Pros take longer over golf shots than amateurs, especially Nick O’Hern

With slow play unarguably the biggest blight on the game of golf, pros and amateurs were set against the clock.

A recent study by Peter Kostis at timed a sample of pro golfers in a recent PGA Tour event to determine how long they took to play a shot. They also timed a whole bunch of amateur golfers at a local golf course and did the same thing. The results are fascinating.

The somewhat short and not particularly random study, timed every shot 45 professional golfers took over nine holes during the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. They picked some golfers at random but also some golfers who are known to be either a slow or fast golfers.

The stop-clock started as soon as they were at their golf ball and it was their turn to hit, excluding tap-in putts.

Who are the slow pros?
Well some Aussies on the PGA Tour look mighty slow. Surprisingly, the PGA Tour has a 45-second time limit to play shots (rarely enforced) and Nick O’Hern and John Senden are culprits to exceed this around 50% of the time. Nick O’Hern in fact, topped the “most time per shot” list, spending on average 55 seconds to play a golf shot.

Across all the pros timed they took an average of 25.5 seconds to play a golf shot. The player who took the shortest time per shot: Rickie Fowler, 16 seconds.

And the amateurs?
The study also looked at 91 amateur players on the 1st and 18th holes at a North Carolina University golf course and they took an average of 19.0 seconds to play a golf shot.

One of the most interesting statistics to come out the study was that the time taken to play a golf shot for amateurs decreases dramatically was each successive shot. Obviously losing focus with frustration creeping in.

For the professionals, the time taken to play a shot is highest when there is a birdie opportunity.

What can we learn?
Well firstly, don’t mimic Nick O’Hern’s pre-shot routine. It is very deliberate and methodical but frustratingly slow. You won’t win friends with this sort of golf game.

Secondly, keep in mind the stat about amateurs spending less time with each successive golf shot. This should more consistent in your own game. Because as we all know, a putt for bogey costs the same as a putt for birdie; one.

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8 thoughts on “Pros take longer over golf shots than amateurs, especially Nick O’Hern

  • When does the timing start and end? From when they get to their ball to hitting the shot?

  • A more revealing study would be the time taken from the moment it is the player’s turn to play. Some players do a lot of mucking around; checking distance, change club choice, etc., etc., before moving to the ball, All of which can be done earlier in readiness for when their turn comes. This applies to Pro and amateur alike

  • I’m pretty sure that’s what they did here. They started timing as soon as it was a players turn to play but when they were at their ball. It did incorporate pre-shot routine, distance checking, club choice.

  • Why doesn’t the PGA enforce the rule more often?

  • Great Q. I’m not sure. I think that might be afraid to set a precedent and begin to anger some of the golfers.
    The PGA Tour stay pretty mum on what fines are handed out during the course of an event so maybe they uphold the rule a little more often than we realise.

  • So Jordan Spieth won the Open, good for him. I have a problem with the time taken to hit his third shot, 1.He found his ball so make a decision, 2. Go back to the tee or take an unplayable, 3. Now he needs line of sight OK that’s a given, 4. 25 minutes later he decides to hit his third shot, 5. How about 45 minutes before hitting his third shot ? would that be OK ? or 65 minutes.
    The momentum was with Matt Kucher yet he had to sit on the fairway and wait out the poor decision making of Spieth and the officials, This was grossly unfair, the rules are 5 minutes to find a lost ball, he found it immediately, then took another 20 minutes to hit the shot……………………………I feel that this act cost Matt a good shot at the title !

    • Too bad no one wanted to touch the Spieth fiasco thought some one may have had the intestinal fortitude to step up and rightly criticize his actions, I guess when a tour pro has a tough decision to make time is of no consequence, should be interesting to see if this is replicated sometime soon at a tour event, and what the outcome would be.


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