Distance Myths, Vol. 1

usga logo.gifJust when you thought the USGA was building a case for stronger equipment regulation, it appears the governing body of American golf is more fractured than the Republican party.

Two months removed from a powerful statement on equipment by Equipment Standards Committee Chair Jim Vernon, comes the "Distance Myths" memo authored by Dick Rugge but reeking of Walter Driver and lobbyist Powell-Tate's touch. (Note that in this story, Driver was quoted about the importance of the memo, declaring the "facts" contained within.)

The memo's general theme: we didn't blow it on optimization and we have things under control. 

But the document only raises questions and would seem to threaten any credibility the USGA has with those encouraged by the recent Vernon speech.

Is there a split between the technical staff and the Equipment Standards Committee? Or is this the first airing of a divide between Executive Committee members on the distance/skill issue? How else can you explain two distinct messages coming out of the same organization in such a short period of time?

Either way, if you are Tim Finchem and you are counting on the USGA to bail you out on equipment, the "Distance Myths" memo cannot be comforting.

Here's how the memo was introduced to the media:

Can you separate fact from fiction when it comes to golf equipment performance?

To show how perceptions can be misleading, here below is a list of items prepared by Dick Rugge, senior technical director at the USGA, that separate fact from fiction.

I invite you to use them as written, if you are interested.

As you may know, the United States Golf Association acts to regulate equipment so that skill remains the most important tenant of the sport. The USGA is often asked to address the needs of a game that appears to be changing. Facts and opinion need to be considered when the USGA makes important decisions about golf equipment.

Love the underlying tone that the distance debate is the product of a biased, uninformed media.

..it is disillusioning to know that the opposing facts are often conveniently overlooked. Where then do the 25 million golfers in the U.S. get exposed to a balanced perspective on the long-standing technology and tradition debate?

Oops, sorry, that's from an anonymous writer at Titleist, not the USGA. Just seemed like a natural fit.

Before getting into these myths in later posts, I wondered, how is myth defined?

From the American Heritage Dictionary:

# A fiction or half-truth, especially one that forms part of an ideology.
So after reading the Rugge memo, it seems to be implying that the distance explosion is pure fiction that has led to an ideological movement.

Well as I've told many people, I sure like the company in this little ideological fantasy world of ours.