Score one for Rick Young at Scoregolf, who gets Taylor Made CEO Mark King talking up a storm. Without copying the entire interview (it's that provocative!), I encourage you to click the link and read the entire thing.
But in the interest of discussion and clipplings storage, my autopsy...
King: "I don't think this is an equipment issue. I think it’s a golfer issue. What I think needs to happen is the industry needs to come together without the USGA. Leave them out."
SG: That's pretty extreme.
King: "I know but it needs to be extreme. We have an industry that should be growing, it should be exciting, it should be fun and it’s not. And it’s not because the USGA won't let it. Now the USGA would tell you 'Oh, we don't have that power we only make the rules.' But the way this is constructed is the top of the pyramid is the USGA and until they support a new form of golf that is fun and engaging, nothing is going to change. Nothing."
King may have a vision for the game that would support this argument, but to date all data suggests that (A) technology has not grown the game (B) the economic state of affairs along with changing attention spans is hurting the sport more than anything and (C) golfers like being part of something with a tradition and core values that reward skill.
SG: So what needs to happen?
King: "If I were running the PGA of America I would write my own set of rules. I'd do it with the PGA Tour. Right so then what would happen with the U.S. Open and those 11 tournaments? They would follow suit because they would have no choice. Because if they don't have any players they don't have any tournament and if they don't have any tournament they don't have any money."
There is no money to be made in writing rules, so the PGA's won't do it.
Asked if he was concerned for the sport...
King: “No not yet. But the conversations are intensifying. If we don't do something different and new and creative then the game is in trouble. If we weren't having these conversations right now then I would say yes, it’s in trouble. Here's a prediction: the USGA within 10 years will be a non-entity, they will be a non-factor in golf because they are choosing to be on the outside and no one is signing up for what they represent. The industry is going to move away from them and pass them. They're obsolete. I hate to say that but that's their behaviour.”
Gee, I guess me complaining about getting in the Stimpmeter won't look so bad after those remarks!
Now this is interesting, because as most of you know the USGA/R&A rules are completely optional and equipment makers are free to make what they want, but don't because golfers might not care for non-conforming labels. King is now saying they will forge ahead with non-conforming clubs no matter what happens.
King: “What we’re (TMaG) going to do whether there is bifurcation or not is we will continue to make long putters for golfers. If they roll the ball back we're not going to roll our ball back. We will for a tournament ball but we’re still going to sell you a ball you can play. Like I said, two sets of rules are coming. Whether they're sanctioned or not we are not going to stop making long putters and I'm not going to stop playing one. I won't. By the time it happens the USGA is either going to have to get with it or stand off somewhere all by themselves.
And I would agree with this sentiment simply because of Tim Finchem's comments from earlier in the week:
And look I'm still not convinced the PGA Tour is going to completely embrace the long putter rule. I'm not. So what's going to happen? If Tim Finchem says he's going to use all the USGA rules EXCEPT the long putter rule there you go. You have two sets of rules. That's where it’s going and it’s coming fast. The sadness I have for the USGA is instead of leading this they're fighting it and for what reason? I don't know.”
Well, that should spark some discussion! And I say good for King for expressing his views to promote some discussion. Thoughts?