Jordan Spieth might not like it, but the European Tour’s pace of play policy implemented at the start of the 2016 season is a hit, with Chief Executive Keith Pelley announcing rounds during the tour’s “Desert Swing” finished as quickly as 19 minutes faster.
While 19 minutes might not seem like a lot, consider if every round finished just one minute faster. One hundred and twenty-five golfers (on average) play the first two rounds of a tournament. One hundred and twenty-five minutes saved per round is two hours.
“We sad before our new measures were introduced in Abu Dhabi that we wanted to take the lead on pace of play and it is terrific to see the policy has had an immediate effect, even though we are still in the early stages of its implementation,” Pelley said.
“I am also pleased that our members have reacted positively to the change. We are continually striving to make our product even more appealing and entertaining for our fans and this is a good starting point.”
So far, 95 players have been monitored and five have been penalized – Benjamin Hebert, Eddie Pepperell, Gavin Green, Daniel Brooks, and Spieth. Each was fined £2,000, which for Sieth, who made $20 million last year in prize money, is like a person who earns $50,000 a year being fined 73 cents.
In Qatar, the average times for the first two rounds were four and 10 minutes shorter, and the last groups playing that day were 19 and 14 minutes quicker.
The slow pace of play has been a major complaint of fans both in the gallery and on television throughout the years. Making the game fan friendly, within reason, is always a driving motivation for both the European Tour and its American equivalent.