Let’s get right to the point. The 2019 Modernization of the Rules of Golf has been quite the lightning rod of controversy. Almost from Day One of 2019, there has been controversy regarding certain rules infractions. In a way, I’m sort of glad that this has been the case. Really, it has made for excellent “cannon fodder” giving me something to write about.
Personally speaking, I’ve been relatively opinionated about my general disdain of at least some of the new rules in place. That said, it isn’t all bad. I like the idea of leaving the flag in… If anything else it will speed up the pace of play where it matters. The source of the revenue for golf courses and the respective manufacturers. The recreational golfer. I haven’t been on a golf course since January 1st but it only stands to reasons that this will benefit pace of play. Just one thing though, don’t park your carts (push or riding) in front of the greens. Park parallel to the pin. It’s that simple!!
But some of the rules that have been put in place has been tough to palette at times. For example, the knee height drop. You might recollect that back in December I acted out rehearsing “the drop” just to make sure that I got it right. At the root of it, I was openly mocking the rule change. Is it difficult to bend over at the trunk to execute a drop? Certainly not. Does it really make a difference? No, as a matter of fact, I conducted an experiment and out of 10 knee height drops vs the conventional method I actually got more bad lies with the knee height version. Believe it or not!
Speaking of the knee height drop, there has been some drama surrounding it. First, in Hawaii, Bryson DeChambeau got real “extra” in performing a drop. I like Bryson and I like him a lot but he looked like a damn fool trying to get comfortable. Bryson, leave the mocking to us that are not on national television. Then there was Rickie Fowler. He got penalized for dropping the “conventional” way. Even in law, ignorance of the law is no excuse. The Criminal Code and laws of the land are written somewhere. The USGA and R&A are no different. All players know the rule but to penalize on those grounds? It makes me wonder if Mr. Palmer is rolling in his grave looking down at this. In my opinion, there is plenty of room for the rule to be written. Perhaps it could be something like this. In my eyes, it seems very reasonable and I actually had Brittany Lincicome give it a “Like” on Twitter (sorry about the mention Brittany).
“In the case of dropping a ball for relief or a penalty. A player may proceed to drop with the option of dropping the ball from knee height as he or she sees fit”.
Like I said, I’m a fan of some of the new rules. For example, Rule 10.2b(4): “The previous prohibition is extended so that, once the player begins taking a stance for the stroke, and until the stroke is made, the player’s caddie must not deliberately stand on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the ball for any reason”. Honestly, I like it and I feel that a professional golfer playing in a major TOUR should have the sufficient skill to be aligned properly. First, there was China’s Haotong Li at the Dubai Desert Classic that was assessed the two-stroke penalty. Li was preparing for his birdie putt on the 72nd hole at the Emirates Club. His caddie was observed standing behind him as he was taking his stance. Then look no further than Friday. At the Honda Classic, Adam Schenk was assessed a two-stroke penalty after the fact when his caddie (Mark Carens) was said to have been discussing where to land a shot. It was viewed as Carens lining up Schenk. While Schenk and his caddie said that there was no intent to cheat (I feel that there wasn’t either) a rules official showed the footage on an iPhone prior to his third round. The net result was a triple bogey being put on the scorecard. I really think there could be a fine line with this one. To the caddies on TOUR just stand to the left or right of your player.
Now, players have been voicing there concerns to any media outlet that will give them access. Golf Channel and of course social media. Today, Justin Thomas was called out. By the USGA themselves. See below.
I liked the response. The USGA openly aired the proverbial dirty laundry and let everybody know that they’ve been waiting right there for players to approach them. Or at least in this case Justin Thomas himself. This is the solution to get to the bottom of all of the rules hubbub. Instead of golfers (TOUR players) taking to social media from the safety of a cell phone or laptop sit down and have a face to face interaction. Isn’t this what the Player’s Advisory Council is for? Chairmen Hahn and Kisner the floor is yours. Whatever happened to interpersonal skills? Those skills that we acquired growing up as children where you actually talked openly about situations? Oh, those were the days.
I sincerely hope and am hopeful that what we’re experiencing are growing pains. Golfers, for the most part, have always been reluctant to accept change. Remember when white drivers came out? Or new ways to develop a golf swing (Stack and Tilt, The Golfing Machine etc). The controversy and hate. With any luck, the USGA and respective TOUR players will all be on the same change by the time The Masters comes around. If controversy continues come the U.S. Open the USGA could be in a real hornet’s nest.
Until The Next Tee!!