The PGA TOUR should consider using the shot clock in tournaments after it was deemed to be a huge success when used in the European Tour’s Austrian Open.
The Austrian Open was also named the Shot Clock Masters this year after European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley opted to use the event at the Diamond Country Club in Atzenbrugg to try out the innovative format of the game.
The idea behind shot clock golf is to speed up play by putting golfers “on the clock”. The rules deem that the first player of a group has 50 seconds to complete their shot and any subsequent players have 40 seconds to play their shot. Any infringement beyond the allotted time sees players incur shot penalties.
After Finland’s Mikko Korhonen had won the Shock Clock Masters with a score of 16-under par, the event was branded a huge success by players and fans—even allowing for some teething problems with the timekeeping.
“At the European Tour we are always looking for innovative ways to grow the game of golf to a bigger audience,” said European Tour director Nick Tarratt. “The Shot Clock Masters was certainly a success with players and fans enjoying the quicker format which did not detract from the quality of the golf.”
Pelley said in a TV interview: “I think that we saw this week that this can definitely improve the game. And it also shows that, if the players get into the mindset…then they can play quicker. They can play where, I think, it makes for a better viewing experience.
“Now we’re going to digest everything that happens. We’re not going to rush into making a decision that is detrimental to anything that we’re doing on the tour or in global golf.”
With the average time of groups on the PGA TOUR topping five hours-plus, the Shot Clock Masters format helped the European Tour bring it down closer to four hours with the countdown timer on players preparing to play their shot.
“Finally a quick round of golf on a Thursday…just shows with a bit of pressure it can be done,” European Tour star Dave Horsey tweeted. “Just over 4 hours for 18 holes and still waited for roughly 15mins in total. All for the Shot Clock #getonwithit #ShotClockMasters.”
Veteran Paul Lawrie added: “Shot Clock Masters looks to be another success for everyone @EuropeanTour, been a good run of new and innovative ideas since Mr Pelley arrived.”
On the other side of the Atlantic, where rounds were topping five hours at the St Jude Classic, there were calls for the PGA TOUR to consider trialling the format. Despite a 40-second allowance to play shots being in place in the PGA TOUR, just two slow play penalties have been issued to players since 1995 and slow play remains a major issue.
Billy Horschel was one of the PGA TOUR stars impressed by Shot Clock Masters and called on officials to give it a go.
“Loving this shot clock deal on the @EuropeanTour” Horschel posted on his Twitter feed. “Amazing how fast rounds go when players play within the rules. And guys are still playing great golf. Shocking!! 😂😂😂….wish we had something like this on the @PGATOUR.”
The ball will now be in the court of the PGA TOUR on how they combat slow play—will the international organization adopt the shot clock format?
See also: Shot Clock Masters to Debut in 2018