European Tour crackdown on slow play starts this week

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The European Tour's new pace of play policy comes into effect this week, promising a crack down on golf's slow pokes.

Players will be now be given an immediate one shot penalty for incurring  two ‘bad times’ in a tournament rather than for two ‘bad times’ within a round.

A reduction in the time allowance for ‘in-position players’ to play shots also comes into force this week, alongside increased fines for players who are regularly placed ‘on the clock’ throughout the season.

European Tour players have also been required to undertake an education programme since the original four-point plan was announced last August.

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“The tougher measures which come into effect in Abu Dhabi empower our referees to more effectively target slower players," said John Paramor, the European Tour's chief referee.

“Changing the regulation for an immediate one-shot penalty to now be triggered by two bad times in a tournament instead of a round will force slower players to consistently ensure they play within timing regulations.

“This is part of our wider, robust policy to tackle slow play but our fundamental advice to all players remains consistent – they should be ready to play when it is their turn.”

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The European Tour’s four-point plan focuses on four key areas: regulation, education, innovation and field sizes.

A new ‘Pace of Play’ timing system utilising the latest technology was tested at the BMW PGA Championship in September, with a further trial taking place in Abu Dhabi this week. The intention is to roll the system out across a number of events in 2020, providing referees with the precise times for every group through every hole to make sure that no gaps are missed.

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On-tee displays linked to the system will also provide the players instantaneous information on their position in relation to the group in front.

Field sizes at fully sanctioned events will be reduced from 156 to a minimum of 144 so long as all entered players in Category 18 (the final 116-132 on the 2019 Race to Dubai) and above make it into the event. This will create space for referees to push groups over the Thursday and Friday rounds, while larger starting intervals will be built into play on Saturday and Sunday to create a better flow between groups.

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