You may have missed it but on Sunday, an Icelandic geologist helda memorial service for the Okjokull glacier that was declared extinct a decade ago.

It was perhaps fitting then that a day after this sombre lament to the effects of global warming, the European Tour released a wordy document on another glacial issue –the pace of play in golf.

Bryson DeChambeau’s wearisome deliberations during the recent Northern Trust event on the PGA Tour took so long, his scorecard just about had to be carbon-dated. The eruption of frustration and fury from his fellow professionals and the wider golfing world, meanwhile, could have been accompanied with lava.

In a four-point plan aimed at eradicating slow play, the European Tour has upped the ante on that particular front.


It will be interesting to see if the US-based PGA Tour, a body with a seemingly shrugging approach of indifference to pace of play, are prompted into any new measures themselves on the back of this.

The European Tour officials insist this action was not a knee-jerk to the DeChambeau debacle. In fact, the circuit’s top brass were approached by players on its tournament committee in May with a view to putting a plan in place for next season. That was ratified last month.

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Starting in late November, the new regulations will include a shortened process before players are given a one-shot penalty. At present, a player being monitored would have to exceed the time allowance – 50 seconds if first to play, 40 seconds thereafter – before being officially timed and would then have to exceed the limit twice more in the same round to be penalised.

Under the new rules, when players are out of position and either being monitored or timed, a one-shot penalty will be incurred if they exceed the time limit twice. Those dawdlers and slow coaches who find themselves consistently “on the clock” will also be hit more severely in the pocket. A player, for instance, who is timed 15 times next season will be fined £26,000 compared with £9,000 now.

The other week, Rory McIlroy made his feelings on slow play quite clear. “It should be a warning and then a [penalty] shot. That will stamp it out right away,” he said. “We are not children who need to be told five or six times what to do.” The tour’s new approach is not quite the Rory rule but it’s a start.

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In addition to this, a trial pace-of-play system will be conducted at the BMW PGA Championship at ­Wentworth next month to give ­referees the times for every group through each hole to make sure no gaps are missed.

As part of this system, on-tee displays on a minimum of three holes will provide groups with their position in relation to the group in front. New European Tour members will be assigned a referee to advise them on pace of play and, as part of retaining their membership, every player will have to pass an interactive online rules test. This will be repeated every three years for existing members.

Larger gaps between start times in the third and fourth rounds of tournaments will be implemented while fields in some fully-sanctioned events will be reduced from 156 to a minimum of 144.

The push to get golf moving is gathering pace.