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Second Instant Poll: Would Two Sets Of Rules Make Golf Less Appealing?

The anchoring ban announced yesterday has provoked plenty of emotion, forcing many golfers or fans of the sport to consider big picture questions about what this mean. And thoughts usually come back to the odd situation we find ourselves where rulemaking is often revolving around elite players of the world at a time that their game is pretty healthy and the everyday sport struggles.

I continue to hear from people upset that the anchoring ban will drive themselves or a friend to throw in the towel because anchoring was the one thing that helped them with the yips. And while I'll don't think the numbers are huge, even losing one person to the game over what is mostly an issue for the professional game is of great concern.

Over the last few days at Tiger's World Challenge we've been asking players to talk about bifurcation of the rules and most feel strongly that one set of rules is paramount. Professionals are generally against bifurcation because they are paid well to play clubs and balls that you may buy. I've long felt that even with two sets of rules most golfers are purists and will continue to play a form of the sport that adheres to the tradition of skill. And if people want to go all Happy Gilmore, that's fine too since many people already play a game that does not adhere to the Rules of Golf.

So I have a very basic question for the second poll question, and while it's probably too simplistic because there are so many fan and player elements to this question, I still think it would be interesting to know if you feel bifurcation of the rules between professionals and amateurs would make golf less appealing to you?

Would bifurcation of the rules make golf less appealing as a sport? free polls 

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Reader Comments (22)

IMO yes. It's perhaps the only game where I could compete with the games best on a level playing field because of the handicapping system. The handicapping system doesn't work if you have golfers playing by different sets of rules.

For the average golfer the anchoring ban doesn't really effect a great deal of people. Amateurs that take up the game rarely start out with a belly putter for economical reasons, so this doesn't hurt them either. Also, at the end of the day the average golfer cares much more about how they hit their full shots then how they putt. The good golfers realize that putting and chipping is how you score, but go watch the average golfer practice. They spend 70% of their time hitting drivers, 25% hitting mid-short irons, and 5% hitting a few putts before their round.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterChicago John
Loaded question.

Asking weather bifurcation will lead to less appeal is different than asking "do you support bifurcation."
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMatt A
Chicago John,
How much golf do you play with professionals giving you strokes? I'm talking about two sets of rules for amateurs and professionals here.
11.29.2012 | Registered CommenterGeoff
I don't think it would make golf more or less appealing so I answered the poll that way. How about another polll asking if you support two set of rules or a stanardized pro ball versus any ball? I would vote for one set of rules with a standardized pro ball. Put any logo you want on it but make them all play the same ball. Then they can more accurately determine the champion golfer of the year!
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmen Coroner
Bifurcation, yes, but only as it relates to equipment. No 8" wide holes, please.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered Commenterdmorg
Aren't there already 2 sets of rules? Don't think there is a round where I haven't given or received a gimme.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterGus
I'm curious how many amateurs now actually abide by ALL of the current rules of golf. No gimmies, no mulligans, correct drops, correct penalty application, etc. Hmm, it has to be pretty low, amirite?

The anchoring ban is really about golf being played at the highest level, and it seems to me like overkill to include amateur golfers in that ban.

I also agree that the ball is a big problem in the professional game, but because of commercial interests, think that's going to be a tough one to ever reverse.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRick1V
Even if they did make a uniform ball for the pros. They'll still be able to market all of their different balls to the public without much of a problem. Just like the market the lower priced balls to the general public, they'll be able to market the higher priced/performance balls as well. No one is going to stop playing Pro V's etc because the pros can't.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterGus
There already is bifurcation of the rules. Tell me, wghen was the last time you saw someone walk back the tee and tee it up again on a public course? How many "gimme's" are taken in the average round? How many months in thbe year do "Winter Rules" get applied?

There should a SINGLE set of rules for anyone who is competing in golf at any level. That also means that in order to establish an accepted handicap, that rounds toward which these count MUST be played according to that same SINGLE set of rules...
11.29.2012 | Unregistered Commenterphil the author
Other than ghin rounds - who plays a casual round under ROG? Even the pros take mulligans on casual rounds- the USGA is living an illusion.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
@phil, how accurate would most players' handicaps be if they could avoid posting a score merely by taking one 'gimme'?

And, would your revised handicap system eliminate Equitable Stroke Control too (as it does not appear to meet your strictness requirements)?
If so, I'm not looking forward to playing behind players who are required to hole out with a legitimate score of 15 rather than picking up after reaching their ESC-maximum.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBob Clarke
Phil and Bob, How many golfers even have a GHIN? I had one for a while, then stopped because no one I play with was keeping one. Think more players play "casual" rounds that the ones that adhere to the ROG
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterGus
Change the ball the pro's play....Have every OEM roll it back to whichever year in time that 'traditionalists' think is reasonable( 2003?, 1983??, 1953???)....And have them available to the public at $75/dz. Continue to sell the current ball to amateurs while allowing classic courses like Merion to remain challenging to the pro's. There will still be a fraction of folks wanting to 'play what the pro's play' (The same guys who will pay $500 for a 7.5 degree tour stock driver head), so let them...Everyone wins.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHilltop
As others have said, there is already a de facto bifurcation. Instead of pretending there isn't, both the USGA (and R&A) and the PGA Tour, should act maturely and face that reality.

The PGA Tour should be the one's to ban anchoring (they could allow it for the Champions Tour) and, much more importantly, have their own requirements on balls and equipment. They should--on their own--roll back the ball, roll back the size of driver heads, ban hybrids, etc. This would only apply to players playing on their tour events.

The USGA (and R&A) should relinquish a certain amount of control over the game so as to allow the PGA Tour to do so. The US Open (and the Open Championship) could continue to be played with whatever rules and equipment the USGA (and R&A) see fit (i.e., use their rules for everybody else or adopt the the PGA Tour rules for those tournaments or something in between).

In other words, the PGA Tour should take some responsibility to protect the game by ensuring that the *professionals* don't use equipment that makes the game easier, and employ putting methods to avoid the yips. The USGA (and R&A) should allow the Tour to be more restrictive in their own rules, that is give up some control, but only if the PGA Tour acts responsibly in kind.

What we have now is a USGA who act like babies by wanting to control everything under the guise of protecting the integrity of the game, and a PGA Tour who act like babies by shunning responsibility under the guise of growing the game (i.e., making money).

[Getting off soapbox.]
11.29.2012 | Unregistered Commenterwilliam
I was in a PGM school in college in which I switched majors but a lot of my friends completed it and are golf professionals. I'd be lying if I said I "regularly" play with professionals, and I never play with touring professionals, but I do play handicapped rounds w club pro's about once a year, if not more.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterChicago John
@Gus, that's fine if many golfers are playing their own casual games and enjoying it -- but, why should the rules-makers even consider those golfers when making any decisions?

If Jerry (another thread) is correct that this anchoring ban will lead to a rebellion then I wish it had been imposed before 2006 so the rebellion could have occurred before the USGA/R&A sanctioned the use of distance-measuring devices in an attempt to bring that group of 'rogue golfers' back into the fold.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBob Clarke
A few thoughts:

1. Would this strictly be a professional/amateur distinction? Or would high level amateurs be subject to the same restrictions? Given the miniscule % of players who are professionals, there has to be many more amatuers (especially elite) who hit the ball every bit as far or farther than the pros. So the so called "destruction" of classic courses will still be an issue. Most college golfers are as long or longer than the pros.

2. If it is as simple as a professional/amateur distinction, it would likely hurt the game of elite amateur golf. You would have elite am's having to make a decision on when to switch equipment to get used to it for when they turn pro...and taking a bit to get their distances/ball flight to a expected level.

3. There is something very satisfying about watching professionals hit shots that you know you can hit, especially on courses you've played. When a pro stiffs an iron on a 150 yard shot and you do the are as good as them on that shot. If they do it with different equipment (scaled back), there isn't the same feeling of comparison.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
To quote you..."And while I'll don't think the numbers are huge, even losing one person to the game over what is mostly an issue for the professional game is of great concern."

Why? Why is it a "great concern" if the game of golf doesn't grow at the pace the USGA (or PGA, or whoever) wants it to? Frankly I don't know if I want the game to grow that much. I play public golf and could do without the constant hassle of trying to secure a good tee time, or worrying that you'll get paired up with a couple of newbies, etc.

To be honest, the slowdown in growth has been good for me, as more and more courses offer discounts and deals.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterCigar Man
There is two set of rules, there called conditions of competition. IE. the one ball rule, have to use a ball on the list of conforming balls, along with the driver head. Use prober groves in your clubs, embedded ball is through the green in most, have to walk, list goes on and on. The only advantage we have as week end warriors, we get to use electronic distance measuring devices. So, if I had my wish, let's make this a local rule for hi level play.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark
Bifurcation is an equipment manufacturer's nightmare. Its worse for a tour pro.

Basketball players get a LOT of money for wearing shoes. Baseball players don't.

Basketball shoes can/are used by everyday people. Baseball spikes are not.

Bowling made everyday play easier in an attempt to get more players. didnt work.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered Commentersmails
Bifurcation is a bit of a misnomer as several upthread have noted. Most golfers don't strictly follow the rules as they stand. Rolling back the ball or banning anchoring won't necessarily change the way they play. In that sense, bifurcation would simply be formalizing the status quo. Elite "amateurs" would still want to play like the pros or would be forced to adopt their rules at some point if they wanted to play for dough.

But why bother with bifurcation? If only top amateurs and pros are faced with the prospect of having their distance, funky putting strokes and "fun" restricted under traditionalist rules changes, why is there concern about a mass exodus of players from the game? The casual golfers could still play with whatever trampolining drivers and hot balls they want, even if the rules for "everyone" changed. It seems the argument against rolling back the ball is even weaker than I thought!
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterEagle 1
The fact that ams playing casual rounds don't adhere to the Rules of Golf is not the point - because they are not comparing themselves to the Pros on the basis of their scores - obviously the pros shoot rounds in the 60's on a regular basis, something that very few ams out there for fun on a weeknight after work can aspire to - most are lucky to break 100, even with their liberal adherence to the rules. But what every am does compare themselves to pros is on the basis of their (infrequent) best shots of the round, or draining a 30 footer, or knocking it stiff from 200 yards, or whatever. So the idea that that comparison would be nullified based on their use of a juiced ball (vs pros) or extra easy clubs or whatever is enough to spoil that illusion. Besides, the pros are supposed to be better - who wants to see some muscled up joker at their local course hit the ball farther than the guys you see on TV ? The only downside to leaving things as is is that once in a blue moon you see a really low score played on a "classic" course. So what. You think the member at Merion think their course is not challenging enough just because the Open might come in at -8 ? Finally, those hoping for a "roll back" of balls or especially clubs, you would be better off focusing on a "capping" of current. The idea that some rule would come along and require that people trash their RBZ, or R-11 or whatever is pure fantasy. Belly putters are used by less than 5% of ams, and as far as the grooves - who even knows what grooves are being used by most guys ? But drivers and fairway woods, are expensive and widely deployed.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS

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