Shot clock to shadow golfers to improve pace of play
European Tour seeking to battle slow play
(CNN) – They say timing is everything in golf, and every second will count when a shot clock is introduced at a tournament in Austria next year.
As part of the European Tour's battle against slow play, the 2018 Shot Clock Masters will become the first golf tournament in history to set a time limit on every shot.
The move is an extension of an idea trialed for one hole during the GolfSixes tournament last May.
A large, mobile timer gives the first player in a group 50 seconds. to take his shot, followed by 40 seconds for any subsequent players.
A one-shot penalty will be incurred every time the limit is exceeded and a red card shown against the player's name on the leaderboard.
Each player can call two "time-outs" during a round, giving them twice the usual time to play a shot.
"Not only will it help us combat slow play and reduce round times, it is also further evidence of our desire to embrace innovation," said Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour.
The timings are in line with the Tour's usual pace of play policy, which was tightened up in 2016, but this is the first time the clock will be so public and used throughout the 72 holes of a regular event.
The concept, which will be used for the first time at June's Shot Clock Masters near Vienna, aims to reduce round times by 45 minutes, meaning a group of three players should complete 18 holes in about four hours, and two-balls in about three hours 15 minutes.
Pelley, a sports executive and former head of Rogers Media in his native Canada, has been at the forefront of the Tour's drive to modernize the game of golf since he took up the role in 2015.
The inaugural GolfSixes event in May featured 16 teams of two, each representing a nation, competing over six holes in a round-robin and then knockout format.
The event was accompanied by pyrotechnics and music as players took to the tee, with announcers hyping up the atmosphere, and in-round interviews on the final holes of matches.
The Tour has tried other innovations this year, such as music on driving ranges, and a pre-tournament floodlit golf challenge, televised masterclasses and walk-and-talk interviews during play at the British Masters in October.
"Faster, different, surprising and dramatic is where golf needs to head," Pelley told Golf Digest in July.
"The 72-hole stroke-play tournament will always be at the core of any tour. But the future growth of the sport is going to demand some interesting departures. Everything is on the table."
The 2018 Shot Clock Masters is set to take place at Diamond Country Club from June 7-10.