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PGA Tour Bifurcation Alive & Well! Oberholser Glove Edition

Tim Rosaforte's Golf World Monday column looks at Arron Oberholser playing the Tour Finals on a medical exemption after years of struggle with his left hand (four surgeries).

And as reader DTF notes, if this isn't bifurcation, what is?

It took a special glove, approved by the PGA Tour (after the USGA deemed it non-conforming), to make a comeback possible. Even with that accommodation, he was still icing down the hand and taking Advil to reduce the swelling and pain.

"The glove isn't the cure-all by any stretch of the imagination," he said. "That's why if it doesn't hold up over the next three weeks, then I'll probably see a lot more of you in the studio."

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Reader Comments (21)

Umm, why is anyone surprised about bifurcation? The guys on tour haven't been able to use the old square groove wedges for years but they are fine for me to use for another ten years and four months?
09.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterWayne
Hey Tim Clark, there's your precedence for a medically oriented exemption ;)
09.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Where is the uproar from Far Hills? I'm sure that non-conforming glove is taking all the "skill" out of the game.
09.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterShady golf
Nothing against Aaron, and I certainly believe his pain/injury is legit, but I kind of feel like I'm with the USGA on this one. This isn't something separate from swinging the club (like walking v. riding), but something fundamental to the game. If a glove to keep the hand able to grip a club is ok, why not some sort of device that helps swing on plane all the time?
09.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterThe O
Is it the Bionic pro glove in question? I thought they were approved for USGA use.
09.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMashie
Only 847 days until banishment...!!
09.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Slippery slope, I have a bad left ankle -- can I get an exemption to wear the shoes that John Hudson used for a tour victory that were banned a month later in 1990 by USGA.
Is this glove merely disapproved for general use but permitted by Exception 1 to Rule 14-3? If so, that's not bifurcation -- that's the Committee in charge of the competition applying an Exception (that is part of the Rules) properly.
09.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
Let's simply get on with bifurcation. It's already here.
09.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHBL
Distance measuring devices, steel spikes, motorized carts, and now gloves! The list grows...
09.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPGT
Just finished our Club Championship and putted great with my belly putter. I didn't win a damn thing but enjoyed the experience tremendously. No one cares about my handicap or how I play other than me so why is the USGA taking away my favourite club?
09.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve A
I don't get the big deal about bifurcation. Using the same set of rules has, at the pro level, diluted the skills necessary to compete, made the game more one dimensional, made courses obsolete, requires the USGA to trick up courses (greens which stimp 13 when designed for 8) to protect par, and has resulted in drug testing. It's a hard, time consuming game. Let amateurs benefit from technology and ingenuity while requiring pros and national am events to adhere to more stringent rules. For a more detailed discussion see
09.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterP Blackmar
@Wayne.... Check up on the new groove rule. You might be surprised to learn that square grooves were not banned with the groove rule change.
09.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterOWGR Fan
There are a number of items that are approved for medial conditions. Perhaps some are not aware, but "wedged innersoles" for arthritic knees are approved as are the Bionic gloves (H&B).

Listed under: Equipment Permitted Conditionally For Medical Reasons


@HBL Been here for a while hasn't it HBL?
Rosaforte does a poor job in reporting by not mentioning the name of the glove?

On a bigger picture, Aaron is a great guy and to be gone for 6 years and play well in his first attempt is a better story.
09.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJSS
And dont forget officials who look for your ball when a drive goes 40 yards offline. Guess that lost ball rule is not used very much at the pro level.
09.3.2013 | Unregistered Commentervwgolfer
Pro, thanks for the link. Used Bionic for a few years for my hands and assumed they were conforming. Went back to regular and amped up the pills.
09.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMashie
Spinal Tap album---''Smell the Glove''
09.3.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
I niether know nor express any opinion as to the rules or the politics. My point is only to say that Aaron Oberholser is a terrific human being and a superb ambassador for the game. He's not the kind of guy to dwell on the "what ifs", but roll back the clock ten years and Aaron was a player you would always look for. Ask Tiger, who got dusted in the Western Intercollegiate his last year as a student golfer. The guy can play, and the guy has the heart of a champion. He's definitely in the conversation, and in our hearts for his, heart.
09.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPasaplayer
Went to the event at Sycamore Hills in Ft Wayne...

I'll put that tournament in the under-rated category... Beautiful course site, enough people that you aren't embarrassed to follow any group but at same time get to see high quality pro shots up close all day... well run by the PGA Tour and WGA... I'll go back next year.
09.3.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn C
@ Mashie Bionic is a great golf glove. Especially for anyone that has any hand pain. They are designed, in part, by one of the most renown hand specialist / surgeons in the world. While I don't have any real hand-issue, it is a great, comfortable glove. A little more expensive, but will last much longer than a regular golf glove. In reality, Tommy "two gloves' Gainey is way ahead of the curve as we should all wear two gloves to enhance grip and hand performance according to a lot of hand specialists. Personally, not sure I could get use to two gloves (except rain gloves) but have spent some time with Bionic representatives and their research has merit.

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