European Tour announces stricter penalties to combat slow play

Keith Pelley, CEO of the PGA European Tour. — Reuters/File

NEW YORK — European Tour players will incur a one-shot penalty from November if they are deemed to have breached slow play regulations twice in a single round.

In addition, players who consistently need to be timed or are "on the clock" will face stiffer fines from next season.

For example, a player who is timed on 15 occasions during a season will be fined 26,000 pounds ($32,000), as opposed to the current 9,000-pound fine in place.

Players will, however, have the option to request one time extension per round, giving an additional 40 seconds to hit a shot.

"We are already at the forefront of pace of play management in the professional game, but after being mandated by our Tournament Committee to be even firmer in dealing with this issue, the time was right to take these additional steps," the European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said in a statement.

"I believe the plan we are implementing for the 2020 season will bring about meaningful change that will make golf even more enjoyable for the players and our fans, whether they are at the course in person or watching on television."

Slow play has been a hot topic recently after American Bryson DeChambeau took more than two minutes to line up a putt during at the Northern Trust tournament in New Jersey.

The incident prompted the PGA Tour to review its slow play policy, with leading players, including Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy, among those criticizing the tour's inaction over slow play.

The European Tour's initiative stemmed from a meeting of its Tournament Committee in May and the plan was approved in July.

The new system will focus on four key areas – regulation, education, innovation and field sizes.

"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.

"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." — AFP