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TaylorMade CEO Mark King Delivers An Uppercut To USGA

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(Written By: Tony Covey - @GolfSpy T) In the span of only 4 days the CEO's of two of the largest companies in golf – and arguably two of the most influential guys when it comes to the equipment side of things – each made a very public statement about bifurcation (different rules for amateurs and pro golfers), and by extension golf’s governing bodies, the USGA and R&A.

Titleist’s Wally Uilhein said stuff, and then TaylorMade’s Mark King said stuff, and even if they weren’t saying stuff to each other, based on the stuff that was said, it seems pretty clear to me that they’re on opposite sides of the debate.

The Brands Reflect the Men

What I found intriguing, though certainly not surprising, is that the individual positions of Mr. Uilein and Mr. King very closely mirror how many perceive the brands they represent.

The views expressed by Titleist’s Wally Uihlein in his recent essay can reasonably be described as traditional, old school, and potentially antiquated, while depending on your perspective, TaylorMade CEO Mark King’s position, can be described as aggressively modern, forward-thinking, or clinically insane.

Such is the way of the golf equipment world. TaylorMade pushes ahead, occasionally takes chances, and sometimes frustrates others in the industry. Titleist clings to its traditions and the status quo. What was is, and what is will always be…or something like that.

The arguments in Mr. Uihlein’s The Case for Unification center on need for the USGA and R&A to unify their respective rulebooks, he also makes it abundantly clear that’s he opposed to a separate set of rules governing the amateur game. Bifurcation is a dirty word.

In an interview conducted by Score Golf’s Rick Young, Mr. King makes it equally clear that he believes the USGA has “taken it too far”.

The implied “it” is the proposed anchoring ban, and more generally the USGA's propensity for over-regulating the game at the expense of the amateur.

It’s possible that last bit is just my own inference.

Mr. King goes on to say that he believes that within 10 years the USGA will be a “non-entity”, and that because of their behavior “the industry is going to move away from them and pass them”. Dropping the biggest bomb of all, Mr. King finishes his answer by saying “They’re [the USGA] obsolete”.

Mr. Uihlein feels differently. In his role as an advocate for the traditions of the game he clings to what I call the defeatist’s position while making his case that a 2nd set of rules for amateurs would serve no purpose:

"If golfers don’t play by the one set of rules that exist today, why are two sets of rules required? If the argument is that golfers don’t play by the rules and bifurcation will help grow the game, then how will two sets of rules contribute to additional participation? The logic is flawed." - Wally Uihlein, CEO, Acushnet Company

Perhaps, but I’d argue the logic is less flawed than the idea that if things keep moving in the direction they’re headed everything will be just fine. It won’t.

Today’s Rules Do Not Reflect the Traditions of the Game

Of course it’s more than slightly ironic that Mr. Uihlein would champion the traditions and history of the game while apparently supporting the entities that helped bastardize 13 simple rules by turning them into 100 plus pages of bloviating verbosity, obscure decisions, and such egregious complexity that a rules official is required on every hole of a PGA event just to try and make sense of it all – and even then they still don’t always get it right.

The rules of golf as they exist today are not the game’s history…they are not its tradition. They are overly complicated nonsense and it’s time to do something about it.

The history ship sank off the coast of Pebble Beach quite some time ago. It’s time we stopped pretending otherwise.

If that’s anything close to the message Mark King was trying to convey, I’m with him (mostly). If it’s not, well…then it’s just what I think.

I’m certain some will look at Mr. King’s statements and see ideas that are self-serving where the sales of TaylorMade products are concerned. That could be true, but in this particular case I would suggest that what’s good for TaylorMade also happens to be good for the game – and more importantly – the people who play it.

Hey USGA, you remember the people, don’t you?

Everything that’s happening right now – rule changes, suggestions that the USGA is managing its way into obsolescence, the decline of the game itself are symptoms of one undeniable reality.

The USGA Has Lost Its Way

As a governing body, the USGA has grown to be nearly useless for the average golfer. They continually overstep. They focus almost exclusively on the Pro game to the exclusion of nearly everything else. They’ve lost touch with the average golfer, and over the last several years have done absolutely nothing to effectively grow the game.

If you’re trying to kill golf, these are your guys.

Nearly every adjustment the USGA has made to the rulebook in a futile attempt to regain control of the pro game (ignoring for a moment the fact that despite all their meddling, scoring remains effectively unchanged), has negatively impacted the recreational game. It’s completely ridiculous especially when you consider who comprises the majority of the USGA’s constituency.

How contradictory is it that the USGA has limited driver distance (at every level…not just the pro game - because bifurcation is bad), and has started discussing limiting golf ball distance (because the pros hit it too far) while at the same time saying that golf courses are too long for the average golfer and the rest of us need to Tee it Forward. Talk about both sides of your mouth…or ass.

Two sets of reasonable rules that govern both the game and the equipment might solve the problem, although I’d argue that the USGA has spread itself too thin and that it would be in the best interest of both the USGA and the game if they got out of the rules business to better focus their efforts on actually growing the game.

Let the PGA Manage its Own Rulebook

Having a separate and independent agency that governs the rules of golf for both the professionals and amateurs is both unique and ludicrous. Golf is the only major sport (and some would argue it doesn’t actually qualify as a major sport) where the professional organizations (in this case the PGA, LPGA, and other major US Tours) have deferred management of their rulebooks to a 3rd party.

The NFL maintains the rules for the NFL. Major League Baseball maintains the rules for MLB. The same is true for the NBA and NHL. Why shouldn’t the PGA maintain the rules for the PGA?

Could you imagine if other sports were run the way the golf is run?

We wouldn’t allow the guys as Major League Baseball to force their rules on our Thursday night softball beer leagues, so why are we so willing to tolerate the USGA’s heavy-handed approach to our Tuesday night golf leagues?

Would we allow the NFL to dictate the rules for Pop Warner?

Can you imagine if some of the guys wearing helmets suggested that anyone playing flag football is somehow diminishing their game, or worse yet, cheating?

And yet, that’s exactly what happens in golf, and it’s one of many reasons why bifurcation needs to happen.

Re-Write the Rulebook

Short of possibly bowling, golf should be the most-easily comprehendible sport on television…and it is… until you actually try to read the rules; at which point, it’s anything but.

The rules of golf need to be rewritten so they’re simple, and more importantly practical.

The rules as they exist today are often incomprehensible gibberish. Almost nobody plays by the rules because almost nobody fully understands them.  Not even the best players in the world fully comprehend the letter of each and every rule. How is the average weekend guy supposed to have a chance?

Saying we shouldn't change the rules or bifurcate because the same guys still won't follow the rules is an exceptionally weak, and I as I’ve already said, defeatist, argument.

Make the game more user-friendly at the amateur level and then see what happens. If not everyone falls in line - so what. At least we've simplified the rules for those of us who would otherwise choose to play by them.

To grow the game we need to legitimize it for the masses. A 2nd set of practical and viable rules might force self-labeled "serious golfers” to stop looking down their noses as the recreational guys trying to learn the game and have fun (incidentally I've found that anybody who frequently uses the phrase "seriously golfer" is almost always a serious asshole).

You want to grow the game? Get rid of the arrogance. And that starts with rewriting the rulebook from the ground up.

The Bifurcated Reality

Even if the USGA and other traditionalists want to believe otherwise, bifurcation already exists. There are USGA rules, PGA rules, local rules. And yes…there are casual, but strictly enforced rules between members of the same group.

PGA players routinely wear metal spikes. With very few exceptions, amateurs are forbidden to do so by the clubs they play. Professionals are barred from using rangefinders, but they’re both allowed and accepted on the amateur and recreational circuits. Pros can’t drive carts, or even wear shorts. Amateurs…yeah…we can do both. The rules are already different.

Winter rules, gimmes...that stuff makes sense for recreational play - and you know what, it happens every day...and while the USGA says it shouldn’t be, it’s used for handicap purposes. Those guys aren't cheaters. They're honest guys who face real practicality issues that the USGA is apparently unwilling to acknowledge. There's already an unspoken gentlemen's agreement to ignore the rules when they simply don't make any damned sense outside the confines of the PGA's ropes.

A pro seldom loses a ball in the woods because he’s got 300 eyes to help him look. Amateurs lose balls in light rough because we don’t have galleries to help us find the ball. That’s hardly a just and equal application of the rules. There’s a serious case of denial here.

Some of Mr. King’s ideas…more clubs, the 15” cup, I don’t love them (the last thing I want is a new rule dictating how to play if your ball comes to rest in the wrong cup, or if the wrong cup is between the ball and the right cup), but ultimately, I think his general message is we need to make the game more accessible, more fun, and more practical.

The reality is that some of the rulebook as it exists today is wholly impractical for weekend play. Return to the tee after a lost ball? At 10AM on a Saturday on a crowded Muni? No f'n chance. You’ll find the emergency room quicker than you’ll find a fairway.

Let's make the stakes one color; stroke is enough of a penalty. The distance piece punishes everyone else on the course. It makes sense on tour, but not for most other situations.

The USGA agrees we have a pace of play problem…the rules themselves are a contributing factor.

The Future of the USGA

What Mark King told Score Golf’s Rick Young is potentially the biggest story to come out of this year’s PGA Show. Mr. King asserted that if the proposed ban on belly putters comes to fruition, his company (TaylorMade) will continue to produce them.

Fundamentally that alone is inconsequential. The proposed ban is on the stroke (stupid, stupid, stupid) not the equipment. Theoretically the USGA wouldn’t care what TaylorMade does on the production side.

It’s also doubtful we’ll see a new way to swing as Mr. King suggests we might. Of course, we don’t know what TaylorMade has in their pipeline, but you can bet if it requires a new swing, the USGA will act quickly to legislate against it (statistical arguments be damned).

When it comes to the golf ball, however; things would be very different. We know the USGA is already looking into reducing how far the golf ball can fly (those damned pros are ruining it for the rest of it again). This is exactly like the groove rule. In this scenario the USGA would seek to mandate and legislate the equipment itself.

When the USGA dictated that the golf companies must no longer distribute non-conforming wedges after December 31, 2010, every major manufacturer fell in line. Mark King is now on record saying that should a similar ball ban come to fruition, his company would ignore any mandate to stop producing non-conforming balls.

That’s when things would get really interesting

If the USGA moves to roll back the ball AND TaylorMade holds the line and continues to produce balls that perform as they do today, the equipment world is going to get tipped ass-end up. Should TaylorMade actually ignore any mandate the other OEMs would be faced with the uncomfortable choice of bucking the USGA or kowtowing to them and thus effectively conceding a HUGE, growing, and never before specifically targeted market segment; guys who don’t give a damn what the USGA says. The numbers say these guys are the majority consumer.

I’m guessing most of the other guys will decided they have no choice but to compete.

And if that happens, why not really stick it to the USGA? Roll back the wedge…and the driver too. If the goal is to make the game more enjoyable for the recreational golfer, this is, in part, how to do it.

If that happens, I’m Mark King’s #1 fan. He’ll get an invite to my kid’s birthday party. It’ll be Elmo-themed...or maybe Doc McStuffins. The kid loves Doc McStuffins.

If any of that happens, the floodgates are open and the USGA could lose control.

If that happens, the USGA, as Mr. King suggest, will be a non-entity.

Would that really be so bad?

-Portions of this article originally appeared in the MyGolfSpy Forum.

{ 138 comments… read them below or add one }

Brad January 31, 2013 at 9:35 am

Great article.

I especially like the piece about manufacturing companies bending to the USGA’s wishes. I think they should just say screw it and start producing wedges with huge grooves and non-conforming drivers. People would buy it and it would make the game more fun for them. A silly thing happens when something is fun, people continue to do it and new people want to try it. Not much of a TaylorMade guy here but it’s tough not to respect Mark King on the position he is taking. Props to him.

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Dave S January 31, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Those wedges already exist… check out Killer Bee. Wanna scrape the cover off the ball on every shot? Got ya covered (pun intended).

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Duncan Castles February 1, 2013 at 5:45 am
MLC February 1, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Not so simple. If you want to carry an official Handicap you have to follow the rules. Period. If you use illegal equipment and you’re posting scores… you’re cheating.

No problem with making equipment that is easier to play with – just leave that to the weekender/beginner/just want to have a few beers golfer who could care less about a handicap or play in competition.

If you want to keep an official handicap – you play by USGA rules.

Uhlein has it correct. no need for two sets of rules.

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GolfSpy T February 1, 2013 at 12:31 pm

And it’s beyond naive to assume that everyone who has an official handicap plays 100% by the letter. Everyone in my 16 man Saturday group carries a handicap…gimmes are standard practice – as are winter rules – and rolling the ball in the fairway. You’ll find this is actually how most club golf (even for scoring purposes) is played.

Here’s the problem, the rules are unwieldy and impractical, and rather than acknowledge and adapt as the majority of golfers already have, guys like you would seem to be satisfied to yell “cheater”.

And we wonder why participation as down? How more unwelcoming can we be.

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John22615 February 1, 2013 at 12:43 pm

I agree that the rules should be simplified, but I agree with MLC in that only one set of rules is sufficient. Your group who plays with illegal equipment, rolls the ball over, etc are not hurting anyone so long as you only play with your group and not in any tournament, etc. If you carry handicaps with conforming equipment, but roll the ball over, carge only one stroke for OB’s instead of stroke and distance, etc, you are actually hurting yourselves as your handicaps will be lower than they should be. For the recreational golfer out more for exercise than competition or to post a score, whatever rules they play by hurts no one, and they wouldn’t follow three sets of rules much less the one that exists. If you want to make the game easier, play from shorter tees or play easier golf courses. How can one play with another if there are multiple sets of rules? Whose rules prevail? Do you have to test the equipment before each game to see who is using the non-conforming balls or driver, etc? Bifurcation would just give the sand-bagger another arrow in his quiver to use to his advantage.

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MLC February 1, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Guys like me??? I play in clubs and see rules broken all the time… That’s what handicap committees are for. It’s fine if any group wants to not putt out, etc… – only helps out those that actually do when it comes to money games and having to putt everything out. :)

The rules are not that difficult if you have a basic understanding and have very little, if any, bearing, on whether someone decides to take up or continue with golf. Cost and pace of play are the two main culprits. The casual golfer does not want to spend 5 hours on a golf course after paying $40 to $50 in greens fees.

Let OEM’s build whatever they want and allow anyone to play them. While I agree that Golf is hard and part of that is the equipment we have available I also agree that we need to alleviate the difficulty to grow the game.

But… we need to have a clear line of what rules to use and when and allow the individual decide based on what type of golfing experience they want.

And, I’d like to see the OEMs hammering the USGA and PGA tours about policing slow play at the pro level. There’s nothing more painful that watching someone at your local course reading a putt from four different angles then missing by 6 feet because they saw their favorite pro do that. This alone, at time, has had me questioning why I play the game

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GolfSpy T February 1, 2013 at 1:13 pm

THIS is the reply I’ve been waiting for.

I definitely think the rules need to be simplified, and I like Mr. King’s idea of two sets of rules, particularly the notion of Tournament Rules. The other little stuff (and in the grand scheme of the greater good of the game, it’s very little stuff), gimmes, rolling the ball in the fairway, cleaning mud balls, hell…even taking free drops for lost balls that shouldn’t have been lost (deep rough and no gallery). I think that’s all great for the game…

AND as you suggest, when it’s tournament time, there’s no more ripe adversary than the guy who hasn’t attempted anything shorter than 3 feet all season.

I’m less certain how I feel about equipment. I’m good with the current driver limitations. I thought the groove rule was stupid, and the anchoring ban stupider still. If they start messing with the ball…then as I said, I really hope Mr. King and TaylorMade call the bluff. All this stuff about reducing distance off the tee is fine for the pro game, but when you consider how for the average guy hits the ball (I think the real number is in the ballpark of 220) restricting flight for the masses makes less than zero sense.

I’m not a fan of the idea of 12 hole courses, but I do think courses should be generally more accommodating of 9 hole tee times on the weekends. I think 4:15 is about right for a round of golf. Anything faster is a stretch…and let’s face it, while 4:00 hours might be too long for some, some of us actually like getting out of the house for as long as we can (so long as we keep it moving).

Pace of play on tour is a joke, and the PGA needs to start hitting these guys with strokes…which ultimately hits their wallet. I think the entire round should be put on a clock…you’re late, it’s a stroke. Late again, DQd from the tournament. Late again, lose your spot in the next major (or fedex cup event) you qualify for. Until the PGA Tour gets serious about the issue nothing will be accomplished.

I think you’re probably right. Guys try and emulate the pros. Nothing like watching a guy spend 5 minutes reading a 4 footer only to pound it 6 feet past.

Dave February 2, 2013 at 1:39 am

Uhlein has an interest staked in the status quo, doesn’t want to see ball technology touched, and the masses would never be happy with distance rolled back. To keep selling $1billion in golf balls each year nothing has to change.
King is running into limits imposed on his industry focus, yardage gains for metalwoods are grinding to a halt very soon (once we reach the peak launch and low spin sweetspot) so he needs the rules thrown out to pave the way for increased sales numbers.
METALWOODS NEED A NEW FRONTIER AND KING IS TRYING TO CREATE IT.

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TTO February 4, 2013 at 9:22 am

How would college golfers/aspiring pros play? When would a kid make the switch from the amateur rules, to the pro rules. Two rules would be stupid. How about we just start putting some actual rough on these PGA courses, and play tighter courses like Harbourtown more often, so they can’t just grip and rip. Not even an exaggeration, I was down at the IJGA in South Carolina last year, and Harbourtown is not that tight, yet the pros complain about it.

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sean_miller February 4, 2013 at 10:51 am

Who says a ball that’s shorter for people with 105+ mph swings would have any effect on guys swinging at whatever speed generates a 220 yard drive. There are a lot of reasons someone can’t hit the ball as far as the professionals and I doubt that dialing back the ProV1 for higher swing speeds would make a difference for the short knockers. Some guys might even use it as a badge of honour – “sure my driving distance is only 220 but I’m using the PGA Tour version with reduced distance and more spin off the tee”.

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Jateen Rama January 31, 2013 at 9:49 am

As far as i know….. in the Japanese market you can buy non conforming drivers. This has been going on ever since the COR rule was introduced………. i could be mistaken though :)

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hckymeyer January 31, 2013 at 9:53 am

Well said T!!! About half way through I just wanted to stand up and start clapping.

The biggest issue I see is that no matter what happens (if anything) it will still be years before we see any changes.

It really feels like Wally and the USGA are should all be members of Bushwood.

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JR January 31, 2013 at 10:31 am

I agree with you that bifurcation might be better for the general population of golfers, if for no other reason than speed of play is a huge issue.

However, the equipment issue is a much more slippery slope. I believe that more USGA imposed limits on the golf ball, driver COR, or wedge grooves, or any other equipment for professionals should not be passed down to the masses. But, to call a “free-for-all” on non-conforming equipment would be a terrible idea in my opinion. I say draw a line in the sand on both ends. Whatever restrictions we have now, no going back to any non-conforming equipment we had before. Whatever the USGA dreams up for changes to equipment going forward (because they hate birdies on the PGA tour) no need for manufacturers to roll that down to the masses.

If there was no restrictions on manufacturing non-conforming equipment to the public, I wouldn’t even be able to play a friend for a beer without checking all of his specs!

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Kevin January 31, 2013 at 10:33 am

Well written making a strong argument for 2 sets of rules.

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gaussman1 January 31, 2013 at 11:14 am

I don’t imagine that Mr Uihlein can find the nearest muni or the nearest golf retail store for that matter. While I believe Mr King’s remarks are self serving to a certain extent I think that your article actually cuts to the heart of the matter. The USGA has long forgotten that golf is not only played by blue blazers on east coast shrines. The soul of the game resides in the heart of its amateur consumers and those are the people who should be considered by the rule-making bodies, not the sliver of a percent who play the game for a living. I have always had the impression that the USGA , and to some extent the Titleist brand, find the great unwashed masses to be something a bit distasteful and embarrassing and a group to be ignored rather than embraced.

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jfpga January 31, 2013 at 11:39 am

Love these guys that think the rule book needs to be rewritten, go ahead give it a shot.

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setter02 January 31, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Won’t be long till the old outdated fools that control these associations are off their rockers and newer, fresher blood will take over.

Golf needs to hire a marketing firm to come up with new ideas to get people excited with just the idea of going out and hitting balls to start what can become a life long obsession.

I know far more people who liked to go out and have fun, score is a secondary issue… Golf associations have forgotten what the core group of individuals who actually fuel/feed the golf industry are. People who want to go and spoil a good walk by chasing a silly white ball around.

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finalist January 31, 2013 at 11:39 am

I’m a little lost on which side I prefer. I want to play a game that is close to what I see on TV, so bifuriblicationionion sic doesn’t sound good, but better equipment sounds good for the majority, OEMs, retail, etc. I’m also not convinced better equipment will do a whole lot more for my game. I’ve maxed out practice time, equipment fittings, etc, so there are very few strokes left for me, but as I age more distance would be nice.
Changing the rules is like playing basketball on 8 foot rims.. fun, but you know it’s not real basketball.

Local Clubs can elect and often do to inforce local rules for club tournaments. The game is sort of split already. …a little.

The rule book is a joke. It should be 3 or 4 pages at most. I don’t like the USGA and I do think the PGA should just take over.

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hckymeyer January 31, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Does that mean college baseball isn’t real baseball because they don’t use wooden bats?

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Barbajo January 31, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Roger that — was thinking the same thing. MLB, minor leagues and the Cape Cod league use wooden bats, everyone else on down to T-ball uses aluminum bats for the simple reason that they don’t break – it’s mostly economic. I’ve played in softball leagues that have rules regarding what kind of aluminum bats can be used, and have had umps toss certain bats (and users) from games.

There needs to be common sense rules for those of us who play golf for fun..

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TTO February 4, 2013 at 9:34 am

Bill Haas’s drop on 17 this weekend. Explain how if the rule book is only 4 pages long that one is going to be covered?

And if anyone wants to, please explain that ruling. He gets a free drop in the hazard because of the immovable obstruction (fence) outside of the hazard, understood I guess. But I always thought you didn’t get relief from sprinkler heads (even if outside the hazard) if your ball rests in the hazard.
Now what if he dropped and his ball bounced into the water? He was already in the hazard, so there should be no distinction between grass/rock/water, and he definitely shouldn’t just be allowed to place it.

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jfpga January 31, 2013 at 11:39 am

In fact take a rule and give me how you think it should be rewritten.

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hckymeyer January 31, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Out of bounds off a drive. Should be just stroke penalty, not stroke + distance. Take a drop at the nearest point it went out of the hazard instead of re-teeing.

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Barbajo January 31, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Or how about unfilled divots considered “ground under repair” with a free drop 1 club length, no closer to the hole?

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Oldplayer January 31, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Ending up in a divot in the middle of the fairway is unfair and unlucky. However a rule giving relief is open to too much interpretation. What constitutes a divot? Is it a cuppy lie which looks like an old divot but grown over etc? Players would be seeking relief from lies that may or may not be divots. There is too much grey area. I believe it is not as simple as it first appears.

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GolfSpy T January 31, 2013 at 3:37 pm

I would suggest a divot rule be implemented quite liberally. We all know abnormal ground conditions when we see them. Apart from side hill lies and things of that ilk, there should never been any punishment for a ball hit into the fairway.

I believe the majority of golfers who play club golf work of a gentlemen’s agreement that you roll the ball (6″ seems to be the norm) in the fairway.

Worse case scenario…leave it to the rules officials to decide what is or is not a divot.

yo moms favorite golfer February 1, 2013 at 12:23 pm

wow I always knew golfers love to whine. Golf was never meant to be easy or shoot low scores I mean give me a break. If you hit your ball out of bounds you deserve more of a penalty than someone hit comes up short in the water on an approach. If your ball is in a divot, then practice hitting shots out of divots. Good grief the Old Tom Morris is probably rolling in his grave…

RollTheRock January 31, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Should it? From a pace of play perspective that sounds good, but from a playing/fun perspective that kills so much of the game in my eyes. Nothing quite like the pressure of a tough tee shot, especially when it is 3 off the tee! If I slice and know that all I need to do is a little “what do you guys think, drop one around 230?”, that cuts the pressure in half, cuts my driving practice time in half, cuts my fun in half.

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GolfSpy T January 31, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Here’s one of my favorites (might be paraphrasing a bit): If both lines and stakes are present, the line is out and the stakes are out.

Never mind that we shouldn’t have to deal with different markers for the same thing, or that lines are easily erased by water, but how about the fact that the decision of in vs. out varies depending on whether it’s a line or a stake.

With stakes, the line as it were is the somewhat imaginary line that connects the inside (course-side) edge of the stakes. A ball deemed to be touching any part of that imaginary line is IN. However, if a physical line is used to demarcate OB (even if that line were to occupy the same space that an imaginary line would), if any part of the ball is touching that line, the ball is deemed to be OB.

So if you’re trying to keep up at home…ball on the imagined line between two white stakes it’s in. If an actual line connects white stakes…or just happens to exist nearby, and the ball is touching the line, it’s out.

Seriously…you don’t think that one needs a 2nd look?

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gaussman1 February 1, 2013 at 8:01 am

What if both are present but don’t occupy the same space? they are both out? I had always believed that you defer to the line in that scenario but that is clearly not the case. I do know with a line the entire ball has to be on the line or beyond it. If any part of the ball touches the course its in

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Blade January 31, 2013 at 5:34 pm

How about a mud ball? You should be able to clean it and replace it. Maybe with the requirement of a playing partner or competitor observing, but it should be allowed. No one knows where a mud ball will go even if it’s struck perfectly.

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jfpga January 31, 2013 at 11:40 am

you guys keep saying the PGA, do you mean the PGA Tour? and the LPGA Tour?

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Ryan January 31, 2013 at 12:14 pm

I believe that bifurcation is a possibility, but it is more difficult than one can imagine. I know I enjoy recreational golf and play with my buddies quite a bit. However, I also enjoy playing in state sponosored tournaments and trying to qualify for the US Open, US Am, etc.. I think it would be difficult to use clubs that conform to those events and then go out and play to a completely different set of rules to compete with my friends during recreational times, especially when it comes to different equipment.

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GolfSpy T January 31, 2013 at 2:57 pm

I hear your Ryan, but as it stands now, the USGA dictates what you can and can’t play. If you are a tournament golfer, as Mr. King suggested in his interview with Score Golf, you should still have the option to play by Tournament rules.

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Ken February 1, 2013 at 8:58 am

Ryan: You play on a level different than most recreational golfers, who in general don’t compete in state and regional tournaments. That’s probably a matter of skill rather than club design.

If there were two sets as suggested by the article, one would apply to professionals competing for money and the other for amature and recreational players. For us amatures, I really don’t see a dichotomy that would affect our club selection. We could use clubs based on amature rules regardless of whether we’re playing skins with our buddies or competing in multigroup sanctioned tournaments.

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John22615 February 1, 2013 at 1:05 pm

And what rules, equipment do the top amateurs use when they play in the US Open, British Open or PGA tour event? Competition intertwines amateurs and pros, different geographic areas, etc. Does every country get to set their own “amateur” and “Pro” rules, and then whose do you use when you play an event in Asia or Europe or So. America? If you don’t want to follow the rules, don’t, but don’t advocate screwing up the game for those who are more serious about it. Your thinking on bifurcation is short-sighted and would hurt the game and all competitions. No one cares if you don’t follow the rules if your game is only against or by yourself, but as soon as you play against another player, your subjective adherence to only the rules that you deem appropriate makes the game unplayable.. Who would play with that chaos? Only the recreational golfer who doesn’t know the rules, follow what he thinks are the rules or is interested in whether there should be one or ten sets of rules.

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GolfSpy T February 1, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Short answer yes… every region is free to set its own rules. I know…it would never work. Except it does in basketball. It’s chaos free. You play by the home team’s (country’s) rules. It’s far from complicated. It’s not like we’re talking about reinventing the game…just simplifying some things that have been made over-complicated over time. I’m not advocating a return to the original 13 rules, but damn…let’s move back to the middle. The game is over-regulated. Letting everyone manage their own book is not an issue because the end result would ultimately be very similar (and hopefully less complicated) rules anyway.

As for the equipment…less cut and dry I suppose, but my point in the article was that it’s time to start tinkering with the pro game (wedges, putters, etc.) at the expense of the amateur – and that such efforts have proven futile at the professional level (groove rule changed NOTHING for example where scoring is concerned.) I think the USGA has no business telling any manufacturer what they can and can’t make. While I wouldn’t oppose throwing the groove rule away, from an equipment perspective, I think we’re in a good place right now. Anchoring…who cares, but seriously…doesn’t the USGA have something better to do?

Regarding bifurcation…I think it’s time the USGA accepts reality. The rules say if everyone agrees to play by different rules, everyone is disqualified…and yet at the amateur level (weekend play for handicapping purposes, even many tournaments), that’s exactly what happens. It’s done that way for practicality purposes. It’s time the USGA pulled its head out the sand an acknowledge as much.

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Frank January 31, 2013 at 12:42 pm

The USGA will never get the message until the majority of the amature golfers refuse their request for support (such as I did). I have long been a supporter of the USGA but I believe they have complicated the rules in such a fashion that unless you have a book on the decisions of the rules of golf…The average golfer doesn’t know if he is in the right or not…Finally their arrogance in implimenting changes borders on the absurd.They are driving the beginning golf off the course and back to the couch.

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Jeff January 31, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Great article and very well written. You’ve laid out the case that not only should there be two sets of rules, but the fact that there already are effectively two sets of rules. To think that amateurs are supposed to take a stroke plus distance penalty on a lost ball on a saturday morning is insane. Keep up the great writing.

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Mr_Theoo January 31, 2013 at 1:58 pm

As someone who just picked up the game this year I think two sets of rules would be a great thing for the game. It can make it more fun and easier to pick up for the casual fan.
Like T pointed out in the article there are already people who do this. Whether its the local club or your group of friends you play with. I tend to look at it like pick up basketball. Not every single rule of the game is enforced when you’re at the park. Just the core rules of the game, you dont see people taking charges on the blacktop the same way you rarely see someone preform a proper drop on the weekend couse

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MJ Martin January 31, 2013 at 3:21 pm

The need for the R&A and the USGA are greater now than ever before. If it wasn’t for the limits that they put on equiptment, the crap that we would be bombarded by would just explode. All the things that are on the market now that guarentee an extra 10 or 20 yards that are nothing but scams would multiply and would make a mockery of golf. I am not a pro nor do I play in the USGA amatuer tournaments, but I take my golf serious. When I play, I play by the rules to the best of my ability, I have a USGA HI, and I post all my scores when in season good and bad. This is just another attempt to spread desinsion among golfers.

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GolfSpy T January 31, 2013 at 3:30 pm

It’s an interesting assumption, one no doubt shared by many, but… the evidence from elsewhere suggests otherwise.

While I think the problems are greater than just the equipment aspect of the rules, perhaps Asia should be the model. Non-conforming equipment is readily available, and unlike it is in the US, the game is growing at a much faster rate.

I don’t think availability of non-conforming equipment is the only issue at play, but certainly golfers have more freedom to play how and what they see fit.

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Walter Green January 31, 2013 at 3:29 pm

The Rules of Golf, and subsequent decisions thereof, are based upon one premise: equity. Your article seems to be based upon one simple premise: convenience.

At 10am on a Saturday on a Muni, if you believe that there is a chance of a lost ball, why not play a provisional ball? No need to go back to the tee and get the restless, impatient natives upset. And no need to dumb down the rules and traditions of a wonderful, historic game that has flourished throughout the ages.

There is more to life and some of it’s wonderful, heritable customs. Commercialisation and simplification have their place. Please, not the Royal and Ancient game though. Stick to baseball or other American games. Please remember that this is a worldwide game; not solely played in the USA.

Rant finished!

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GolfSpy T January 31, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Provision balls are hardly a cure all. I think most play provisional, but they can’t account for balls lost in the rough…or balls that aren’t where you expect they should be. It’s happened to all of us.

There is no equity between the amateur game and the pro game. Pros never lose balls in the rough, because they have hundreds watching every sing. Same is true of the woods. In identical situations amateurs incur penalties that no professional ever would.

So you tell me, how is it fair that the application of the rules punish amateurs more than professionals?

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John22615 January 31, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Give me a break. The average player doesn’t follow the rules now, but they also don’t break 100 and don’t play in tournaments. Those that do play more seriously, and have a handicap, want to play by the same rules even if it is in a club tournament where the best player is an 8 handicap.. The better amateurs play by the rules and have the ability to play at scratch in events that include professionals. Having two sets of rules, especially for those who don’t follow the rules now, and only play for their own enjoyment, would not affect the recreational golfer, but would drastically affect the competitive one. What is the point of having another set of rules for individuals who don’t now, and won’t in the future, follow one or two sets of rules. I agree that the pros and better amateurs at the college level play a much different game than the average player, but that hacker that shoots 95 on a good day still wants to think that the birdie that he made on a 450 yard par 4 by sinking a 125 yard third shot is equal in status to the pro’s birdie who does it with a drive, eight iron and a short putt.

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Walter Green February 1, 2013 at 12:14 am

The application of the rules do not punish amateurs more than professionals. Spectators finding balls in the rough or the woods has nothing to do with the Rules of Golf. Are you seriously trying to argue for a change of rules because spectators can identify where a pros ball landed and amateurs don’t have this advantage? Seriously?

Seems to me that you are looking for easy options that would facilitate a cheats charter. This would play into the hands of the “players” who currently look for every legal or non-legal excuse to count a lower score than actually taken.

Oh, and just because you used the word “equity” in your answer, it doesn’t follow that you understand my use of the word. I certainly wasn’t using it in the sense that you highlight. Spectators finding balls is not equity; it is a consequence of watching a tournament. Perhaps if you genuinely considered the word equity, and what it really means, you would understand the need for comprehensive rules that cover every conceivable situation that may arise on a golf course. Particularly when there are participants such as yourself and some of the respondents who seem to be looking for any excuse to subvert the rules and make the game easier, and your scores better. You are deluding yourselves.

Let’s all get together and dumb down golf – make it more accessible and turn it into the WWE!

Thanks for your time.

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Ken February 1, 2013 at 9:05 am

Skip provisoinal balls altogether. If you can’t find a ball after looking for up to 3 minutes, drop another near the spot where it went crossed the OB line or entered the woods or came to rest in the rough, proceed from there and add one stroke for a lost ball.

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Justin January 31, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Another great article, T. I’ve even used those “rec league softball” and “flag football” references during conversations with friends (which I borrowed from Frank Thomas). It rarely fails to make the purists stop and think about it.

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Ventucky local January 31, 2013 at 3:37 pm

I have an aversion to the way some the large equipment companies have influenced the game but Mr. King has some very valid points and so does the writer. Two sets of rules with the PGA setting those for the Tours makes sense.

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John22615 January 31, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Mr. King cares nothing for the game, its growth in the world or its traditions, only how much profit he can extract from a gullible consumer that believes all of the hype of the new clubs that he brings out twice per year. I realize all players want greater distance and the game to be easier, but that is not the essence of the game. Golf is a game of how well you overcome your imperfect shots, not how good your few great ones are. If the USGA and the R & A allowed balls that went 100 yards longer and drivers with no COR restrictions, even the current 90 shooter could probably break 80 consistently and 70 once per year. Of course the courses would then have to be lengthened to 8,000 yards to be more than a pitch and putt. None of the old courses like Merion, Olympic, Cypress Point, Oakland Hills, etc would be more than executive courses since there are limits to the land available to lengthen them. Golf is not an easy game, but that is part of the charm of the game. Who would play if even the most unskilled player shot in the 60′s or 70′s. Where would the challenge be? And every hack would boast that he was better than the touring pro who was still using “legal” equipment.

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pablo January 31, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Great job! Couldn’t have set it better myself. The carts, lasers, shorts argument is now in my bag the next time someone asks why I have 16 clubs in my bag!

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Walter Green January 31, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Pablo,

Sixteen clubs is against the rules! Seems to me that you are quite happy to bend the rules to suit your circumstances. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Golf is a game of integrity. It’s surely not too much to ask that the rules are adhered to, is it?

You use sixteen clubs, and I’ll play you, but only count very alternate shot that I play. What’s the difference? That suits my game better.

WWE anyone?

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Oldplayer January 31, 2013 at 3:43 pm

I don’t want to play a different game to the one played at the highest level. Sure simplify the rules and make the equipment rules a compromise between the amateur and pro game. The wedge groove rule is an absolute debacle if you ask me.
It is hard to accept any CEO of any OEM’s ideas as unbiased. They have too much of a stake in the outcomes of rule changes. This whole debate needs input from all areas of the golf industry, especially amateur bodies. We need a sensible and if possible less biased view to move this debate forwards.

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Bill January 31, 2013 at 3:55 pm

Great article. The USGA is and has been guilty of hypocrisy for over 100 years. The entire equipment issue will fall like a house of cards the day Augusta brings out their own ball and says.. ‘have it at boys…it’s our tournament and we will do what we want.’

and….There is nothing more ridiculous than amateurs( lawyers and blue hairs ) sitting around deciding the rules of a game played by professional people who make their living playing in tournaments.

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Dave S January 31, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Totally agree with everything that was said in this article. Only argument that could be made is that most casual (and even some diehard) fans of football don’t fully understand or know all the rules… they just accept that what the referee said the guy did was not allowed. This hasn’t diminished the popularity or viewership of football. But… football doesn’t have an equipment issue like golf… which is where the USGA rulebook really wields its power.

I would be perfectly fine with having bifurcation, but I think you’re not factoring in the idea that amateurs kinda like playing the same equip the pros do (that’s what sells clubs). Stepping up, teeing a Pro V1 up and blasting a 300 yd drive with a slight draw down the middle of the fairway with the same driver pros use (stop… don’t say “but the club you’re using isn’t the same anyway, it’s not “tour issue”… that’s a non-starter), it give you an awesome, if illogical feeling that you just did something exactly as well as the Pros you watch on TV… which funny enough, probably contributes to the amount of frustration you get when you can only do that once every 10 rounds.

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hckymeyer January 31, 2013 at 6:35 pm

How is that a non-starter? I know it’s not true for every single club, but for the most part they actually are using different clubs than whats available at retail. If you think the new R1 that DJ won with is the same one you buy off the rack, then I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

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Dave S February 1, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Go to Youtube and watch a tour of the TM tour bus (or for that matter, any other OEM bus)… they say that every club they have is the one you buy, just tweaked to the Pros specs. If you have enough money and time, you can have this done as well. In fact, they go out of their way to say that they don’t have some special collection of tour-only clubs they use. Now you can assume they’re lying, and that it’s all a big conspiracy… and if so, I’ve got a piece of the moon landing movie set to sell you.

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GolfSpy T February 1, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Are you saying you actually believe Tour equipment is the same as retail? I promise you, it’s not.

TaylorMade acknowledges as much (pics are out there). Hell, I’ve got 2 R11s right here. One retail, one tour issue. They are most definitely different.

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hckymeyer February 1, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Dave S: Go google R1 vs R1 v2. Those are the heads the pro’s are using and definitely not available at your big box retail stores. I’m not saying that anyone couldn’t get them, but I am saying it’s not the same as the clubs available at retail.

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Wayne Bosley January 31, 2013 at 4:11 pm

This discussion is 13 years late in most regards as the adoption of solid core
multilayer golf ball designs on mass by the professional players of our game
should have been the moment that golf went the way of baseball that has
different equipment rules for elite games and recreational ones.

The rules of golf as described in other posts are too confusing for any new
or semi regular player and as such a prevention to greater enjoyment which
in most regards makes players question whether they want to continue up the
pathway to better golf and perhaps greater participation.

Most golf associations around the world believe elite golf brings more players
to our game and not its social community values and lifetime recreational benifits,
otherwise they would take more care to make it easier to play for the average player
and look for ways to recover the lost time as we now endure our regular 4 to 5 and
half hour marathon rounds.

The last time I looked the majority of the income that the golf industry survives on
comes from regular and social players and to allow large international corporations
to become the main drivers of the game into the future will not end well

Look at the current ongoing GFC mess the large financial corp’s got us into, when
profits and share holder return were the main focus we were taken for a ride and
I dont see anyone that really has taken responsibility.

Golf needs to evolve but with smart forward thinking people at the helm that care
about our game and the whole golfing community and not just the business side.

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Blu January 31, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Why have rules? Lets just cheat like 99% of the hacks already do.Let’s not have any industry standard. Let have drivers the size of mail boxes on the end of a stick. Golf balls that fly like they are on the moon’s surface. LETS JUST CHEAP AWAY.. the great American pastime! Looking for the short cut.

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Mr_Theoo January 31, 2013 at 4:33 pm

I dont think anyone is looking for a shortcut. Most people who play any sport dont do it because its easy. They enjoy a challenge and the competition. By having a set of rules for those who aren’t earning their living playing golf would make the game more enjoyable for the starting golfer. As well as pick up some of the pace when courses get crowded.

I know when I play, whether it be by myself or with a group I try to within the best of my abilities to follow the rules which I would assume most people do. By having more easily interpreted rules as well as rules that work in the “real world” couldn’t hurt

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John22615 January 31, 2013 at 4:29 pm

I agree with Mr. Uihlein and disagree with Mr. King. The USGA and the R & A will be here long after Mr. King has been forgotten among the former heads of companies less interested in the game than short term profits. You can add him to the forgotten names heading Montgomery Ward and others who incorrectly engaged their client base. Mr. Kings might be taking this position because he perceives that the majority of his customers (excluding those paid to pay customized TaylorMade equipment) are less skilled, rarely participate in local, regional or national tournaments or his agenda is the mass marketing of equipment to those who don’t now, or probably never did adhere to the rules. Bifurcation would make it impossible for all levels of players to compete in the same event. How would you adjust the scores of those who used non-conforming equipment or utilized mulligans, as I suppose Mr. King would like to see occur if it resulted in greater sales. Bifurcation would spawn various rules in each geographic location that would make international competition impossible and make every attorney’s wishlist.
I think that if this story accurately reflects Mr. King’s thoughts on the game, equipment restrictions and the current ruling-making bodies, the Board of TaylorMade should reconsider his credibility and fitness to head the organization.

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Mr_Theoo January 31, 2013 at 4:42 pm

There are already other rules in other sports on different levels. Go to any city in the US and you will find different rules for a pick up game of basketball

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Brian Smith January 31, 2013 at 4:57 pm

I have recently written to Peter Dawson, CEO the R&A and basically re-iterated the above – the R&A and USGA focus almost solely on the pro game…so what a pro shots 59, unless he/she can knock some 41 shots off hat score a “perfect” round of golf will never happen and the fans want to see great scores. More amateurs leave the game because it is regarded as “too difficult.” Equipment gets more and more advanced but average handicaps have been static for many years. I have been teaching the game at 2 clubs since 1986 and hope the governing bodies will finally try to improve things for 99.99% of the people that play.

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Jim January 31, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Would it be considered trolling to suggest that USGA ban Taylormade…?

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Blade January 31, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Reduce how far a ball will go, but tee it forward because the course is too long. That’s about as ridiculous as it can get alright. Very good point.

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Florent barral January 31, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Please note some manufacturers did sell out of specs drivers when the 490cc and max COR rules arrived. In japan and Korea it used to be a big market, for people who as you said did not give à damn about rules as long as they were having more fun – and competing for longest drive with their buddies. So there is à segment for overperforming equipment.

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RussT January 31, 2013 at 5:57 pm

I hope the USGA will make a change to the golf ball specs, and sooner rather than later!

I have not been a fan of Taylormade since the R7. The sound, feel, and looks just don’t do it for me anymore. However, they do put out equipment that performs. If the USGA does make the change and TMAG sticks to their guns, other OEM’s will have no choice but to follow suit. Otherwise, TMAG’s strangle hold on the #1 OEM will be even tighter! And once, other OEMs see how big the market for “non conforming” equipment is, the floodgates could bust open. Weekend golfers will gobble it all up.

Here’s hoping the USGA shoots themselves in the foot

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Russell Hollenbeck January 31, 2013 at 6:11 pm

All this bitching about unfair rules and need for bifurcation makes me sick. Golf is tradition and vice versa. Ever hear the phrase “Rub of the green?” Who ever said the game was supposed to be fair? When you start changing the rules to be more what you think is “fair”, you are on a truly slippery slope.

The guys I play with learn the rules, respect them and play by them in tournaments. In every day play, we’re lenient with each other. To a degree. We don’t play courses manicured like those the pros play.

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Frank January 31, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Does it matter if your partner is playing non-conforming equipment? Not if they use it regularly, because that’s what your handicap is for.
Unless you’re talking about the cheats that would just bring out the special clubs for the big tournament. Well, I think that they will always find a way to fix their handicap. But we all know who they are. So, does it really matter?
Shouldn’t we concentrate on the things that make the game so much fun?
I don’t believe that would be the rules.

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RON January 31, 2013 at 6:55 pm

The owner from TM could care less about making the game more fun , he just wants to make money off long putters thats all, its all about money to him ,dont let him fool ya. Bottom line is that if you need a putter up against your body to play on tour you shouldnt be out there,.

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Brad January 31, 2013 at 6:57 pm

What a lot of people in this discussion are failing to realize is that no one is forcing you to play the “easier” set of rules. This is a set of rules and looser regulations on OEM’s to make it more enjoyable for the weekend golfer and would help grow the game. Obviously tournament play would go by the original set of rules (which should be simplified) as would carrying a handicap. There is a lot of reaching in some of these comments by the “purists” but I haven’t read one that has any validity. You can’t argue that this wouldn’t grow the game to some degree and make it more enjoyable for the average to below average golfer. It wouldn’t change the game one bit for any purists out there. Tournament play would be the same, you don’t have to use non-conforming equipment, your group play would likely stay the same, and you can still walk around carrying your head held high because you went out an legit shot in the 70′s playing the pros rules at your local club. If this helps some guy drop his score under a 100 for the first time or add ten yards to his drives with non-conforming equipment, who cares. I could see how that could be fun for a guy. It effects you in no way shape or form. Golf is a difficult game especially for beginners. I can also see why someone who golfed for the first time could get turned off by all the detailed and confusing rules. Chances are 75% of golfers are playing by their own set of rules already. Time to simplify and loosen the rules to accommodate this subset of golfers, which is the majority of people walking the course.

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J. C. Wilson January 31, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Yep, I always thought one of the dumbest ( and most fundamental ) rules of golf, is the one about not fixing spike marks in the green. Not that big a problem with the pros, although, occasionally, even with them, a spike mark will divert a putt; BUT, have you ever played in a local club tourny, where someone is intentionally spiking up the green?? I have, and it’s pretty dirty and underhanded……Why should anyone have to putt through an obstacle created by a competitor??…………It doesn’t make any sense……even if it’s unintentional……….If you play with me, you can always fix a spike mark……. rule # 7734wtf…..

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J. C. Wilson January 31, 2013 at 7:28 pm

I’m not a steadfast golf purest, but the long putters got to go……….

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Socorro January 31, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Rules exist in sports to keep some participants from getting an unfair advantage during competition. That’s why most professional sports and major international venues ban PED’s. Nevertheless, the USGA has focused excessively on the professional tours and turned its back on club play. The simple solution is for the professional associations in this country and their overseas equivalents to enact rules that regulate the equipment players can use and the manner of play in sactioned tournaments.

Meanwhile, the USGA and its overseas equivalents should enact rules that regulate the equipment and manner of play at the club and muni level. The thirteen basic rules are a good place to start, and there need to be simple rules that limit the capacity of the equipment.

Finally, we club and muni players need to stop emulating the pros. We cannot drive like the guys in F1 or NASCAR, and our cars don’t perform like theirs do.

Let’s hit from tees that give us a reasonable chance to get to the green in regulation and not scrutinize our putts as if they were worth thousands of dollars. Recreational golf should be fun for everyone on the course.

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John22615 January 31, 2013 at 8:33 pm

That is why they have different sets of tees. No one expects the 23 handicap to play from the 7300 yard tees. But all sports that have international competition like the European, Asian, PGA, etc tours have the same rules. Recreational players rarely play by the rules now, but no one cares because they are only playing for themselves and their own enjoyment. As soon as you enter into a competition where prizes are awarded, everyone has to play by the same rules with equipment that does not exceed allowed specifications. If you had multiple rules, the “sand baggers” that play with inflated handicaps would only have an additional way to cheat. If you play from the appropriate tees for your ability, the game is enjoyable and handicaps equalize the skill differntials for club and muni players in their games. Bifurcation, like the long putter should be forgotten and relegated to Mr. King’s bin of unsaleable clubs.

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Ken February 1, 2013 at 8:15 am

If you assertion that players use the appropriate tees were correct, John, the “Tee It Forward” initiative wouldn’t exist. The point is to reduce the amount of time necessary to play a recreational round of golf and to make that experience more pleasant for all.

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John22615 February 1, 2013 at 1:26 pm

The “Tee if forward” initiative was started to try and get recreational players, or all players to play the distance appropriate tees. I see guys that can’t break 100 on their best day going back to the black tees when that 440 or 475 yard par four will take them three or four shots to get to the green. It is self-flagellation. Ego is hard to overcome for those with few skills, but still believe they can play with the big boys. I used to play in state and regional tournaments after playing in college, but I now don’t play yardages over 6600 to 6800. And in state senior events, rarely do I see tees set at over 6600 yards. Not even those who once played well want to shoot in the 80′s in a state tournament. Everyone should play the tees that you can accommodate the distance of all the holes in regulation with the appropriate clubs. Hitting long irons and fairway woods into 480 yard par 4′s is not enjoyable. You should play a distance that requires no more than a mid iron into all , but the longest par 4′s and par 3′s.

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GolfSpy T February 1, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Couldn’t agree more John, which is why even the possibility of reducing ball distance concerns me. Despite all the talk about courses being too short for the Tour guys, the average course, particularly newer courses are too long for the average golfer. If you limit the flight of the ball, you’re going to force guys closer to the ladies tees. The guy who found a 6500 yard course barely manageable would probably struggle at 6200. Any why? so we can keep scores higher for the smallest percentage of golfers (Tour Pros).

Saddest part yet…even if they do limit the ball, it won’t work. Look at Tour scoring for the last several decades. Even as driving distance has increased, scoring has remained basically stagnant. Why? Just as it always has, it all comes down to the short game and putting. Makes you wonder if the guys at the USGA even understand the game.

DL January 31, 2013 at 8:24 pm

One set of rules. Why play with non-conforming equipment if you ever want to compete in an event? Member-guests, member-members, club championships, any type of amateur event….. don’t these require conforming clubs? Why get used to clubs you can’t play with when you want to enter an event?

Two sets of rules is a ploy by club mfgs to sell more clubs and make money at the expense of consumers….

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John22615 January 31, 2013 at 8:41 pm

I agree with DL completely. While Titleist has the game’s best interest at heart while simultaneously selling clubs for a profit, Mr. King and TaylorMade care little for the game. There focus is strictly on selling as many clubs as possible without regards to the damage they might inflict upon the game by proposing to, or manufacturing non-conforming clubs and endorsing bifurcation to reap a short term reward at the expense of the long term health of the game.

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hckymeyer January 31, 2013 at 9:41 pm

I understand and hear your point, but the percentage of golfers that those statements apply to is the vast minority.

Think of it like riding a bike. You don’t jump on a mountain bike and go barreling down a hill your first time. You start with training wheels and work your way up as you get more skill. Golf could be same way, if the game wasn’t so hard when you start out more people could enjoy it and stick with it long enough to get better.

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Brad February 1, 2013 at 7:17 am

The thing here is that 80% of golfers never enter tournaments at any level. They may golf in their company tournament once a year which is likely a big piss up anyways. If you plan on playing in club events or amateur tournaments, you would be a moron if you used non-conforming equipment as your regular set of clubs. I don’t see how Titleist has the game’s best interest at heart when they want to keep it less enjoyable for the MAJORITY of golfers. They are keeping the best interest of the pros and better players as their focus. Titleist’s and the USGA’s position has lost touch with the reality of the game played by the majority of golfers.

Same could be said for Titleist understanding it’s market (for the better player usually) and has taken this position to help sell their brand. Purists by in large will often be better players or older gentlemen/women.

Why should the USGA be able to dictate which clubs a company can and cannot sell? While I’m not a fan of Taylormade, I will stand strongly behind Mr. King if he chooses to produce non-conforming equipment. While I wouldn’t play it, accept for maybe the golf ball if the USGA moves to two piece balls, I don’t think others should have to lose enjoyment of the game because of the USGA’s analysis of pro players and how they play.

I still haven’t come across one solid argument for how this will damage the game at all. One thing I am seeing that is a common theme, a lot of reaching for arguments that have no weight.

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Brad February 1, 2013 at 7:42 am

Didn’t mean to reply to your comment specifically, meant to reply to the initial comment.

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Mark D. January 31, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Why does anyone care whether I play with a belly putter? Why should a weekend golfer be held to the same standards as Tiger Woods? There are three types of players: pros/ tourney players, country clubbers and muni players like me. Handicaps? I play different munis each week. The greens are rarely consistent in speed/shape at each hole. The fairways have one thick rough area and no first cut. By seasons end you can see the wear and tear. Country clubbers play on manicured lawns, perfect greens and sand traps. They memorize the greens playing them all season long. At a muni the sand is often thick and not fluffy. Having two sets of rules does not mean to abandon all rules. It means that those of us that don’t play 3-4x a week due to work and family and play at less than stellar but nice fun courses should not be held to the same standards as professional golfers who practice practice practice. So why do you want to take my belly putter away? Why does it really matter to you?

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pgadt January 31, 2013 at 9:44 pm

Who decided that the USGA should be the maker and enforcer of the rules of golf? Answer: They did! All kidding aside the rules of golf should be voted by a committee made up of the following: Royal and Ancient, USGA, PGA of America, PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Golf Club manufacturers, Greens Superintendents. This would greatly cut down of the arbitrary rules changes, and would take a majority vote of those that have a vested interest.

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John22615 February 4, 2013 at 2:38 pm

The R & A and the USGA were the first rule making body when there were few clubs, and are now in the same campacity instead of the PGA. or any of the various world professionaltoura for the simple reason that they have no skin in the game. They don’t represent any body that makes its living from the manufacture, sale, or performance of equipment utilized by those who play golf for a living. Their only interest is in the long-term growth and viability of the game. All of the others have a vested financial interest in the game which could cause them tho subordinate the best interests of the game to their own self interest. Mr. King’s comments bear this out. He may be a very good merchandiser, but he has little knowledge of, or interest in anything other than the increased sales and profitability of TaylorMade.

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Tony January 31, 2013 at 11:56 pm

Just make the game simple and fun!

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JesseV February 1, 2013 at 4:51 am

This may help some of you.

http://traditionalgolfsociety.com/rules

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David W February 1, 2013 at 7:22 am

The rules you point to limit the length of your clubs, require two wooden headed clubs, limits the loft that can be on a club, in one section states that advice can be taken from a playing partner’s caddie and then in another says advice can only be taken from your caddie, if your ball strikes another ball on a green you have to replay your shot from the exact spot and a stroke is deemed to have been taken…some of these rules are worse than the USGA.

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Brad February 1, 2013 at 7:33 am

Haha. If the purist’s in this discussion have a problem with regulation of clubs and bifurcation, then I have no reason to why they shouldn’t play by this set of rules. Drop your Rocketbladez irons and your Razr Fit Extreme purists. Here are the club rules and guidelines you should be following. If you don’t do this immediately, your argument in invalid. Go ahead boys, keep the tradition alive!

(9) RULES GOVERNING EQUIPMENT

Equipment violations shall be one stroke penalty per hole played per club.

A player may not carry more than 16 clubs.
A player must carry at least two wooden-headed clubs.
A player may not carry more than one putter.
No club shall exceed 44 inches in length.
No club shall exceed a loft of 56 degrees.
No club shall have a static weight of less than 13 ounces.
Shafts of golf clubs must be made of wood, steel, or aluminum, and exhibit the patterns of traditional stepping. Only wood-shafted clubs may exhibit a smooth shaft property.
Driving clubs must be made of wood, pear-shaped, as in the tradition of the game.
The Driving club face or hitting area of a wooden driver may not measure more than 3 inches wide and 2 inches in height.
Driving clubs shall have a static weight minimum 13 ounces.
No Driving club shall exceed 44 inches in length.
Iron Clubs must be within the game’s tradition of forged metal (blades), and must not exhibit the presence of any perimeter weighting in an attempt to enlarge the sweet spot of the club head.
Iron Clubs may not have milled or textured faces other than v-shaped grooves within the fine tradition of the game. Box-shaped grooves are not allowed.
Iron Clubs shall have a static weight minimum of 14.5 ounces.
An Iron Club must have a hosel where the shaft is affixed to the club head.
Iron Club heads must not exceed 3 inches in width from the apex of the toe curve to the outside of the hosel unless the club was in production and generally available prior to 1950 (“grandfather clause”), in which case the toe to hosel measurement maximum is 3.5 inches.
Iron Club face height may not exceed 2.5 inches.
Putters shall not exceed 38 inches in length.
A Putter club face shall not exceed 4.5 inches in width, two inches in depth, and two inches in height.

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David W February 1, 2013 at 6:29 am

First let me say, excellent article (as you can probably tell by the number of replies). I believe the USGA should focus completely on the amateur game. We (the amateurs) don’t play the same game they play. We aren’t allowed 5.5 hours to finish a round (thankfully!), we don’t have galleries helping us look for our balls, we can’t go back to the tee if a ball is deemed lost (and hitting a second drive every time someone hit’s one that might be lost just slows the game down), VERY few play stroke and distance, most players roll the ball in the fairway (some even in the rough), VERY few know the difference between how to play a lateral hazard versus a regular hazard…do I need to go on. The USGA needs to simplify the rules based on today’s initiatives such as speeding up play and leave the PGA to set the rules for the professionals. I can even see their being rules for casual play and rules for USGA sanctioned tournament play.

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Rhilst February 1, 2013 at 6:40 am

I still like the feeling that if I birdie a long par four, I have accomplished the same thing that a pro would have by birdieing the same hole. Actually it is a greater accomplishment for me because I don’t hit it nearly as far. I don’t want two sets of rules.

As for the golf ball, let’s turn our attention to finding one that will go farther for 90 mph swing speeds and shorter for those in excess of 105 mph. I bet it could be done if this became the focus.

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Brad February 1, 2013 at 7:21 am

You can play whatever set of rules you like. Because you like to play the game by the book so to speak, why shouldn’t the majority of other golfers have the right to choose what set of rules they would like to play? There are people out there who want two sets of rules or at least an easier version to understand. Why does your opinion hold more weight than theirs? Bifurcation takes NOTHING away from YOUR game.

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David W February 1, 2013 at 7:23 am

Amen!

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John22615 February 1, 2013 at 1:36 pm

What it sounds like from your post is that you want no rules or rules that you decide are appropriate. If you don’t follow the rules now, why have another set that you wouldn’t follow. You should just play and not worry about the score or the rules. Your problem is that if everyone were like you, we would have 50,000,000 sets of rules, each designed by the guy who only wants to follow rules that he has approved. Why bother with any rules then?

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GolfSpy T February 1, 2013 at 1:47 pm

This is common misconception among those who are against bifurcation or simplification. If you don’t want to follow the rules, fine. Don’t follow the rules. That’s a wholly different situation.

I believe what most guys like me (which I’d roll the dice and wager is the vast majority of recreationally competitive golfers) want is a rulebook that’s simpler than the one we have today, one that doesn’t require rules officials to interpret every obscure little nuance, and one that’s practical for how the game is often played (on over-crowed courses where tee times are 5 minutes apart, and returning to the tee isn’t always realistic).

I’m talking about a rulebook that allows for taking relief from divots, cleaning your mud balls, taking gimmes, and generally makes the game more enjoyable. If the ball moves at address…if you didn’t touch it, put it back. No penalty. If your back swing happens to wiggle a lose impediment in a hazard…so what? Let’s make the game more playable.

I think what you’ll find is that the overwhelming majority of golfers play by a generally accepted set of rules that differ only slightly from what the USGA has put into print. Let’s acknowledge and legitimize that for the guys who play close to the letter, but not exactly by the letter.

The guys just knocking balls around…let them knock balls around…celebrate them for coming out and playing, and hopefully with the help of a simplified rulebook we can convert them into score keepers, handicap-keepers, and hopefully one day, tournament competitors.

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Mark D. February 1, 2013 at 6:47 am

What is lost here is that golf attendance at tournaments is high. Golf attendance by amateur players is down. Golf courses have been failing and closing. The reasons I hear is slow play and the game is too frustrating and time consuming to learn. Add the cost of new clubs which has been rising. A set of rules for amateurs that keeps the integrity of the game and makes it fast and friendlier is good for the game. Seeing a pro lose on a silly technicality even makes no sense.

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David W February 1, 2013 at 7:27 am

I bring this up only because it’s the last instance I know of, not because it’s Tiger but his situation is a good example. Two professional golfers who are playing against each other agreed that his ball was buried and not in a sand trap. He takes the drop and then misses the cut because they decided it was a “sandy area”. I watched his shot in slow motion and the dirt that came up was black while the sand around it was white. Way too many technicalities cause DQs, missed cuts, and losses for these guys. And don’t get me started on the fact that someone watching on TV in another state or even country can get someone penalized.

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fleeter February 1, 2013 at 7:47 am

Although your regular Sunday foresomes and your average green-fee’er’s may take some short cuts around the rules (mostly to speed up play) I believe all golfers world wide should abide by the same set of rules. Should the rule book be re-written – ABSOLUTELY. You almost need to be a lawyer to figure some of it out. Years ago I used to take the USGA rule quiz on their web site and some of the scenarios were mind boggling. I failed miserably a few times, and I’ve been playing the game since I was 9 years old and have had a handicap under 5 for most of my adult life. Clean it up? Yes! 2 sets of rules? Never! That’s a line the USGA should never cross.

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Will Par February 1, 2013 at 7:49 am

The reason Mark King doesn’t like the USGA is because they have the power to tell him what he can and cannot do when making golf clubs. If the USGA was more liberal in giving the club makers free reign, King wouldn’t be complaining. I don’t care who makes the rules… USGA or PGA or some other entity as long as the rule makers have the best interests of the game in mind. I’ve never believed that removing all restrictions on club making is in the best interest of the game. King’s first priority is making money. Any opinion he makes on the game of golf is clouded by that priority.

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Brad February 1, 2013 at 8:44 am

Has the USGA really shown that they have the best interests of the game in mind though?

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GolfSpy Matt February 2, 2013 at 8:44 am

Every CEO’s primary interest is making money for their company. That applies to Uihlein and Titleist, too, despite the idea, put forward by some here, that they are the saviors of golf. For club makers, making money and caring about the game are not mutually exclusive. In fact, when it comes to growing the game, they go hand in hand. More golfers = more clubs sold.

Unless you (meant generally, not directed to you, Will) know Mark King or Wally Uihlein personally, I would advise against commenting on their intentions towards the game. It robs your comments of credibility.

-Matt

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John22615 February 4, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Not really GolfSpy Matt. Unless both CEO’s were misquoted, I think that there public statements were quite definitive. The difference between the two is that Uihlein is a golf guy (also a brilliant merchandiser) and King is only a good merchandiser. One makes his living producing great equipment and balls that are not only conforming, but that are technologically superior, while TaylorMade makes very good equipment but balls that have never achieved the market acceptance or performance of Titleist’s products. With Titleist, I know the product will perform and has been validated by top amateurs, pros and my own fitting process; with TaylorMade I am not sure that the claims are not just marketing hype since how much better is this month’s driver than the one they brought out three months ago to the same hype. Technology does not change that fast.

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GolfSpy T February 4, 2013 at 3:47 pm

John – I’ve quite enjoyed your participation in this thread. I didn’t expect everyone would agree, but I was hoping it would stimulate good discussion on both sides. I’d say we’ve accomplished that much.

I had a hunch you were what we might call a Titleist guy. No problem with that, but I’d suggest that the actual numbers don’t support your latest statements. Let me first say I’ve never personally met Mr. Uihlein or Mr. King. Speculation of either’s motives is unfair in general. I believe each is acting in what he believes is in the best interest of the game, and each appears to be directing his respective company in similar fashion. That said…

I’m not sure how you can assert that Mr. King is not a golf guy. My understanding is that he worked his way up through the ranks at TaylorMade (not liked adidas plucked him out of a Buick dealership), and at one time he was a scratch (or close to it) golfer. If that’s not a golf guy, I’m not sure who is.

I would also argue that Mr. King is a much more effective merchandiser – certainly a more adaptable one. TaylorMade became the #1 company in golf under his leadership. They outsell Titleist in Drivers, fairway woods, and irons. The latter is particularly interesting as I was shocked to learn that TaylorMade’s off-course marketshare is above 20%. If memory serves, Titleist was hovering in the 7% range.

Also let’s not forget that a lot of so-called Titliest innovation originated with Cobra. Once the technology was validated, they polished it up for the traditionalist and rolled it into the Titleist lineup. Without Cobra, Titleist innovation has suffered. That’s not to say they don’t make quality product that perform, I’m merely suggesting they’re not breaking any new ground.

Your mention of “this month’s driver” is comical. I’ll concede that TaylorMade at one time was releasing drivers at an alarming rate, it’s been 3 years and counting since anything like that has happened. It’s time the golf world acknowledged as much and moved on. I do respect that Titleist has maintained 2 year release cycles. While it’s allowed them to build an identity in the marketplace, it’s not serving them well as the Titleist generation ages.

I believe the shifting demographics of golf favor the fresh approach we’re seeing from TaylorMade, Cobra-PUMA, and even Nike.So far they haven’t shown a willingness to adjust to a shifting demographic; one that doesn’t view Titliest as the brand for serious golfers – more to the point, it’s a generation that sees Titliest as the boring brand their grandfather plays.

That said, If you’re suggesting that TaylorMade sometimes shoots itself in the foot with aggressive marketing plans that can make it difficult to determine what really performs, and what’s just well-marketed…yeah…we agree there.

I win of course concede the ball…hell everyone concedes the ball. I do believe there are better balls out there, but as was suggested to me, nobody can make a real run at Titleist until there’s a clear number 2. Right now it’s Titleist and everybody else. Someday a clear #2 will emerge, and then all bets are off.

While Titleist does maintain a comfortable lead…as with every other aspect of the business that I’m aware of, Titliest is facing declining marketshare with the ball.

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John22615 February 4, 2013 at 5:24 pm

GolfSpy T. You are right that I prefer Titleist/Footjoy to Adidas/TaylorMade, but I prefer Mizuno to TaylorMade irons as well, and think that Ping’s tolerances are as good or better than anyone else. I happen to play forged, Titleist blades and 910 woods, but would play Mizuno irons or Ping woods without too much trouble. TaylorMade may have a bigger ad budget and enjoy a larger market share than Titleist in the club area, but they don’t make irons that compete with the best mass marketed, forged brands of Mizuno or Titleist in my mind (Muira probably makes the best forged blades, but their cost is over the top). The clubs that I have belonged to, and the players that I play with, are more oriented toward Mizuno, Titleist and Ping than TaylorMade or Callaway. But my comments about King and Uihlein have nothing to do with the equipment that they sell, it has everything to do with the comments each CEO made public regarding their thought as to the bifurcation question and their opinion of the USGA and R&A. I would not expect Uihlein to say that he did not support unification or minimize the USGA or R&A, and I was surprised that King was as disrespectful to the USGA/R&A as he was for someone in his position. I can understand the 20 handicap wanting to blow off the USGA, or even the tournament player wanting to fix spike marks when metal spikes were common, but not someone in his position. Callaway lost a great deal of their reputation a number of years ago when they manufactured and sold non-conforming drivers in Asia. If King is to be believed, it sounds as though TaylorMade would do that now, and sell that type of equipment not only overseas, but within the United States and Europe just to thumb his nose at the two ruling bodies. Having served on a number of Boards, I would not be surprised to see Adidas’s management or Board strongly suggest that King remain silent and be thought a fool rather than open his mouth and remove all doubt.

Gregh February 1, 2013 at 8:26 am

This discussion is interesting. I read a Hogan biography several years ago and Hogan, Nelson and Sneed were saying the same comments many of us are saying now about the USGA and they were just as right as we are now. They are a bunch of Blue blood, blue blazer clad elitists. I agree with Mark King about 98%.

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Andy February 1, 2013 at 9:16 am

Love it. Love it. Love it. Love the article and big Kudos to TM too.!

Although in the end, will anyone really stand up if the R&S / USGA change the rules ? If you want to compete in club competitions you HAVE to buckle and comply. So I don’t see how the manufacturers (even TM) could sell non-conforming equipment of any kind to any players that compete at any level…

Love the idea though. Hope this takes off as I’d love a .90 CoR speedslot R1 and super spinny wedges !

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golfer4life February 1, 2013 at 11:33 am

I guess where I keep getting confused is the whole “We have to grow the game”? Why? Has the game not been growing already, what are we looking for to be satisfied on growing the game? Are there not enough people playing, are the pros not playing for enough cash, are there not enough courses, equipment companies ect? That phrase gets thrown around so much without enough thought given to what would satisfy growing the game. Equipment companies are usually the ones heading that statement simply because more people playing means more people buying. As far as the rules of golf, I definitively feel a good start would be to write the rules so they could be understood more easily. Most people that aren’t following the rules can’t even tell you what most of them are or how to execute how to proceed with a question or infraction. The USGA has always been a step behind and made more than there share of questionable decisions. I think the PGA Tour and prob the RNA should be making there own set of rules for there players by there players. As far as the rest of us maybe the PGA might be the best place to be setting the rules. (Unless the USGA wants to start re-thinking how to go about things)

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Duncan Castles February 1, 2013 at 11:37 am

Fascinating article.

Personally, I can see the merit in simplifying the Rules of Golf in ways that make them easier to understand, without altering the spirit or essence of the game. Increasing the size of the hole, or creating different rules for professionals and amateurs, however, makes little sense.

Rules that limit the length of drivers and the COR of all clubheads, though, should remain. They may not be good for TaylorMade’s ‘X more yards’ marketing model, but they prevent great courses from becoming obsolete and actually offer a reassurance to the canny amateur. If, as straight-talking club designers like Tom Wishon tell us, modern golf clubs have hit the limit of radical technological gains, then equipping yourself to play the game becomes a simpler and less expensive exercise. Now you can look for the best design, get it properly and professionally custom fit to your swing and physique, and then concentrate on improving your own technique in the knowledge that your clubs are as good as they can get.
(http://www.mygolfspy.com/tom-wishon-golf-technology/)
So no need to constantly worry about performance advantages to be had by buying the latest gear. You invest in one set, stick with them, enjoy the level you play the game at, or work on improving it through practise or lessons. And the money saved can be spent on actually playing more golf, on a wider variety of courses. Not great for TaylorMade’s profits, but is it bad for golf?

http://sulia.com/my_thoughts/38934bab-b0ca-4f45-bcf7-fdc16388262e/?source=twitter

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mybluc4 February 1, 2013 at 4:41 pm

William Penn (refined)
“If thou wouldst conquer thy weakness thou must pick up an R-1 and flourish in its flight.

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mybluc4 February 1, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Buddha (sort of)
There is no fire like passion, there is no shark like hatred, there is no snare like folly, there is no torrent like greed, there is no driver like TaylorMade’s R-1.

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John22615 February 1, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Mybluc4. Perhaps for you the R-1 is nirvana, but i will keep my 910D3 with a Graphite Design AD DI 6s shaft. Now there is the driver to cherish, and I hope that the face never breaks, the shaft fatigues or someone else covets the driver as mush as I do..

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mybluc4 February 1, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Andrew Carnegie plus 1

Concentration is my motto–first honesty, then industry, then nailing a TaylorMade R-1 on the screws.

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andrew February 2, 2013 at 4:02 am

i like the article, even though i disagree withh alot of the points therein. i will say the biggest obstacle to making the game more fun (thus growing it) is cost. plain and simple. it’s far, far too expensive. when i was a kid a 9 hole round at many of the local munis, for juniors, was 5 dollars. for seniors- 5 dollars. for adults? 10 dollars. they werent pebble beach, but anyone could play. that means you could actually go out two, three times a week to practice/play without killing yourself on greens fees. that made it alot more fun. if any of you play hockey you may know what im talking about.

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rb February 2, 2013 at 5:12 am

Is this mygolfspy’s 2nd cup of TM Kool Aid. Re: mygolfspy piece: ‘I hit taylormade rocketballz & all i got was a lousy haircut’? Has mygolfspy become a business??

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GolfSpy Matt February 2, 2013 at 8:53 am

Speaking only for myself, and in my finest John McEnroe voice:

“You cannot be serious!”

This is an article about the RULES OF GOLF. T simply used the disagreement between two major golf industry figures as an angle from which he could discuss his views on the rules. Is “TaylorMade” in the title? Sure, because doing so bring eyeballs to the page. And those eyeballs stayed, and read the article, and commented because it’s a good, thought provoking article worthy of discussion.

I can understand these kinds of comments on T’s TaylorMade release article. They’re still stupid and wrong, but at least I can understand them. But here? On this article? Really?

-Matt

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rb February 2, 2013 at 11:58 am

I respect your disagreement and argument but WOW ‘stupid and wrong’ Really?

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GolfSpy Matt February 2, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Again, speaking only for myself:

Yes, “stupid and wrong.”

First, understand that every other major golf site would have taken your comment down immediately. MyGolfSpy is the lone exception; we do not censor our readers. However, that does not mean that you can say whatever you want and have it treated reverently. People who post stupid things will be called stupid. People who are wrong will be told they’re wrong. If you don’t like that, you’re free to visit the sites that only allow OEM-approved, site-friendly posts.

We welcome constructive criticism. In many cases, we ask for it. Look at our recent Tour Staff contest: the entire premise was “Tell us how to get better” (actually “Tell us why we suck” was the chosen phrase, if I recall correctly).

All that said, this “sell out” stuff is beyond tired. Where is the EVIDENCE? Are our reviews not data-driven anymore? Are we no longer publishing Labs articles that frequently spit in the face of OEM marketing? Do you see banner ads for OEMs?

You want to know why this stuff drives me up a wall? Because I know what goes into this site. I know that an average club review takes hours of testing, data sorting, photography, and writing, not to mention the logistical nightmare of lining up testers. I know that a halfway decent Lab takes a month, and that’s if everything falls into place. And I know how easy and lucrative it would be to sell out. In a matter of weeks, MyGolfSpy could be making 10 times more money and working a whole lot less because there would be no more data-driven club reviews, no more Labs, no more good editorial pieces. But that hasn’t happened, and it probably never will, because the people who run the site care more about the mission of helping and informing golfers than taking the easy way.

But as X said recently, maybe it does make sense to sell out if everyone is going to assume we have anyway.

-Matt

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golfer4life February 3, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Always gonna be a few Matt. You guys are making the masses happy of what you guys do. Keep up the good work guys.
G4L

68golfer76 February 4, 2013 at 5:48 am

Ia addition to the excellent article and comments, the Rules say, “consult with a Member of the Committee when in doubt.” Am I really going to hold up play at a public course, on a very busy Saturday, to try and find a Member of the Committee?

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Meex Jnr February 13, 2013 at 8:31 am

Rule 6-7 Undue Delay; Slow Play “The player must play without undue delay” …this is where the 2 ball rule can take effect and 2 ball played and scores noted to confirm with an official or the committee which ruling is correct. Simples

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John H February 5, 2013 at 10:31 am

What King suggests is almost inevitable. The “serious golfers” and “traditionalists” are seriously and traditionally deluded about the compliance with the rules by the vast majority of players. The sooner we get to a realistic set of rules that the rest of us can abide by in the context of our weekend games and mid-week league play, the sooner we can start expecting that our fellow competitors are sticking to the same rules. One color stakes are a slam dunk. Relief from un-raked bunker lies and unfilled fairway divots seem not only sensible, but fundamentally more fair. No penalty for any ball movement that was not caused by the player. Mandatory ready golf. Take the stuff that makes play more enjoyable and incorporate that into the rules. What a concept – make playing golf more fun and faster. I’ve not played T-Made equipment up to now, but I may have to support them this year, just because the boss seems to have his head screwed on straight.

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John22615 February 5, 2013 at 2:22 pm

John H., What King suggests is currently played out at all muni’s during their weekly games, but it is not inevitable or contemplated by by “traditionalists” or competitive players at the amateur or professional level. I am not in disagreement that the rules could be simplified, or that I would not like to see spike marks be able to be fixed, etc, but until that occurs worldwide through the only rules making bodies that exist (USGA and the R&A), competitive players will continue to honor the current rules and non-competitive players (read as recreational) will continue to make up their own rules or recognize no rules.

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Harry Goss February 6, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Mr. King’s viewpoint is one firmly planted in what I call the “grow the game mentality.” This position really gained momentum during the nineties and was shot into the stratosphere by the emergence of Tiger Woods. It really should be called the “make me rich mentality” because that is what it really is. Golf has never been a game for EVERYONE. There, I said it. I know- blasphemy! So shoot me.

Golf is a game like no other. What makes Golf special is a level of commitment that borders on fanaticism. To really love golf, you must accept it for what it is. Golf, like true love, tests your dedication, patience, fortitude, character, and sanity. It is not for EVERYONE! The Rules of Golf cannot be taken as trifling nuisances shunted aside because they are inconvenient.

People who make the argument that golf should be easier do not love the game. Golf does not, nor should it, go to anyone. You go to Golf. You ask for its gifts, the feel of the ball off the face of a pure strike, the sound of a long putt hitting the bottom of the cup, watching a cut driver shot swing around a dog-leg. These are the kinds of gifts golf bestows on those who follow it and adore it. It takes a special kind of person to appreciate these things. Golf is not for EVERYONE.

Unfortunately, people like Mr. King are the ones whose statements are given merit, like he knows something we should. Mr. King loves money, not golf. Every time I hear one of the “grow the game” crowd I say “why”? Golf doesn’t need to be grown, it needs to be cherished and protected. People like Mr. King want to “grow the game” so he can “grow his pocketbook.” The hell with the rules or the game.

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John22615 February 6, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Harry Goss. Well said. While many use golf as an exercise vehicle without the intent or ability to keep score or abide by the rules, most “core” golfers play by the rules. I agree that Mr. King is only motivated by the money that he envisions receiving if the game appealed to everyone without regard to how it is played or if it had 50,000,000 different rules in 50 different countries. Chaos would reign, but in the short run until ennui set in to the masses, King would reap a short term benefit at the expense of the long-term health of the game. Perhaps you are right, golf may not be for everyone anymore than football is not for the meek or physically fragile. But those who can’t can always watch.

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Meex Jnr February 13, 2013 at 8:15 am

Taylormade just want to take away club design restrictions because the fact is, they soon wont be able to make the ball go further which is their only marketing tool …they are only interested in the potential profits and not the tradition and integrity of our beloved game.

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Meex Jnr February 13, 2013 at 8:19 am

Golf will never die because of rules, there are only 34 of them… rules officials are on every hole on the PGA Tour to speed up play.

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Steven Meyers February 22, 2013 at 11:07 am

Mark King is my hero. That is all.

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dave bamford April 24, 2013 at 11:15 am

I am a documentation specialist, and many of my hours as a professional has been spent on standards development and documentation. The Rules of Golf defines standards — and whenever standards are in place, people will complain about them. In my experience a) the amount of work they will have to do or b) the amount of money they will make or lose, will drive how frequently or how enthusiastically they will voice complaints about former/current/future standards development.

Standards is a tricky business. Often very dedicated, passionate people spend almost preposterous amounts of time, effort, and energy debating not only worthwhile ideas, in theory and in practice, but the sentences describing these ideas, and even (or especially!) the placement of commas within said sentences.

Standards need to remain stable, and small alterations for edge-cases can be expected on an annual basis (or some timeframe appropriate to each industry). If a sea-change happens in an industry, the standards-keepers are duty-bound to consider a sweeping overhaul from time to time. This is much harder to do than the status-quo of tweaking edge cases. It is fraught with risk and requires extensive research. People from all aspects of the industry need to participate.

I don’t think the USGA is derelict in its duties at all, at least on the surface. The amount of feedback, complaints, and suggestions they receive are likely preposterous, and also likely repetitive. Some rules, people just love to hate — every industry has them. Standards bodies do not move quickly — that is something of the nature of the beast with standards bodies or bureaucracies in general. For example, there is a link on the USGA site right now describing the research effort underway on pace of play: http://www.usga.org/news/2013/February/USGA-Announces-Pace-Of-Play-Initiatives/ I am sure nobody knows how long this will take, but my guess is that they will have a proposed timeframe of a year or two (or three?).

The convergence of equipment advances, growing course length, colliding perhaps with some antiquated rules (I’ve never ever personally seen someone walk back to the tee box after a lost ball) — may indicate a serious overhaul of the “rules” is needed — but things are never as simple as they seem. Standards bodies know this.

My personal stance is that driver technology (whether the key metrics are CCs, materials, head weight, I do not know, I’m not an engineer) improvements have been a disaster for the game. Par 4s have become drivable “long 3′s” for players with the right equipment. This has resulted in lengthening courses, which makes them less walkable, is wasteful of land and water resources, and makes courses far less playable for those who aren’t long-ball hitters. Length adds to time of play and deteriorating walkability. In my opinion when you destroy the walkability of golf courses, you are eroding the game you originally set out to improve.

If I were king? Go back to wooden woods and iron irons. Steel shafts. 300 ccs max clubhead volume, or something of the sort. Putt with anything you like, swing it how you like.

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Tedd Hikes June 26, 2013 at 11:05 am

I’m on the fence on this issue and here’s why; I am all for growing the game. While I don’t currently use an anchored stroke, I have in the past and might want to again in the future. Taking that option away and making the game harder for the average guy/gal who is paying 60 bucks at the local muni or 750 bucks a month to belong to a club, is BAD for golf. That said, not having some set of common rules for golfers to abide by, which includes conformity of equipment, takes away the biggest joy many of us get out of the game which is the ability to fairly compete against our buddies in a Saturday morning game or against the entire field at the annual member/guest. The USGA should focus their attention on the growth of the game and their constituency, the average player. Let the PGA Tour worry about the PGA tour. If golf courses become obsolete due to their ability, it’s up to them to address it. I know that despite the fact I’m one of the longer hitters at my club, I only play the back tees once or twice a year as a challenge and change of pace. The difference between myself and the 1000 ranked Pro in the world is vast, so limiting my enjoyment of the game so that the number 1 ranked Pro doesn’t light up the scoreboard is flawed thinking. Make golf fun for the average guy and the game grows. Take that away and there won’t be a USGA or PGA Tour to even debate. It’s not the Pro’s that watch themselves on TV. It’s those of us that can’t get enough of this great game that are important. Keep us engaged and striving to improve. The minute we get discouraged and give up is the minute this game begins to shrivel on the vine and ultimately die.

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Jesse December 18, 2013 at 3:59 pm

it all comes down to money and where it can be made.

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dcorun December 19, 2013 at 12:05 pm

First, I didn’t realize that the USGA was banning the long putter just the fact you can’t anchor it against your body. As for two sets of rules, I don’t agree. We have such a mess with one set I don’t see the need for two. Look at the the tour now. I saw players either not understanding or just ignoring the rules in several tournaments so, why would we need two sets. Let the weekend golfer play by the rules or play by their own which isn’t hurting anyone, but we do need a simpler explanation of the rules. Rule 26, subsection 2, article 2-C will put you to sleep quickly. I think everyone involved, the USGA, R&A, PGA, the Tour, LPGA and Company owners should sit down and work these issues out instead of acting like our US Congress is now, it’s my way or the highway from each side. I believe if this happened there would be room to improve and update the rule book and COMPROMISE on the issues that have started all this nonsense. But, please no 20 clubs or 15″ holes. Just my humble opinion.

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Jack January 4, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Let the manufacturers help, us amateurs, all they can….I will be first in line to buy a more enjoyable game!

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Rusty January 4, 2014 at 8:20 pm

So sad that tradition means so little. I want the feeling that when I make a birdie, I am doing it with equipment conforming to a single rules standard. Sure, I don’t play the same tees but I do play a game covered by one set of rules.

Do we really want a set of rules established by the PGA Tour–or by the President of a club and ball producing company? We could have pros hitting the ball 400 yards which will make obsolete most of our golf courses. Talk about ruining the game!

Hopefully sanity returns soon.

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W. Scott January 5, 2014 at 9:11 am

There is no question that most golfers do not play by or even know the rules. Illegal clubs are available on E-Bay and openly touted as Non-conforming. Many amateurs I know have them in their bags. Japanese manufactures are making a lot of money selling them.
The game is bifurcated now because almost no average player gets to play a course of the length or in the condition the Pros play them. Few players can afford to play where the Tours play.
Only a tiny minority of amateurs hit the ball anywhere near as long as a Tour player, and never will. A very large percentage of amateurs ride not walk and that certainly makes it a different game in the simplest way.
I for instance, have had a bad tremor in my left hand for twenty years. The only way I can put without shaking the putter head all over the place is by anchoring it. But I have been trying unsuccessfully to do it since the final rule change date was announced. Boy, has it made the game frustrating!
Nicklaus suggests many different balls and has wanted to roll back the ball and the golf courses for years.
So maybe it is time to allow for different rules for different levels of players and more innovation in all aspects of the game. Scott

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