The European Tour is so determined to stamp out slow play it has even come up with a tournament title to show how serious it is about the problem.
Introducing the “Shot Clock Masters”. Honestly.
Formerly known as the Austrian Open, the Shot Clock Masters, June 7-10 near Vienna, will feature a shot clock for all players, and hand out one-shot penalties to those who exceed the time limit.
The Tour has already trialled a shot clock. One was used during this year’s GolfSixes tournament at the Centurion Club just north of London. The clock was only used on the fourth hole, and just one player fell foul of it. Former Oregon State player Paul Peterson exceeded the 40-second limit and was penalized one stroke.
Every player will be timed on every shot in Austria. The other big difference from GolfSixes is that the event will use the Tour’s official timing policy. Each player in the 120-man field will have 50 seconds for the first player in a group, with 40 seconds for subsequent players. A one-shot penalty will be handed out to players going over the time limit, and a red card will appear beside their name on the leaderboard.
The Tour is hoping to cut three-ball timings down to four hours, and two balls down to three hours and 15 minutes.
“The 2018 Shot Clock Masters will be a fascinating addition to our schedule next year,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “Not only will it help us combat slow play and reduce round times, it is also further evidence of our desire to embrace innovation.”
Bernd Wiesberger, Austria’s No. 1 player, hopes the policy marks a sea-change in attitude towards pace of play.
“With this change, there will be much more attention from the international sports media during the tournament,” said Wiesberger, the World No. 40. “The new shot clock format is an ideal way to focus on the issue of pace of play. The game of golf should definitely be faster and therefore this is a step in the right direction.”