A shot clock is coming to golf for at least one week in 2018 on the European Tour.
The June 2018 playing of the Austrian Open (formerly the Diamond Open) will feature a 40-second shot clock, according to The Times of London, via Geoff Shackelford. Each player will be allowed 40 seconds to hit each shot, and a walking referee with each group will time the shots. If a player breaks the 40-second allocation, they’ll immediately be hit with a one-stroke penalty.
The Austrian Open seems a ripe place to try it. The event typically attracts only a few of the tour’s upper-tier regulars, and that means organizers can have a reduced field for the experimental event.
It’s not clear if this is an event designed to prove a point, one way or another, or simply to see how the players respond to having a more stringent shot clock consistently applied on every shot. The Rules of Golf indicate under Rule 6-7 that a player has 40 seconds to play a shot from when it is officially their turn, including for players who are first to hit the tee shot, approach shot and first putt on a hole. On the PGA Tour, their pace of play standard includes a 60-second total allowance for players leading off on each shot on a hole (tee shot, approach, third to a par 5, first to chip, first to putt).
Having a shot clock with a walking official for each group would be man-power intensive, but it could also be done with modern apps and technology. However, the immediate knock on a shot clock is the time crunch can prohibit players from thinking through a potentially brilliant shot in certain circumstances.
This isn’t the first time the European Tour has tried a shot clock. In the unofficial debut of GolfSixes in May, there was a shot clock on one of the holes.