Monday 16 July 2018

The European Tour will combat slow play by timing player's shots

Bernd Wiesberger is a fan of the move
Bernd Wiesberger is a fan of the move

James Corrigan

The European Tour will show zero tolerance at the groundbreaking tournament which will feature each player being timed over their shots in the war against slow play.

It emerged earlier this month that in Vienna next season, the Tour would stage the first tournament in professional golf to use a shot-clock on every shot the players take. Initially, it was thought that those falling foul would be first shown a yellow card before suffering a one-penalty for their next misdemeanour.

However, in an attempt to prove how serious they are and reduce the time of a three-ball to 4rs and a two-ball to 3hrs 15 min, they have decided the pros will be sanctioned immediately and be shamed by a red card which be placed next to their name on the scoreboard.

However, the pros will be allowed two “time-outs” per round, which will permit them twice the allotted time to play the shot.

There is bound to be controversy and aggrieved professionals, but the Tour seems actually to be inviting that as they seek to attract publicity. This year it was called the Lyonness Open and with new sponsors it was due to become the Austrian Open for next June’s renewal. But it will now be called the Shot Clock Masters and Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, the world No 40, is unashamed in welcoming the spotlight.

“With this change, there will be much more attention from the international sports media during the tournament,” Wiesberger said. “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."

Earlier this year, the Tour experimented with a shot clock on one hole at GolfSixes and the concept proved popular. Yet this is obviously a much more radical move.

The first player in a group to play any given shot will be given 50 seconds, with 40 seconds for subsequent players.  In terms of officials on the ground it will be a huge operation, with 40 timing officials needed, and because of the extra resources required it is highly doubtful this will become policy.

Yet, at the very least, the Tour wishes to get the message across, as well as generate some more healthy PR.

“The 2018 Shot Clock Masters will be a fascinating addition to our schedule,’ Keith Pelley, the Tour's chief executive, said. “Not only will it help us combat slow play, it is also further evidence of our desire to embrace innovation.”

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