In a nutshell: it is a clock which is counting down a certain period of time. To be more precise, it is a display as it is used already in other sports like basketball, water ball, tennis or billiard. It shows the remaining seconds until the end of the so-called “attack time”. In golfing the shot clock is intended to display a countdown before each shot.
In recent years the pace of play has been a big issue of discussion among players, spectators and tournament organizers – in particular, if players were taking their time – too much time – for their rounds. Thus the European Tour made it their business to make the game in the future faster and thus also more interesting and attractive.
For many years the organizers of the tournament have been reliable partners for the European Tour and have times and again shown their readiness and willingness to implement new ideas and innovations in the context of their tournament (e.g. “Beat the Pro” competition) with the necessary professionalism. Thus the organizers’ answer was prompt and clear when the European Tour issued the request to use the shot clock in the competition.
Yes, last year at the Golf Sixes – it was used on one hole as an experiment.
The tournament in Austria has already quite a tradition which will be maintained, the competition format stays the same. The competition will still use the stroke play scoring system over 18 holes and four days. What changes is the number of participants: a maximum of 120 players will tee-off in Atzenbrugg; the cut will include the best 65 plus ties.
Summarized in one sentence: The whole tournament becomes more technical and digital. Each flight will be accompanied by a referee with an e-cart on which a digital clock is mounted, visible for everybody. By means of a tablet computer the referee operates the clock/the display. Of course, the shot clock will also be visible during TV broadcasts.
Simply stated: the referees will move more to the foreground during the whole competition, their role becomes much more significant. There will be more referees on site than during previous tournaments, 24 to be precise. In the run-up to the Shot Clock Masters the selected referees will have a special clinic to prepare them for the event.
In general, the “40-seconds-rule” applies, i.e. the player has to carry out his shot within 40 seconds. In certain situations players will have 50 seconds: for each first shot onto the green. This includes the tee-off on a par 3, each second or third approach on a par 4 or par 5, or each first chip onto the green. Similarly, the player who is the first to putt on the green will have 50 seconds to prepare for his shot.
The referee and the referee alone – he decides when to push the button and when to start the countdown. He will announce the start of the countdown with: “The time starts”, so that players do not have to look at the display all the time.
Yes, every player has the right to call two time-outs per round. Should his ball lie in a position that requires more time for preparation he can ask the referee for a time out and will be allotted more time than the usual 40 seconds.
As long as the decision has not been made the clock is not activated. The shot clock is only activated once the player has decided to play the ball.
Players will incur a one-shot penalty which will also be shown on the leaderboard.
This is definitely the most interesting question for all! The European Tour assumes that the rounds will take much less time, approximately 30 to 45 minutes less. Due to the faster pace of play also the performance of the players might change – for the better. Preliminary statistical analyses already show that players’ performances improve if they focus on a faster pace of play. However, accurate conclusions can only be drawn after the Shot Clock Masters.
Basically, the event form June 7 to 10 will write history and influence the future of golfing considerably. Should the shot clock prove to be a positive innovation, it could be used at every bigger tournament on the Tour. The history of sports has shown repeatedly that certain changes of rules in various sports were extremely successful – take for example the back-pass rule in soccer or the tie-break in tennis which nowadays nobody would consider to question.