Shorts and shorter rounds. Both were on the agenda at a European Tour players’ meeting in Abu Dhabi this week, with decisions on the two topics up for discussion taking immediate effect.
Just a matter of hours after the circuit’s dress code was relaxed to allow players to wear shorts on practice days and in pro-ams, Ernie Els, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Chris Wood all sported the bare-legged look on the eve of the HSBC Championship in the UAE.
Heralding the development as a positive step towards modernising the game and bringing a youthful, fun element to tournaments, European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said: “Shorts are a natural evolution to help modernise the game and the players have embraced it.”
The move was hailed as a “good idea” by Rory McIlroy, who said he’d be happy to see it extended to tournament rounds. “I don’t think it takes anything away from the tradition of the game or etiquette or how guys look on the course,” said the world No 3. “Obviously we are not going to go out in shorts at the Open Championship if it’s 10 degrees and raining. But, at the same time, if we’re playing in a hot country and it’s more comfortable for guys to wear shorts, then there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to.”
As for shorter rounds, it is hoped that 15 minutes can be shaved off the time they take through a new “monitoring” system that will be implemented straight away by rules officials at this week’s event.
“The players challenged us to tackle slow play and this is a positive first step,” said Pelley. “This is not an issue that we take lightly, believe me.”