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USGA Prez: Non-conforming Initiatives "Perfectly okay with us"

Great and logical answer from new USGA President Tom O'Toole today about initiatives to introduce larger cups and non-conforming equipment to golf.

Speaking at a media session during the Annual Meeting at Pinehurst:

Q. This is for Tom. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about the USGA's perspective on the movement to have -- play outside the rules for beginners, alternative golf formats. How does the USGA look upon that when the goal is to help grow the game?

TOM O'TOOLE, JR. : Well, there have been some initiatives recently and one currently that contemplate larger holes and different implements in balls. You know, our view is that if these programs or these initiatives will ultimately draw people to our game, then that's a good thing. We're not going to call them golf, nor are we going to bring them in our governing of what we do in golf, nor will we have them operate under our golf rules, equipment standards.
So I think some of these things that would enhance or entice people to play golf by playing a different game, that's perfectly okay with us.

Here's a link to USGA coverage of the chat, along with video of O'Toole and Executive Director Mike Davis talking.

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Reader Comments (14)

Perfect answer. Appreciate that he says, "we're not going to call them golf" and points out USGA rules will be N/A with the whacked-out forms of play. It's important to preserve integrity of real golf while recognizing need for participation and encouraging. Just very well-handled IMO.
02.8.2014 | Unregistered CommenterGmail
O'Toole is a good man, plain and simple.
02.8.2014 | Unregistered Commentertlavin
How was the outgoing president's speech? how was he received? look forward to hearing more about it.
02.8.2014 | Unregistered CommenterMedia driven
Interesting to hear Mike Davis talk about why the women are going 2nd. Basically so they can soften the greens a little. It's much easier to soften them then it is to firm them up. A few other reasons but that seemed like the main thing.
02.8.2014 | Unregistered CommenterRon
Great! Let all of the people who oppose a ball rollback play with whatever they want. Encourage them to do so. Extra-long balls, drivers, you name it.

That leaves "golf" to the people who care about the rules and classic championship courses.

No bifurcation needed. No other rules needed.
02.8.2014 | Unregistered CommenterChuck
Well, it's not like he had much of a choice but to be diplomatic in his response. I don't know what the USGA's membership numbers look like, but I have a hard time believing that they're maintaining while the rest of the industry is trying to come up with viable stopgap measures to reverse the downward spiral of interest.

O'Toole heard a completely different question asked. "Tom, is the USGA prepared to make necessary concessions with regard to these growth initiatives that have been proposed, which in turn might someday add more members to your rolls?"

"You bet your ass we are."
02.8.2014 | Unregistered CommenterPA PLAYA
Gmail, whadya think about this quote...?

“We have seen progressive developments in technologies available to golfers who seek to improve their playing performance and enjoyment that also maintain the essential elements of the game,” said Thomas J. O’Toole Jr., USGA vice president and chairman of the Championship Committee. “It is in this spirit that we are allowing the use of distance-measuring devices in our amateur competitions.”
02.8.2014 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
“It is in this spirit...."

Are you f'g kidding me?!?
02.8.2014 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
I loathe that comment on DMDs from O'Toole. Exhilarated by his remarks on how goofy golf can co-existing with mainstream gol so long as we distinguish the difference, I may have expressed sentiment in support of O'Toole in general. I really wanted to constrain my praise to the content and style of the 15-inch hole answer.

His rationale on approving DMDs is wrong. Using "so golfers can play better and have more fun" as basis for ANY rule change reveals point-missing of a significant order. I'm pragmatic enough to believe range-finders are here to stay and will be permitted for play at all leve ls within two years. They're moving inexorably forward with aplomb and almost no protest from those who use them--which is a lot. DTF, my play may be less frequent than your at the moment, but I don't know of any clubs that ban them nowadays, do you? Imagine cell phones are prohibited more, and they've been around longer.

I will sigh heavily and shake my head when a rule allowing them goes down, but I shalt not bitch too strenuously. The substantive basis for accepting them is (a) their potential to speed up play; (b) the caddie has precise yardages anyway, so it's merely supplanting the math gyrations they're doing already.

My reasoning on this is sounder than his is, is what I'm saying. "Having more fun and playing better" would also apply if you pulled up all the OB stakes.
02.8.2014 | Unregistered CommenterGmail
Oh well, I guess the governing bodies are due another rules screw-up!
02.8.2014 | Unregistered Commenterscots wha hae
Gmail, no qualms here about us regular folks using them but at the highest levels of tournament play (am and pro) I just think they are wrong...
02.9.2014 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Most amateurs not playing in formal matches or competition are already playing something the USGA doesn't call golf. So O'Toole is merely stating that if they wish to make even more alterations in the game they play and if it gets more people interested in his game, that's good.

Regarding the DMDs, they don't tell us anything that cannot be measured in methods not against the rules. They just do it faster.
With the books the caddies and pros carry it would be interesting to see just how much the pros would use DMDs. Maybe for a ball position way off the fairway, something the yardage book doesn't cover.
02.9.2014 | Unregistered Commentergov. lepetomane
O'Toole handled the alternate format issue about as well as it can be.

The DMD local rule had been around since 2006, and the MGA, GAP and other important regional golf associations have used the local rule for some time. I wouldn't argue that the USGA's decision to allow DMDs in its amateur events is one more incremental step away from the traditional game, but it brings the USGA's amateur championships in line with those championships conducted by other golf associations that are all contested by essentially the same players. No change for the championships contested primarily by pros, where every player has the distanced information anyway, just from a different source.
02.9.2014 | Unregistered CommenterRomeo Posar
Re: DMD and high level competition use The Tour Players and or their caddy all have a DMD. They are used extensively in practice rounds. Implementing them into formal competition is no worse than playing with tin-headed drivers and juiced golf balls, and ultra0lite graphite shafts. I am not ready to return to persimmon and "real" balata just yet -- not while I am getting older every year!

Not much difference from the players taking 5 minutes in a pre-shot routine to step off yardage, review yardage book, decipher the daily pin sheet (provided by the event), decipher front, back, hole yardages, check the wind, the trees, discuss shot options and choice of trajectory, etc. If using a DMD speeds up this part of the game, then I am for it. Of course it won't, we all know that.

If a DMD will speed up play, at any time I am for it. What Is so hard to swallow is the amateur or club player that really does not possess the talent to play a shot that is conjured on the information provided by a DMD. The are like the Pro V golf ball. the percentage of core golfers that can actually engage the center of the golf ball to gain yardage advantage is minute. Most golfers can only gain the actual yardage info from a DMD; their games do not compute to taking advantage of the advantage the possess in having the laser-ed yardage. But, it makes them feel good and part of the crowd. Worse, seeing guys use DMD's inside 50-60 yards. 99% of the golfers don't have the skill set or short game to benefit from this info.

If they allow them and you don't like the rule, then don't use them. It is simply a sign of the times and none of us can change it. Use it or lose it.

Too much about nothing for most to benefit. Anyone have 2 extra AA batteries?

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