Fingers Crossed for Shot Clock Masters as Golf Must Kill off Slow Play
There have been times this season when following the golf on the television has been akin to watching paint dry (note, the paint dried quicker than some players completed their rounds).
Sunday’s final round at the Memorial Tournament was a case in point as it took Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Cantley five and a half hours to complete 18 holes. Throw in the hour it took for the playoff to conclude, and that is a large chunk of a spectator’s day.
Golf needs to win over new fans, but five and a half hour rounds is not going to engage them. The best way to eradicate slow play is to penalise it. A fine won’t do it, but penalty strokes certainly will and the European Tour is dipping its toe into the water this week with the Shot Clock Masters.
The event is effectively the Lyoness Open and will still take place at Diamond Country Club in Austria. And as the title states, the players will be on the clock.
The first player in the group has 50 seconds to play his shot, with the others in the group having 40 seconds to execute. Those who do not pull the trigger in the allotted time will be hit with a penalty stroke.
Whether 40 or 50 seconds is the right number remains to be seen, but golf needs to do something to draw in fans who have many demands on their time and are unlikely to sit through a five-and-half-hour two-ball.
The European Tour deserves credit for trying this initiative, but the early indications are that the players are not in love with the idea as it’s far from a stellar field that has been assembled in Austria.
The Lyoness Open was never the highlight of the European Tour calendar, so it’s probably unwise to focus on the field as evidence that the players are not keen on the idea of a shot clock.
But whether they are in love with it or not, they have to realise that something needs to change. To that end, what is needed is a week of great golf, an exciting finish – and all played at a good pace.
A one-off event will not solve the blight of slow play, it will need a concerted effort from both Tours and the governing bodies, but a stance needs to be taken and the Shot Clock Masters is it.
So who wins?
With a shock clock in play and a lot less thinking time, course knowledge could take on added significance and rising Austrian star Matthias Schwab – who has played regularly at Diamond Country Club and made his professional debut in last year’s event – catches the eye at 188BET’s price of 23.0.