European Tour announces intricate plan to ‘tackle’ slow play

August 19, 2019

In the recent wake of discussion on pace of play on the PGA Tour, the European Tour is making public changes. The Euro Tour announced a 4-part plan Monday to “tackle slow play” in the coming years, headlined by shot penalties and greater fines.

The Euro Tour Tournament Committee agreed to a plan in July and has apparently spent the last month “fine-tuning” that plan, the tenets of which are Regulation, Education, Innovation and Field Sizes.

By Regulation, the Tour plans to strictly enforce and monitor the time it takes for players to play shots. If a player is being monitored and has two bad times — where they fail to play in the allotted time of 50 seconds for the first player and 40 seconds for ensuing players — they will receive a one-stroke penalty. In the past, a player would have to have a bad time to become “officially timed” before the two-bad-time rule would be enacted. And thus, there were no stroke penalties handed out.

Players out of position — meaning they are not maintaining the appropriate about of time they ought to to play the course — is not the only rule being changed. “In Position timing” has been altered as well, so that players will have 85 seconds to play, if they are first to play, and 70 seconds if they are second. That is a 15% reduction from current timing standards. Players who are timed many times throughout the year will also face stiffer fines at the end of a season.

All of that makes for groups of professionals playing faster golf, whether they’ve been immediately urged to or not. Of course, there are tricky, unpredictable moments that occur during tournament play. For those instances, players “have the option to request one time extension per round” for an extra 40 seconds.

Also included in the 4-part plan is Education, lined out by young Tour players and new members passing online rules tests to help reiterate the Rules of Golf and hopefully avoid unnecessary rulings. Those tests will be repeated every three years.

The third step of the plan is Innovation, which includes an important date and tournament: The BMW Championship — September, 2019. At that event, one of the Euro Tour’s Rolex Series tournaments, the new system will have its first trial run. According to the Euro Tour, every group will be timed on every hole, and some holes will include signs on the tee that alert groups their position relative to the group ahead of them.

Finally, the Field Sizes wraps up the plan. Euro Tour events will no longer stretch to 156 players. Instead, the number of competitors will be capped at 144. Less players, more space, faster play. That’s the implication, at least.

And so, one of golf’s most prominent tours will be enacting stiffer slow-play penalties moving forward. This comes just one week after the PGA Tour announced its intentions to review its pace of play policy, using the ShotLink data as a timing asset.

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