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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 291
SHOT CLOCK IS A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION I T’S being hailed a success in all corners of the globe and there’s no doubting the European Tour’s Shot Clock Masters achieved what it set out to do. Formerly the Austrian Open, the tournament was a bold response by European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley to the issue of slow play by his members. The Canadian sent out a simple survey in 2016 which asked two questions: ‘Do you think slow play is an issue on the European Tour’ and, if the answer was yes, ‘Do you want the European Tour to act seriously on curbing this challenge?’ With 70 per cent of the players answering in the affirmative to both, the Shot Clock Masters was born and over the past four days has drawn more international attention to the European Tour than any regular season event in recent memory. Social media was alive with congratulatory messages from fans and players around the world, including PGA Tour player Billy Horschel who suggested he would like to see a similar trial in the US. While not personally among the majority who think slow play at the professional level is a particularly big deal, I am in favour of players getting around the course at a more sensible pace and that is exactly what happened in Austria. There were no new rules in place at Diamond Country Club, the Tour simply made an effort (and a not insignificant one) to both enforce the existing regulations while simultaneously making that enforcement highly visible with the presence of golf buggy mounted shot clocks with every group. The numbers told the story over the course of the week with the average round times on day three 30 minutes less than the corresponding day last year. Consensus among the players was that the bulk of the time saving came as a result of golfers simply being ready to hit when it was their turn, an all too uncommon state of affairs most weeks. That four players were penalised over the weekend for exceeding their allotted time, despite the hype, is testament to the fact that slow play at the top level is, for the most part, simply a habit. The Shot Clock Masters clearly struck a nerve and Pelley and his team deserve all the accolades coming their way for having the courage to go ahead with the experiment. More importantly, though, is that it was just the latest in a series of innovations the former media executive has brought to the game including the Golf Sixes and Belgian Knockout nine-hole matchplay event. Not every golfer has to like every innovation but every golf fan should be pleased that at least somebody at the top echelons of the game is thinking creatively. The weekly international diet of 72-hole strokeplay can’t possibly be a sustainable model for the professional game and the introduction of some different formats, especially if they are played in reasonable time, are a great start to freshening things up. VIEW THE ROD MORRI is an award-winning writer and podcast presenter. He hosts The iseekgolf.com Podcast weekly. CLICK here to listen.
GA Express 290
GA Express 292 US Open wrap