With Slow play the hot topic at the moment and in light of the social media lynching of Bryson DeChambeau the European tour have released a plan of combating it next season.

Although I feel it was unfair to single out DeChambeau, he was timed taking more than two minutes to miss an eight-foot putt at the recent Northern Trust Open on the PGA Tour, prompting criticism from several rival players. He is not the only culprit but is one of the larger, more recognised names along with J.B Holmes. It’s easy to understand why players take longer than is allowed when such prize money is at stake but when the rules are clear there should be no confusion. Although it may feel it helps an individual to take their time it can also be just as disruptive to another who prefers to play swiftly. I’m sure many of you have experienced this in your Club Championship or even Monthly Medal. 

Here is a breakdown of the plan the European tour are going to implement.  

  • From the 2020 season players will be required to pass a rules test as part of their European Tour membership.
  • A new timing system will be trialled at next month’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. This will give referees precise timings for every group on the course.
  • The imposition of penalty strokes which will gain most attention. When players fall behind the group ahead, they are timed over their shots and are allowed 40 seconds to play and 50 if they are hitting first.
  • A player who has two bad times will have a stroke added to their score.
  • Referees will be mandated to target known slow players.
  • Consistent offenders will also face much larger fines. A golfer with 15 bad times this year paid out £9,000 but from next year the penalty would rise to £26,000.
  • The tour will also look to cut field sizes from the usual 156 to 144 players wherever possible to create space for referees to push competitors during play on the first two days.

The European Tour are going in hard on this to make a change. I think it’s a brilliant idea to make all the players aware of the rules with the interactive test, this would be a great addition to club golf to make players understand the rules and help them speed up their own pace of play when participating in competitions. 

I’m looking forward to seeing how players on tour adapt to these changes, if it makes a big difference to their routines, the caddy’s influence and seeing if their scores suffer/ improve as a result. 

Rob Wilkinson 

PGA Professional

rob.nfgc@btinternet.com