngolf.org/.