Bifurcate the Rules of Golf or not? I’m Still Debating with Myself

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“Bifurcation & Bifurcate” defined by Wikipedia:

I’m in an interesting position as I move back into the golf industry, career-wise. Presently, I’m not a club professional nor an active teaching professional. But what I certainly am is a proponent of growing the game and assisting in those efforts as a PGA Professional. Every year, millions of people try the game only to stop playing. Millions more who have been players in the past find the time or cost to be a barrier and become “lapsed” golfers. Compare the churn of new and lapsed players to the “avid” (25+ rounds per year) player and there is a bit of erosion there.

What’s it going to take to grow the game?

Is it wise for the USGA and the R&A to propose a ban on anchored putting styles that currently may help players enjoy the game more?

Golfers want to shoot lower scores, hit more “good” shots and enjoy time with friends. Should the USGA and the R&A, in the spirit of enforcing rules…..sort of “take the fun out of it” for players?

The PGA of America has the “Golf 2.0” program with loads of information/initiatives for PGA Members to better understand golfers and what drives them to play, how to develop programs and market them successfully and MEASURE the results. Junior players, women, “lapsed” golfers and minorities are four great segments of growth, and needed for the health and growth of the game overall.

Rex Hoggard Golf Channel column

Which beings me to the point about bifurcation of the Rules of Golf. Is it time to consider having one set of Rules for amateur players and another set of Rules for the PGA/LPGA/Champions Tour and other professional players? Don’t most players every weekend sort of play by their own version of the USGA Rules of Golf anyway? I like the Rules, I think they are important to the game and they serve a purpose for fair competition. I also think some of them are really stupid and the Rule Book itself is complicated and difficult to interpret, but I digress.

I have more questions than I have comments here. I’m interested to hear your opinions on any of the topics brought up here. I’m hoping as golf moves forward, a new generation finds how cool the game is, the life lessons it can teach, the joy and peace one can find playing, the people you can meet….and just how FUN it can be. I’d hate to see the game I love take a beating due to the inability to find compromise, veiled in the fog of “righteousness”.

Jaime Diaz with smart column:

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Yes there should be two sets of rules. Everyother sport has them. College football and basketball have different rules than the pros. Here are just a few rules that should be changed for the everyday golfer. No out of bounds and no stroke and distance for lost ball. This would speed up play. Tap down spike marks. Declare divots ground under repair.

    1. Hi Vet,

      I agree to you comments for the most part. The USGA Rules are important for our game and for competitions. I certainly don’t want to be playing against a guy blatantly disregarding a Rule during a competitive round. Rules certainly have a purpose.

      Sunday morning foursome and one guy wails it OB left and drops up where the ball went out? I have no problem with that. It does help with pace of play, it makes the guy a little happier and if the other 3 guys are playing the same way,it’s equitable.

      Are they “cheating”? Yup, according to the USGA they are. They are choosing to waive a Rule of Golf. Are they playing the game, enjoying time with friends and being an active part in the golfing community and economy? Absolutely.

      And it happens very day golf is played. Doesn’t make it right or wrong. Just shows there are plenty of ways to play the game. When you do so, make it fair and make sure all the players know how much cheating may be going on. Go play some golf!

  2. Rick

    I have to agree with some of your points. I believe that many of the “stupid” rules are a result of someone finding an interpretation that gives them an advantage. For example, Tiger getting 6 guys to move a boulder because he called it a loose impediment, but could not move it himself. That was “stupid”. But, I digress. I think the rules should be applied during tournament play. It does even the field.

    The rest of the time, when playing with your friends, interpret the rules to keep up the pace of play and to have FUN!

    Cheers
    Jim

    1. G, you succinctly described reality. Thank you! The Rules are certainly there for a purpose, and as you state can be taken advantage of, when you know how to apply them, as per your Tiger example.

      The Rules are an absolute for a competitive event, such as the PGA Tour, USGA events, etc. I hope when I play my regular matches at my club on weekends that the 20 or so guys involved are all playing by the Rules of Golf, but I know from witnessing numerous infractions most every round, this is not the case!

      Fun, enjoyment and peace of mind should be the goal. As you say, each group will find its own “center” and play from there. I’m not going to tell them what to do. I think each of us as golfers has the responsibility to play with honesty and integrity. Some more than others….

      Thanks for checking in. I always enjoy reading your thoughts.

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