On Friday, Feb 24th the Golf Channel aired a show about the state of the game. Several popular Golf Channel commentators were on the panel to discuss the state of the game of golf. It soon became apparent to me that this was not a discussion about the state of golf, but rather about the state of professional golf. This is what I get for making assumptions. The only discussion that remotely related to average or recreational golfers was about long putters and some discussion about the rules. I was hoping that there would be discussion on why participation in down 13% over the last 5 years (3.5% last year alone). This subject is fully discussed in my new book Why Isn’t Golf Fun Anymore? so, there is no need to get into one here. On the other hand I would like to talk a little about equipment and the rules.
It continues to amaze me about all the controversy that surrounds equipment. It was mentioned on the show that the USGA is reviewing the use of long putters. They want to make sure that using them coincides with the spirit and integrity of the game. Who are they kidding? If that was the case we would all still be playing with hickory shafts. It was mentioned that maybe they should be banned for professionals, but be allowed for recreational golfers. Really? Remember when square grooves were illegal and then they were legal and now they are illegal again. The fact is that equipment has got to change to keep up with the way golf courses are being built today. Even so, handicaps for average golfers have essentially remained the same for the last 100 years despite new equipment development. The bottom line is that if new equipment is available to everyone, that is to say so that no one has an advantage over anyone else, then who cares. The same should hold true for professionals and average golfers alike.
One of the commentators mentioned that maybe there should be a different set of rules for recreational golfers then there is for professional golfers. It got me to wonder about how many recreational golfers actually adhere to all the rules of golf anyway. For average golfers the rules as they currently stand slow the game down, are sometimes difficult to decipher and there are no officials on hand to help with a ruling.
Professional golfers obviously need to abide by a stringent set of rules, and those that make the rules always keep that in mind when reviewing or proposing changes. But, I also believe those that govern the rules for professional golfers already have way to much say over how average golfers should or should not play the game. A second set of rules for average golfers may be a good idea, but I certainly would not want those that govern the rules for professional golfers to have anything to do with the writing them.