European Tour announces four-point plan to tackle slow play

Sports Staff

The European Tour has announced a four-point plan to tackle slow play, including a shortened process before players are handed a one-shot penalty.Financial penalties will also be increased for players who are regularly timed by officials during the season, while members will have to pass an online rules test and field sizes in fully sanctioned events will be reduced from 156 to a minimum of 144.Currently, a player being monitored would have to exceed the time allowance - 50 seconds if first to play, 40 seconds thereafter - before being officially timed and would then have to exceed the limit twice more in the same round to be given a one-shot penalty.Under the new regulations to be introduced next season, when players are out of position and either being monitored or timed, a one-shot penalty will be incurred if they exceed the time limit twice.Players will have the option to request one time extension per round, giving an additional 40 seconds to hit a shot.Fines for consistently slow players who are regularly timed will increase. For example, a player who is timed 15 times in the 2020 season will have to pay £26,000 in fines as opposed to £9,000 this year.The slow play debate turned personal last week as Bryson DeChambeau came in for stinging criticism from fellow professionals after taking two minutes and 20 seconds to hit a putt during the second round of The Northern Trust at Liberty National.However, the European Tour's initiative stemmed from a meeting of its Tournament Committee in May and was approved in July."There is no doubt that pace of play is a hot topic in golf and as players we were keen to explore ways to address these issues in various areas," tournament committee chairman David Howell said. * Read more Tiger Woods withdraws from Northern Trust with oblique strain"We have had some very interesting and robust debates in the process of agreeing the new initiatives but, with a combination of education, deterrents, technology and modifications to the fields, we believe we have arrived at a set of fair and proportional measures to improve the experience for everyone involved in the game."A trial pace-of-play system will be conducted at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in September to give referees the times for every group through each hole to make sure that no gaps are missed.As part of this system, on-tee displays on a minimum of three holes will provide groups with their position in relation to the group in front.If the trial is a success, the system will be used at a "significant number of tournaments" on the European Tour, Challenge Tour and the Staysure Tour.New European Tour members will be assigned a referee to advise them on pace of play and, as part of retaining their membership, every player will have to pass an interactive online rules test. This will be repeated every three years for existing members.