BRASELTON, G.A. — Following the success of the 2013 season where a record-setting average pace of play was achieved, the American Junior Golf Association announced Thursday, November 13th, 2014 that it matched a four hours, 17 minutes average in 2014.
Implemented first in 2002, the AJGA’s Pace of Play program sponsored by Leupold® establishes an “overall time par” for each course and event, which is geared toward the ability of nationally-competitive junior golfers playing in threesomes. Overall time par is set based on course difficulty, conditions, tee time structure and intervals, and is discussed with players on the starting tee before each round.
“It’s a total team effort by the staff and we applaud our members as they have really embraced the system, helping us play tournament golf quickly and efficiently,” said Mark Oskarson, AJGA chief operating officer.
Players are notified of pace through the use of color-coded cards—green, single red or double red—which are measured at six checkpoints on the golf course. In the case of a double red card when a group has failed to make up time or moved back into position through two checkpoints, a one-stroke penalty may be assessed.
In 2014, in attempt to improve the policy, the AJGA created an additional way for players to take control of their pace during the round. When facing a potential slow-play penalty, if the group finishes the round at or below overall time par, or in position with the group immediately ahead during the final hole, the penalty will be avoided.
“While we are proud of the results we have seen in the last few years, we annually review and evaluate ways to improve the program,” Oskarson said. “Our latest addition has been successful because it puts the players in control and they have been able to reduce the number of penalties imposed, as well as help maintain our record pace of play throughout 102 events in 2014.”
Players responded to the change and penalties were cut from 57 in 2013, to 23 in 2014, which is less than half a percent of overall red cards issued. The latest improvement to the program comes a year after the AJGA announced it would permit distance measuring devices in competition, which has continued to have a positive impact on pace of play.
The Association has implemented the pace of play system at non-AJGA events, most recently in September at the inaugural ANNIKA Intercollegiate at Reunion Resort in Orlando, Florida. The 12-team field averaged a pace of four hours, 31 minutes – five minutes faster than the time par of four hours, 36 minutes. The AJGA has previously implemented the policy at events such as the 2010 PING/Golfweek NCAA Preview at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and the 2012 PING/Golfweek NCAA Preview at Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course in Alpharetta, Georgia.
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf. The AJGA provides valuable exposure for college golf scholarships, and has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of more than 6,300 members from all 50 states and more than 51 foreign countries. To ensure scholarship opportunities for all junior golfers who have the skill, the AJGA created the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant program to provide financial assistance to young players in need.
Titleist, the AJGA’s National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association’s success since 1989. Rolex, which is in its fourth decade of AJGA support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2007, after 12 years of support, Ralph Lauren became the AJGA’s second Premier Partner.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 500 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Tiger Woods, Paula Creamer, Vicky Hurst, Cristie Kerr, Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Inbee Park and Morgan Pressel.