Golf: European Tour to introduce shot clock in 2018

China's Guang Tianlang, only 14 at the time, was given a one-shot penalty for slow play during the 2013 Masters.
China's Guang Tianlang, only 14 at the time, was given a one-shot penalty for slow play during the 2013 Masters.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Next year's Austrian Open will be the first tournament in professional golf to set a time limit on every shot in a bid to combat slow play, the European Tour has said.

The Shot Clock Masters at the Diamond Country Club next June will give the first player in a group 50 seconds to make any given shot and 40 seconds each for players that follow.

A one-shot penalty will be incurred for bad times, shown as a red card against the player's name.

Players can also opt for two time-outs in a round, giving them double the allotted time to play the shot.

It is hoped that with the time limit, round times can be cut by around 45 minutes.

"The 2018 Shot Clock Masters will be a fascinating addition to our schedule next year," European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said on the tour website (www.europeantour.com).

"Not only will it help us combat slow play and reduce round times, it is also further evidence of our desire to embrace innovation."

Slow play has been a frequent complaint among golfers, especially at Major events, but it is hardly enforced.

One notable incident, however, was when China's Guan Tianlang - then only 14 years of age - was given a one-shot penalty at the 2013 Masters for slow play.

The first player to be penalised for taking his time at Augusta, he turns 19 today.

The last player before Guan to be penalised at a Major was Gregory Bourdy in the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. He also incurred a one-shot penalty then.

The European Tour trialled the time-limit concept on a single hole in the GolfSixes event at the Centurion Club in May and were happy with the feedback from players and fans.

Austria's Bernd Wiesberger, currently 11th in the Race to Dubai rankings, welcomed the change.

"The new shot clock format is an ideal way to focus on the issue of pace of play," he said.

"The game of golf should definitely be faster and therefore this is a step in the right direction."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 25, 2017, with the headline 'European Tour to introduce shot clock'. Print Edition | Subscribe