"The entire sport of golf likely will be faced with a fork-in-the-road decision in charting its future."

Jim Achenbach assesses the U.S. Open at Congressional and concludes that the "gulf" between regular golfers and the professionals has "grown dramatically" in recent years with the need for a resolution appearing more evident than ever.

Several technological developments have aided golfers with high swing speeds much more than golfers with slower speeds. On the 2011 PGA Tour, 37 golfers are averaging more than 295 yards in driving distance. The longest hitters, if not constrained by accuracy concerns, can crank 340-yard drives at will.

So golf courses for the pros are growing longer. Meanwhile, the USGA is teaming up with the PGA of America on a new program called Tee It Forward, telling ordinary golfers that they will have more fun if they play shorter courses.

To amateurs who watch the pros in person or on television, such a suggestion doesn’t make much sense. The entire sport of golf likely will be faced with a fork-in-the-road decision in charting its future.

On this front, it sounds like Taylor Made is continuing to move toward wanting bifurcation of the rules to innovate for the everyday golfer, even though there is nothing stopping them from doing so now. Ryan Ballengee reports on Hank Haney's introductory teleconference to announce his signing as a Taylor Made fanboy.

In a call announcing his deal with TaylorMade, Haney said he thought equipment makers could have a bigger impact on the enjoyment factor of the game than instructors. Naturally, then, he would like to see the governing bodies of the game de-regulate equipment rules for the amateur.

(I fully support bifurcation of the Rules of Golf in a formal capacity – not just an unspoken understanding.)

“I wish the equipment manufacturers could be as innovative as they could be so they could make the game easier and more enjoyable.”