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Monty: Shot clock could fix golf's slow-play issue

Colin Montgomerie
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If Colin Montgomerie had his way, a shot clock would be used in more sports than just basketball.

In fact, the newly inducted Hall of Famer thinks that a shot clock would cut down on the “biggest bugbear” in golf – slow play. The issue came under the spotlight again last week at the British Open, where first-year pro Hideki Matsuyama was slapped with a one-shot penalty during the third round. 

Monty suggested Wednesday that there should be an allotted time to play a round of golf, and that each group would be monitored by an official wielding a stopwatch.

“They should be playing in no more than four hours for any round of golf on any course,” Monty told reporters on the eve of the Senior British Open at Royal Birkdale. “Unfortunately they are given far too long. Why do you have to wait to be slow before you are put on the clock?

“There are 52 referees out there at major championships and they should all have a clock to be able to put them on the clock on the first tee to ensure they all get around in time. It has been mentioned about a shot clock, and that is interesting. There should be an allotted time to play the game, like chess, where you have a certain time to play.

“If the first two groups take five or more hours to go round then the day is gone, you can’t make it up.”

Interesting concept, and the former European No. 1 isn’t the first to suggest the idea of a shot clock.

There are several flaws to consider, however.

Chief among them: What happens when there is a ruling, or a necessary club change? Is the shot clock paused? What about the difference in shooting 65, 73 and 81? Playing well takes less time.

Is the, say, 45-second rule to hit a shot extended when the degree of difficulty is increased? And shouldn’t the shortest hitter in the group get more time, since he’ll be playing first on most holes and have less time to calculate yardage and select a club?

Clearly, there is no simple fix to golf’s slow-play issue. That it is no longer being completely ignored, however, at least represents progress.