AIKEN — While slow play is a hot-button issue in professional golf, Palmetto Amateur tournament officials have solved the problem.
For the fourth year in a row, participants in the four-day event will be penalized one shot per nine if they don’t finish the front and back nines by the specified times.
Palmetto Amateur tournament chairman Berry Crain said the move to speed up play stemmed from golfers taking five hours and 30 minutes to finish a round.
“They were playing too slow,” he said. “We were having to chase the players around. It aggravates the players because even though they’re slow they don’t like being told they’re slow. This way, officials stay out of their way. They know what time they’re supposed to be there. And if they don’t, they know what’s going to happen.”
A field of 96 players will be on the clock when the 37th annual Palmetto Amateur returns June 7-10 at Palmetto Golf Club.
Golfers will know the parameters when they arrive. They have two hours and 17 minutes to finish the front nine and two hours and 15 minutes to finish the back nine. If they miss either time, they will be penalized one shot – or two if they miss both.
North Augusta’s Matt NeSmith, the 40th-ranked amateur in the U.S. per the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking list, heads up a list of 90 players already in the field. Another six will be added through qualifying June 5.
Augusta’s John Engler, who finished in the top five each of the past two years, is entered, along with 2010 Palmetto Amateur champion Todd White of Moore, S.C.
Along with NeSmith, fellow Junior Invitational at Sage Valley competitor Greyson Sigg of Augusta is entered.
USC Aiken’s Matt Atkins will play, along with five players each from the Clemson and South Carolina golf teams, including Augusta’s Dykes Harbin.
Augusta State sports four golfers in the field, including newcomer Maverick Antcliff of Australia. Georgia’s Brian Carter of Augusta and Alabama’s Lee Knox of Augusta are also among the entrants.