Achenbach: Targets On Their Backs

Thanks to reader John for the heads up on Jim Achenbach's new column where he spells out the plight of those beleaguered victims -- I know, you're thinking Katrina -- the USGA Executive Committee.

With verbal bullets from the Battle of the Ball flying around, perhaps we should pray for both the critics who shoot and the USGA officials who receive. Sadly, all who wear blue blazers might as well have targets on their backs.

Pray? I wonder if Jim might have written a different piece if he had heard the latest spin coming out of Far Hills: it's the grooves, stupid.

Yes that's right, David Fay recently suggested in a speech to the International Association of Golf Administrators that the real, unappreciated equipment problem in golf is grooves.

Well, the 80s are very cool these days. And what could be more 1980s than square grooves. (This subject will be taken more seriously and explored on a slow news day during the holidays...I know you can't wait.)

Mr. Fay tested the groove uh, spin at the Sports Illustrated State of the Game roundtable earlier this year, and it's just the kind of Orwellian rationalization you would expect from, say, a D.C. lobbyist. In this case, the message was likely crafted by those experts on all things Royal and Ancient, Powell-Tate, housed somewhere on K Street.

Anyway, back to Achenbach:

In upcoming months, the USGA will find itself under unprecedented scrutiny in regard to golf ball distance regulations. A growing lobby is arguing strenuously that today's ball goes too far. Meanwhile, defenders of the modern ball are fighting back with equally tough rhetoric.

Those with a warlike persuasion might characterize the USGA as being under heavy fire. Call it the Battle of the Ball.

And this: 

Some observers are predicting the USGA will roll back the distance of the golf ball in 2006.

Others say it won't happen. They believe the USGA will draw another, more distinct, line in the sand. They expect this one to strictly limit any further increase in distance because of ball design or materials.

Ah, now that would make sense. Because after all, the Joint Statement of Principles has to be giving the USGA a huge headache. After all, there's no grey area in that excellent document.

Their very own darn memo demands action. For an explanation, check out this post.

But a move to slap on some language about ball design or materials, now that would muddy the waters nicely.