It can often be hard to tell what moves faster: The coastal erosion that’s threatening some of golf’s most celebrated links courses or the actual pace of the bloomin’ play on the tours.

To be honest, the erosion is probably just edging it. In Abu Dhabi this week for the European Tour’s first $7m Rolex Series event of the 2020 campaign, the circuit’s robust plan to get the game moving will be trialled again with a new, more stringent element added to the initial blueprint.

Players will now be given an immediate one-shot penalty for exceeding the time limit – 50 seconds if first to play, 40 seconds thereafter – in a tournament, rather than for two such transgressions within a round.

The whips, it seems, are being prepared to be cracked. “The tougher measures which come into effect in Abu Dhabi empower our referees to more effectively target slower players,” said the European Tour’s chief referee, John Paramor.

“Changing the regulation for an immediate one-shot penalty to now be triggered by two bad times in a tournament instead of a round will force slower players to consistently ensure they play within timing regulations.”

The issue of slow play has been a long-standing plook on golf’s complexion and the growing grumblings from high profile players during the 2019 season about the ponderous actions of some of their peers on the circuit took the debate to a new level. Bryson DeChambeau was the focus of much harrumphing and fist-shaking last year when he was captured on video taking two minutes and 20 seconds to hit an eight-foot putt during a wearisome, prolonged palaver which just about led to officials having to carbon-date his pre-shot routine.


As he prepares to mount his challenge in Abu Dhabi this week, DeChambeau, who always maintained that he was singled out for unfair treatment in the wake of that dawdling debacle at The Northern Trust, has embraced the tour’s new measures with great gusto.

“I love it,” he said. “I don’t want to be out there for six hours, nor does anybody.

Of that incident on the PGA Tour last summer, DeChambeau added: “I was playing under the rules and there was no rhyme or reason to be called out, other than the fact that it looked like it was a really, really long time that it took.

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“And it was, absolutely. I’m not saying it wasn’t. But I was playing under the rules at that point in time, and there’s no reason why I should have been given so much heat, considering other things that had occurred that day and previous days of other people that I played with.

“There are numerous times out there, more than not, I’m waiting, our group is waiting for people to go, and so I certainly don’t want to be waiting on players.

“It’s going to hurt my momentum.”

The National:

One man keen to build up some momentum again is the world No.1, Brooks Koepka.

The four-time major winner is returning to the competitive cut-and-thrust for the first time in three months having been sidelined with a painful knee injury.

“In Korea [at a PGA Tour event] I re-tore it and the kneecap had moved into the fat pad, which was excruciating,” he explained the 29-year-old with a grimace.

“It’s a lot of pain. It’s not fun. When you have something you love and it’s taken away from you, I think it makes you appreciate it more. I’ve missed the competition and hopefully I don’t have any more of those situations.”