One Final Thought on the Distance Report

I’ve had my say on this topic in a piece that I wrote yesterday (article is here) in the aftermath of the “key findings” of the distance report or project or whichever label that you want to apply to it. For the most part, the report was painfully obvious and nearly a joke. But I just wanted to write one more piece on this topic and then I hope that I will not discuss this issue again for some time.

But please allow me to shed a different light on this.

It’s really funny how so many sports can transcend each other. Golf has parallels with the casting motion of fly fishing. Golf has parallels with softball/slo-pitch and not from a swing mechanics point of view.

Back in the day when I played softball, it was at a time when baseball bats were getting away from aluminum and carbon composites were being employed. As this happened bat speeds got quicker and quicker. For pitchers, the game became dangerous because the exit speeds off of the bat were producing hits that made it tough to react in time to get your glove up and protect yourself (I was a pitcher). It actually got to the point where some of the softball bats were banned (Easton Synergy, Synergy+ and Miken Ultra to name a few). Over time, players started to “roll” and “shave” their softball bats and that made things even worse. It got to the point that the sanctioning bodies would have x-ray machines at major tournaments (Provincial and National Championships) checking to see if the bats were tampered with.

Eventually, the powers that be decided to roll the softball back. Instead of using a softball with a really hard core (Worth Red Dot) they switched to a slightly softer ball (Worth Grey Dot). It made things a little better but then some leagues adopted an even softer ball called a “RIF” (think of it as Local Rules for golf). The “RIF’ was a flight restricted softball that was often referred to as a “mush ball”. My league was one of them. Does this sound just a little familiar, golfers?

To protect the houses that backed onto the diamond there was a 30′ high mesh netting installed. The diamonds themselves were not “short porches” as they were 325′ down the lines. Think of MLB ballpark dimensions. Balls still routinely ended up in the backyards of the homeowners, balls bounced off of the roofs of the houses, and windows were still smashed.

Here comes the correlation as it relates to the distance report.

While there was the occasional player in the “D” and “Rec” Leagues that could still smash the ball out of the ballpark the majority could no longer do it. Meanwhile, the more elite players (“A” “B” and “C” players) were still routinely hitting homeruns into the homeowners’ respective yards. Sure the rec players had the same hardware (bats and balls) as the better players but they did not have the bat speeds of the upper echelon players. There were way more rec players than “A” players. Think of the “A” players as the “Top 1%”.

That’s exactly who the idea of rolling back golf equipment and/or the golf ball affects. The recreational player! Not the guys on the PGA TOUR, European Tour, Korn Ferry Tour, etc. Those guys, like the “A-ball” players, still have the speed and power to annihilate a rolled back golf ball. It won’t hurt them much but it will hurt the everyday golf consumer that buys the products and supports them and the manufacturers. It’s too late unless they’re going to go back to gutta-percha or dimple-less golf balls. Say, that would be fun, right?!

If the ball were to get rolled back, it would make it a little more important for golfers to play the right tees. But shouldn’t that already be a chief consideration before teeing it up on the first tee?

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

 

The Findings of the Distance Report

So the powers that be that govern our great game of golf have recently released a distance report. The report filed and submitted by the USGA and the R&A have determined that gains in length has and will continue to be detrimental to the game of golf. If you’re anything like me, I would have like to have been warned before such a shocking epiphany and observation was made.

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Below is a summary of the key findings of the report.

  • There is a 100-year trend of hitting distance increases in golf, as well as a corresponding increase in the length of golf courses, across the game globally the USGA and The R&A believe this continuing cycle is detrimental to the game’s long-term future.
  • The inherent strategic challenge presented by many golf courses can be compromised, especially when those courses have not or cannot become long enough to keep up with increases in the hitting distances of the golfers who play from their longest tees. This can lead to a risk of many courses becoming less challenging, or obsolete.
  • Increased hitting distance can begin to undermine the core principle that the challenge of golf is about needing to demonstrate a broad range of skills to be successful.
  • If courses continue to lengthen, it is at odds with growing societal concerns about the use of water, chemicals and other resources.
  • Longer distances and courses, longer tees and longer times to play are taking golf in the wrong direction and are not necessary for a challenging, enjoyable and sustainable game.
  • A concern has been identified that many recreational golfers are playing from longer tees than is necessary relative to their hitting distances, and, in particular that the forward tees on many golf courses are very long for many of the golfers who play from them.

With these key findings, it further led to discussions about equipment rollbacks and discussions about agronomy. I’ll be honest. I’m almost shocked that it took a panel from these two organizations to figure this out. In a way, for them to actually have to put something like this together tells me that “they” were almost out of touch with the game. You couldn’t see this coming before it happened? Life in “Ivory Towers”.

I have long said over social media that the ongoing “distance crisis” is multi-pronged. Everything is a factor but they all have one word in common with one another. Technology. Technology as far as golf equipment, golf balls, agronomy, R&D as far as technology and how golfers are trained and the beat goes on. The issue does not really revolve strictly around golf equipment and golf balls.

But as far as equipment goes, does the massive increase in distances really apply to the recreational golfer? You know, the golfer like yourself reading this article. The consumer that walks into your average golf retailer and purchases the equipment, balls, apparel, and more? While some golfers have noted some gains in improving the distance that they hit a golf ball the majority of golfers have not. Moreover, for all of these golfers have their respective handicaps plummeted from a 15 to a 5 like a magical bean bought from a farmer?

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The ongoing distance debate and discussion of “rolling back” of the golf ball has been so tiring. It’s gotten old and yet here we are. Here I am talking about it.

The notion of golf courses becoming too long and obsolete only applies to the Top 1% golfers of the Top 1% in the world. The issue really surrounds itself around TOUR players and most notably the “guys”. Research that I conducted of the LPGA Tour (as far as driving distance goes) showed an increase of 22 yards between 1999 and 2019. Anne Van Dam led the way in 2019 at 283 yards. Anybody know who the leader was in 1999? Jean Bartholomew.

Not once, have I heard while working in a pro shop during my time working in the golf industry a golfer come in and state that he’s hitting the golf ball too far. At this point, to roll golf balls or golf clubs back for the other 99% would be both counterintuitive and counterproductive. It doesn’t apply to them. It makes a ton of sense doesn’t it to have these golfers hit the golf ball shorter distances when all of the marketing types from the majority of golf manufacturers have been touting their “longest, most forgiving ever” for years.

Dear R&A and USGA:

If you want to roll equipment and balls back… fine. But only for the elite golfers playing professional tour golf, collegiate and/or amateur golf at the highest of levels. For the rest of the golfers just leave it the way it is. Yes, recreational golfers have a certain duty and obligation to play the approrpiate tees for their skill level/distance. Nobody, wants to hit the golf ball shorter.

As far as golf courses being rendered obsolete. I hate to sound like a broken record withon my own pages but let the superintendents at these professional events have fun. Let them protect “their” golf course. Grow the rough out, narrow the fairways, water the daylights out of the fairways, and firm up the greens and let them be like lightning week in and week out.

Recreational players, you too have a duty and obligation. Play the appropriate tees for your skill level and distance that you hit your clubs.

Sincerely Yours,

Alexander Toth

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

U.S. Open Drama – But Is It Really?

It’s a rainy Saturday here as I look out the window after walking my dog. It sucks, I was going to go golfing while I wait for my wife to call me after a night out at a friends house. But, that’s simply not going to happen. It’s too bad too because yesterday I finally felt some things in my swing that felt really good. Oh well, there’s always my net later on. So I figured, what a terrific time to write a blog post. On what you may ask? Well, I guess the title really says it all.

US Open Golf

Brisk conditions lay ahead.

After the Open Championship the U.S. Open is my favorite golf tournament of the year (no disrespect intended to The Masters… I just simply love you). Year after year the USGA makes this tournament the ultimate golf test. Tough conditions to the point where the golf course is drained of its former self that ultimately sees the proverbial cream rise to the top. The USGA has been much-maligned in the past for this but to be honest… I love what they do when they set up the course for the Open.

2019, has been no different to an extent. The exception to this being that I’ve found the set-up this year to be pretty damn fair which is in a way a good thing. That isn’t saying that it’s quite set-up like the Pebble Beach Pro-Am but compared to Shinnecock Hills, Chambers Bay, et al it’s not quite the same. Sure the rough is grown out but the greens are certainly burned out having had the life seemingly sucked right out of them. Much in a way that’s similar to the scene in “The Prince Bride” where “Wesley” (played by Cary Elwes) is placed into “The Machine”. At any rate, “Mother Nature” is lurking in the Pacific and it’s going to be her that going to go a long way in crowning our champion. If this event turns into a “Battle of Attrition” it’ll be hard not to examine the possibility of a Koepka threepeat.

As I’ve watched the golf telecast on FOX (who ought to really stay in their own lane and stay clear of golf) I’ve found myself both bewildered and amused. Especially when it comes to the supposed controversy or drama between Jordan Spieth and his caddy Michael Greller. The fact that Spieth often talks out loud during his rounds is not a surprise. Is there a guy or girl in professional golf that talks to their golf ball more? Likely not. But when a tournament is covered by FOX that means that there is a host of cameras and of course microphones. The microphones pick up everything. Including this…

“Two perfect shots, Michael,” he said. “You got me in the water on one and over the green on the other.” – Jordan Spieth to caddy Michael Greller

Of course, everyone on social media and golf telecasts is talking about a riff or at least tension between the two usually amicable partners. Let’s have a look at some things for a second. Spieth whom in the past could do no wrong and was the second coming of Tiger has seen himself slip. His slip has been in the OWGR and in the eyes of golf fans. While he ranks 66th (at the time of writing)  in the FedEx Cup rankings it’s the slide to 28th in the OWGR that’s alarming and cause for “quasi-concern”. He hasn’t played to his level and there’s no doubt that he’s frustrated. Perhaps he has outside distractions? Getting back to the topic at hand and the issue with Greller. The first thing that I wanted to say is that I have no doubt that Greller has thick skin. He better, considering the paydays that he’s received while looping for Spieth. There is no tension in the sense that the media wants you to believe and if anything Jordan is looking to channel his frustration elsewhere. Queue Greller. As the caddy you have a few details in your job description other than the old adage “show up, shut up, and keep up”. They include but are not limited to…

  1. Being a counselor and/or therapist
  2. Being the source of vital information
  3. Researching hole locations and conditions overall
  4. Standing for countless hours on the practice grounds
  5. Keeping the player focused and…
  6. Club selection

Going back to Spieth’s quote. Greller selected the club and of course “the boss” has veto power. Spieth didn’t veto Greller’s selection and opinion of which club should be selected and used said club in both cases. Greller didn’t swing the club… it was Jordan and he failed to execute properly on both occasions. Jordan those two particular shots were on you. Their issues are simply non-issues and they’re fine and this is simply a case of “deflection”. Oh and one last thing. If you describe what transpired a “blasting” of Greller I suggest that you reevaluate your definition of “blasting”. Last time that I checked Jordan was a Texan and not a Canadian.

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Acceleration and follow thru.Solid technique. Kids… do not try this at home. (Photo Credit: Golf.com)

Patrick Reed. As a friend of mine Mike said on Twitter Reed is a whipping boy amongst golf fans on social media.

What I’m about to say really is in my Tweet that prompted Mike to say this. Patrick Reed was frustrated and he hit a poor shot. It happens, it’s golf and it is the U.S. Open. The number of golfers around the world that would feel his frustration is in the millions. It’s just that we all have different ways of dealing with it. Parick Reed chose to snap his wedge over his thigh (while not breaking his Femur) and that was the only damage that he did. Did he have a tantrum on the golf course like Sergio Garcia or Bryson DeChambeau have in 2019? No! So lay off of him. Yes he has not endeared himself to golf fans (the top 5 in the world comment was the beginning of this judgment) but just because he snapped a club means he’s disrespectful and something else not to like about him? Like I stated above. If Tiger did this, people would be ranting about how the USGA set up an unfair golf course and would be marveling at Woods’ “super-human strength”.

Oh and one last thing. Miss. Spiranac. I’ve played a lot of golf. Recreationally, Mini-Tours and so on. I’ve worked in the industry as a Starter, Pro Shop Attendant, Assistant Manager, and as a Director of Golf Services. I’ve never “tomahawked a club” (another Tweet of hers) but I have been tempted. I’ve also never broken a club before. Why? Because we all deal with things in different ways. I simply choose to swear under my breath, scratch my chin and move on. Golf can be madly infuriating and frustrating but in life, there are more important things to get upset over. Not being able to put milk on the table and having to go to the food bank, losing your house, being mired with a myriad of health problems or not being able to pay your bills and have no heat during a Canadian winter. In my eyes, golf is not worth getting that mad over and for those of us who have to work for everything that we have… we have more important things to spend our money on than buy a new shaft and grip and then install it or have it installed.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

The USGA Strikes Back

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!

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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.

TOUR Championship - Round Two

ATLANTA, GA – SEPTEMBER 22: Justin Thomas of the United States plays his shot from the 14th tee during the second round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club on September 22, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

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!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

2019 Major Predictions

Sitting here I was thinking about something that I wrote about in my Top 10 Golf Stories of 2018. I made a bold prediction based on pretty much nothing regarding my pick to win The Masters in April. Seeing that I went that far with it… I’m going to make Major predictions for the 2019 season on both the LPGA and PGA Tour.

Let’s see how close I get.

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The Masters – I went out on a limb about the 2019 Masters Tournament in the article yesterday that led to this piece. My prediction was that Tommy Fleetwood would win the Green Jacket in 2019. While everyone on Tour and in the field has the game to win on any weekend one half of Ryder Cup craze “Moliwood” will break through and claim his first Major. Justin Rose will be right there when the dust settles too.

U.S. Open – Ah yes! The carnage and horror of how the USGA sets up their courses. I’m a huge fan! Always a test that wears down the field I hope that 2019 is no different. It’d be easy to predict Brooks Koepka because he really guts it out to hang in during the battle of attrition that is the U.S. Open. Not this year though. Bryson DeChambeau broke through in a big time way in 2018. 3 wins on Tour. He can win on golf’s biggest stages, won the U.S. Amateur in 2015. He wins at Pebble Beach in June.

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The Open Championship – Royal Portrush is the venue in 2019. The golf course in Northern Ireland was first formed in 1888. It has stood the test of time much like the cliffs that border the golf course have been beaten and battered over time. The last few Open Championships have been graced by good weather. 2019 will be a test like so many Open Championships before it. One weekend… four seasons. I’m picking a player to win from the European continent. His name… Francesco Molinari. He’ll repeat as the Champion Golfer of the Year. Grizzled veteran Bernhard Langer will give us thrills if he’s in the field.

PGA Championship – Courses for the PGA Championship generally get set-up with the players in mind. That said, we aren’t going to see a USGA-style Bethpage Black set-up. It’ll be a little friendlier. Accuracy, length, putting and a deft touch will still be required to get around the Tillinghast layout. Picking a Brooks Koepka repeat is a thought but what fun would that be? My prediction is a young gun. A pretty young gun at that. Cameron Champ will win the final Major of the year. He has the tools to collect the Wanamaker Trophy.

 

LPGA Tour    1200px-Ladies_Professional_Golf_Association.svg

 

ANA Inspiration – The 40th Anniversary of this tournament. Previously, it was called the Kraft Nabisco Championship and The Dinah Shore. No matter what name you call it remember that the ANA Inspiration is the first Major Championship contested every year (PGA Tour included). Who’s going to take the leap into “Poppies Pond”. I’m looking right at Brooke Henderson to make the fabled leap. She’s tasted victory in Major Championships before. Get her towel and robe ready.

U.S. Women’s Open – The U.S. Women’s Open is going to be contested in the “Palmetto State”. The Country Club of Charleston is the host venue (founded in 1900) and it’s a course steeped in history. As you might expect the course will be set-up in typical USGA fashion for the ladies. While I haven’t been there (I haven’t been anywhere really) I will say that by looking at the pictures it sort of reminds me of ANGC. The combination of intimate green complexes with false fronts and solid bunkering adds to the effect. The greens will be fast… so who was the best putter on the LPGA Tour in 2018? She may not have been the best but third is pretty close. Who was third? That was World #1 Ariya Jutanagarn. Ariya win’s the U.S. Women’s Open. Dame Laura Davies is going to make some noise here.

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KPMG Women’s PGA Championship – Minnesota golf fans. Hazeltine National Golf Club is the host site for the 3rd of 5 major championships on the LPGA Tour. Name an important USGA tournament and there’s a chance that Hazeltine has hosted it. It’s also hosted the PGA Championship and a Ryder Cup (with another slated for 2028). For the first time since 1966 the women return to walk it’s marvelous tree-lined fairways. Well thought out hazards protect the “old girl”. Precision is a priority. It’s not going off of the radar to pick the winner of this tournament. I like current World #3 So Yeon Ryu.

The Evian Championship – The first of two Major Championships to be contested in consecutive weeks. It’s going to be a matter of who’s feeling “it” the first week. I really can see Lexi Thompson winning The Evian. She struggled with being mentally drained and body image in 2018. She took some valuable time off from professional golf in 2018 to focus on herself and it paid off when she came back fresh and won the CME Group TOUR Championship. I really like Lexi to claim her second Major here.

Laura Davies of England during the Wednesday Pro-Am

AIG Women’s British Open – The last Major Championship of the year for the women takes place at Woburn Golf Club. My pick might seem like a bit of a darkhorse but I actually like Dame Laura Davies to win. Maybe because I would love to see some history made. dame Davies still plays great golf and can contend with the younger gals on the LPGA. Woburn looks like a typical parklands-style golf course and looking at it it looks like it could be any course in North Carolina. Towering pine trees with large greens… who knows. Maybe she could do it. If not her than look no further than Charley Hull.

2019 Solheim Cup

2019 is a Solheim Cup year. The American team wins handily at Gleneagles.

Until The Next Tee!!

#FightAndGrind #SeeUOnTheNextTee

 

 

 

My Take – Changes To The Rules of Golf (2019)

What kind of golf writer would I be if I didn’t write a piece on the modernized rules of golf? Or at least the changes to the rules as prescribed by the governing bodies (R&A and USGA) for 2019. While this piece won’t be about all of the changes about to take effect as the calendar changes to January 2019 it will be about certain ones and my take on them. Now does this mean that I won’t have a summary of at least some of them? Of course not… see below.

Dropping procedure: When taking relief (from an abnormal course condition or penalty area, for example), golfers will now drop from knee height. This will ensure consistency and simplicity in the dropping process while also preserving the randomness of the drop. (Key change: the proposed Rules released in 2017 suggested dropping from any height).

Measuring in taking relief: The golfer’s relief area will be measured by using the longest club in their bag (other than a putter) to measure one club-length or two club-lengths, depending on the situation, making for a consistent process for golfers to establish their relief area. (Key change: the proposed Rules released in 2017 suggested a 20-inch or 80-inch standard measurement).

Removing the penalty for a double hit: The penalty stroke for accidentally striking the ball more than once in the course of a stroke has been removed. Golfers will simply count the one stroke they made to strike the ball.  (Key change: the proposed Rules released in 2017 included the existing one-stroke penalty).

Balls Lost or Out of Bounds: Alternative to Stroke and Distance: A new Local Rule will now be available in January 2019, permitting committees to allow golfers the option to drop the ball in the vicinity of where the ball is lost or out of bounds (including the nearest fairway area), under a two-stroke penalty. This Local Rule addresses the concerns raised at the club level about the negative impact on pace of play when a player is required to go back under stroke and distance. The Local Rule is not intended for higher levels of play, such as professional or elite level competitions. (Key change:  this is a new addition to support pace of play)

Major proposals introduced in 2017 that have been incorporated into the modernised Rules include:

Elimination or reduction of “ball moved” penalties: There will be no penalty for accidentally moving a ball on the putting green or in searching for a ball; and a player is not responsible for causing a ball to move unless it is “virtually certain” that he or she did so.

Relaxed putting green rules: There will be no penalty if a ball played from the putting green hits an unattended flagstick in the hole; players may putt without having the flagstick attended or removed. Players may repair spike marks and other damage made by shoes, animal damage and other damage on the putting green and there is no penalty for merely touching the line of putt.

Relaxed rules for “penalty areas” (currently called “water hazards”): Red and yellow-marked penalty areas may cover areas of desert, jungle, lava rock, etc., in addition to areas of water; expanded use of red penalty areas where lateral relief is allowed; and there will be no penalty for moving loose impediments or touching the ground or water in a penalty area.

Relaxed bunker rules: There will be no penalty for moving loose impediments in a bunker or for generally touching the sand with a hand or club. A limited set of restrictions (such as not grounding the club right next to the ball) is kept to preserve the challenge of playing from the sand; however, an extra relief option is added for an unplayable ball in a bunker, allowing the ball to be played from outside the bunker with a two-stroke penalty.

Relying on player integrity: A player’s “reasonable judgment” when estimating or measuring a spot, point, line, area or distance will be upheld, even if video evidence later shows it to be wrong; and elimination of announcement procedures when lifting a ball to identify it or to see if it is damaged.

Pace-of-play support: Reduced time for searching for a lost ball (from five minutes to three); affirmative encouragement of “ready golf” in stroke play; recommending that players take no more than 40 seconds to play a stroke and other changes intended to help with pace of play.

It wasn’t that long ago when Canadian PGA Tour professional Mackenzie Hughes took to Twitter about them. Asking the golfing Twitterverse what we thought. Mackenzie… here’s what I think about some of them.

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Mackenzie HughesVerified account @MacHughesGolf Dec 19

Dropping Procedure: I think this rule change is pointless. Dropping from the knees? What was so difficult about holding the arm up at shoulder height and letting go of the ball? I’ll be sure to work on my technique.

Measuring in Taking Relief: Well this one has zero effect on me. For one who really is taking advantage of using the Bernhard Langer ski pole putter any more? Not I. I’ve always used my driver.

Removing the Penalty For Double Hit: have you “T.C. Chenned” a shot? If you aren’t familiar with the term Google T.C. Chen. I can’t remember if I’ve double hit a shot. However, if you have this issue… make sure that you accelerate through your chip or pitch.

chen

Balls Lost or Out of Bounds: Alternative to Stroke and Distance: Alright, this one I like. How many out there have legit handicaps where they’ve gone back to the tee to hit 3 from the tee in a casual round of golf on a backed-up golf course? Be honest! This one makes sense and could help the pace of play issue. Bear in mind that it’s technically a Local Rule. Golf courses… start printing new scorecards.

Elimination or reduction of “ball moved” penalties: No penalty for accidentally moving a ball during a search. Another one that I like. Just remember that fluffing a lie or using your “foot wedge” is not an accident. No honor among thieves.

Relaxed putting green rules: I really like this one too. The fact that it was a penalty for repairing a spike mark etc in the first place was silly. As far as leaving the pin in. It’s something that I already did ONLY when I played by myself. Keeping the pin in only keeps the ball out. Then again with my putting it’s really not a concern.

Relaxed rules for “penalty areas” (currently called “water hazards”): Honestly, this one makes sense. Say I have a massive piece of lava rock bugging me and my shot. Why not move it in hazard? It makes sense to me. that said, don’t have a crew of people on the ready to move massive boulders (Tiger… you know what I’m talking about).

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Relying on player integrity: Golf is supposed to be a game of honor. It really is. The fact that this needs to actually be outlined is ridiculous. We both know your ball travelled OB with 230 yards remaining to the green. So why are you dropping it at the 150 yard marker? The fact that fans watching at home can’t call in breaches is great too. I always wondered… where did they find the telephone numbers? Was it the Bad News Bear Go To Houston? “Let them play… let them play!”

Search For Lost Ball: Love this one! Love it a lot! Searches dropping from 5 minutes to 3 minutes is great. I know there are a lot of you out there taking “5 minutes” to search for that Pro V1 you hit OB. Yeah I know it’s a $5 ball… but you found it the last time you hit one OB so it cost you nothing. Can’t find it? Take advantage of the new rule (Stroke and Distance) and play on. Keep people employed in the golf ball industry. Oh and for the love of God and all things right in the world leave your ball rake (retriever) home. If I could I would ban them altogether. Nothing clogs a course more than those guys and gals spending 10 minutes or more around a water hazard ball hawking. Marshall’s/Rangers this goes double for you!! You guys already have garbage cans full of balls at home.

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Folks, if you’re playing a round of golf that is strictly recreational play “Ready Golf’. After all even though it’s late Sunday you aren’t playing for the Green Jacket. Also, for the same reasons if you hit the ball only 200 yards with a helping wind and/or are a 25 handicap please don’t even look at “the tips”. Play within your skill level and comfortable yardage. Maybe it’s the forward tees (not ladies tees.. don’t need that stigma) who cares? Not only will your round be quicker and not only will you maybe enjoy the game more but your handicap may drop as well too! It’s a win-win.

Until The Next Tee!!

#FightAndGrind #SeeUonTheNextTee

Fall Golf, Course Set-up’s on TOUR and The 2018 Ryder Cup

It’s a great time of the year. Pumpkin Spice is en vogue (although I get tired of it by the second week of September). Members of golf clubs that I’ve worked at are already thinking of their annual “Snowbird migration”. Meanwhile, the residents of regions affected by the annual influx are also thinking about it…For different reasons.

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Fall golf at Byrncliff in 2014.

With a show of hands.. who loves fall golf? I know that I do and it sucks that stroke recovery is likely going to prevent me from partaking in playing this fall.. The weather is fantastic with the temperatures being near perfection. Gone are the days of oppressive heat. The fairways aren’t nearly as busy and getting in 18-36 holes is a breeze. Of course, there’s the added benefit of fall foliage. Is there a prettier time of the year to go golfing? The reds, oranges and yellows make you feel like you’re golfing amongst a fire. Even the smell in the air is just a little different. Fall is also the time when superintendents are aerating, top-dressing and fertilizing their greens. Yes, it might be a pain in the arse putting on those surfaces but just remember. A little misery now means that your greens will survive the winter and be ready for you in the spring. Thank your superintendent and greens staff today.

topdress

A necessary part of golf.

The 2018 Ryder Cup was just contested this past weekend and a huge congratulations goes out to Team Europe. The European side played some beautiful golf and their victory was convincing to say the least. While I will refrain from using the term “bloodbath” it wasn’t close. The Europeans (Captained by Thomas Bjorn) cruised to a 17.5 to 10.5 victory powered by the likes of Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari, Ian Poulter, Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose, Alex Noren et al. The European team simply looked like that… a team. Something that the American team failed to achieve especially amid the aftermath of the defeat. Patrick Reed was busy pointing fingers and while I love the fact that he’s not a “spit and polish” kind of guy you never point fingers. Win and lose as a “team” right?! Finger pointing at the Ryder Cup is not unprecedented. Who remembers when Phil Mickelson pointed his finger at Captain Tom Watson in 2014? Wasn’t that also the year when “The Panel” was set up after an embarrassing defeat to ensure that it never happened again? Maybe I’m mistaken. Also, there were reports of an apparent incident between Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson.at the after party where they had to be separated. Either way, there are bigger things to get into a huff over and in the grand scheme of things. Say what you will… the Euros dominated in every facet of the competition. Namely, hitting fairways and greens. Which brings me to my next point.

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Photo Credit: CBS Sports

All over social media I’ve seen it said. The difference was in how the golf course was set up. On the PGA Tour golf courses are generally set up too easy. Everything is lush and pristine. A missed fairway simply isn’t penalized. While the American side was “chock full” of the sort of player referred to as “Bomb and Gouge” the Europeans were not. Accuracy was the name of the game as it always is and should be. The American team was ill-suited to succeed at Le Golf National. Sure there was a ton of talent and “big boppers” on their team. However, if you’re unable to score from the thicker, graduated rough when you miss the narrowed fairway the battle is already lost. Here’s a news flash. If you’re new to my site I have long said that the answer to the insanely low scores on tour is not the golf ball and rolling it back. Protect the integrity of the game by protecting the golf course architect and the golf course itself. Let the superintendents of host venues on TOUR have “fun”. Grow the golf course out! Make the fairways narrow, punish a missed fairway with thicker rough, firm up the greens and by all means water the living Hell out of the fairways to eliminate roll. These guys will torch a “resort course” all day long and that’s how these courses are set-up. Wake up PGA Tour and the USGA. If you truly want to compete and win the Ryder Cup and not be lambasted… make your tournament courses tougher.

Until The Next Tee!!

#seeuonthenexttee #fightandgrind