Opportunistic Whining? Tours Had A Seat At New Rulemaking Table

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You all may recall chief Keith Pelley chirping on behalf of outraged European Tour players at the sheer non-game-growing new rule that cost Haotong Li two strokes, though as I noted at the time you didn’t hear PGA Tour players griping because they clearly were more up on the new rules. And Pelley was taking his tour to Saudi Arabia, so a distraction card was also being placed on the table.

When the PGA Tour players started running into issues in Scottsdale, the inevitable cries of rulemaking unfairness were followed by the cheers from current and former players for the PGA Tour finally showing the amateurs in St. Andrews and Liberty Corner how it’s done. The PGA Tour’s statement after the McCarthy episode:

“It is clear that there is a great deal of confusion among players and caddies on the practical application of the new rule during competition, as well as questions surrounding the language of the rule itself and how it should be interpreted,” the Tour announced in a statement on Saturday. “As a result, with the full support of the USGA and the R&A, the rule will be interpreted whereby the two aforementioned situations as well as future similar situations will not result in a penalty.”

One problem, the PGA Tour and the European Tour were all in on the new rules meetings, as was the PGA of America.

Rex Hoggard at GolfChannel.com takes a tough but appropriate stance on any PGA Tour player and executive revisionist history.

Although the Tour has had a voice in the rule-making room for some time, the USGA and R&A agreed to give the circuit, as well as the PGA of America, more influence over potential changes when the organizations found themselves at odds during the anchoring debate a few years back. The Tour, which is represented on the rule-making front by senior vice president of competitions Tyler Dennis, may not have veto power over potential changes but it does have a prominent seat at the table.

For the Tour to dig in against the new rule, or at the least the rule’s ambiguous language, just as public opinion against it was poised to reach a crescendo, seems opportunistic if not duplicitous.

Ultimately the mistakes lie in not having a soft unveiling of these rules and perhaps a few fall events to work out the kinks, not necessarily in the rules themselves. At least, most of them.

Clarifying Alignment Clarifications: Haotong Li Still Would Be Penalized

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Lots to unpack on the caddie alignment saga, so let’s start with the USGA’s release bullet points summarized here for Golfweek.

The update issued Wednesday could be confusing with so much language and follow up points when actually very little was changed.

So here’s a quick summary since my initial reading assumed Haotong Li would not have been penalized. Turns out, he still would be under this reading because his caddie was aware he was deliberately behind him when he took his stance and proved this awareness when he tried to walk away as Li moved into his stance.

Li could have backed off and things would have been fine. This escape clause now extends to all shots, not just the putting green exception.

As for Denny McCarthy in Scottsdale, the governing bodies concluded he had not taken a stance and therefore the initial penalty call was incorrect. So while the PGA Tour rescinded the penalty and the USGA/R&A took a hit from players jubilant that the Tour had their back, the change was actually made because of an incorrect ruling.

That said, the incorrect ruling stemmed not from official incompetence but the overall confusing nature of the rule and debatable nature of whether McCarthy took a stance.

Whew.

If you’re still wanting more, here goes…

LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. and ST ANDREWS, Scotland (Feb. 6, 2019) – The USGA and The R&A have provided two clarifications to Rule 10.2b(4) regarding restrictions on caddies standing behind players, which take effect immediately. 

The purpose of Rule 10.2 is to reinforce the fundamental challenge of making a stroke and to limit the advice and other help a player may receive during a round. 

Rule 10.2b(4) ensures that aiming at the intended target is a challenge that the player must overcome alone. It states:

“When a player begins taking a stance for the stroke and until the stroke is made, the player’s caddie must not deliberately stand in a location on or close to the player’s line of play behind the ball for any reason. If the player takes a stance in breach of this Rule, he or she cannot avoid penalty by backing away.”  

Exception – Ball on Putting Green: When the player’s ball is on the putting green, there is no penalty under this Rule if the player backs away from the stance and does not begin to take the stance again until after the caddie has moved out of that location.”

The two clarifications provided today can be summarized as follows: 

  • Meaning of “Begins Taking a Stance for the Stroke”:  If a player backs away from a stance, the player is not considered to have begun “a stance for the stroke.” Therefore, a player can now back away from his or her stance anywhere on the course and avoid a breach of Rule 10.2b(4) if the caddie had been standing in a location behind the ball. 

  • Examples of When a Caddie is Not “Deliberately” Standing Behind the Ball When a Player Begins Taking Stance for Stroke: As written, the Rule does not apply if a caddie is not deliberately standing behind a player. It is clarified that the term “deliberately” requires a caddie to be aware that 1) the player is beginning to take a stance for the stroke to be played and 2) he or she (the caddie) is standing on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the ball. Several examples are given in the clarification to provide additional guidance.

The complete language to these two clarifications can be found here

These major clarifications confirm the recent rulings given in relation to Rule 10.2b(4).  

Clarifications provide additional guidance on a Rule based on the circumstances that may arise in applying it. They are part of an ongoing list provided to players and referees.    

“Experience has taught us that introducing a new Rule requires us to balance patience with a willingness to act quickly when necessary,” said Thomas Pagel, USGA senior managing director of Governance. “With so many pivotal changes to the Rules this year, we’ve committed to offering any assistance needed in making the Rules easier to understand and apply, without taking away the inherent challenge of playing the game. We appreciate that everyone involved in drafting these clarifications worked together with this same goal in mind.”

David Rickman, executive director – Governance at The R&A, said, “These clarifications are designed to improve the operation of the Rule and give the players more opportunity to avoid a breach while remaining true to the purpose of the Rule. We appreciate that this requires some players and caddies to make an adjustment, but we believe there is widespread acceptance that it is for the player alone to line up a shot.”

While We're Reviewing Dysfunctional New Rules: The Grace Drop Technique And Green Reading Books Need Revisiting

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Now that the governing bodies are working overtime to deal with the alignment rule after conceding a lack of success, the navy and grey slack set needs to clear more space on their emergency meeting agenda.

I’ll start with the drop problem spotted by readers John A and June who correctly noted Branden Grace’s incorrect drop on 17 of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Or was it incorrect? After all, he’s almost around knee height as his knee is positioned! (See above.)

The rule changed was explained this way:

  • How a ball may be dropped is simplified; the only requirement is that the ball be let go from knee height so that it falls through the air and does not touch any part of the player’s body or equipment before it hits the ground.

The overall absurd look of the knee height concept can go any day now. It will not speed up the game. Or grow it.

Meanwhile, the Forecaddie explains why you saw players consulting green books seemingly as much as ever at the WMPO. Because the change in spec allowances are not working according to Adam Scott.

“I think the rule has not done anything to change their impact,” Scott said.

But hey, the flagstick rule we definitely can keep!

Rickie Says What We All Understand In Winning The Wasted: "I hope I never have to go through that again"

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It was another wild and wacky finale in Scottsdale, with yet another rules of golf issue helping unravel Rickie Fowler’s lead before the regrouped and claimed the 2019 Waste Management Open title.

He hit some stellar shots down the stretch but we all know there is only one moment worth revisiting:

Dan Kilbridge at Golfweek with the written explanation for those not agonizing with Fowler as things unraveled in surreal fashion.

He was still comfortably in the lead when his pitch shot at 11 rolled over the green and into the water. Fowler took a routine drop behind the green, but his ball rolled back into the water after he walked up to take a look at the green.

That led to multiple conversations with Slugger White, PGA Tour vice president of rules and competition, behind the green. They were still trying to figure out what he scored on the hole after Fowler rolled in a 16-foot putt for a 7 on the par 4.

As it played out, Fowler made the triple bogey because he was given a penalty when his ball – which was deemed to have been at rest – rolled back into the water, the same as if he had hit it into the lake.

As the rules of golf receive greater scrutiny this week, pro golfer Bob Estes noted what appears to be another strange difference between the green and elsewhere on the course. In this case, a ball moving without a player causing it to do so and how the new rules treat such moments:

Keith Pelley's Awful Week Concludes With No Plans To Further Penalize Sergio Garcia

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As we begin a week of discussion about the Rules of Golf and professionals declare how they need to make their own rules, just consider what took place with Sergio Garcia in Saudi Arabia. At least in the European Tour’s case, I’m not sure they are the best judges of their players.

To review, Garcia is turned in by his peers for intentionally vandalizing greens at Royal Greens in the inaugural event where the tournament host likely ordered a journalist’s murder and dismemberment. There were no fans on site and few media, so the antics could only be noticed by his peers. The Scotsman’s Martin Dempster quoted a few of the witnesses who, amazingly, chalk the behavior up to a mistake even as they watched a player vandalize the playing surfaces.

Worse, the European Tour intends no further action:

However, according to the European Tour’s chief executive, Keith Pelley, the matter is now closed. “The incident is over,” he said, speaking at the event in King Abdullah Economic City. “We have dealt with it. Sergio has apologised to the players and we move on.”

While no video has surfaced of Garcia dragging his feet, Dempster posted this image shared with him of Garcia having taken a divot out of a green. Conduct unbecoming, needless to say.

The day prior, Garcia threw this hissy fit in a bunker:

As I noted here, Garcia needs a long suspension. He previously took a six month break from the game and it did wonders for his attitude. A longer break would serve him and the game well at this point.

That Keith Pelley is unwilling to recognize this in an obvious effort to protect a star is both sad and irresponsible. Ultimately the European Tour’s credibility hinges on a sense that a fair playing field is paramount, as is the upholding of basic etiquette in a sport where sponsors pay handsomely to be associated with the quality sportsmanship so consistently demonstrated by most professional golfers.

Statement from PGA TOUR on Rule 10.2b(4): No Penalties Until The Rule Can Be Changed

This one is certainly unprecedented: a rule of golf suspended and just a month into its implementation.

Furthermore, we have a retroactive rescinding of a penalty, admission that the wording of a simplified rule has confused people, and even the possibility of multiple recent past situations being brought up to the point that the PGA Tour referees are spending their days reviewing video.

Here is the statement issued at 3:02 pm ET, with interruptions:

Statement from PGA TOUR on Rule 10.2b(4)

Since the situation during Round 2 of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which resulted in PGA TOUR player Denny McCarthy receiving a two-stroke penalty under Rule 10.2b(4), the PGA TOUR has been in constant contact with the USGA about how the new rule should be interpreted. 

Oh to see that Slack!

During the course of these discussions, this morning a similar situation from yesterday’s round involving Justin Thomas was also brought to our attention. 

Big names involved, this is getting too dangerous!

It is clear that there is a great deal of confusion among players and caddies on the practical application of the new rule during competition, as well as questions surrounding the language of the rule itself and how it should be interpreted. 

So at least one thing is clear in this.

As a result, with the full support of the USGA and The R&A, the rule will be interpreted whereby the two aforementioned situations as well as future similar situations will not result in a penalty.  McCarthy’s score has been updated accordingly. 

Good thing he made the cut.

We will be working vigorously with the USGA and The R&A over the coming days to further analyze and improve the situation with this rule.  The USGA and The R&A will be making an announcement shortly.

And here is the USGA’s statement issued to Golfweek:

Following an ongoing dialogue with players and in cooperation with the PGA TOUR rules team, the USGA and The R&A revisited the penalty assessed to Denny McCarthy during round 2 of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. After an additional review of available video this morning, it was determined that the penalty would not apply in this instance nor in a similar instance involving Justin Thomas. In each of these cases, when the caddie was standing behind the player, the player had not yet begun taking the stance for the stroke, nor could useful guidance on aiming be given because the player was still in the process of determining how to play the stroke. The same would be true for any similar situation that might occur.

The USGA and The R&A recognize that further clarity on how to appropriately apply this Rule is needed. We are committed to assessing its impact and will provide the necessary clarifications in the coming days.

This would seem to be a new interpretation of the rule given that the language I’ve read and the instructions players received said that any kind of caddie involvement behind the player as they began their stance taking was a violation.

Now it would seem a “useful guidance” element has been added. Wow.

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Sergio Garcia Probably Needs To Be Given The Year Off, For Starters

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I’ve quizzed longtime observers and no one can come up with anything in the history of professional golf comparable to Sergio Garcia’s disqualification under Rule 1.2a for purposely damaging the Royal Greens.

For a player who lowered the bar when he spit into a Doral cup during the 2007 CA WGC event, the notion of altering the playing field is an entirely different beast. Worse, in his statement he mentions damaging a “couple” of greens, but Martin Dempster, reporting on site for The Scotsman, says it was five greens.

Garcia’s statement:

The incident Saturday culminated a week of bad behavior from Garcia. Alistair Tait noted for Golfweek that “Garcia is alleged to have complained about the greens earlier in the week. The decision came a day after he slammed a club in a bunker in anger.”

James Corrigan also noted the weeklong antics.

Struggling at around level par, Garcia’s renowned rage got the better of him as he slammed his club into the putting surfaces on multiple occasions. Observers at the Royal Greens Country Club revealed that he was heard criticisng the greens earlier in the week and on Friday was seen taking out his dislike of the bunkers by smashing down his sand-wedge.

The American Patrick Reed was involved as he was in the group immediately behind Garcia that first drew the officials’ attention to the gouges on the greens. The three groups following Reed also complained to the referees and it was then that Tour chief executive, Keith Pelley, confronted Garcia.

Ewan Murray noted this about the incident for The Guardian:

Sky Sports curiously reserved little attention for this newsworthy situation at the conclusion of their live broadcast, with the 62 produced by China’s Li Haotong deemed worthy of far more coverage.

Pelley could have done without these antics by one of his tour’s most high-profile players. The European Tour’s decision to visit Saudi Arabia for the first time has been subject of widespread criticism on the basis of human rights infringements by the country.

Here is the meeting with Pelley after play:

The dreadful incident is a fitting black eye for a tournament that should not have been played. But beyond the optics, given the weeklong behavior, the career of etiquette breaches and the absurdity of damaging the host course, Garcia should be suspended for the remainder of the 2019 season.

Consider the last penalty for a rule 1.2a violation from Corrigan’s account:

The last high-profile pro to be hit with a misconduct charge was Simon Dyson in 2013. The Yorkshireman was disqualified from the BMW Masters and was forced to pay a £30,000 fine and received a two-month suspended ban. Dyson's crime was to tap down a spike mark, an act that was then against the rules, but which is now allowed.

Dyson’s act was a selfish, split-second mistake that might have improved the playing surface for himself. Garcia intentionally damaged a host venue and left behind poor conditions for those playing after him. It’s an unprecedented breach that calls for an unprecedented penalty.

Another Day, Another Alignment Penalty Prompt's Calls For New Re-Write Of New Rule

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Lots to chew on in the latest dust-up under the new rules and while Haotong Li’s was debatable because of the split second nature, it was a violation.

Denny McCarthy’s infraction in the Waste Management Phoenix Open may be debatable enough from all points of view that a rules re-write is already necessary, as Ryan Lavner writes for GolfChannel.com. Because while there is little question his caddie was directly behind him and where no caddy should be these days under the new rules, McCarthy had technically not taken a stance and was a bit too far from the ball to reasonably hit a shot. He also then backs off and goes through his routine, something that would absolve his caddie on the greens, but not in a fairway. Oy.

He was immediately deemed to have been in a “golf posture” and therefore guilty of a violation under 10.2b (4).

Here goes:

The rule is destined to fail because of the difference between green and tee/fairway situations. Lavner offers a solution that I know the folks in Far Hills and St. Andrews will be grateful for.

So here’s what the governing bodies should do, as soon as possible:

1. Allow players to back away and reset anywhere on the course, not just the greens;

2. Remove the phrase “begins taking a stance”  – because even they admit that there is “no set procedure” for determining when that begins – and replace it with “takes a final stance”;

3. Reinforce that only “deliberate” intent to align should be subject to a two-shot penalty.

I do hate to take this opportunity to point out that the issues with this rule are only partially a product of wording. The lack of serious beta testing, particularly on a stage as large and bizarre as professional golf, is really doing a disservice to what are mostly simplified and improved rules.

The other danger for the governing bodies if they don’t act fast: pro tours adopting a local rule workaround that damages their credibility.

Rules War! Pelley Wants His Referees To Have Leeway On Rules, R&A Fires Back

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In an unprecedented rebuke of the governing bodies—not coincidentally the week his tour lands in lowly Saudi Arabia—European Tour Chief Keith Pelley has blasted the Haotong Li penalty as, of course, detrimental to growing the game.

I’m about to dig in on a column about all of the things this brouhaha is really about, but in the meantime here is Pelley’s statement followed the R&A’s response that arrived 92 minutes later in my Inbox.

STATEMENT FROM EUROPEAN TOUR CEO KEITH PELLEY ON THE LI HAOTONG PENALTY 

‘There has been much discussion and comment over the past 24 hours on the two-shot penalty given to Li Haotong for his breach of Rule 10.2b (4) on the 18th green of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

‘Let me state initially that, under the new Rules of Golf issued on January 1, 2019, the decision made by our referees was correct, under the strict wording of the rules. It is my strong belief, however, that the fact there is no discretion available to our referees when implementing rulings such as this is wrong and should be addressed immediately. 

‘Everyone I have spoken to about this believes, as I do, that there was no malice or intent from Li Haotong, nor did he gain any advantage from his, or his caddie’s split-second actions. Therefore the subsequent two shot penalty, which moved him from T3 in the tournament to T12, was grossly unfair in my opinion. 

‘In an era where we are striving to improve all aspects of golf, we need to be careful and find the proper balance between maintaining the integrity of the game and promoting its global appeal. 

‘I have spoken personally to R&A Chief Executive Martin Slumbers to voice my opposition to the fact there is no discretion available to our referees in relation to this ruling, and I will be making additional representation to the R&A in the near future to discuss the matter further.’

I am sticking up for my players and making a lot of noise from my luxury hotel where the Crown Prince himself left me a welcome note!

STATEMENT FROM R&A CHIEF EXECUTIVE MARTIN SLUMBERS ON THE LI HAOTONG RULING

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “We have reviewed the Li Haotong ruling made by the European Tour referees and agree that it was correct. There has been some misunderstanding of the new Rule and I would point out that it is designed to prevent any opportunity for the caddie to stand behind the player as he begins to take his stance. Whether the player intends to be lined up is not the issue. We appreciate that it was a very unfortunate situation yesterday and I completely understand Keith Pelley's concerns when a Rules incident occurs at such a key stage of a European Tour event but there is no discretionary element to the Rule precisely so that it is easier to understand and can be applied consistently.

“We are continuing to monitor the impact of the new Rules but I made it clear to Keith that our focus is very much on maintaining the integrity of the Rules for all golfers worldwide.”

Here is our chat on Morning Drive today about this.

New Rules Cost Haotong Li: Caddies, Don't Stand Behind Your Player

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File this one under “why tour players get irritable about some of the refreshed Rules of Golf.”

Here is the language:

New Rule: Under Rule 10.2b(4):

  • The previous prohibition is extended so that, once the player begins taking a stance for the stroke, and until the stroke is made, the player’s caddie must not deliberately stand on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the ball for any reason.

  • There is no penalty if the caddie accidentally stands on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the ball, rather than in trying to help in lining up.

Here is Haotong Li in what ended up as a penalty in the Dubai Desert Classic, reports GolfChannel.com’s Ryan Lavner. It’s a violation as the new rule reads in taking him from third to 12th:

Good rule of thumb here caddies: just don’t stand anywhere behind the player anywhere near the start of a shot and you’ll be fine.

There is a bigger picture issue here as it relates to the new rules and pro golfers being governed by amateur organizations: while this is a violation and was likely accidental, there is a danger of professionals citing this as yet another example of the rules excessively monitoring their livelihood. I’ve picked up some stray jabs and concerns this week about the new rules, and while it’s hard to tell if it’s just a product of the transitional learning adoption phase or something deeper, remains to be seen.

More Flagstick In The Hole Fun: The First World Conundrum Presented, Adam Scott's Success And Could It Ever Be Outlawed?

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As Adam Scott flies up the Farmers Insurance Open leaderboard, his decision to leave the flagstick in the hole is paying off with his best putting in years. Scott explained to me for this Golfweek story how it’s not just the feeling of security on shorter putts to take a more aggressive stroke, but also helping him better gauge reads.

WSJ’s Brian Costa did a nice job summing up the “conundrum” golfers are facing and whether there are benefits, but this was a surprising suggestion from the USGA’s Thomas Pagel:

“If there was some kind of conclusive evidence that showed a significant advantage,” Pagel said, “I think we would have to go back and reevaluate it.”

As I note in this Golfweek video, it would be the ultimate irony if Scott were to finally find peace on the greens as a result of a rules change.

Farmers: Repairing Green Damage Comes To Poa Annua, Will It Matter?

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For years pro golfers have fixed ball marks in their lines, increasingly without consulting their playing partners. The governing bodies presumably have created the new green damage repair rule to allow this sometimes questionable improvement of a putting line.

Doug Ferguson of AP considers what will become of the rule now that players have arrived at the sometimes bumpier and more-prone-to-damage poa annua greens at Torrey Pines. Players are still unsure how much can be damaged.

“At Kapalua, I fixed ball marks, but I was only tapping them down because it was Bermuda,” Xander Schauffele said. “Out here, you might do a little more than a simple tap down. ... This place, late in the day, it feels like you’re playing a game of Plinko.”

Schauffele was quick to note one part of the new rule: Damage can be repaired without unusual delay.

“It could, depending on how these players take the rule to heart ... if you’re trying to fix a 40-foot putt, it’s going to be tricky with pace of play,” Schauffele said. “Rules officials will be on us. The time clock hasn’t changed. If you want to spend 35 seconds tapping down the line, you’re going to have to pull the trigger in less than what you normally do.”

I penned this item for Golfweek with Rory McIlroy’s slight concerns about what is and what is not damage. The piece also includes video of what a spikeless-shoe green can look like after a day of play. Granted, 1080p and modern contrast makes the greens look way worse than they are given how far Torrey’s surfaces have come since Tiger’s infamous bouncing putt in the 2008 U.S. Open.

To be clear: the greens are excellent. Smooth as bent in the afternoon? No. But compared to poa of 20 years ago, there is no comparison.

New Rules: Even Tiger Toying With Leaving The Flagstick In

I would have figured the old man is set in his ways, but Bob Harig of ESPN quotes Tiger discussing the new flagstick rules and the Big Cat is warming to the idea. In some situations.

This in particular caught my eye:

"I've been experimenting trying to hit putts downhill at home and see how that feels, and I didn't find that I hit better putts. It just felt like I could hit it more aggressively, which I did. Then I started running it 8 or 9 feet by. It might be more advantageous when we get on faster greens, a little bit more slope, i.e. Augusta. Where you have that sense of security on a 3-footer, a 4-footer down the hill, you can just take a cut at it."

This is going to be fun!

Double-Hit Loophole Artists: Nice Try, But USGA Confirms Penalties Await!

I know you all saw our Morning Drive chat about this on Monday, but as much as I’m enjoying the creativity and skill of trickshot artists who think they found a loophole in the new Rules of Golf, they have not.

As I outline here for Golfweek, the trick shot that spawned a European Tour social video attempting the double hit ignores the very simple word “accidental” in the new more relaxed Rules. The story explains the penalty players will enjoy if they use such a ploy to get around a tree.

Still, nice handwork here by all…


Eduardo: Leaving The Flagstick In Helps To A Point...

Jordan Spieth Predicts Most Amateurs Will Just Ignore The New Drop Rule

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Like many, Jordan Spieth can’t comprehend the notion of being penalized from dropping at shoulder height, as the rules revamp currently calls for.

From Joel Beall’s item at GolfDigest.com:

“What if they just take a drop from the cart path. I don’t think they probably care. They will still drop it from the shoulder. Technically, you take a drop from your shoulder and play out, you could be penalized for that. Doesn’t make much sense.

“It’s a disadvantage to drop it that high, so that one I didn’t really understand fully. It was cool that you’re able to get lower to drop it. I thought you would be able to do it at any height.”

"Absurd" Has Insurmountable Lead In New Drop Rule Sweepstakes!

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The voting suggest the new drop rule is not going over well so far.

After we discussed today on Morning Drive today I heard from several asking the genesis of a lower drop height, answered here in the Golf.com roundtable:

Michael Bamberger, senior writer: The knee-drop looks ridiculous. It exists for a very limited purpose, to stop multiple drops on slopes. I think the professor has it right: a better rule would be to drop anywhere from knee to shoulder height. 

The USGA’s Thomas Pagel also explained to Rex Hoggard at GolfChannel.com that the new drop location, changed from a 1-inch above ground height in the first proposal to knee height, was part of a “package deal.”

“It’s not just a drop from knee-height, but now it’s a focus on the relief area. People say that dropping from shoulder-height is simple, and it is, but under the old rules, there were nine different times you had to re-drop. We wanted to eliminate all those complications,” Pagel said.

“In order to focus on that new relief area, we said, 'Let’s get the player closer to the ground, and if you drop it from knee-height, that ball is going to bounce a little less.'”

Ultimately, however, the act looks awkward. Any player wanting to drop from higher up whether for personal, political or pure inflexibility reasons should be allowed to without the potential for penalty (which is incurred after playing a shot if the drop was not from knee height).

Poll: New Drop Rule Absurd Or Something We'll Forget About In Six Weeks?

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On Monday’s Morning Drive we’ll be talking the new Rule of Golf drop procedure that has golfers letting go of the ball from knee height (8:30 am ET). I think the governing bodies need to revisit this one soon, spoken as someone who has no desire to stretch his hamstrings just to make a drop.

That’s because Bryson DeChambeau, a fit and flexible young lad, looked about as awkward as one can look in the first high-profile drop under the new rules. He called the procedure absurd after his round and most social media watchers agreed. Those with even less-limber hamstrings had to turn away.

Yet in assessing what he heard from players at the Sentry TOC, the USGA’s Thomas Pagel predicted to Golf World’s Dave Shedloski that concern over the awkward look and absurdity of a penalty for dropping at shoulder height (and subsequently playing a shot) will be forgotten in six weeks.

I think you know where I stand, but I’d love to hear what you think…the poll.

About that new knee-height drop...
 
pollcode.com free polls

Bryson "Maximizes His Potential" With The Flagstick In, Just Like He Predicted He Would

Bryson DeChambeau’s naysayers can point to his brief sidesaddle putting method and little else in the imaginative arsenal of ideas he’s brought to the PGA Tour. And right on cue, he backed up his claims of seeing benefits to putting with the flagstick in the hole by doing so at Kapalua where the revised Rules of Golf were in effect.

One of the examples from an opening 69 at the Plantation Course to kick off the 2019 campaign:

After the round, DeChambeau was bullish on the idea even though he had done very little practice with flagstick’s in the cup.

From Dan Kilbridge’s Golfweek report on the overall impact, with quotes from playing partner Dustin Johnson.

“I feel like I maximized my potential on that,” DeChambeau said. “Especially on 16 today, where it’s kind of blowing downwind, five percent slope, straight downhill, you want that pin in to help. So that’s what I kind of did and utilized it to my advantage. So I felt like for the most part I needed the pin to be in and it went in and it was a very nice help.”

He was playing with Dustin Johnson, who probably spent less time studying the modern rules than DeChambeau spent picking his shirt this morning. Johnson told him before the round he was cool with the whole flagstick thing and to have DeChambeau’s caddie Tim Tucker just handle the flag all day to avoid confusion.

“It’s definitely weird. Well, not weird, it’s just different watching someone putt with the flag in,” Johnson said. “It actually worked out where it wasn’t a big deal. It didn’t slow us down or anything.”

Brandel Chamblee said after the first round display that players will be compelled to research the concept and will find that they make more putts doing this: