Golf has followed poker’s lead by introducing a shot clock in the European Tour in the hope that the PGA Tour will one day follow in a bid to speed up the game and make it more adorable.
I learned a lot about ‘sport’ during my gambling days.
Take golf, for example.
I would rather unwind a rolled up hose pipe and let someone whack my one-eyed trouser snake than watch someone belt a ball around the grass for four hours, but all that changed once I flipped my coin and placed a bet on the guy representing heads. One minute I was listening to New Kids on the Block the next it was Pink Floyd.
Despite the increase in interest my wager created I still wondered why players took so long to make a shot. It reminded me of poker players. I used to scream at the TV, “Stop dropping blades of grass!” only for my wife to shout back at me – “They can’t hear you.”
Keith Pelley heard me.
The CEO of golf’s European Tour will introduce a shot clock at the Austrian Open, June 7-10, the first time anyone in the industry has shown more than golf balls in a bid to improve the pace of the game.
In many ways, the U.S. Golf Association Rules mimicked those of poker with no rule governing the pace of play, except to note that, ‘slow playing’ is discouraged. According to Golfweek Rule 6-7 shows that a golfer must play a shot “without undue delay.”
Like poker, Pelley hasn’t just jumped into this decision like an immature teenager asking his mate to stick a nail through his earlobe so he can turn all David Beckham. Pelley and his tour trialled a shot clock during Hole 4 of the GolfSixes event at the Centurion Club on the outskirts of London. Only one player fell foul of the rule.
The team liked what they saw and will roll out the clock for every single shot of the 120 player field event near Vienna. The first player in the group will receive 50-seconds to take their shot, with everyone else getting 40-seconds. There will be a one-shot penalty for violations. Every player can use two-time extensions per round.
It’s believed that the introduction of a shot clock will reduce a round of golf by 45-minutes with threesomes finishing in four hours and twosomes in three hours and fifteen minutes.
The decision to use the clock throughout the entirety of the tournament is as bold as the one made by 888Poker when they became the only live poker tournament operator to use the shot clock throughout the whole of their 888Live Main Events and High Rollers.
The World Poker Tour (WPT) also introduced a shot clock at their Main Event stops but limiting its use to the later stages of their event. PokerStars and the Aussie Millions use the shot clock in their High Roller events, but not in their core offerings. The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is yet to introduce the shot clock.
The world of golf is hoping that the Austrian Open is such a rip-roaring success that the idea migrates to the PGA Tour.
It’s surely only a matter of time?