European Tour fires first shot in slow play debacle

Not that world No 1 Brooks Koepka is contemplating a return to play the European Tour but the American star will be chuffed that his major ‘beef’ this year has been addressed.

Koepka and several other high-profile pros like Rory McIlroy have been calling for tougher penalties for slow play.

Keith Pelley Keith Pelley (Credit: European Tour)

Now it seems the European Tour have led the way and last week announced a four-point plan to speed players up from next season.

That follows consultation between rules officials and their 15-man tournament committee.

The Tour will introduce one-shot penalties more quickly next season, increase fines, implement mandatory slow-play lectures and online rules tests, install pace of play monitors on tees and reduce field sizes.

Starting next year, players will receive a one-shot penalty after receiving two bad times, at the moment players are given three chances before incurring one-shot penalties.

Fines for consistently slow players are to be more than doubled next year as well.

A referee will be assigned to all new members to emphasise the tour’s pace-of-play policy, while existing members will have to take an online rules test every three years.

A pace-of-play system with on-tee display boards telling players where they are in relation to the group in front will be put in place as a trial at next month’s BMW PGA Championship, with a view to full implementation next season.

And importantly, the tour will reduce field sizes from 156 to 144 competitors, and introduce larger starting intervals on Saturday and Sunday to improve pace of play.

“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,” said European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley.

“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.”

Fines for consistently slow players will increase significantly.

The tour gave the example of a player who is timed 15 times in the 2020 season would have to pay about $31,480 in fines as opposed to $10,890 this season.