Pro Golf’s Complicated Relationship With The Rules, Files: Par 3 Tee Information Sharing Is Apparently A Thing, At Least With LPGA Caddies

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I’m struggling to believe the sharing of club selection on par-3 tees is a rampant problem, but it’s hard not to read Beth Ann Nichols’ Golfweek follow-up on the Kendall Dye breach and wonder about the claim of widespread information sharing. Dye, you may recall, flashed a sign to confirm what club another player in her group hit at LPGA Q-School, prompting her to receive a penalty, as did the player whose caddie did so.

Dye then proceeded to claim she’s seen this happen thousands of times. The player who reported this, Christina Kim, was vilified on social media.

Nichols says no player contacted could confirm seeing one instance of a player asking for information as Dye alleges happens on par-3 tees, but some say caddies work together more than we think.

“Caddies flash numbers to players and caddies,” said one veteran LPGA player. Because rules violations are a sensitive topic, Golfweek spoke to caddies and players about the issue on the condition of anonymity. “That’s really not uncommon. I bet it happens in every group at least once during the round in every tournament.”

This may be specific to the LPGA Tour, because I’ve never seen it on the PGA Tour or PGA Tour Champions. Ever.

Then there is the amazing argument against the rule for advice currently in place—for seemingly obvious reasons like pace of play or that, oh, I don’t know, a competition is not about colluding for a common cause.

Two of the LPGA’s most thoughtful players, both veterans, echoed Wilson’s belief that it should change, calling the rule “nitpicky” and “stupid.” Because a player can easily look into a bag to see what club is missing, they say, what’s the harm in a caddie making it a little easier by holding up a couple of fingers?

Holy cow. Hey, why not help read putts too?

One player remembers coming out on the LPGA as a 21-year-old rookie and learning how hand signals work on tour. She never thought much about it until Dye got docked two strokes.

While some believe it’s a “victimless crime,” something that’s not even worth discussing, one player called it a wake-up call.

“This maybe is a culture that needs to stop,” said one longtime LPGA player. “It’s like suddenly everyone thinks they’ve never done it, or their caddies have never done it. All of a sudden everyone thinks their hands are clean.”

The ignorance to not comprehend what this all might mean is staggering. No sport has ever thrived or even succeeded upon the realization that it has been corrupted in some way. Recovery is a possibility, as is redemption, but for the athletes in golf to potentially live in a bubble that precludes them from understanding how deadly this all could be, is quite staggering.

Then again, this is where the adults in the room need to explain how the mere appearance of collusion will turn off fans and sponsors. They did not do so with backstopping, and it took a high-profile embarrassment to finally help players understand it was to the detriment of their “product” to engage in such activity. This time around, it’s incumbent on the Commissioners to speak up before this becomes “a thing”.

Sad: Christina Kim Protects The Field And Gets Villified

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By now you’ve likely seen the story from LPGA Q-Series: Christina Kim witnessed playing partner Kendall Dye asking for the caddie of Dewi Weber what club was used on the par-3 17th, their 8th hole in the round. Kim first broached the subject with an official not long after, then the issue was fleshed out after the round, resulting in two-stroke penalties for Dye and Weber (because her caddie gave information, a violation of Rule 10-2).

Beth Ann Nichols with the full report here for Golfweek.

And here is my column for Golfweek on this being yet another strange story that you could chalk up to stunning ignorance of the rules, or the bizarre cultural elements that entitle players to believe they are should get the information, lie or good fortune they want.

The column was penned in part based on Kendall Dye’s assertion that this was a private matter but also part of life on the LPGA Tour (which means there are daily rules violations if so).

Kim retained her card, while Dye and Weber did not. She spent her day fending off charges of sensationalizing the situation by taking to Twitter, and from the oddball mob and LPGA sycophants who surface whenever a player suffers shame for bending or breaking the rules. Especially if they are American.

From Brian Wacker’s report:

“I was very surprised [they didn’t know the rule]. I don’t want to say I am disappointed in them as individuals, but I am disappointed in the fact that [the violation] was even a possibility, that people claim to have seen it thousands of times. What shocked me was their lack of knowledge of the rules. Does that suck? Royally. Is it excusable? Absolutely not.

On Morning Drive, the assertion by Dye that this behavior is a regular occurrence on the golf course seems utterly ridiculous, or utterly problematic for the LPGA if so. Adam Woodward with a round-up of that peculiar off-shoot debate in this saga.

SiriusXM’s Michael Breed had some interesting remarks on the trolls going after Christina Kim for doing her job as a playing partner. That she waited until after the round seems like a superfluous way of ignoring that a player believed she was entitled to ask others what club they hit to give aid in her decision-making.

Lisa Cornwell and Karen Stupples, who each defended Dye’s actions on Twitter (here and here), discussed the incident on Golf Channel and in particular the “culture” of hand signals on the course signifying what clubs are hit, argue for a relaxing of the rule after this incident.

What's More Bizarre, 58 Penalty Strokes Or Taking 23 Holes Before Anyone Noticed?

The Senior LPGA Championship at French Lick and all of its hideous catch basins produced no shortage of strange sights and stories. But none more bizarre than Lee Ann Walker’s 58 penalty strokes after 23 holes of her caddie lining her up. Walker’s playing partners realized she was violating the rules and explained so to the part-time golfer.

From Beth Ann Nichols’ Golfweek story:

Walker shot 127-90 in her Senior LPGA Championship debut at French Lick Resort.

“This may be my claim to fame,” said Walker, a 47-year-old who works in real estate in Southport, North Carolina. “Not exactly how I was looking to do it.”

Walker’s playing partners, Laura Baugh and Laura Shanahan-Rowe, brought the infraction to Walker’s attention on the 14th hole (her fifth) of the second round. Walker immediately called over a rules official to explain the situation.

Earlier this year, the USGA and R&A implemented a change that prohibited caddies from lining up a player on the putting surface under Rule 10.2b.

Walker went on to explain that this was her first competitive effort since 2011 and 2012. Ok. But playing partners? Caddies?

While I get that it’s touching she still signed for her 127-90 opening rounds, it’s pretty strange this many people were so blissfully ignorant of the rules.

Club Pro Guy Shows How You Can Improve Your Fairway Bunker Lies, Just Like Matt Kuchar

Finally, answers to solving the dreaded fairway bunker shot, thanks to Matt Kuchar’s liberal interpretation of the golf’s revised Rules. (Thanks reader Stephen for the head’s up.)

Spirit Of The Rules And Matt Kuchar Are Not Synonymous

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El Tucan technically was not entitled to a normal caddie payday after a big win in Mexico.

The pitch mark at the Memorial was his because someone said so, yet a replay said otherwise and a third opinion was asked for to get a better lie. It’s hard to watch.

And now coarse waste bunker sand is a loose impediment.

The newly revised rules opened the door for the latest questionable act of sportsmanship by Matt Kuchar. Players can now move a loose impediment in a bunker. As Kuchar demonstrated, it sand is course enough to be a pebble in the eyes of any official, then all of the tiny particles are loose impediments.

While using the rules of golf to your advantage is wise, it’s confounding to watch someone with a once solid reputation and plenty of cash in the bank to snub his upturned nose at the spirit of the rules. Again. In the same year. On television.

Kuchar takes well over the time allotted to play a shot while we are watching—television cut away after 40 seconds of Kuchar’s trench dig—and seems to improve his lie in the “waste area.”

Here is the video from last week’s European Tour event, the 2019 Porsche European Open where Kuchar missed the cut:

Technically, Kuchar did not violate the rules because this was not a bunker and a rules official determined the waste area to be made up of millions of loose impediments. (That this was the conclusion is another matter entirely.)

While players have pushed the spirit of the rules in many ways, this year’s revised language opened the door to an erosion of player values when it comes to how their ball rests. So far it hasn’t happened.

But there is no more important rule than play it as it lies. The fundamental rule of all rules. The one that started it all and the one good players take the most seriously. Especially when a camera is on them.

Kuchar may be an outlier when it comes to believing his is entitled to the lie he wants. Or this may have nothing to do with the new rules and all to do with Kuchar’s sense of entitlement. But if this is an attack on play it as it lies, then shoring up this waste bunker vs. sand and what’s a pebble, or what is not a pebble, needs addressing. The game is already slow enough with way too much touching of the ball (and ground around a ball).

We should not be surprised after this year’s introduction of spike-mark tapping and pebble picking that there could be a further erosion of etiquette. Still, no one else has been this brazen in pushing the boundaries of common sense and courtesy to the field. Let’s hope it stays that way.

We discussed on Morning Drive:

Did Phil Inadvertently Make The Case For The De-Skilling Role Of Green Reading Books?

After Bryson DeChambeau cited his green reading book’s confusing data as part of the reason he took forever to hit a six-footer, the episode reminded plenty just how silly it is that an already slow game where key skills are less necessary would get slower and easier.

That DeChambeau suggested it was his right to set up shop due to the book read being so very, very wrong, reminded me what a stain on the game these are and that they simply need to go.

Today on Twitter, as Bill Speros notes for Golfweek, Rickie Fowler’s green-reading assistant and bagman Joe Skovron made clear he didn’t have a stake in the green book debate, but suggested they do help speed up play.

Phil Mickelson, in a rare reply, probably wrote too much:

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Mercifully for the green reading book world, Mickelson’s terrible stats this year strongly contradict his statement.

Skill was a key element in the governing bodies questioning the role of these books and rules were changed in an attempt to reduce their efficacy. Thomas Pagel of the USGA when the books were kept legal, with restrictions:

“We have looked carefully at the use of these green-reading materials and the extremely detailed information they provide and our view is that they tip the balance too far away from the essential skill and judgment required to read subtle slopes on the greens. It is important to be clear, however, that we still regard the use of yardage books and handwritten notes to be an entirely appropriate part of the game.”

They probably will not use Mickelson’s remarks to consider a ban given his season stats in the areas where he claims they gain him time and strokes. But Mickelson seems to admit that the books allow him to spend less time studying a course to learn how to read the greens or tackle the design.

There was also this from Luke Donald, one of the best putters of his or any generation:

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The Revamped Rules Of Golf Still Have An Intent Problem, Files: Rory Absolved, Webb Stuck With Cracked Driver

Hard not to scratch your head at the two episodes arising at The Northern Trust, each involving intent, long verboten in rules discussions (unless you knock a ball off the tee accidentally).

Andy Kostka on Webb Simpson playing with a cracked driver (featuring undesirable results) and why a crack is not enough to allow him to replace the wounded weapon. Under the old rules he could have. And if his driver shatters, breaks in half or explodes he could have sent for another mid-round.

David Dusek points out that since April 9th when the broken club rule was clarified, there still has been no clarity to explain why an unintended crack is deemed different than a club that shatters. Both are not usable.

On April 9, the USGA and the R&A released a clarification of Rule G-9 and a Local Rule, “allowing players to replace a broken or significantly damaged club, except in the case of abuse.”

Under the change, clubs are defined as being “broken or significantly damaged” if specific criteria are met, like if the shaft breaks into pieces or splinters, the face or clubhead deforms, the grip is loose or the clubhead detaches or loosens from the shaft.

After the series of bullet points that lists those circumstances, there is a sentence that makes absolutely no sense.

“However, a player is not allowed to replace his or her club solely because there is a crack in the club face or the clubhead.”

But alas, no further explanation why cracks do no measure up to the standards of other club breaks. If the player intentionally broke the club or intentionally swatted it against their bag, they should not be allowed to get a new one mid-round. But unintentional cracks do not get the same treatment even as the club is all but lost?

Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy thought he was moving a pebble, as he’s now allowed to do under the new rules. Turns out, it was a clump of sand. McIlroy reported it to officials and after it was determined he did not intend to improve his lie—even though the new rules allow for the moving of rocks to, uh, improve your lie—he was determined to not be deserving of a penalty.

From Bob Harig’s story:

"The reason I called someone over is I don't want anything on my conscience, either. I feel like I play the game with integrity and I'm comfortable saying that I didn't improve anything. I thought it was a rock; it wasn't. I moved my hand away and then I was like, I don't know if I've done anything wrong here.''

While McIlroy played the last four holes -- he birdied the 15th -- PGA Tour rules official Slugger White conferred with officials at the USGA and determined that there would be no penalty after all. They told McIlroy of the decision after consulting with him at the conclusion of his round.

His intent was considered and powerful enough to absolve him. Common sense.

Why that does not apply to a cracked driver head, remains unclear. And clarity is vital. The inconsistency of “intent” questions continues to undermine the stature and credibility of golf’s rules.

Darren Clarke's Caddy Needs To Get Up To Snuff On How Birdhouses Work

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With Steve Stricker likely coasting to victory in a birdiefest at the Warren Course, Saturday’s incident with Darren Clarke’s penalty at least provides a teaching moment from the U.S. Senior Open.

Brentley Romine on the the effort to get relief, the decline and then the caddy attempt to move and immovable obstruction, causing a penalty.

According to Rule 15.2, free relief is allowed from movable obstructions but not from immovable obstructions, which is what bird feeders are considered at the Warren Golf Course. Also, Rule 16.1 allows free relief from immovable obstructions and other abnormal course conditions but only if it interferes with lie, stance or a ball on the putting surface.

Needless to say—or not—moving birdhouses would defeat the purpose of said house. Apparently Team Clarke did not get that memo.

The full report from Golf Central includes highlight footage:

Behaving Under Par: Nicklaus-Like Sportsmanship Values Fail To Show Up In Memorial Opening Round

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Where to begin?

Phil Mickelson said the USGA only gets setup right when it rains at the U.S. Open.

Matt Kuchar tries to claim multiple things in hoping to get relief from an old fairway pitch mark, asks for a second and third ruling, and in general, reminds you why it took El Tucan to get paid what he deserved.

Bryson DeChambeau whines about being put on the clock and seems to believe you are entitled to more time when deciding to go for a green in two, or not.

Most fascinating of all: the bratty behavior took place at the prestigious Memorial tournament, hosted by Jack Nicklaus.

Funny how players refrain from the nonsense one week at year at the Masters—no whining about lies, no backstopping, no rudeness to the field—and used to take their behavior up a notch or two when Jack and Arnold were on the grounds.

Not any more.

In Kuchar’s case, he appeared to walk back the long effort to get relief from a pitch mark that was not his, reports’s Dylan Dethier.

Kuchar’s behavior was seen by many and called out by just as many, including European Tour player Eddie Pepperell. Mercifully, officials Robby Ware and Stephen Cox handled themselves well and with quiet confidence and authority.

The PGA Tour took down a video it posted on Twitter of the exchange. #liveunderpar

Mickelson, who made a fool of himself during Saturday’s third round of the 2018 U.S. Open, is back on the offensive and not exactly buttoning down the karma heading to Pebble Beach in two weeks. Alex Myers with Mickelson’s remarks and some of the backstory, including this:

“I’ve played, what, 29 U.S. Opens,” Mickelson told reporters at Muirfield Village. “One hundred percent of the time they have messed it up if it doesn’t rain. Rain is the governor. That’s the only governor they have. If they don’t have a governor, they don’t know how to control themselves.”

Says the guy who couldn’t put a governor on his emotions last year. Got it.

Not that it excuses bad course setup or the mistakes made, but you’d think someone who loves to pass on questions would have passed on this one.

As for Bryson DeChambeau,’s Will Gray spoke to him about being put on the clock. His rationale to official Brad Fabel for taking his sweet time was fascinating.

“He came up to me and told me I had a bad time. And I was like, do you realize I was deciding between laying up and going for it?” DeChambeau said. “And we’ve had struggles the past three holes in a row, hazards and making bogeys and all that. Was that not factored in? ‘Well, it’s just 40 seconds, it is what it is.’ Well, I don’t agree with that.”

Remember: the players largely believe they should break from the governing bodies and make their own rules. It’s almost tempting to encourage such a scenario just to watch that boondoggle unfold!

Latest Green Reading Book Silliness: NCAA Championship Official Book Deemed Non-Conforming On Event Eve

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Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols details the latest fiasco with non-banned-but-should-be green reading materials”: official yardage books from the NCAA Division I women’s championships are non-conforming. By 1/16th of an inch. On ten of the holes.

“We’re just going to go to Office Depot and get some sticker labels and cover up all 18 of them,” said Purdue coach Devon Brouse.

Officials didn’t specify which of the 10 holes were in violation.

The new interpretation for Rule 4.3a, which went into effect Jan. 1, stipulates that players may use a putting-green map during play, but it must be “limited to a scale of 3/8 inch to 5 yards (1:480).”

The original green reading book ban discussions would have been more restrictive, but the USGA and R&A watered things down a bit, and now we have the same information, only smaller. Most of the time.

Just ban them and get it over with!

Moochgate 2 Never Hits Theaters: Sergio Takes The Blame For Raking Ball Before Kuchar Can Concede

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We were so close to having a fabulous squabble on our hands, but Sergio Garcia eventually came to his senses after some mid-round tension in the WGC Dell Match Play. Our dreams of Moochgate 2 were dashed when it went straight to video (long story, under 20 year olds).

Bob Harig of on the negotiation between the green vandal and the mooch.

It was after that hole where Garcia suggested to Kuchar that he concede a hole to make up for what happened on the seventh.

"I thought about it and said I don't like that idea, either," Kuchar said.

"Typically there's an acknowledgement," he added of a conceded putt. "I understand how the concession needs to be vocal and I try to do a really good job. I hate it when guys sort of mumble something. I always try to be very clear, very vocal. This is one where I was on the back of the green. It happened so fast. I knew I hadn't conceded it. But it was never a tactic or anything."

Despite the apparent tension within the match, Garcia backed away from any controversy after it.

"It's quite simple: I screwed it up, it's as simple as that," he said. "Obviously I missed my putt and I kind of tapped it with the back of my putter before he said anything. It's a loss of hole. I understand that.

"There are many options that you can do if you don't want to take the hole, even though I've already lost that hole. But obviously he didn't like any of the options that were there. It's fine. At the end of the day, I'm the one who made the mistake."


The mistake by Garcia that likely cost him his match in Saturday’s round of 8:

USGA Addresses Intent Question, Status Of Justin Thomas Peace Talks

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Andrew Both of Reuters talks to the USGA’s Thomas Pagel gives us an update on the broken club rule that inspired Justin Thomas’s Honda Classic outrage at 2019’s new rules. The spat spilled onto Twitter.

The new rule allows players to continue using a damaged club, even bending it back into shape if possible, but not to replace it during a round.

"You can just add that one to the list of rules that don't make any sense," Thomas told reporters.

"If you break or bend the club in play, I don't see where the harm is in replacing it."

Pagel disputes the new rule does not make sense.

"That rule used to be so complicated (determining) when a club was damaged, unfit," Pagel told Reuters in an interview.

"We said let's simplify it. You can start with up to 14 (clubs) and if one becomes damaged you’re not able to replace it.

"Justin and I have connected. I thought it was very positive conversation. I want to keep the nature of it private."

Michael Bamberger was also afforded phone time with Pagel for a item on the new rules and notes this following Webb Simpson’s unfortunate freak Players penalty, prompting Pagel to remind why intent cannot drive the rules.

Pagel expressed sympathy for Simpson’s bad luck and then dutifully explained why the rulebook gives a player a one-shot penalty if you’re off the green and no penalty if you’re on it. The latter, the so-called Dustin Johnson Rule of 2016, allows for that fact that you might have already had your hand on a ball on the green, that greens are more closely mown, and that a random outside agency – most notably wind – can move a ball on a green more readily.

“As much as possible, the rulebook tries to keep the question of ‘intent’ out of the discussion, because intention is hard to define,” Pagel said.

One person, for instance, could claim an exemption from a penalty because of intention while another, in those same circumstances, might not. That’s not a level playing field.

Is Golf In Danger Because Intent Is Not Addressed In Every Rule?

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We have many rules where intent is now considered and many others that are not.

According to Webb Simpson, he was penalized because he moved the ball when it was off the green and only intent is considered on a ball accidentally moving on a green. The 2019 Players final round penalty cost him nearly $60,000.

“My ball’s on the fringe, and I was seeing if I was standing in the rough or if I was going to get both feet in the fringe or whatever and the end of my putter just got stuck on my shirt and it moved the ball about a quarter of an inch,” he said after the round. “I thought it might be a penalty, but we called anyways, and if it’s on the green it’s not a penalty. So this is where I’m going to be loud and clear, like we have to get intent into the rules. We have to. Because it’s killing our game when it comes to these kind of things.”

While I understand his point—seemingly arcane rule violations causing the game to look bad—I’m not sure this is one of them? Or close.

Post Quad: Could Tiger Have Dropped From The Island Green's Walkway?

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Just two back at the time, Tiger Woods made quadruple bogey at the par-3 17th and likely killed his chances of winning the 2019 Players.

ESPN’s Bob Harig on the first-ever two-water-ball day for Woods at 17 and the impact it made on Woods’ chances.

"Both shots I'm just trying to hit the ball into the slope [on the green] and just walk away with a 20-, 25-footer and move on about my business," Woods said after shooting 71 to finish at 141, 3 under par. "The second one I hit too flat and too hot. But the first one from the regular tee and was a good shot, it just flew a little bit too far."

But as the Live From crew noted last night, the yellow penalty area marking means there was an opportunity to possibly drop on the manicured walkway. The wording of the new rule also gives the player room to drop where a stance might be possible. Brandel Chamblee has since Tweeted suggesting his take was confirmed by a rules official.

Furyk Laughs Off Flagstick Putt Rejection, New Rule Appears Safer Than Ever

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The first big flagstick rejection of a putt has taken place, and as I write for Golfweek, Jim Furyk’s reaction suggests that players won’t be backing down off the dramatic change in how they do their (putting) business.

PGA Tour Is Not Going Into The Rulemaking Business Anytime Soon

While we had another bizarre rules moment Thursday at The Players, Harold Varner’s troubles had little to do with the new rules, just a complex and freakish run-in with an old rule related to club adjustability.

But it’s worth noting that even after a bizarre violation we are not seeing the usual outpouring of grief over the change. That’s a direct result of PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan reiterating and expanding on a recent memo making clear the PGA Tour has no desire to make golf rules.

My Golfweek story on that, and the key kumbaya quote after a two hour five familes meeting.

“We have two fantastic professional governing bodies of the game,” he said Wednesday. “We have always played by their rules and we will continue to play by their rules. And we are not going to be playing by our own rules. We think that the game is best served with everybody playing by the same rules and the same standards. We think it’s a source of inspiration for the game.”

JT Addresses The USGA Trolling Him On Twitter: “It is unfortunate. It just was — it really hurt me.”

Justin Thomas after the Honda Classic final round.

Justin Thomas after the Honda Classic final round.

By my math the two sides should be even. Justin Thomas isn’t so sure.

Even though JT has trolled the USGA on Twitter with a "growthegame” hashtag, the organization’s surprise call-out of the former Walker Cupper over his new rules comments appears to have taken him by surprise. And shock. And making a claim that the USGA Tweet was not accurate.

From Dan Kilbridge’s Golfweek report at the Honda:

“It was a little shocking. It was a little upsetting just because it was inaccurate,” Thomas said Sunday of the USGA’s claims. “I haven’t canceled anything, especially any meetings. But it is what it is, and all I want is the best for the game of golf and the best for the sport, and that’s what we’re going to continue to try to communicate with each other to get that.

“It is unfortunate. It just was — it really hurt me.”

The full video of Thomas’s post round comments.

The USGA’s John Bodenhammer talked to Morning Drive to clarify the organization’s concerns and unlike the Tweet, sounded more concerned about repairing damage and preventing a war of (social media) words.

“It’s very clear there is a certain level of discomfort with some Tour players, certainly not all, and we are working to address that with certain rules,” Bodenhamer said. “We know we have more work to do.

Players were buzzing about the USGA pushback, Randall Mell noted in quoting Jim Furyk:

On Golf Central, both Mark Rolfing and David Duval took issue with the USGA’s tactics though the outcome of more refined dialogue and maybe an end to some of the more excessive new rules commentary.

JT, USGA Take Rules Squabbling To DM, Planned Meeting

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I was hoping for a Vietnam summit but it’ll be more like Justin Thomas and Mike Davis having coffee in the Seminole clubhouse before Monday’s pro-member.

Saturday’s back and forth after Thomas took to social media to voice concern about the revamped rules of golf and the most recent penalty, this one a retroactive two-shotter for Adam Schenk.


Rules Mess: PGA Tour Pros Making The Case For Bifurcation With Each Passing Day

There are two columns from the Honda Classic worth noting as they ultimately have players ripping the revamped Rules of Golf for both selfish reasons and also somewhat logical ones.

Randall Mell took the occasion of Rickie Fowler’s deuce drop to highlight Justin Thomas’ complaints about the change in replacing a broken club, a very first world PGA Tour problem that would not impact most golfers.

“I think they’re terrible,” Justin Thomas said.

That’s what he told media the day before the Honda Classic began. His opinions only hardened in the first round, when he bent the shaft of his 9-iron, hitting a tree with a shot at the 10th hole. The new rules wouldn’t allow him to replace the club, the way the old rules would have.

Unable to repair the club, as new rules allow, he played the final eight holes with 13 clubs.

Thomas said he probably couldn’t have replaced the 9-iron in a timely fashion anyway, with his backup at his Jupiter home down the road, but it’s the principle.

“You can just add that one to the list of rules that don't make any sense,” Thomas said.

Again, a first world one but understandably important to professional golfers who play a different game for a lot of money than the rest of us.

There was also this from Mell:

Player frustrations over the new rules were a topic of conversation in a mandatory players’ meeting at PGA National this week. Tour commissioner Jay Monahan presided. Players fear other controversies may be lying in wait.

While incidents of player ignorance are not the fault of the mostly-excellent and streamlined rule modifications, there is no getting around the optics. By starting the year with major changes in the heart of the season and without significant field testing, the result has been mockery.

From Brian Wacker’s Golf World column of a similar theme to Mell’s:

“Golf is trying to appeal to a younger audience, get people into the game, want it to look cool,” Fowler said. “Well, I was sitting at home first couple weeks of the year and me and some buddies were making fun of the new drop rule. It looks terrible.”

The precious M’s aren’t always right nor should their views supercede all others, but the notion that players are hearing from friends how ridiculous they look will ultimately undermine the rules if not addressed. Which strikes at the ultimate issue here as it’s been for all too long: the governing bodies have always struggled with the notion of someone making a living playing the game. And heaven forbid, people like them more than the amateurs.

Billy Horschel:

“My buddies at home are making fun of these rules,” he said. “People in the greater word of golf are making fun of them. Some of [the changes] are good, some of them are bad.

“But I told the USGA you guys aren't the main influencer in the game of golf like you were 30, 40, 50 years ago. PGA Tour players are now the biggest influencer in the game of golf. What the golfer at home sees on TV, they're going to copy us.”

Which is why, ultimately, these rules needed more field testing and a gradual rollout to help educate all or work out kinks.

But given the difference in tournament golf today versus the everyday game, and the resulting taint which could offend new players to the sport, we are increasingly seeing why splitting the rules makes sense. Anyone for Golf Channel’s relaxed rules for the rest of us while the tournament golf world sorts all of this out?

State Of The Game 90: Old Course Rough And The New Rules Mess

Rod Morri, Mike Clayton and I convene for State of the Game 90 to discuss news out of St. Andrews—using rough to enhance strategy—and the various rules related fiascos of recent weeks.

Here is the John Huggan Golf World story referenced regarding new rough to enhance Old Course strategy.

And the Road hole during the 1984 Open referenced by Mike Clayton.