The Shot Clock Masters will be a new event making its debut on the European Tour in 2018 as part of an attempt to improve slow play that is dogging the sport of golf.
TOUR stars and leading players, with Jordan Spieth among them, have come under heavy criticism in recent years for slow play with marshals and officials seemingly reluctant to put golfers “on the clock” during events.
But the European Tour has taken a step towards helping improve the pace of the game—something that affects weekend golfers as much as professionals on Tour—by launching the Shot Clock Masters next year. It comes after the Tour made an announcement pledging to tackle slow play.
The move follows an experiment this year in which one of the holes at the GolfSixes event had a shot clock that allowed players 40 or 30 seconds to take each shot before it began counting down. It obviously proved popular with fans, players and officials alike to be rolled out further next year.
Now an entire event will feature the very same principle with the Shot Clock Masters taking place for the first time at the Diamond Country Club in Austria on June 7-10, 2018. It will be first professional tournament to have a shot clock on every shot for the 120-strong field.
There will be a slight tweak from the shot clock format used in the GolfSixes, however, with the European Tour’s official timing policy dictating the rules.
Those rules allow the first player in any group a 50-second window to play their shot, while their remaining playing partners have 40 seconds. The idea is to improve the pace of play and reduce time between the shots of each member of the group.
A one-shot penalty will be incurred every time a player goes over the allotted time, although each player has two time-outs—as used in sports like basketball—during each round to allow for some decision making on what shot to play. Each “bad time” offence, as the European Tour call it, will be displayed as a red card on the leaderboard and the one-shot penalty added.
The European Tour estimate that the format should help reduce the time of each group by 45 minutes per round.
“The 2018 Shot Clock Masters will be a fascinating addition to our schedule next year,” said Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, in a statement issued announcing the launch of the event. “Not only will it help us combat slow play and reduce round times, it is also further evidence of our desire to embrace innovation.”
Ali A. Al-Khaffaf, director of tournament promoters Golf Open Event, added: “We are very proud that we have extended our partnership with the European Tour and that the 2018 Shot Clock Masters will be the first event in professional golf to use this format across all 72 holes.
“For the on-site viewers and for those at home in front of the TV screens, it will be an additional tool that will make golf even more interesting and faster. With this innovation we will make history.”
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