European Tour Increases Severity Of Slow Play Breaches

Players will now receive automatic shot penalties for two bad times in a tournament

European Tour Increases Severity Of Slow Play Breaches
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Players will now receive automatic shot penalties for two bad times in a tournament

European Tour Increases Severity Of Slow Play Breaches

In August of last year, the European Tour announced its four point plan to target slow play in its tournaments.

Slow play in professional golf has been, and still is, a huge talking point and the new plan aims to eradicate it for good, on the European Tour at least.

It all comes into effect this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and there has been one key amendment that is actually harsher on the players than the original plan.

The amendment is that players with two 'bad times' across the entire tournament will receive an immediate one stroke penalty.

Previously in the four point plan the European Tour would fine players one stroke for two 'bad times' in a single round, however these 'bad times' will now carry over throughout the tournament days.

Related: 15-year-old sensation Josh Hill beats Brooks Koepka in Abu Dhabi practice round

A 'bad time' is incurred when a player exceeds their time limit whilst being monitored by a referee.

The time limit whilst being monitored by a referee is 40 second per shot or 50 seconds for the first player in the group to play.

There is a 10% buffer but if a player has three times in the 10% buffer they will be given a 'bad time'.

Players will be allowed to call a time extension once per round of 40 seconds, for example if they're faced with a difficult shot or are unsure of which club to use.

This must be obviously stated to a timing referee with the group via verbal agreement or signalling.

The signal must come before the player has reached their original 40, or 50 second, time limit.

Related: Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship betting tips 2020

The European Tour also says that referees have been mandated by the Tournament Committee to focus on the players who are regularly taking too much time, even if they are ‘in-position’.

The 'in position' times are now 85 seconds for the first player in the group (previously 100) and 70 seconds for the second and third players (previously 80).

If these 'in position' times are breached, 'monitoring penalties' will be handed out.

'Monitoring penalties' will not result in stroke penalties but they will result in fines starting from €3,500, which then increase each time, once a player has received two.

This is the same for 'bad times'.

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Other areas of the European Tour's four point plan sees referees being given precise times for every group through every hole, on-tee displays and field sizes reduced.

Related: European Tour announces four point plan to tackle slow play

John Paramor, European Tour Chief Referee, said: “The tougher measures which come into effect in Abu Dhabi empower our referees to more effectively target slower players.

“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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Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-5. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2 HL

Irons: Mizuno MP-H4 3-iron, Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5