The 2018 Shot Clock Masters in Austria will be the first tournament in professional golf to use a stopwatch on every shot as part of the European Tour’s bid to combat slow play.
Earlier this year, the European Tour experimented with a shot clock on one hole at GolfSixes – a move which proved popular with both players and fans – and the concept will now be used for the first time at a European Tour event at the Diamond Country Club, from June 7-10, 2018.
In a marked difference to the GolfSixes model however, this tournament will embrace the Tour’s official timing policy (similar to policies used across the world of professional golf) over 72 holes, with an intent to showcase a European Tour event played at a faster pace.
Each player in the 120-man field will have 50 seconds for the first player in a group to play any given shot, and 40 seconds for subsequent players. Players will incur a one-shot penalty for each bad time incurred, and these will be shown as a red card against their name on the leaderboard. Each player will have the right to call two ‘time-outs’ during a round, which will permit them twice the usually allotted time to play the shot.
Last year, the European Tour pledged to speed up the game by introducing a new pace of play policy which included monitoring penalties and handing referees additional powers to target slow players. This policy had an immediate effect, leading to a visible reduction in round times, and the additional development in Austria could have an even more dramatic impact.
It is hoped the move will cut round times by up to 45 minutes, reducing three-ball timings to approximately four hours, and two-balls to around three hours 15 minutes.
Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour, said: “The 2018 Shot Clock Masters will be a fascinating addition to our schedule next year. Not only will it help us combat slow play and reduce round times, it is also further evidence of our desire to embrace innovation.”
Leading Austrian player Bernd Wiesberger said: “With this change, there will be much more attention from the international sports media during the tournament. The new shot clock format is an ideal way to focus on the issue of pace of play. The game of golf should definitely be faster and therefore this is a step in the right direction.”