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"I think the rules could be written to allow for it and still not be bifurcation."

Mike Stachura reports that John Solheim has now patented his original proposal to rate three types of balls with an accompanying handicap calculation system.

"The tone coming from the USGA and R&A in recent years suggests another significant equipment rollback may not be far away," said Solheim in a press release issued by Ping. Solheim applied for the patent in June of 2011. "We've already seen it with the groove rule and the proposed rule banning anchoring. We continue to hear whispers of more changes. But as we're also reading on the proposed anchoring ban, many directly involved in the game favor more equipment options, not fewer. I'm looking for ways to keep the game enjoyable for every level of golfer."

On its face, the proposal may seem silly, but the rationale is pretty clever in a sport where the idea of bifurcating the rules is opposed by most.

"What we would hope to do is to get people thinking about the issues, open their eyes a little bit because we need to find ways to keep people in the game longer," he said, indicating he was not in favor of multiple sets of rules. "I think the rules could be written to allow for it and still not be bifurcation."

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Reader Comments (23)

I think it's pretty much genius. That said, why stop at equipment? What about weather, pin positions, etc.?
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex H
The next thing is someone will suggest that not all golfers play from the same tees.

I wonder when that was started and what the discussion was like the first time someone set out different tee markers?
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterLynn S.
Seriously, handicap committees at clubs are already a sh*tshow. These ideas from Solheim will just make it more of a clusterf*ck.
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAbu Dhabi Golfer
Dial back the ball the pro tour uses(all men's tours), and the issue is closed. Why call it bifurcation? It really is not a difficult fix. Stop listening to everything Mike Davis says. It appears Mke Davis, at least in his mind, is the only one that knows what to do, but can he not be wrong about anything having to do with golf?
12.20.2012 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
my head hurts
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
Bifurcation could open us up to chaos.
When you start playing around with the rules (OK here but not there, etc.) there is no end to the possibility of this.
We all know what some Green Chairmen/Committees can do to a golf course and so we could be leaving ourselves open to some
misguided Handicap Committees.
Change the ball, chop the putters for everyone.
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterStanley Thompson
@ Abu Dhabi

Clarification: ...SOME handicap committees are sh*tshow...

At our club the members look forward to a report each week that includes handicap education. You do that weekly for several years and they eventually all get it. Discussions or arguments about handicaps are non-existent.

(Of course the report is full of jokes and entertainment, too, but that gets them reading the education part.)
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBob
Imagining a bifurcated world....

Roger, what just happened out there
Well Johnny, Rory just screwed the pooch, but all you golfers at home, don't worry because that isn't against your rules. Of course if you're playing in the state championship it might be so you better check. To play this game you have to know two sets of rules.
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSomeone else
Only the USGA could make Wimbledon look efficient and forward looking regarding the ball used in competition.
This is not rocket science.
12.20.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjjshaka
@Bob - I'm guessing you're in the UK, not the US?
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Norrie
Geoff - not to be too wankerish, but I think Ping just filed a patent application - the patent was not issued, as all patents actually issue and are published on a Tuesday. I think the one year bar from public disclosure was approaching, and so they had to file if they wanted protection, and so they published the application. Not sure what a patent of this type buys them (my experience is with patenting real things and objects, not ideas or systems). I know there are attorneys out there who know more than I do on this subject.
12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRickABQ

12.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBob
This Ping idea is just too esoteric. Where we really need a change is to codify the Rules of (Casual or Social or Monthly or Rarely played) Golf.
Like perhaps
1 Place don’t drop.
2 When a ball is unplayable for any reason or lost, use the Lateral Water Hazard Rule.
3 Make Hazards through the green so the club may be grounded and any stuff may be moved.
4 No flagstick rule.
5 No advice rule but be quick.
6 Play when ready.
7 Plugged, dirty or embedded balls may be cleaned and placed, anywhere on the course.
8 Putts inside a putter length are given, as is the third putt.
9 Use Strokeplay rules even when you are playing matchplay.
Then casual golfers can get a USGA handicap using C or S Golf Rules.
I love golf and i will be less enthused about the game if i'm playing a foursome and having to ask or wonder which ball everyone is playing and whether their bogey should be counted as a bogey or par based on the ball compared to what i'm playing. bifurication is a joke. dial back the ball for pros and lets be done with it. if someone can't hit it 300 yards,

thats why there are white tees or even red. play the proper tee and quit talking about coming out with all different types and distance balls that will just confuse amateurs and your aunt who wants to buy you balls for christmas.
12.21.2012 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie
This is like what they (had) to do in the pro tennis world. Not a bad way to regulate 'speed' so to speak, but only for pros. Would be neat to see some older classic courses being brought back on Tour and watch the Pros actually have to negotiate doglegs and such on a level that us normal peons can relate to. A spinnier/slower ball at Harbor Town or Colonial would be a change.

Amateurs as whole (unless playing for a cup or tourney) IMO should just agree on the first tee to whatever terms/conditions/caveats/etc and just go play. They play the game for fun and deserve to be left alone to decide what they want to play out of their own free will. Pros should have some constraints as they do in most pro sports/pastimes/bread&circuses.
12.21.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz

I agree with all your rule proposals -- especially making all lost or unplayable balls subject to the lateral hazard rule. This one change alone would simplify, speed up, and improve the game so that everyone could and would feel they were playing by the rules. (I mean, really, stroke and distance...? Anyone playing by this rule as an am would be harrassed off the course...)

Also agree that "Solheim's Patent" sounds like a better title for a mystery book than an improvement to golf. "It's the ball, stupid!" Just dial back the pro ball and make every pro play with the same one, handed to them by rules officials during play, the same as it's done in EVERY OTHER professional sport. Case closed. Done deal. Courses and equipment left alone. Game improved, not over.
12.21.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRLL
I bifurcated one morning after a heavy night of drinking.
12.21.2012 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Geoff-can we have a like button?!
Digs last comment made me almost choke on my bacon sarnie!!
The distances on tour have gone up a couple of yards in the last 10 years-why all the fuss now?
The smallest difference between good amateurs and the rank and file pro is distance, so why give the pros a slower ball?
The ball is at it's limit, as are drivers. Players will continue to get better-fitter, stronger, technically- but that's just natural progress.
I think all golfers playing under the "rules of golf" is very important and we should avoid confusing the game by introducing other sets.
12.23.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrewCoop
Firstly Andrew-there has been a clamour for distance controls for some time -this is not new.
Courses cannot contain the modern player and are not offering elite players a challenge.
Courses that challenge the elite are of absolutely no interest to 99.9% of golfers.
Controlling equipment rather than building longer courses is a better solution to me.Golfers are not going to stop getting bigger,stronger fitter etc.
walkie talkie banks, the distance controls are there and the equipment hasn't really gone anywhere since the original ProV1, 11 years ago, and 460cc titanium drivers. Maybe more should've been done in 2003, but I think we should accept where we are now. I'm also against the idea that pros and ams play to different rules.
I don't want to see courses lengthened, or the new 7500+yard courses being built-I think that the best players can be challenged in other ways. The 12th at Augusta, the postage stamp at Troon, 17th Sawgrass, 10th at Rivieria, 3rd at Augusta-great holes that challenge the pros despite their modest length. Valderrama in Spain is a little under 7000 yards and yet it's been one of the toughest courses in Europe. I think the overplaying of how far players hit nowadays ( as the media, manufacturers and retailers love to do) only encourages the mentality that the only way to challenge the pros is by lengthening courses.
Here's something I find funny-the R & A who've pushed back so many tees on the Old Course, even putting a couple of new tees out of bounbs, have cut the fairways in recent Opens with greens mowers. In 2005 Open there were fairways on the Old Course stimping faster than the greens, allowing players to drive the 9th, 10th and 18th with the help of 80-90 yards of run. Make of that what you like.
12.23.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrewCoop
If you watched golf in Singapore or Kuala Lumpur on TV you would see drives that bounce back or plug. Where I live 100 miles north of the equator we get 14 feet of rain a year. So water the landing areas and let the grass grow a bit to reduce tee shots and course lengths at no cost. Of course less good golfers don't carry their tee shots so far so we are not affected.
It is just an application, not a patent. I finally caved and posted it at
12.27.2012 | Unregistered CommenterGolf-Patents

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