European Tour to attack slow play with new rules

The European Tour on Monday announced a four-point plan to tackle slow play, measures that will be implemented beginning with the 2020 season.

Under the new rules, a player will receive a one-shot penalty if he breaches the time allowances twice while being monitored or timed during a round. Additionally, the tour said, there will be significantly increased fines for players who are regularly placed "on the clock" during the season, as well as reduced times for players to play shots.

According to a European Tour release, players who are timed 15 times during the 2020 season will be fined 26,000 pounds (about $31,500), as compared to 9,000 pounds ($11,000) this season.

"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 TV," said Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour.

Slow play has been an contentious issue on the PGA Tour the past few seasons. The debate came to a head at the Northern Trust two weeks ago when Bryson DeChambeau was heavily criticized by fellow players and on social media for his slow pace of play.

The PGA Tour announced last week that it was reviewing its policy and considering ways to penalize players even if their group is not "out of position."

Under the PGA Tour's current policy, players are on the clock when their group falls out of position, usually meaning they fall a hole behind the group in front. They are then given an allotted time between 40 and 50 seconds (those going first get more time) to hit a shot. If there is bad time, a player gets a warning. Only the second bad time leads to a one-stroke penalty, which is rarely issued. Once the group is no longer out of position, the players are no longer timed.

Players are fined for a second bad time in a season and for each bad time thereafter, as well as for each time they are out on the clock after the 10th time.

The European Tour also announced on Monday that its players will be required to pass an interactive rules test as part of their conditions of membership, and new members will be allocated a dedicated referee to educate them on pace-of-play policies at the start of their careers.

The European Tour is also utilizing a new "Pace of Play" timing system on a trial basis, starting with next week's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. The system will provide referees with the precise times for every group through every hole to make sure gaps aren't missed. On-tee displays will also provide players with "instantaneous information on their position in relation to the group in front."

The European Tour also said there will be a "commitment to reducing field sizes where possible, while remaining mindful of providing playing opportunities."

"There is no doubt that pace of play is a hot topic in golf and as players we were keen to explore the ways to address these issues in various areas," David Howell, the European Tour's tournament committee chairman and a five-time winner on the tour, said in a statement.

"We have had some very interesting and robust debates in the process of agreeing [to] 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."

ESPN senior writer Bob Harig contributed to this report.