Did Phil Inadvertently Make The Case For The De-Skilling Role Of Green Reading Books?

After Bryson DeChambeau cited his green reading book’s confusing data as part of the reason he took forever to hit a six-footer, the episode reminded plenty just how silly it is that an already slow game where key skills are less necessary would get slower and easier.

That DeChambeau suggested it was his right to set up shop due to the book read being so very, very wrong, reminded me what a stain on the game these are and that they simply need to go.

Today on Twitter, as Bill Speros notes for Golfweek, Rickie Fowler’s green-reading assistant and bagman Joe Skovron made clear he didn’t have a stake in the green book debate, but suggested they do help speed up play.

Phil Mickelson, in a rare reply, probably wrote too much:

Screen Shot 2019-08-13 at 4.53.17 PM.png
Screen Shot 2019-08-13 at 5.00.47 PM.png

Mercifully for the green reading book world, Mickelson’s terrible stats this year strongly contradict his statement.

Skill was a key element in the governing bodies questioning the role of these books and rules were changed in an attempt to reduce their efficacy. Thomas Pagel of the USGA when the books were kept legal, with restrictions:

“We have looked carefully at the use of these green-reading materials and the extremely detailed information they provide and our view is that they tip the balance too far away from the essential skill and judgment required to read subtle slopes on the greens. It is important to be clear, however, that we still regard the use of yardage books and handwritten notes to be an entirely appropriate part of the game.”

They probably will not use Mickelson’s remarks to consider a ban given his season stats in the areas where he claims they gain him time and strokes. But Mickelson seems to admit that the books allow him to spend less time studying a course to learn how to read the greens or tackle the design.

There was also this from Luke Donald, one of the best putters of his or any generation:

Screen Shot 2019-08-13 at 5.05.09 PM.png

Links! Porthcawl Joins Troon As Next Two Women's British Open Venues

Screen Shot 2019-07-31 at 8.45.21 PM.png

The early voting says you want links courses only to secure the Women’s British Open’s identity going forward and while I’d like to say the R&A heard you, this one obviously had been in the works for some time: Royal Porthcawl will host the 2021 edition. And Golfweek’s Alistair Tait says this should be a precursor to finally bringing The Open to Wales.

For Immediate Release:

ROYAL PORTHCAWL CONFIRMED AS VENUE 

FOR 2021 AIG WOMEN’S BRITISH OPEN

31 July 2019, Woburn Golf Club, England: Royal Porthcawl was announced today as the venue for the 2021 AIG Women’s British Open, following on from Royal Troon, which makes its debut on the Championship roster in 2020. 

Royal Porthcawl is renowned to be as challenging a course and as hospitable a club as you will find and has held many amateur and professional tournaments on its famous links. In 2014 the Club hosted the first ever Major in Wales, The Senior Open, which returned again for the 2017 edition won by Bernhard Langer. 

Among others, the Club has hosted The Amateur Championship, The Walker Cup, The Curtis Cup, The European Team Championship, The Men’s Home Internationals, The Vagliano Trophy, The Women’s Amateur Championship, The Dunlop Masters, The Penfold, The Ladies European Tour and The Coral Classic.

As South Wales’s first 18 hole golf course, Royal Porthcawl was awarded the privilege of the prefix ‘Royal’ in 1909, only the second course in Wales and one of only 66 clubs around the world to have that distinction.

Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, Executive Director – Championships at The R&A, said: “We are very much looking forward to taking the AIG Women’s British Open to Royal Porthcawl for the first time in 2021.  We have a very exciting couple of years ahead with the Championship also making its debut at Royal Troon in 2020. Both courses will present outstanding tests for the world’s best women’s golfers.”

Speaking on behalf of the Welsh Government, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: “We are delighted with today’s news and look forward to the honour of welcoming the AIG Women’s British Open Golf to Wales in 2021. Wales has built its reputation as an outstanding destination for major international events and the AIG Women’s British Open event will help to maintain this momentum and highlights our commitment to bringing world class women’s sport to Wales. We are committing funding to work with the R&A, Wales Golf and clubs and schools across Wales to use the event and the Curtis Cup in Conwy in June next year to inspire more women and girls to take part in golf.  Having these two great events in successive years at two fantastic venues like Conwy and Royal Porthcawl is a great boost for golf in Wales in general and women’s golf in particular.” 

Royal Porthcawl Club Captain, Rhys James, added: “We are thrilled that the AIG Women’s British Open will be coming to Royal Porthcawl in 2021. Hosting our first women’s Major is a tremendous honour for the Club and we cannot wait to welcome the world’s best golfers to Wales. Being here at Woburn this week and seeing the impressive scale and quality of the Championship makes us look forward to it all the more and to seeing how these fantastic players handle all the challenges our course in two years’ time.”

The Women’s British Open was founded by the LGU in 1976 and has been staged in conjunction with IMG, the world’s largest sports marketing company, since 1984. The event has been co-sanctioned by the LPGA and LET since 1994 and gained Major status in 2001. The Championship is now owned by The R&A.

Poll: Should The Women's British Open Be Contested Only On Links Courses?

That was the case I made today on Golf Central’s Alternate Shot while Matt Adams said there are plenty of great options in the UK to not limit the event going forward.

In 2020, the women’s major played this week will be run by the R&A entirely after merging with the Ladies’ Golf Union.

Here is our debate:

So…

Should they be open to some heathland and inland courses or only play links? Results will be here.

Should The Women's British Open only take place on a links?
pollcode.com free polls

Readers Questioning Clubs That Start Over The Speed Limit, But Within Testing Tolerance

Callaway CEO Chip Brewer issued a lengthy statement to explaining the Xander Schauffele non-conforming driver situation at the 2019 Open.

Brewer’s admission that the company handed their player a driver over the 239 CT limit but within the tolerance limit did not sit well with some observers.

Reader Chris writes:

Geoff, I am staggered at this statement:

“We know Xander’s driver was conforming when he received it. Probably in the range of 245 – 250 CT. At the Open we tested it at 255 CT, still conforming but close to the limit. The R&A tested it at 258, one over the limit.

The limit is 239, with a tolerance of 18 presumably for exactly the sort of circumstances Brewer describes in the statement. To hand a player a club they know to be beyond the limit is extraordinary negligence!

And Scott on Twitter also noted this issue with an analogy:

It’s hard not to wonder if both Schauffele in revealing his positive test and Brewer in admitting the company handed a driver to their player over the limit, brought all of the scrutiny on themselves. Particularly given the likelihood of “CT Creep” as outlined by Brewer in his statement.

The CEO’s statement could also backfire given the shots at the governing bodies about their testing suggesting some sort of possible tampering or illegitimacy (“Part of the issue is the testing location, a tent on the back of the range, where folks not directly involved in the specific testing can walk in-and-out too freely.”). That alone could invite more scrutiny, more required disclosure and more headaches for the manufacturers. This is trending toward ERC 2.0 by challenging the competence and very generous procedures of the enforcers.

As I noted just after The Open, all of these parties would have been wiser to admit their mistake and expressed gratitude at the lack of serious punishment. Because now it sure seems like they’ve kept this situation alive and festering, perhaps even warranting more scrutiny, more consideration and maybe tighter testing.

Given that the governing bodies have wrapped up their distance study and may take action this fall, this situation could help them make a case that the equipment rules need tightening and more public disclosure of those who fail tests. That would be an amazing turn of events.

Players Offering Thoughts On Testing For Juiced Drivers

Screen Shot 2019-07-24 at 9.32.07 PM.png

As I noted for Golfweek, Xander Schauffele going public with his failed driver test at The Open, and then stirring up a debate about hot drivers, has kept the incident in the news and led to some interesting comments from top players.

Jason Munz reports on player thoughts as they tee it up in Memphis this week, and while some inexplicably display life in the bubble by praising Schauffele for taking on the R&A—even after being caught playing an illegal club that was used in competition since January—there are some who don’t take this quite so lightly.

Justin Thomas says it’s on the makers to not let this happen:

“I think that’s on the manufacturers to make sure that (the clubs) are tested and that they are conforming,” he said. “Because that’s not fair to the rest of the field if guys are using some and some aren’t. We don’t have those tests just sitting in our living room (where) we can do them when we get home.”

While that is ideal, ultimately random testing is a better way to prevent a rogue player or clubmaker from skirting the rules.

Meanwhile Bryson DeChambeau tells Golf.com’s Jonathan Wall that the winner or top 5 should be tested every week and if they fail, can keep the win but take a hit elsewhere:

“If you did play a driver that was illegal, you take some FedEx Cup points away,” said DeChambeau, who has five Tour wins. “So you make your money and win, that’s great, but you lose half the points you made. It’s not like you should have the trophy taken away. That’s one way to deal with it. You putted well, you chipped well. But I think there needs to be some repercussions from using something that’s not under the conformance rules. If they want to challenge the ruling, they can go do some tests to see if it was truly over.”

Could Lytham And Muirfield Be In A Holding Pattern After Portrush's Success?

Screen Shot 2019-07-16 at 10.35.34 AM.png

Martin Dempster of The Scotsman wonders if Lytham and Muirfield are on the endangered rota list after last week’s success on and off the course at Portrush.

Coupled with the R&A’s increased emphasis on ticket sales and fan energy, Muirfield’s membership matters and the modern gluten-free diet rendering Lytham helpless against today’s triathletes-turned-golfers, and it’s easy to envision a return to Northern Ireland before those two storied venues.

Dempster writes of the numbers:

Even before it produced one of the most popular winners ever, the Portrush event had attracted a sell-out attendance of 237,750 – the second biggest after St Andrews getting 239,000 in 2000. In comparison, the last visit to Muirfield in 2013 was just over 142,000 and, for the one before that in 2002, it was 161,000.

R&A Chief On Distance Report's Completion, The Role Of Skill And So, So Much More

Screen Shot 2019-07-17 at 3.28.20 PM.png

The R&A kept their annual press conference short and mostly upbeat, with Championship Committee Clive Brown opening the live set with one song and a nice thank you for his services, followed by an upbeat set from always upbeat chief Martin Slumbers.

He confirmed completion of the Distance Insight Report’s findings and a release of those conclusions until this fall. I asked after the press conference what his views were and Slumbers focused on the question of skill erosion. From my Golfweek report on the comments:

“Golf should be a game of skill,” he said Wednesday. “It should not be a technology driven game. And where that balance is depends on how good you are. And that’s still my gut view. The data will guide us.”

Not surprisingly, it sounded as if the report will focus heavily on the question of some skills having been reduced or nullified by distance, just as the original Statement of Principles said 17 years ago.

In other news, Slumbers discussed the Open rota as remaining at 10 courses, including Trump Turnberry. But no Open’s were announced.

He also explained the R&A’s thinking on the future of the Women’s British Open, from name to style of course and to equal prize money. Alistair Tait with that report for Golfweek.com.

Regarding the growing purse structures in golf, I asked Slumbers whether there is a point the number begins to chip away at the R&A’s core mission, which he seems more passionate about than any of golf’s leaders.

Q. Given some of the things you've described that The R&A is working on, we've seen some significant increases in purses. Is there a point where you could see this sort of race to increase purses impacting your ability to carry out the mission that you're hoping to succeed with so many of these various ventures?

MARTIN SLUMBERS: Yeah, I look at the business in the round. So a lot of my responsibility is to balance out the revenues and expenses of our championships with our desire to invest 200 million pounds into the game in this decade. We're two years into this decade.

I think we have to keep growing The Open. This is our biggest event. And we need to keep growing it to keep it one of the greatest sporting events, with half an eye on how do we improve the difference in pay between The Open and the Women's British Open. You will all have seen that we increased the Women's British Open prize money for this year by 40 percent, and to do that in line with our investments into the game. And we have to juggle all three things.

I think that's what's really important about The R&A. What we really care about is a great championship out here but we really care about the game. We want the game to be here 50 years from now. We want it to be thriving. We want more people to be playing it, more families to be playing it. And try to balance all that out. That's part of my job.

On the financial front the championship has its second largest “attendance” ever. That’s UK parlance for ticket sales.

Geography Based: R&A Goes To Three-Hole Aggregate At Portrush

Good to see the R&A is simply looking at the holes before them at Royal Portrush to reduce their normal four-hole aggregate Open playoff to three, as Doug Ferguson reports here.

The mind immediately goes to (A) St. Andrews and its perfect four-hole rotation of 1-2-17-18 and (B) a possible caving to the demands of other majors to shorten the Open Championship playoff. (The Masters is silly sudden death, while the U.S. Open is two holes and the PGA Championship three holes).

Muirfield (Finally) Extends Membership Invitations To 12 Women

Screen Shot 2019-06-27 at 2.56.00 PM.png

This took way too long for the Honourable Company of Edinburgh golfers to join the 21st century and now the course can actually rejoin The Open rota.

As Alistair Tait writes for Golfweek, the men of Muirfield dragged their feet “too long” especially now that it’s a non-issue for the membership.

This time 80% of membership voted in favour of women becoming members. Today’s announcement is the result of that vote.

It’s about time, too. It beggars belief that a club with “honourable” in its title has taken nearly 300 years to do the honorable thing.

Jack: Knee Height Drops Look "Silly"

I’m sure many of you saw this from his early week presser, but if not, add Jack Nicklaus to the list of those who mostly likes the new rules of golf (remember them when they were a thing!).

But about that drop from knee height, it’s not just the young guns who feel foolish taking a drop that way, notes Golf.com’s Josh Berhow:

“I think they’ll change the drop-it-from-knee-height rule,” Nicklaus said. “It looks silly. How about ‘Anywhere between the knee and the waist'”?

Has The Official World Golf Ranking Outlived Its Usefulness?

Screen Shot 2019-04-25 at 10.30.09 PM.png

Rex Hoggard examines the PGA Tour’s increasingly hostile view of the Official World Golf Ranking and suggests the best way to fix the ranking is to stop using it.

The PGA Championship uses its own points list, a one-year ranking based on official earnings, along with a variety of other criteria. Not included in the qualification for the year’s second major is a player’s position in the world ranking, although officials do historically dovetail special exemptions to those inside the top 100 to assure no one slips through the cracks.

The point remains valid, however. There are now endless ways to identify competitive merit without becoming mired in the world ranking weeds.

Perhaps the game’s best minds can conjure a solution to the current ranking problems, but if we’re being objective the entire analysis is starting to feel like an exercise in diminishing returns. Organizations like the PGA of America and R&A don’t need the world ranking to identify the best players any longer.

The point is a strong one assuming that any replacement in use to fill a field does attempt to weave in the entire planet. Or else we’ll just end up with a new ranking again.

PGA Tour Is Not Going Into The Rulemaking Business Anytime Soon

While we had another bizarre rules moment Thursday at The Players, Harold Varner’s troubles had little to do with the new rules, just a complex and freakish run-in with an old rule related to club adjustability.

But it’s worth noting that even after a bizarre violation we are not seeing the usual outpouring of grief over the change. That’s a direct result of PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan reiterating and expanding on a recent memo making clear the PGA Tour has no desire to make golf rules.

My Golfweek story on that, and the key kumbaya quote after a two hour five familes meeting.

“We have two fantastic professional governing bodies of the game,” he said Wednesday. “We have always played by their rules and we will continue to play by their rules. And we are not going to be playing by our own rules. We think that the game is best served with everybody playing by the same rules and the same standards. We think it’s a source of inspiration for the game.”

Rory McIlroy Defends New Rules Of Golf, Governing Bodies

In between talking Abraham Lincoln and Arnold Palmer, Rory McIlroy took the high road on the beleaguered new rules of golf. And the people who worked over many years to simplify them.

Prior to the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill:

“I think that the governing bodies are a very easy target right now in the game of golf and it’s very easy for people to jump on the bandwagon and sort of criticize,” McIlroy said at a pre-tournament press conference at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Wednesday. “But all these entities in golf, they’re not trying to do anything bad for the game, they’re trying to help the game in some way. So I think we all have to give them a bit of leeway here and say, yes, they probably made some mistakes, but we all do. And I’m sure they will get it right eventually.”

PGA Tour Commish Issues Memo To Reign In The Lunatic Fringe

Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 8.31.07 PM.png

I was starting to wonder if PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan enjoyed seeing his players bash the governing bodies over the new rules given his public stance against the R&A and USGA over distance. A position which has added to the disharmony as it suggested to players that the governing bodies are looking to take your hard-earned distance and hard-earned endorsement dollars away.

Maybe he saw Charl Schwartzel unnecessarily berating a PGA Tour official at the Honda or read some of the absurd player comments directed at the new rules.

Maybe he read Eamon Lynch’s Golfweek column on what a bad look it is for the pros to be whining about rules that do not effect 99.9% of the population or rules that were enacted with good intentions to help the pro game. Sure, some things really stink like the drop rule, but as Lynch writes…

The problem is that Tour players seem less interested in providing insight than in shifting blame.

Maybe it was Justin Thomas’s Twitter exchange with the USGA.

Maybe Michael Bamberger’s admonishment of all involved did the trick.

Just ask yourself, before you open your mouth or Twitter account: Are you about to make the game better? Are you putting the game first, or yourself? Fowler failed on Thursday. The USGA failed on Saturday. It was all so inane it makes you want to scream.

Maybe the accountants finally delivered an updated estimate on Foster and Partner’s new PGA Tour HQ building and realized there’s nothing left to administer the rules, much less enforce them?

Maybe Monahan was touched by R&A Ambassador Padraig Harrington’s defense of his friends in the rules world or the comments of Thomas Bjorn, a Ryder Cup winning captain who knows everything after guiding Europe to victory.

Maybe he saw this fight among grown men in flip-flops at a South African course over cheating and realized it looks a little like his players squabbling with the governing bodies?

Or maybe he read the absolute gibberish being churned out by some of his players on Twitter.

Matthew Fitzpatrick, for instance:

I believe Matthew is saying PGA Tour referees are supposed to ignore the rules as written. What could go wrong!

And this exchange involving Patton Kizzire, followed up by some particularly odd logic from Andrew Landry, could have done the trick:

Yes, Patton not getting in the U.S. Open is exactly the reason to throw out the new rules! Brilliant!

Whatever it was, Monahan issued a memo to PGA Tour players reported on by GolfChannel.com’s Rex Hoggard essentially telling the lunatics in the asylum to pipe down.

This should quiet things, assuming the players actually read the memo:

“[The Tour] put forward a lengthy list of recommendations to improve the rules in many ways, including the removal of numerous penalties, and virtually all our suggestions were incorporated,” the memo from Monahan read. “We also had the opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed rules prior to implementation, which resulted in modifications for the final version.”

The full document Tweeted by Hoggard:

Rules Mess: PGA Tour Pros Making The Case For Bifurcation With Each Passing Day

There are two columns from the Honda Classic worth noting as they ultimately have players ripping the revamped Rules of Golf for both selfish reasons and also somewhat logical ones.

Randall Mell took the occasion of Rickie Fowler’s deuce drop to highlight Justin Thomas’ complaints about the change in replacing a broken club, a very first world PGA Tour problem that would not impact most golfers.

“I think they’re terrible,” Justin Thomas said.

That’s what he told media the day before the Honda Classic began. His opinions only hardened in the first round, when he bent the shaft of his 9-iron, hitting a tree with a shot at the 10th hole. The new rules wouldn’t allow him to replace the club, the way the old rules would have.

Unable to repair the club, as new rules allow, he played the final eight holes with 13 clubs.

Thomas said he probably couldn’t have replaced the 9-iron in a timely fashion anyway, with his backup at his Jupiter home down the road, but it’s the principle.

“You can just add that one to the list of rules that don't make any sense,” Thomas said.

Again, a first world one but understandably important to professional golfers who play a different game for a lot of money than the rest of us.

There was also this from Mell:

Player frustrations over the new rules were a topic of conversation in a mandatory players’ meeting at PGA National this week. Tour commissioner Jay Monahan presided. Players fear other controversies may be lying in wait.

While incidents of player ignorance are not the fault of the mostly-excellent and streamlined rule modifications, there is no getting around the optics. By starting the year with major changes in the heart of the season and without significant field testing, the result has been mockery.

From Brian Wacker’s Golf World column of a similar theme to Mell’s:

“Golf is trying to appeal to a younger audience, get people into the game, want it to look cool,” Fowler said. “Well, I was sitting at home first couple weeks of the year and me and some buddies were making fun of the new drop rule. It looks terrible.”

The precious M’s aren’t always right nor should their views supercede all others, but the notion that players are hearing from friends how ridiculous they look will ultimately undermine the rules if not addressed. Which strikes at the ultimate issue here as it’s been for all too long: the governing bodies have always struggled with the notion of someone making a living playing the game. And heaven forbid, people like them more than the amateurs.

Billy Horschel:

“My buddies at home are making fun of these rules,” he said. “People in the greater word of golf are making fun of them. Some of [the changes] are good, some of them are bad.

“But I told the USGA you guys aren't the main influencer in the game of golf like you were 30, 40, 50 years ago. PGA Tour players are now the biggest influencer in the game of golf. What the golfer at home sees on TV, they're going to copy us.”

Which is why, ultimately, these rules needed more field testing and a gradual rollout to help educate all or work out kinks.

But given the difference in tournament golf today versus the everyday game, and the resulting taint which could offend new players to the sport, we are increasingly seeing why splitting the rules makes sense. Anyone for Golf Channel’s relaxed rules for the rest of us while the tournament golf world sorts all of this out?

Ignorance Is Strength Files: Slumbers Says R&A Growing Rough To Ensure Old Course Strategy

Screen Shot 2019-03-02 at 9.46.28 AM.png

Even though we’ve seen this movie before: eliminating fairway at the Old Course to mask regulatory ineptitude, the retirement of Chief Inspector Peter Dawson seemingly put an end to that madness.

Turns out, his replacement has signed off on an enhanced rough harvesting effort to combat the surge in driving distances at the home of strategic golf, the Old Course.

Who knew there was any more rough to grow or fairway to eliminate at the Road?

While most understand the Road hole’s strategy and the visual and angle issues caused by bailing out left off the 17th tee, the R&A has begun adding more rough to “enhance” strategy by offering hack-out rough.

From John Huggan’s Golf World report after Martin Slumbers’ day with reporters this week.

“We will be looking at the course setup and there is some rough beginning to grow that will ensure the strategic nature of the Old Course remains. The importance of making sure you play the strategy properly will be enhanced. But if we get no weather, no wind and plenty of rain, we all know the links course is at the mercy of these great players. The Old Course is no different.”

Specifically, Slumbers indicated that the rough left of the 17th fairway on the iconic Road Hole will be enhanced in order to force players to the right, closer to the out-of-bounds. The grass on the bank left of the 14th fairway and right of the fifth will also be allowed to grow longer than ever before.

Also do not discount how much gorse has been allowed to remain to “defend” the course, on top of tee boxes on the neighboring courses, something Old Tom Morris worked to rid the place of and which was instrumental in the course’s increase in strategy and enjoyment.

But it’s the notion of taking a shot away from a player, or disallowing a ball to run to a disadvantageous location at the Old Course, that speaks to a special level of absurdity. Particularly given Slumbers’s suggestion that the growing effort has already begun, meaning everyday golfers will have to suffer more for one week every five to six years.

What a bleak and cynical vision for the most important and cherished links, and all so that a few people can avoid doing their job as regulators.

Slumbers: There Is No Rota But Turnberry One Of Ten Courses In That Thing Where We Rotate Going Around To The Same Facilities

Screen Shot 2019-02-26 at 6.00.48 PM.png

His English teachers will be proud that R&A Chief Martin Slumbers is sticking to the proper definition of “rota” that actually references a fixed rotation of courses. And with both Turnberry and Lytham on the bypass list, they are not in a rota.

But not out of the Open rota. Or whatever it’s called.

Will Gray for GolfChannel.com included this quote. He’s not wrong! Well, maybe except the Turnberry under consideration part.

"Turnberry will be in consideration for 2023, but it's not a rota," Slumbers said. "We look at all the issues in the round, but Turnberry remains as one of the 10 courses where we could stage the Open Championship."

Could A Review Of Performance Enhancing Flagsticks Prove Fatal For The Governing Bodies?

To review: golfers can leave flagsticks in the hole without penalty, pro golfers have convinced themselves that they will make more putts, fans can see the hole easier, and unlike some of golf’s new rules, there is nearly unanimous support for this change before a majority of golfers have even tried it.

But with the R&A’s Martin Slumbers’ comments this week, combined with the USGA’s Thomas Pagel having said something similar to the WSJ’s Brian Costa, both organizations have suggested that should there be signs the new rule is enhancing performance and de-skilling the game, they might have to revisit the change.

From Alistair Tait’s Golfweek story:

“It wasn’t intended as a rule to improve performance. It was intended as a rule to improve pace of play, and it’s something we will watch and see. But these are early days. This is not the time to make knee‑jerk reactions.”

Slumbers is right, this is not the time. But even if this one does pan out to somehow allow a few more people to make more putts, rescinding this rule might just be the undoing of the governing bodies.

After all, might most wonder why the possibility of performance enhancement was not investigated before making the rule change?

I offered this video version of the above comments for Golfweek…

R&A Chief Counters USGA: “It hasn’t gone as smoothly as I would have liked.”

Screen Shot 2019-02-26 at 5.52.46 PM.png

While USGA CEO Mike Davis sees the revamped rules rollout as a “huge success”, his counterpart at the R&A offered a different view Tuesday.

From Alistair Tait’s report at the chief’s St. Andrews sitdown with writers.

“There’s been some unfortunate situations, no doubt about that,” Slumbers said. “It hasn’t gone as smoothly as I would have liked.”

That’s a rather stark difference from Davis’ position, but also a more credible one that will resonate with most golfers.

He also defended the knee-drop situation.

“The intention for the knee drop rule is to be able to get the ball back in play quickly, in a prescribed area, and without having re‑drops.”

Yes but…

Reading Between The Lines: The Open Returns To Hoylake In 2022

Royal Liverpool

Royal Liverpool

It’s hard not to see a return to Royal Liverpool in 2022 as a sign that Royal Lytham and St Anne’s days in the rota are numbered given space issues and a lack of length. Hoylake last hosted in 2014 while Lytham last welcomed the world’s best in 2012.

With The Open at St. Andrews in 2021 there was only a chance of back-to-back playings in Scotland, albeit it a slim one, meaning Trump Turnberry remains waiting for its first Open since 2009 and first R&A event since 2012’s Senior Open.

For Immediate Release:

THE 151ST OPEN TO BE PLAYED AT ROYAL LIVERPOOL IN 2022

26 February 2019, St Andrews, Scotland: The 151st Open will be played at Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) from 10-17 July 2022.

The occasion will mark the 13th time that golf’s original championship has been played over the famous links where many of the greatest names in the sport have lifted the iconic Claret Jug.

The Open was last played at Hoylake in 2014 when Rory McIlroy famously completed a wire-to-wire victory by two strokes over Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia to become the third golfer from Northern Ireland, after Fred Daly (Hoylake,1947) and Darren Clarke (Royal St George’s, 2011), to win the Championship.

More than 230,000 fans turned out to watch Tiger Woods lift the Claret Jug for the third time in his celebrated career when The Open was played at Hoylake in 2006, which was a record attendance for a Championship held outside of St Andrews until the total was surpassed at Royal Birkdale in 2017.

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “The Open has a strong affinity with England’s Golf Coast and following the success of the Championship at Royal Birkdale two years ago we know that there will be tremendous excitement among golf fans at the prospect of its return to Royal Liverpool.

“Its famous links has a cherished history and has produced a revered group of Champion Golfers, including Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy most recently. It will be fascinating to see who will emerge from the world class field to lift the Claret Jug in 2022.”

Sir Ian Gilmore, Captain of Royal Liverpool, said, “We are thrilled to be hosting The Open at Hoylake again – the thirteenth to be held here. Support for world class sport in Merseyside and the North West is intense and passionate. Fans will turn out in force expecting another great winner to join the pantheon of great Champion Golfers who have won at Hoylake – Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy being the last two – a testament to the quality of our course that always seems to find the world’s best golfer. Roll on 2022!”

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said, “The Open is one of the world’s great sporting events and it is great news that it is returning once again to our city region, home to some of the most iconic courses in golf, including Royal Liverpool. 

“The Championship will undoubtedly provide a massive economic boost to the whole of the city region economy and will put the Wirral, one of the gems in our crown, in the global spotlight.  We look forward to welcoming the golf fans from around the world who will flock to Hoylake in their tens of thousands, providing a tremendous opportunity to highlight what our city region has to offer.”

Leader of Wirral Council, Councillor Phil Davies, added, “We are thrilled to be welcoming the world’s best golfers back to Hoylake. The last time The Open was held on our peninsula our local businesses in Wirral and across the region enjoyed an economic boost to the tune of £76 million.

“The impact of an event of this scale – the global profile, thousands of visitors – is just fantastic for everyone in our borough. Local shops, restaurants and every resident, I am sure, will already be counting the days to what is always a special occasion.

“Making this announcement in 2019, the year when Wirral is officially the Borough of Culture for our region and during preparations for big sporting and cultural events in the next few months, makes it even more fitting. We can’t wait to welcome The Open and golf fans from around the world back to Wirral.”

Hoylake first staged The Open in 1897 when Harold Hilton, a member of the club, won the Championship for a second time after his maiden victory in 1892 at Muirfield.

Since then, the historic links has witnessed some of golf’s most notable players go on to become Champion Golfer of the Year including Sandy Herd, Arnaud Massy, JH Taylor, Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, Alf Padgham, Daly, Peter Thomson, Roberto de Vicenzo, Woods and McIlroy.