Unlock Golf's Stifling Shackles

Jim Achenbach writes in the Feb. 2 Golfweek (no link) that "golf needs two sets of equipment rules" or "simply needs to accept lower scores in pro events."

He says there was a "stupor" at the PGA Merchandise Show because there "was more talk about regulation than innovation."

Achenbach writes that Callaway has long "advocated two sets of equipment rules" while Acushnet head man Wally Uihlein "has argued forcefully for the acceptance of lower scores in professional events."  Actually, if you read here and here and here and here and here, Uihlein has argued forcefully that scores have not changed enough to warrant any discussion of technology regulation.

But here's where I get confused. Achenbach writes:

...the gulf between touring pros and the rest of us has widened considerably in recent years. Touring pros are able to exploit equipment regulations because of their high swing speeds. They can do things with today's golf equipment that the rest of us can't.

So it would seem that changes in the rules to address this last point--this loophole--would be ideal because they would not impact the average golfer. No?

If golf continues to be governed by one set of rules, it will either make the game more difficult for one group (amateur golfers) or make it more easier for the other group (touring pros).

Today's golf equipment is so far superior and easier to use for the average golfer than it was even ten years ago. So how will changes, if properly carried out by the governing bodies, only impact the hack and continue to let the elite player circumvent the rules? 

This would be one of those opportunities for a communications friendly USGA to let Dick Rugge write a letter to the editor. Anyway...

Do we really want the game to grow? Or do we want to preserve the integrity of par in an era of more gifted, more dedicated athletes?

You see, I knew that Hogan was a slacker! Nelson and Snead too. Gary Player...made up all that stuff about working out.

These guys today are just more dedicated and gifted. Why, they fly private jets to the tournament whereas Hogan and the boys took their time, driving in cars, taking in the scenery and you know, lollygagging.

Granted, most of today's gifted and dedicated probably couldn't break 80 with the clubs Hogan used, but hey, they're more gifted and dedicated.

The point of Achenbach's piece is that golf is not growing because of limited consumption possibilities for golfers.

So I ask, is this why people play golf? To shop? 

Are people playing less because the shopping options just aren't what they used to be?