By Mike Stevens, USGTF contributing writer
I love watching the European Tour. They are not afraid to try different things. A few weeks ago, I turned on the Austrian Open on Golf Channel one morning and as I watched a player get ready to hit a shot, a clock was ticking down on the television screen. Oh yeah, I remembered this was the tournament where a shot clock was introduced.
Each player had 40 seconds to play a shot or incur a penalty of one shot. Players were also allowed to call a timeout twice per round, giving them twice the allotted time to put the ball in play. It was fantastic, and the action was nonstop. No incessant watching a player spend several minutes preparing to hit a shot he practices about every day of his life. Two fellows taking five and a half hours to play 18 holes is ridiculous regardless of how much money is at stake.
Slow play on the professional tours is a common complaint. Maybe some drastic measures need to be taken. A look at the results of this experiment might surprise some. Round times were down significantly. Threesomes were playing in under four hours. Guess what else? Average scores were better. The winner was 16 under par. Not shocking to me. I know that when I just get up and hit the ball without much thought, I almost always hit it better. The more time, the more negative thoughts have a way of creeping in and the more anxiety. I’d like to see this tried on all tours. Maybe not for the majors, but at a routine stop, it just might make for a more interesting event.