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PGA State Of The Game Round-Up, 2013

Jason Sobel reports on the PGA of America's "State of the Game" panel discussion and it sounds like the topics were relevant. That is, if bifurcation is your thing.

Tim Finchem continues to make some intriguing comments suggesting he and the PGA Tour see no problem with situational rules for the pro game and amateur play.

"As I said the other day in San Diego, generally it's nice to think that the Rules of Golf can be the same for everybody," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. "You like to think that the participants in the sport can appreciate when they look at the elite players, because they are playing by the same rules; they have an affinity to the elite players. But I don't think that gets eroded from time to time if you were to bifurcate in certain situations.

"College football is the same. Even though you only have to have one foot in, it's still the same game."

Taylor Made CEO Mark King reiterated his belief that we already have bifurcation, so why not expand it in the name of growing the game, but as several prominent voices are quoted as saying in this week's Golf World, there is no data suggesting technology has grown the game.

"It's not coming; it's here," TaylorMade CEO Mark King reiterated. "We already live in bifurcation. We already do. Nobody plays by the exact Rules of Golf on Friday afternoon with their buddies. So I think it's about time that we realize what we have, we have elite players that need a set of rules and we need to create an environment where people want to come in and enjoy this great game, whether it's one foot in the end zone or two feet, we need to create that environment for people."

Dottie Pepper wins the prize for bringing up the topic that gets most people thinking about certain equipment restrictions for professionals.

" I think one of the saddest things I've seen in the time that I've been at this level," said newly appointed PGA of America board member Dottie Pepper, "is that we are seeing places like Merion become really in the rearview mirror of championship golf and places where the game has been born and where American golf and golf worldwide have such great tradition and such great history really become that history."

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Reader Comments (24)

Right on Dottie! Roll back the ball is the only change golf needs to make. Myself and millions and millions of others over thte years fell in love with golf just the way it is. If we need windmills, clowns and 6 inch holes to make more money for guys like Mark King, then our generation has failed in our stewardship of the game.
01.26.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrad
With regards to the bifurcation issue - I don't think that it is inconsistent that many people, while frequently straying from the official Rules of Golf for casual rounds (as somebody else put it very well here - they play by consensus), do not support the idea of bifurcating the equipment specs. The reason I believe is (at least for me) that while I do not dream of "competing" or comparing myself to PGA Tour pros, or even my single handicap buddies on the basis of my score - that would be silly, even with handicap applied., what I can absolutely compare myself to them is on the basis of a single shot. If I am sitting 200 yards from the green and knock it stiff, I know that I did that under the same conditions of club and ball as anyone else in the world . So that shot is as good as Tiger could hit it, or anyone else. If I had a different set of clubs (in that mine were set to advantage me more than was available to them) or the ball was more favorable, that invalidates any comparison whatsoever. I am not sure if that is logical, but it is how I feel. If they were to bifurcate tomorrow, and create two categories of balls (lets say), I think the results would be surprising - I think most of the general public would actually buy the harder or pro balls, as illogical as that is. For all those btw that say they will stick with the belly putters post 2016, assuming they are banned by the USGA/R&A, I think you might be surprised at the reactions of your co-golfers. I know my buds would heckle you to no end, and certainly not agree to any wagers with you as long as you used it.
01.26.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
@Brians I have no idea what you are talking about. Or any of talk about bifuraction. But, I can tell from my ladies league the biggest issue in getting more in the game is pace of play. As much as I can try to move people along, my efforts are fruitless. Pace of play is the issue. And needs to be coached from the beginning.
01.26.2013 | Unregistered Commentertib
Pace of play is slow because ordinary golfers play at the pace they see on TV. Finchem doesn't mind slow pros so it will not change.
Unless Golf Clubs give each group an alarm clock that rings after 4 hours and at that sound, the group must walk in.
For me bifurcation means 3 sets of rules (trifurcation?)
A- Current USGA/R&A Rules of Golf for amateur competitions and for USGA handicap and whenever a group decides to play "Rules of Golf".
B- Professional rules (already they have their own, called local rules- no change there)
C- Casual or Social Golf Rules, this is the new set we need for S-Golf
Like perhaps (comments please):
1 Place don’t drop. (Amend rule 20 and all the decisions.)
2 When a ball is unplayable for any reason or lost, use the present Lateral Water Hazard Rule. (Drop a ball near where it went and add one more shot) (Amend rules 26,27,28- one rule only needed)
3 Make Hazards through the green so the club may be grounded and any stuff may be moved. (or better delete all rules on hazards.) (Delete rule 26)
4 No flagstick rule. (Delete Rule 17)
5 No advice rule but be quick. (Delete Rule 8)
6 Play when ready. (Amend rule 10)
7 Plugged, dirty or embedded balls may be cleaned and placed, anywhere on the course. (Amend rule 25)
8 Putts inside a putter length are given, as is the third putt. (Optional)
9 Use Strokeplay rules even when you are playing matchplay. (Delete Rule 2)
10 Penalty for moving your ball only if you moved it. (Simplify Rule 18)
11 Stuff can be moved. (Delete obstructions and loose impediments Rules 23&24.)
Any more?
Bifurcation of the rules does already exist. Or at least on the days here when it's not 15 below zero. It exists because it's the logical way for amateurs, especially beginners and high handicappers to negotiate a tough game. I was, last I counted, a 12 h'cp and I followed them fairly closely as did my group, but had no problem with other casuals playing as they wanted. Tournaments state the rules used before the first ball's in the air, so that's covered. You need an index to play? Get one. Most people don't play in indexed tourneys.

Equipment rules can follow the marketplace. If purists or serious competitors, the USGA, or the USDA insist on approved gear only, so be it.

tib is right. Slow play is the anchor holding the game back at the "common folk" level. Course owners don't have the stones to speed things up while not realizing they're driving other fee players away. I was a member at a local muni for 9 years. I played 50-75 times per year. When the rounds approached 5-6 hours and a I got strangled by the even SLOWER leagues during the week I decided it wasn't a good investment of time or money. Last year I played 6 rounds to include 4 charity scrambles for causes I support. Haven't bought a club since 2009. And... I'm not alone.
01.26.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAG
It's not marketed as exercise.
People don't want to flop their fat ass on a cart, drink $6 beers and eat hot dogs. (Well they do, but they don't want ppl to know they do ;)).
Seriously tho, I stopped golfing because nobody wants to walk. I don't have 6 free hours outside to make myself fat and unhealthy but that's what the sport represents now.
01.26.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRon
All good thoughts/comments.
I especially liked and agreed with BrainS's points.
01.27.2013 | Unregistered Commentergov. lepetomane
I really look forward to overpaying for more of your TM equipment in the future Mr. King! Maybe it's your overpriced equipment ruining the participation in golf?
01.27.2013 | Unregistered CommenterViz
If it wasn't for the manufacturer's creating all these crazy tech advantages with equipment we wouldn't have 7500k golf courses. I'm sorry that the governing/rule making bodies finally decided to take a stance on anchoring and thus digging into your sales bottom line LOL NOT! Cry me a friggn river!
01.27.2013 | Unregistered CommenterViz
You guys have finally sold me. Bifurcate.

First and only rule difference---Local rule Requiring ball thet meet an Overall Distance Standard, includng manufacturing tolerance,of 275 yards.

Test to be administered using Tiger Woods swing speed,and whatever Tiger hasin his bag for a driver today.
All balls optimized for shaft and clubhead.

ODS testing methodology to to be updated every four years.

Anybody can use the local rule.

Reactions please? would love to hear Taylor Mades reaction to this.
01.27.2013 | Unregistered Commentersmails
I agree with one of the posters that said if the pros played a geared back ball, the majority of players would play with that ball. Equipment goes to the pros first and the average Joe buys what he sees his favorite pro is using. If the Tour said all players had to use a driver with a wooden head, my guess is most serious golfers would gravitate to wooden heads. Remember how many putters were sold when Jack won the Masters with that big white headed putter.

The last page of the rule book should read - Tournament players follow the rules as stated. Recreational golfers, play any way you want.
01.27.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike Stevens
Others have said this before, there has to be a way to build a ball that doesn't have exponential results at higher swing speeds.
Colin...some of your suggestions would be hard to implement and need further clarification, for example:

2 When a ball is unplayable for any reason or lost, use the present Lateral Water Hazard Rule. (Drop a ball near where it went and add one more shot) (Amend rules 26,27,28- one rule only needed)

-If a ball is do you know where it went? I've seen many players look for a ball for 5 min and find it 50-75 yards behind where they were looking. They thought is was much farther forward then it really was. So someone stripes a ball down the middle, it trickles into a hazard...their opponent hits a wild shot, doesn't find it, and drops it well ahead of where it actaully them an advantage. Not exactly fair.

8 Putts inside a putter length are given, as is the third putt. (Optional)

-inside each player's putter length? So we could have identical 4 foot putts but you are given the put becasue your putter is 4 feet, but mine is 3'10"? Also what constitues a putt? If I putt it from off the green, does that count? Or does it have to be on the surface? What happens if I putt off the surface and have to chip back on the I back to my first putt or does the first one count?

7 Plugged, dirty or embedded balls may be cleaned and placed, anywhere on the course. (Amend rule 25)

-Even in a hazard? this may give an advantage to someone whose ball plugs in a hazard (as they can clean and place it) compared a a shot to the same hazard that didn't plug, but is an a bad lie. You would have players rooting for plugged lies.
01.27.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
Steve-you could go on.
I favour making the rules simpler but nearly every problem you think you've solved causes another one!Not as easy as people think.I think if casual golfers want to ignore the rules-then let them.Competitive golf should be properly regulated though.
01.27.2013 | Unregistered Commenterchico
I wish Peter Kostis would come around and chat a bit more on this site--I thought it was nice when he popped in for that day or two before the wave of commentary scared him off. Or if not Peter, someone in the middle of the media-manufacturer complex who is willing to speak their mind about all the issues Geoff brings up each week.
01.27.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJim S
I think the golf "industry" is missing the boat by not marketing the game as exercise. I dropped membership in a small 9- hole club in large part because I was one of only a very few that ever walked.
01.27.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTom T.
Tom T., I think this is an example of how the PGA does not take the 'long view.' The cart revenue is too enticing for them to pass up even if they alienate those golfers who want to get some exercise from their rounds.

I think Ted Bishop's comments regarding anchoring show the same short-sightedness.
01.27.2013 | Unregistered CommenterArthur Nelson
Hi Steve Thanks for your comments. It's only by discussion that a set of S golf Rules will evolve.
2 When a ball is unplayable for any reason or lost, use the present Lateral Water Hazard Rule. (Drop a ball near where it went and add one more shot) (Amend rules 26,27,28- one rule only needed)
Your Q-If a ball is do you know where it went?
My A-Nobody knows where a ball went into a lateral water hazard but the Rule exists. Life is uncertain- golf is life in miniature.
8 Putts inside a putter length are given, as is the third putt. (Optional)
Your Q -inside each player's putter length?
My A- Okay change putter length to club length. Or better still have a mark on the flagstick.
7 Plugged, dirty or embedded balls may be cleaned and placed, anywhere on the course. (Amend rule 25)
Your Q-Even in a hazard?
My A- Hazards as defined entities in the rules cease to exist. A bunker is simply a sandy area, a player can ground the club anywhere, a pond or stream is a water course. There are no red or yellow lines.
The rule for when the ball has gone, as in "Oh that's gone!" is what a new player would expect.
Keep those queries rolling in.
Chico you are too pessimistic- imagine inventing golf tomorrow, what rules would you invent?
The game of cricket has 3 forms, same bats and stumps etc but different rules. It works and makes more people play cricket.
Mark King on golf is as reasonable as Wayne LaPierre on guns.
01.27.2013 | Unregistered Commenter3foot1
Didn't the USGA president, in hs speech at last year's annual meeting, suggest that simplifying the rules was a priority?
01.27.2013 | Unregistered CommenterArthur Nelson
Let's say the pga tour bifurcates and allows anchoring. At least two majors would be denied to players continuing to anchor. PGA will go with the governing bodies and there aint nuttin' the commercial world can do about this.

And, would someone please tell King that it's anchoring that's been banned and not long putters!
Colin you're a genius. but i have a better idea--how 'bout you and your opponent resolve all issues among yourselves--no rule book needed!
01.28.2013 | Unregistered Commentersmails
Hi Smails
Oh don't worry we do! I've not played in a comp for years- just weekday morning social golf. But the issue still remains- an easy intuitive set of rules for all casual players.
I've actually discovered on line the USGA Rules in Brief 2,100 words- a good start but still there's that daft stroke and distance rule.
(I do realise that my efforts are a complete waste of time and will not happen.)

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