AJGA Pace of Play Policy


By utilizing several policies, including a checkpoint system, the AJGA has cut the average duration of rounds at its tournaments by 14 minutes. (Courtesy AJGA) 

By USGA
July 17, 2013

With nearly 6,000 members competing in more than 100 tournaments, the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) provides high-level competitive opportunities for the best junior players in the country. The organization also has instituted an aggressive pace-of-play policy that has reduced the duration of the average round by 14 minutes – the approximate time it takes to play an entire hole.

For 2013, the AJGA has set a goal of four hours and 19 minutes for the average length of a round, down from four hours and 35 minutes in 2008.

To achieve this standard, the AJGA uses several policies.

Time Par
For each of its tournament courses, the AJGA has set a time par, which is the expected duration for juniors playing competitively in threesomes. Some of the factors that influence time par include the size of the field, tee-time interval, green-to-tee distance and green speed.

Checkpoints
There are six checkpoints during a round – one every three holes.

“We time from the first tee,” says AJGA Executive Director Stephen Hamblin. “We used to not time anyone until the first warning, but we found that to be a harassing situation. Now, we don’t have to push. Rules officials can be Rules officials, not timers.”

In addition to clocking players against the time par at each checkpoint, volunteers measure a group’s position relative to the group in front, an interval known as gap time.

At the first checkpoint, the players in the group receive a green or red card. A green card means the players are within the time par or in position against the previous group. A red card means the players are both behind the time par and out of position.

By the next checkpoint, three holes later, the group can earn a green card by either regaining position with the group on front or coming in under the time par.

Alternately, players will keep their red card but avoid a penalty by gaining one minute against time par.

If the group fails to meet any of those conditions, the players receive a double red card and a one-stroke penalty. After a double red card, individual players may receive additional penalties after recording multiple bad times.

A double red card is a rarity; a single red card is usually sufficient to spur players back into position. In 94 tournaments during 2012, the AJGA handed out 3,235 red cards. Of those, officials assessed just 29 penalties.

Walk Ahead
AJGA competitors also play ready golf for the entire round, even off the tee. On every green, the first player finishing the hole must walk ahead to the next tee and prepare to tee off, no matter who has the honor.

After introducing this policy in 2011, the AJGA reduced its average round duration by 10 minutes.

“We’ve gotten some criticism from the walk ahead,” says Hamblin. “But we think we have some creative thinking here. The AJGA has a moral responsibility to the industry to wean the next generations to fast play.”

The Effects
The players quickly have adjusted to the policy and have found that good shots and better pace of play are not mutually exclusive.

Rinko Mitsunaga, 16, received a one-stroke penalty at the Exide Technologies Junior Open presented by Mizuno earlier this year. Afterward, she spoke with the AJGA staff about how she could play faster. The following week, she not only improved her pace of play, but also her level of play, winning the Brian Harman Junior Championship.

“I definitely learned how to play faster and that it’s not necessary to take as long to take each shot because the results are the same,” says Mitsunaga, of Roswell, Ga. “Even when I’m not playing an AJGA event, I am still using the policy because I want to play faster.

“I’ve seen that AJGA players are unintentionally playing faster because of the AJGA pace-of-play policy.”

Share Your Story

We would like to hear your ideas and thoughts about pace of play. Is there a technique that your course has employed? How have you sped up your playing partners?

We hope to share your tips, techniques and tales with other golfers and facilities. Please click the link below to email us your solutions for pace of play. Thank you for your contributions to promote improved pace of play.

 

Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
Chevron
   

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image
Rolex
   

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.



Rolex image
IBM
   

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website, www.usopen.com, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit http://www.usopen.com/IBM

AmEx image
Lexus
   

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit http://www.lexus.com/

AmEx image
American Express
   

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit www.americanexpress.com/entertainment


AmEx image