Having failed to try and make a point the first time, I'm going to take another crack at this.
In the press release announcing their proposed rule change, the USGA goes out of its way to note that it is not impacting the average player. In the same announcement, they are bending the rules on adjustable equipment for the average player. And then there's the language about conditions only for "highly skilled players."
Reader Michael in the original post on this gets to the essence of my point much more succinctly than I:
According to the language of the proposal, clubs that conform to the new standards would be required in “…competitive events conducted after Jan. 1, 2009…” with the USGA recommending that this “…Condition apply only to competitions involving highly skilled players.” If implemented as written, would this proposal not amount to a defacto bifurcation of the rules of golf as they apply to golfers of differing skills?
The proposal also raises the question of just how the USGA and other sanctioned Competition Committees will determine what constitutes a “skilled player.” Looking at the handicap requirements for golfers attempting to qualify in various USGA competitions, one can’t help but notice that it will be quite a chore. Persons wishing to compete in the US Open, US Amateur, US Amateur Public Links, or the US Junior Amateur, for example, are required to have handicaps of not less than 1.4, 2.4, 8.4, and 6.4, respectively. Will all of those competitors be considered skilled players?
What about events for Seniors and Women, whose minimum handicap requirements are much higher? Are they all skilled players or will there be some bifurcation of the rules to account for differing skill levels? Will the NCAA rule that all college golf competitors are skilled players? Under this proposal, a situation in which Division I players would be required to carry 100% conforming clubs, while Division II and III players would carry differing numbers of conforming clubs –a trifurcation of the rules - is not as far-fetched as it seems at first glance.
So is the USGA, which has long scoffed at bifurcation of the rules, in effect bifurcating the game with the groove announcement?
Wouldn't a bifurcation via a rolled back "highly skilled" player ball spec be simpler than this?