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Golf requires only a few simple Rules and Regulations to guide the players in the true nature of its sporting appeal. The spirit of the game is its own referee.



Reactions To R&A, European Tour Slow Play Agenda

That's John Huggan's take on news of the R&A making pace of play a focus. As much as distance leaps are to blame, Huggan notes the absurdity of green speed not getting more attention. Then again, Saturday play at The Open was lost to green speed, so that's a tricky subject too.

Huggan writes for

Unbelievably, only once during the two-day conference in the Home of Golf was there any mention of excessive green speeds as an aspect of the game that adds, according to a Danish Golf Union study, “ten minutes to every round for every foot over nine on the Stimpmeter.” And never was the absurd distances leading players hit the modern ball -- and in turn the ever longer walks from greens to distant back tees -- cited as an obviously detrimental factor in pace of play.

Lorne Rubenstein has written and read about slow play for a long time, so he welcomed news of the R&A's focus, but also wondered how much we want to rush through a round.

Slow play has not exactly been something that the golfing authorities worldwide have been quick to tackle, really tackle, or solve. This isn’t because they’ve not studied the problem enough. The subject comes up frequently, and has for many years. The USGA held a pace of play symposium a year ago, when the results of 17 research projects were presented.

But give the R&A marks for getting various people and organizations together to discuss the matter, and, in the process, enjoy some fine claret. As the PGA master pro Denis Pugh tweeted from the conference, “Most enjoyable evening at R&A. Food, wine, and company first class.” Pugh is an advocate of faster play, and his experience informs him that golfers are more successful when, as Gene Sarazen once wrote, they “miss ‘em quick.”

If so many golfers, and not only those in St. Andrews this week, believe slow play is a scourge, well, why don’t they play faster? Are they as bothered by slow play as much as we suppose? Or, is this a case of leading the witness, as in posing multiple-choice responses to a question: “What is hurting golf most? (a) cost (b) slow play, (c) difficulty, and so on.

I think the bigger picture story here, as discussed today on Morning Drive, is the R&A's willingness to let people in the trenches tell their story and to suggest it's time to get more aggressive with slow-pokes.

But as I wrote in Golf World, this is also setting up a battle between Team Europe (R&A/European Tour) and Team USA (PGA Tour/USGA), where Europe is signaling a willingness to crack down and even embarrass some slow pokes. Of course, that is a notion offensive to PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, who has discouraged the administration of rules in place to deal with slow play. Reason #459 he needs to retire.

Here is Slumbers talking about the conference on Morning Drive with Gary Williams. It's one of the first chances to hear from the R&A's new head man. He comes off very well.


Forward Press: Off-Shore World Ranking Points

If you were thinking the long 2015 or looming 2016 scheduling mess would hurt the Hero World Challenge's ability to lure a top field, think again.

But like the perks of parking your money in off-shore, tax-free accounts, there is still something a little shady with an 18-player field counting in the world ranking. The stellar turnout tells you all you need to know about the value of such points, particularly with Olympic berths on the line.

That, and what I could muster in the way of a preview for the third course in three years to host Tiger's event, can be found in this week's edition of the Forward Press.

Incidentally, host Tiger Woods is slated to give a press conference Tuesday at 1 pm ET.


Handicap Posting Narrative Unchanged: USGA Should Respond

A week removed from the USGA's announcement no longer tolerating solo rounds for handicap posting, the narrative hasn't budged. Reaction continues to paint the organization as out of touch with the demands of the modern golfer's schedule, oblivious in its reply to early criticism and worst of all, is thought to be painting most solo golfers as incapable of being trusted.

The discussion was pretty tough on Morning Drive today, with Charlie Rymer, Gary Williams, and Damon Hack talk about the new rules and offering several insights of note, especially the confusion that newish golfers have with handicapping.

I followed that segment by discussing with Williams the most disconcerting element in the social media reaction: none of the usual nuttiness when a controversy breaks out. Instead, the commenters are largely making thoughtful arguments and many are from people in the trenches who have to deal with the fall-out from this decision.

Two more writers I respect have chimed in, and they aren't sending their love and admiration toward Far Hills. Rick Young at ScoreGolf fleshes out Canada's opposition and writes:

The USGA is showcasing hypocrisy here. It might deem peer review as an integral aspect of confirming golfer ability but no longer will it take golfers on their word if they play alone.

Tod Leonard, Tribune golf writer for the LA Times and San Diego Union-Tribune, writes:

Foremost is that in a game that is so heavily based on honor and self-policing that the national governing body doesn’t assume that those playing alone will be honest about their score when posting. Because at its core this is about posting, and it’s not like you have someone standing over your shoulder when you put your score into the computer.

In the face of criticism, the USGA responded rather awkwardly with an FAQ that in some sections is laughable.

As long as someone accompanies the player during the round the player is not playing alone.

Hey, pal, got an extra four hours to spare to watch me play golf?

The player must be accompanied for at least seven holes for a nine-hole score or 13 holes for 18-hole score. This is consistent with Section 5-1 and the minimum number of holes played under the Rules of Golf.

So you can trust me for a portion of the holes but not the others?

Obviously, the USGA wouldn’t come up with the rule if it didn’t think that posting was being abused in some fashion. Maybe this is a big problem at private clubs. I wouldn’t know. But as is always the case, it’s up to organizations to police their participating players.

To discourage play of any type, especially something as treasured as solo rounds? That’s the last thing golf needs right now.

The most hurtful commentary may be from Global Golf Post's Mike Purkey, who lays out the case against the change in calm, cool fashion. And does it in a publication that goes to all USGA members for free.

There are always going to be sandbaggers and sandbaggers are always going to find a way to game the system, no matter how much they are monitored. But to eliminate playing alone as an acceptable—sometimes preferable—way to play golf and still maintain an honest and reputable handicap flies in the face of what our game was designed to give its players: a solitary walk, spoiled.

The USGA's lone reaction as noted here and mocked by Leonard, was to delineate what a solo round means versus one played with some sort of witness. It's the ultimate splitting of hairs that only an organization made up of too many lawyers could muster up and think makes sense.

To save face, the USGA needs to at least better explain the origins and thinking behind their decision, if not rescind it asap in the name of saving face with their core constituency.


Rory McIlroy Inc Valued At $422 Million By Rory McIlroy Inc

The Irish Examiner's Gordon Deegan says Rory McIlroy Management Services has valued their man Rory McIlroy Inc, four-time major winner best known of late for his football exploits, at $422 million.

Deegan notes:

The new McIlroy company, headed bymanaging director Donal Casey, manages all the royalty payments from the golf star’s various endorsements for Nike sportswear, Omega watches, Bose, Upper Deck and computer games.

The value of the McIlroy brand — that persuaded the likes of Nike to enter a reported $250m 10 year deal with the 26-year-old — is underlined by the Dublin firm placing a $422.13m (€399.55m) book value on the firm’s intangible assets connected to the golfer’s brand.


USGA Sees Record-Low Executive Committee Turnover!

This lack of pink slips business doesn't mean the later release date or press release left some questions for the few hundred who still don't totally hate the organization after the recent handicap posting change.

--Vice Presidents have been eliminated. Ron Sirak reported this over the weekend and we know the reason, but no official explanation in the announcement?

--The new president is married to a former president. Yet he isn't worthy of a mention?

The full release, within the necessary two month window of the annual meeting set for February 6th in San Diego. 

Diana M. Murphy Nominated to Serve as 64th President

FAR HILLS, N.J. (Nov. 30, 2015) – The Nominating Committee of the United States Golf Association today announced the nomination of Diana M. Murphy, of St. Simons Island, Ga., to serve a one-year term as the 64th president of the USGA. The election of officers and the 15-member USGA Executive Committee will take place Feb. 6, 2016, at the USGA’s Annual Meeting at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, Calif.

“I am deeply honored,” said Murphy. “Since first being introduced to the USGA in 1988, I have had opportunities to watch the organization evolve and develop stronger relationships with Members, golf facilities and industry colleagues. Golf has greatly benefited from the leaders and volunteers who have come before us, and who continue to give back to the game.

“While having the privilege to serve on the Executive Committee, I have worked closely with Mike Davis, the executive director of the USGA, as he built a diverse management team to reflect the strategic focus of the Association. Together, we remain focused on the health, enjoyment, values and traditions of this wonderful game at all levels of ability.”

In her fifth year as a member of the USGA Executive Committee, Murphy currently chairs the Championship and Compensation committees and serves on the Audit and Corporate Partners committees.

Murphy has been formally associated with the USGA since 1996, when she became a member of the USGA Membership Committee. She joined the Executive Committee in 2011, and has chaired several committees during her tenure, including the Commercial (2012-13), Compensation (2014), Finance (2012-14) and U.S. Senior Amateur Championship (2014) committees, in addition to her current responsibilities. She was elected treasurer in 2013 and vice president in 2014 and 2015.   

Murphy, 59, is the managing director of Rocksolid Holdings, LLC, a private-equity firm focused on small business and real estate in the Southeast. She is also managing director of the Georgia Research Alliance Venture Fund, which supports the state’s public and private research universities. Past appointments include managing director of Chartwell Capital Management Company, a private equity firm in Jacksonville, Fla., for 11 years, and senior vice president of The Baltimore Sun Company for 15 years.  

An active community supporter, Murphy has served on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Georgia since 2006, spearheading the establishment of the Elizabeth F. Correll Teen Center in 2008, among other activities. She is a member of the executive committee of the College of Coastal Georgia, and played an instrumental role in developing its master plan as it moved from a two-year to a four-year institution. She is the non-executive chairman of Landstar System Inc. and a board member of CTS Corporation, both public companies.

Murphy earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from West Virginia University in 1978, and holds an advanced executive business degree from Northwestern University.  

She is the second woman in the association’s 121-year history to be nominated as president, following Judy Bell, who served as USGA president in 1996 and 1997.

Two other current members of the Executive Committee have also been nominated to serve as officers. They are: Sheila C. Johnson, of Middleburg, Va., to continue as secretary, and George J. Still Jr., of Atherton, Calif., as treasurer.

The other 10 current members of the Executive Committee nominated to continue their service are: William E. Fallon, of Pittsburgh, Pa.; J. Stuart Francis, of Hillsborough, Calif.; C. Malcolm Holland III, of Dallas, Texas; G. Thomas Hough, of Atlanta, Ga.; Robert D. Kain, of Gates Mill, Ohio; Martha J. Lang, of Birmingham, Ala.; Gregory B. Morrison, of Duluth, Ga.; Asuka Nakahara, of Merion, Pa.; Mark E. Newell, of McLean, Va.; and Mark P. Reinemann, of Pewaukee, Wis.

There are two newly nominated candidates for the 2016 Executive Committee: J. Michael Bailey, of Salt Lake City, Utah; and Clifford J. Shahbaz, of Portland, Ore. Robert C. Weber, of Hobe Sound, Fla., has been nominated as general counsel.

J. Michael Bailey, an attorney and shareholder in the litigation and government relations departments of Parsons Behle & Latimer, has concentrated his practice on commercial and environmental litigation, and government relations. Bailey has served on the USGA’s Regional Affairs Committee since 2002, and has supported the Association as a Rules official or scoring volunteer at a dozen USGA amateur championships. He played collegiate golf at Santa Clara University, where he earned his B.S., before graduating from Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School. A former board member of The First Tee in Salt Lake City, he has also volunteered on the boards of Utah Youth on Course, the Utah Championship Advisory board and Friends of Utah Golf. He is a current board member of the Utah Golf Association and advisor to the Golf Alliance of Utah.

Retired Lt. Col. Clifford J. Shahbaz, a decorated Air Force pilot with two combat tours in Vietnam, is an instructor pilot for Boeing Training & Flight Services in Portland, Ore. He flew 28 years for United Airlines, retiring in 2006 as a B-747 captain. Shahbaz learned to play golf in high school and has dedicated more than 20 years as a volunteer to the Oregon Golf Association and Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA) as a Rules official. A member of the PNGA’s board of directors since 1998, he served as its president from 2007-2010 and assisted the association in the purchase and management of The Home Course in Washington. He is a trustee of the Pacific Coast Golf Association, having served a one-year term as its president in 2012. Shahbaz is a nine-year member of the USGA Mid-Amateur Committee, and he has supported the Association as a Rules official at the U.S. Senior Open and several national amateur championships. He is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley.

Robert C. Weber is a senior advisor to IBM, following a nine-year career with the organization as its senior vice president of legal and regulatory affairs and general counsel. A member of the Chairman’s Operating Team and the Chairman’s Performance Team, he held global responsibility for IBM in government affairs and policy, environmental affairs and security, legal and corporate governance and other key functions. During his tenure, he co-chaired the North American Women’s Diversity Council and was IBM’s representative on the board of directors of the United States Chamber of Commerce. While in private practice, he served as president of the Cleveland Bar Association and established its Juvenile Justice Initiative, which received the Ohio State Bar Association’s highest award for public service.  Weber is a graduate of Yale College and the Duke University School of Law.

Two current members of the Executive Committee will retire at the 2016 Annual Meeting: Thomas J. O’Toole Jr., of St. Louis, Mo.; and William W. (Skip) Gist IV, of Omaha, Neb. Ernest J. Getto, of Santa Barbara, Calif., will also retire as general counsel.


Foreign Secretary Plans To Intervene At Wentworth!

Robert Mendick, Chief Reporter for the Telegraph, says Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond has signaled an interest in trying to solve the row between members of Wentworth and its new owner, Reignwood Group.

Take that, John Kerry!

Mendick writes of Britain's most important foreign relations representative coming to the defense of Wentworth's members and includes a letter from Hammond outlining how he can help. There was also this:

Relations between Reignwood Group, which bought the club last year for £135 million, and its membership have sunk to an all-time low.

In a growing escalation in tensions, Wentworth’s Chinese owners are being accused of a lack of respect after the St George’s flag was lowered to half mast for victims of the Paris atrocity while the Chinese flag that also now stands outside the clubhouse was not.

Reignwood has countered with new membership categories.

In a statement, Wentworth Club has announced it plans to invest £20 million over the next two years “to significantly enhance and improve its three championship courses, facilities and service quality”.

It also insisted it was listening to members’ concerns and had “introduced two new [membership] categories with discounted rates as a result”.

It went on: “We lowered the St George’s flag at the entrance to the Club, along with the Union Flag on the roof of the club, as a mark of respect following the devastating terror attacks in Paris earlier this month.

“The inference that there was any disrespect as a result of the Chinese flag not being lowered is deeply upsetting. We are extremely disappointed to think that any of our members would construe this to be the case.”

New European Tour chief Keith Pelley also recently balked at the idea of Wentworth as host of the European Tour's "flagship" event while expressing reserved optimism for the upcoming changes.


USGA Set To Nominate Second Female President, Mask Nominating Committee Politics By Eliminating VP's

Ron Sirak reports that the United States Golf Association is set to elevate Vice President Diana Murphy and more bizarrely, no longer announce vice presidential figures after numerous painfully embarrassing line-of-succession pass-overs by the nominating committee. (Most recently Dan Burton joined the whoops-in-hindsight hall of fame already occupied by the likes of Rains, James and several others.)

Sirak writes:

Sources familiar with the situation tell that a change was made in the USGA bylaws so that, going forward, the new president can be anyone on the 15-member Executive Committee.

The sources say the change was made to avoid the embarrassing situation that has happened several times in which the seeming heir-apparent for the president’s post has fallen out of favor with the Nominating Committee and was passed over.

Under the new system, there will be no distinguishable line of succession.

The majority of golfers could care less if there is a line of succession in place, particularly after the decision last week to annoy their core consituency of handicap-posting golfers.

But add this to the list of trial evidence that (A) the USGA Executive Committee determined to conduct even more business in secrecy, (B) is even more willing than ever to hand power to its nominating committee by leaving open the opportunity to ascend to the presidency with little time on the Executive Committee.

As for Murphy, the same person who proudly announced the USGA's 12-year television deal with Fox as a "game-changer" feels the broadcast needs improving.

Sources close to the situation say Murphy, who has business experience and an education in communications, is committed to working intensely with Fox to make the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont C.C. in Pennsylvania significantly better.

Fun times!


"The story of Jones and Barter is extraordinary."

With so much talk of musical instructors and swing change gurus, the story of Gary Barter and Matt Jones is indeed an extraordinary one. (If you watched the coverage you saw Barter on the putting green with one of his many pupils in contention Sunday at The Australian.)

Mark Hayes goes into great detail on the partnership that long dreamed of winning the Australian Open, and that has remained together since Jones was a 15-year-old new pupil of Barter's.

Jones, who had his first hole-in-one aged six at Kareela Golf Club in Sydney’s southern suburbs, was introduced at age 15 when his mother Vicki’s catering business had cause to serve Nicole Barter’s law firm.

“They would bring Vicki in to make some food for the meetings and she’s a fabulous cook and it just came from there,” Gary Barter recalled.

“Matt’s mum said to my wife, ‘Can I get my son to get a golf lesson from your husband?’.

“Brett (Matt’s brother who played this week) gets forgotten and he came out as well. They lived about five minutes from our home and many nights Matt would be in my garage hitting balls."


Australian Open Wrap: Jones Hangs On To Beat Scott, Spieth

Matt Jones continues to make a name for himself, adding a prestigious Australian Open title to his win in Houston and fine play at this year's PGA Championship. The win also earns him a spot in the 2016 Open Championship at Royal Troon.

Martin Blake with the game story detailing the rocky round that saw the hometown hero seemingly try to lose the title right from the start. But he had help in the cause, as Mike Clayton noted in a look at winning ugly, even calling some of the decision making of the "schoolboy" variety.

Caddie Shannon Wallis talked about the key moments of the round.

Jones, Rod Pampling (61!) and Nick Cullen earned berths into The Open.

Mark Hayes details an unusually good low amateur race, won by Ryan Ruffels over Bryson DeChambeau and Jordan Niebrugge.

The 2016 Emirates Australian Open will be played at Royal Sydney Golf Club, reports Hayes.

The round four highlights:


GB&I Captain: Rangefinders Having Detrimental Effect On Players

Martin Dempster empties his very full notebook from the R&A's pace of play conference with more interesting notes. He added this from the discussion about playing ready golf and the use of rangefinders to speed things up:

“We are always fearful of eroding player skill. We never want to diminish that because it is at the heart of the game,” added Rickman. “But we will look at what the rules can do to contribute to speeding the game up for ordinary golfers.”

He reckoned the “jury is out” on whether or not distance measuring devices have helped in that respect. Nigel Edwards, a two-time winning Walker Cup captain, agreed, claiming he felt they were having a detrimental effect on the development of young players. “They have decreased the course management skills of elite amateurs,” said the Welshman, another of the speakers. “They just zap the distance and fire at the flag. I’d rather see them not used as players are not managing their golf balls around a course.”


Video: Lob Shot Into The Upper Left Corner Pocket

I believe he's pro golfer Rinaldi Adiyandono, but Indofreestylegolf on Instagram posted his lob shot landing in the shirt pocket. And who says those pockets are only good for cigarettes, betting slips and tip money?

The shot:

A loop lob into my pocket #rep #Jakarta #Indonesia #indofreestylegolf #golfgods

A video posted by Indonesia Freestyle Golf (@indofreestylegolf) on

Nov262015's Turkeys Of 2015

The Donald, Chambers Bay, John Daly, Steve Williams, Keegan and Miguel Angel and even Tiger while he's down. Tough list! Yet from the blogging perspective, much to be thankful for.


R&A Chief Slumbers: Publish The Names Of Slow-Pokes!

Knowing how hard the tours work to protect the names of slow play offenders, it was refreshing to see new R&A Chief Martin Slumbers suggest outing the slowest during the R&A's two day "Time for Golf" summit. Granted, the idea is not very original, but to hear it coming from one of the leaders of the five families makes the suggestion most eye-opening.

From the last graph of Martin Dempster's Scotsman account from St. Andrews:

While delegates heard that the European Tour posts a list at every tournament of players who have either been timed or fined, it is not normal practice for that to be made public. “I think there is a fear to publish,” said Slumbers in reference to slow play culprits across the game. “But I think it would be better for dialogue to publish some names and numbers in both the club and professional game.”

The story also includes some other highlights of the session, with a Spieth slow play story from the 2015 Open and Stephen Gallacher wishing the European Tour would use time par stations ala the LET.

Reading Dempster's early account of the R&A's two day "Time for Golf" summit, the two greatest culprits to longer rounds did not seem to have be on the radars of those chosen to speak. Nor even discussed in any depth given my trust in Dempster's reporting skills and awareness of the issues facing the sport.

Then again, talking excessive green speeds or lengthening of courses to offset huge distance gains in St Andrews when the R&A is host, could get the speaker relegated to a lifetime sentence of Castle Course golf.

Anyway, it seems most of the attention was focused on those terrible architects who build too many bunkers, not greens Stimping at 12 or courses with long walks to new back tees. From Dempster's Scotsman report:

One of the game’s up-and-coming course designers, South African Paul Jansen entitled his talk as “Hollywood golf” due to so many new layouts being “excessive, all about appearance and lacking in content”. He highlighted how pace of play was affected by club golfers often “ping ponging from one bunker to another” and insisted: “Less is more.” Picking up on that, his fellow course architect, Martin Ebert, revealed that he’d been commissioned to take out 40 bunkers at Royal Lytham at the same time as four new ones were being added at the Open Championship venue. “The course is proving too difficult for the members and also the maintenance cost with revetting is enormous,” he said. “We think this will help the everyday players, but also maintain the challenge for the best players.”


Great Turnout: Australian Open 100th Anniversary Celebration

Even though they're now well into the Australian Open, it's worth noting the impressive turnout of former champions to the 100th anniversary celebration. Even more inspiring was Jack Newton launching a drive off the first tee as many of the other former winners did. Maybe some of golf's Hall Of Famers will note this next time they are taking a pass on the induction ceremony? Na...

Martin Blake with details from the ceremonial gathering to celebrate a historic event.

A video of the day:

From six-time champion Nicklaus:

And Jack Nicklaus, unable to make it, but sending his best wishes via video:


NY Times On Golf Real Estate: "Fewer Golfers, but Some Lush Courses Are Coming Back"

You have to wade through the usual backstory of why golf real estate failed when the economy crashed, but Nick Madigan's New York Times story does reach a  somewhat positive point by noting the improvement at some facilities devoted to golf real estate.

While the story does not address the specifics at the places succeeding as much as I'd hoped, it's the facilties focusing on service and re-imagining themselves as family-driven places that Madigan says are succeeding. Unfortunately, exclusivity is also part of the success recipe.

The Boca West Country Club’s heavy investment in its facilities, Ms. Tanzer said, “is a perfect example of adapting” to the changing economics of golf. “They’re spending a fortune on making the place family-friendly,” she said. “It’s a home run.”

At Boca West, where it costs new members $70,000 to sign up, Jay DiPietro, the club’s 78-year-old president and general manager, suggested that the troubles besetting some of his competitors could be blamed on poor management and on their focus on “the business of selling houses.” But he operates on a different principle, he said.

“We’re in the people-pleasing business,” he said. “These people paid a lot to be here.”

In any case, Mr. DiPietro said, the golf industry was vastly over-supplied with courses. “It was just waiting for a recession to knock the hell out of it,” he said. “The recession separated the boys from the men.”

Oliver K. Hedge, who appraises golf course properties for the real estate brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield, said the golf industry had “made great strides” in shaking off underperforming courses in the last few years.
“A lot of clubs that have closed really should have closed,” Mr. Hedge said. “Florida is a good microcosm of the nation because we’re so dense with golf courses.”

Many of the closures, he said, have involved public and semi-private courses, the latter a reference to clubs that have an active membership program but that let non-members play for a fee.


Solo Posting Golfers: The New Outlaws?

Gary McCormick examines the USGA decision to demand peer review of all scores posted for handicap purposes and equates the updated decision to the mid-70s gas crisis when the speed limit was changed without any change in enforcement.

Check out the full piece, but this point sort of makes one wonder why, outside of being consistent with the R&A, why the USGA made the change:

The word from our area’s regional golf association, the Northern California Golf Association (NCGA), is that they have received no indication from the USGA, as of this writing, as to how the new rule is to be enforced. While golfers who are members of a club will have their postings scrutinized by the club’s scoring committee, players who are members of “e-clubs”, or who are posting scores for rounds played outside of club events or at other courses, will have no such scrutiny and scores will not be vetted on the basis of the new rule.

What I foresee happening after January 1, 2016 is the establishment of a sort of off-kilter dichotomy – reasonable, honorable golfers who post honestly tabulated scores for those solo early-morning or after-work nine hole rounds, or the rare solo 18-hole round, though scrupulously accurate in their accounting, will become scofflaws when they post their scores online, as many will still do, for their local association’s handicap committee to use in assessing their GHIN rating.

So now many of us will become outlaws; honest, and dishonest, all in the same action – and all because the USGA has decided to reverse a practice which had been in effect for decades.


USGA Responds By Clarifying What It Means To Play Alone

The comment section is fairly telling, as are the poll results with 73% of you saying it was just fine for lone wolves to post a score for handicap purposes (thanks as always for voting).

Perhaps sensing the chatter a day after announcing that golfers must have full peer review to post a score, or maybe after seeing Golf Canada immediately announce on Twitter they were not going to adopt Section 5-1e vi of the USGA Handicap System Manual (Will Gray reports and here's the Tweet), the USGA sought to highlight some FAQ's.

What constitutes not playing alone?

As long as someone accompanies the player during the round (e.g., fellow competitor, opponent, caddie, marker for a tournament, friend riding along in a cart) the player is not playing alone.
How many holes can a player play alone to post the score?

The player must be accompanied for at least seven holes for a nine-hole score or 13 holes for 18-hole score.

This is consistent with Section 5-1 and the minimum number of holes played under the Rules of Golf.

For the holes played alone (not accompanied), the player would treat these as not played under the Rules of Golf and post according to “par plus” any handicap strokes the player is entitled to receive.

I'm pretty sure that's not going to help, especially judging by the Facebook reaction documented by Keely Levins. Then there's the reaction to the USGA on Twitter.


Jordan Spieth: He Pulls Carts, Too

Not only did Jordan Spieth see out the sandbelt's two finest courses to check off his bucket list, but he played them as you should play them: with a pull cart.

Thanks to the Down Under sources who sent in this photo of Spieth pulling his AT&T tour bag around the great Royal Melbourne, which I wrote about for The Loop and used to advocate again for the joys of pulling your bag around instead of taking a motorized cart.


New Euro Tour Chief Vows To Crack Down On Slow Play

In contrast to Commissioner-Slow-Play-Penalties-Give-Me-The-Willies, new European Tour chief Keith Pelley has sought to differentiate himself by voicing his disdain for slow play. You may recall that Tim Finchem has openly suggested that actual enforcement of the rules (and leading to penalties) bugs him and he's also questioned the desire to play faster, citing in epic out-of-touch fashion how you don't want to play fast around Cypress, Augusta and Pine Valley. But Pelley? He's declaring a "personal war."

The Golf Paper's Adam Ellis reports.

Ironically, his announcement in Dubai yesterday came just 48 hours after an incident in the final hour of the BMW Masters in Shanghai, where Spain’s Sergio Garcia was involved in a 15-minute discussion with a referee over where he should drop his ball after hitting it into the lake beside the 18th green at Lake Malaren.

“Slow play drives me mad,” said Pelley.

“I have had the chance to talk to a number of players at all levels – the elite, the medium and low-ranked players – and one of the things that keeps coming up, and which we are going to address, is slow play.
“We are going to be the leaders in dealing with slow play.

“I cannot tell you what that means from a concrete perspective right now, but I have had significant dialogue with Martin Slumbers from The R&A, and they are in violent agreement that it is something we need to deal with.

Violent agreement! I guess that means you haven't brought up how the ball going too far leads to deadly backups.

There is a conference call next week with The R&A. We will participate in it and do this in cooperation.

“I can tell you that when we sit here next year we will have a completely different philosophy on slow play. Slow play is a critical part of our game and we will address it.”

Good luck with that, especially judging by the quotes of Martin Slumbers, new R&A head man, talking about the release of the R&A's report discussed in St. Andrews this week. From a report by Phil Goodlad & John Barnes, Slumbers talking:

"Maybe we need some marshals out on the course to help find balls," he added. "Maybe we need to play over shorter formats, nine-hole golf; playing off tees that are further forward, not cutting the rough as thick and deep as possible.

Not cutting the rough as thick and deep as possible? I don't even know where to begin with that, but I suspect explaining to him that rough is a product of offsetting modern distances might be lost on the R&A's head man?

"But the key thing is getting people aware and recognising that playing reasonably quickly and getting a move on isn't just good for their game but fair to everybody out on the course."

Enforce those time pars!


"Brighter days await MacKenzie-designed Sharp Park Golf Course"

Brad Klein says better days are ahead for Alister MacKenzie's Sharp Park, a much-needed municipal course in a grand setting that is now essentially the target of one environmentalist.

Multiple court decisions have gone against that figure, setting the stage for property and golf improvements to take place that will not only make Sharp Park critter-friendly but also golfer-friendly.

Klein provides this update on the design component:

Richard Harris, who with fellow attorney Bo Links is co-founder of the S.F. Public Golf Alliance, reports that architecturally detailed restoration plans “are now being developed by Tom Doak, in collaboration with Jay Blasi.” Preliminary construction estimates for the work, involving greens, tees and bunkers, are in the $8 million range, plus soft costs for permitting, and likely would take 3-4 years to complete. Work on the project is being funded through a partnership of the S.F. Public Golf Alliance and the privately funded Alister MacKenzie Foundation.