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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.


author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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