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Gamechanger? USGA allows smartphone use for distance information during competition

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Good news, competitive golfers, you can now use your smartphone for distance information.

That’s right. The USGA, responding directly to Arccos’ request that its 360 app be permissible during competition, had this to say (per Golf Digest)

“Based on the information provided and our understanding that the Arccos 360 is incapable of gauging or measuring any parameter other than distance, use of the Arccos Caddie application in conjunction with the Arccos 360 application, as submitted, has been evaluated and it has been determined that the use of the Arccos Caddie application is permitted under the Rules of Golf when a Committee establishes a Local Rule permitting the use of distance measuring devices (see Decision 14-3/0.5). However, please note that in the absence of such a Local Rule, use of the Arccos System during a stipulated round is contrary to Rule 14-3.”

Because any information (namely, yardages) garnered from the app would theoretically be available prior to play, the USGA doesn’t have a problem with the use of the device.

“Golf is still a game of skill and judgment, and anything that can give a player an advantage and diminish that judgment is a problem,” USGA senior director of rules and amateur status Thomas Pagel told Golf Digest’s Mike Stachura. “The compilation of two or more data points to provide some recommendation that takes that judgment away from the player, that’s where the issue comes in.”

Thus, the use Arccos Caddie, which provides club recommendations and “plays like” distances to a user, is not permissible from the “two or more data points” perspective.

Needless to say, Arccos is happy.

“Everything in golf is sort of an evolutionary process,” Tom Williams, Arccos vice president of sales and marketing, told Golf Digest. “We think this is a really important step in a process that’s going to speed up, not slow down. We certainly feel the product breaks new ground, but this decision does, as well. You never know what’s going to happen when you’re pushing the boundaries, but we’re just super pleased that this is the outcome of many months of our process.”

Beyond Arccos in particular, however, and as Tom Williams rightly says, the decision builds on the 2016 allowance of rangefinder use during tournament play (Rule 14-3a), further opening the doors for the use of technology on course. 18Birdies, for example, another popular app that, among its capabilities, offers distance information, has a “USGA Tournament Mode” setting.

Certainly, the determination is good for the golf industry. Perhaps, the ripple effect is minimal, but there is at least potential both in terms of opening the door to app development, and doing something concrete about the great bugaboo of slow play at the competitive level.

Undoubtedly, some observers would go so far as to suggest the full capabilities of Arccos Caddie should be permissible for a player during competition.

From the “all or nothing” standpoint, there’s a logic to this position, which goes something like this: The USGA draws the line at information accessed during the round or using multiple data points. So, you can’t use a wind-measuring device, for example, but you can access projections of wind speed prior to your round.

Likewise (and uneasily, for the USGA), a player can have detailed green and slope maps in a yardage book, but he cannot access information projecting how his putt will break from an app during the round.

There’s a strangeness to the current climate. Don’t let players use yardage books or any devices, or let them use all available resources, lines in the sand that keep golf “a game of skill” are arbitrary, the “unrestrained technology” position holds.

Regardless, drawing lines in the sand is the order of the day, and in this case, the USGA has drawn correctly.

What do you think, WRX members?

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  1. Joe Perez

    Dec 11, 2017 at 11:33 am

    OK, I’m a bit confused. Did the author, or USGA make a slip-up in the use of the descriptions Arccos APP and Arccos CADDIE? The first part of the article quotes the USGA in Golf Digest as saying the CADDIE feature of the Arccos app is now legal…

    “use of the Arccos Caddie application in conjunction with the Arccos 360 application, as submitted, has been evaluated and it has been determined that the use of the Arccos Caddie application is permitted under the Rules of Golf when a Committee…”

    But later in the article the author writes that the CADDIE feature is not allowed…

    “Thus, the use Arccos Caddie, which provides club recommendations and “plays like” distances to a user, is not permissible from the “two or more data points” perspective.”

    Please explain what I’m not understanding. I have Arccos, use it and like it, but do not pay the extra “subscription” fee to use the CADDIE feature, which I wouldn’t use anyway if it were free.

  2. Bert

    Dec 9, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    Use your eyes, it’s supposed to be part of the game, just like walking. I use a distance measurement device, and I know we;ll never go back, but I would support no measurement devices of any type, even the physical yardages markers, and labeled integration heads. I remember thinking, it’s a seven iron, only to see my well struck shot come up way short. As mentioned, being able to “judge” distance was part of the game.

  3. Rich

    Dec 8, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    THIS IS A BAD MOVE .tHIS IS OPENING PANDORA’S BOX ….

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19th Hole

Is this the worst “my clubs were stolen” story ever?

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Tom Owen. Remember the name, because this unfortunate gentleman may have the worst tale of club theft in recent memory.

Now, the experience of having one’s bag pilfered, never to be seen again, is awful. Your clubs are simply gone, and you have no idea who took them and where they went. Tom Owen had the first part of that experience, however, he knows exactly where his clubs are…and he can’t (legally) do anything about it.

Therese Henkin New Zealand’s Howick & Pakuranga Times originally reported the story.

Mr. Owen’s bag, with its thousands of dollars of equipment and his cell phone, was lifted December 15th from Howick Golf Course at Musick Point, New Zealand.

“They took everything, all my clubs, my bag, trundle, golf balls and my mobile phone which was tucked away inside the bag,” he told the paper.

However, as this is the 21st century, Owen was able to track his phone (which was in his golf bag) to a nearby residential address on Pigeon Mountain Road.

Presumably overjoyed, he called the police to report the theft and the location of his stolen property. One can only imagine his despair when he was told the authorities would be unable to lawfully search the premises and thus could not recover his clubs.

After reporting the incident, Owen was surprised to learn that police were not able to search the premises for the goods.

A police spokesperson explained.

“While we understand people may think police can use the tracking system people use on their phones and then send a patrol car to retrieve the property, under the Search and Surveillance Act 2012, police officers do not have the authority to enter a premise based off a locater app on a missing phone. If police resources are available and the technology can pin-point a specific address such as a household, Police are able to knock on the door and make enquiries, but not enter.”

Obviously, Owen isn’t a fan of the law, and he thinks it puts victims in a bad position. He’s right: Knowing the authorities can’t do anything, but knowing where your stolen phone, etc, is, do you risk your life taking the law into your own hands?

“It’s very frustrating to know where your stolen items are and not have anyone do anything about it. If police really can’t act on the information you give them, then something needs to change.”

What do you think, GolfWRX members? Does this make any sense? Do you join Owen in calling for a rewriting of the law?

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19th Hole

Phil Mickelson’s pursuit of average driving, Phil being Phil, and plenty more Mickelsonia from the wires today

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Phil Mickelson. We tend to forget the left-hander remains a divisive, swashbuckling figure as he settles into the home stretch of his PGA Tour career. We pretend that his outrageous risk-taking-masquerading-as-cool-calculation approach to the game is somehow something other than an affront to the plodding, conservative way the game was “meant to be played.” Phil Mickelson: Even those who can’t stand him have to be deeply intrigued by Mickelson the Man and Mickelson the Golfer. How can you not be fascinated? How can you not be frustrated?

The 47-year-old begins his season at the CareerBuilder Challenge this week seeking his first victory since the 2013 British Open. Thus, it’s not surprising to see a rash of Mickelson-related pieces populating the golf newswire today.

Here are a few morsels. Per Cameron Morfit of PGATour.com, Mickelson is pursuing “average” driving this year. The left-hander has historically struggled with the big stick and placed outside the top 100 in strokes gained: off-the-tee last season,

Here’s what Mickelson said about his pursuit of mediocrity off the tee.

“What’s funny is when you’re good at something, chipping, putting, wedges, distance control, all that stuff, it’s easy. It takes me a day or two of practice to get back to kind of an elite level. But to become just an average driver when you’re not good at it, it takes a lot of work. And that’s what I’ve been spending the last few years on, really trying to figure it out. Get the swing plane right, get shallower into the ball, get the weighting of the driver right. The whole mental approach to the driver. Just to get everything dialed in just to be average.”

“I just don’t want to give away shots off the tee. I don’t need to gain shots off the tee; I’ll gain them elsewhere. I feel like the short putting has been addressed. I feel like, and believe, that I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough with the driver. And if that happens, I think 2018 could be a remarkable year, a year where I can win multiple times.”

Golfweek’s Brentley Romine has some interesting remarks from Jon Rahm. Rahm, of course, was coached by Phil’s brother Tim at Arizona State–a job Mickelson left to manage Rahm. Tim Mickelson then ditched that gig to loop for his brother after Bones Mackay dropped his bag to pick up a microphone. In other words, Rahm has seen the pair up close plenty of times, and had this to say about the difference between his approach to the game and that of the variable-obsessed Mickelson

“It’s really fun to hear how they (Phil and Tim) talk to each other, because Tim being my coach at ASU, I don’t need much – “Okay, it’s like 120 (yards), this shot, right?’” Rahm said. “And you have Phil, it’s like, ‘Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like 1 mph wind sideways, it’s going to affect it 1 yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They’re thinking (that) and I’m like, ‘I’m lost.

“It’s funny, he gets to the green and then it’s the same thing. He’s very detail-oriented. He gets there and I’m like, ‘Oh, it’s a foot right.’ And he goes, okay, he reads the green, like, ‘Oh, it’s 1.8 degrees of slope here and this and that. And I’m there listening and I’m like, ‘Man, I hope we’re never paired together for anything because I can’t think like this.’ I would not be able to play golf like that. For me to listen to all that is really fun. And then you hear me and Adam talk, ‘180, a little breeze into, okay, hard six.’ … And it’s just opposite extremes completely.”

Different strokes before making strokes.

Then, there is this piece from Shane Ryan exploring the nature of Phil Mickelson, if you will, and suggesting he could impress this year. Of course, this is a wholly inadequate description of a piece for Golfworld you absolutely must read.

 

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19th Hole

What’s your favorite photo from the history of pro golf?

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Golf history, as we know, is rich. Dramatic storylines, pithy anecdotes, iconic equipment, and storybook shots are all woven into the vibrant tapestry of the game at the professional level.

It’s no surprise, then, that from the rough black-and-white of Old Tom Morris, open-stanced, gazing past the camera to his target, to the present DSLR shots, the history of the professional game is peppered with great photographs.

WRX member Christosterone started a thread with the question, “What’s your favorite tour picture and why?”

He offered this shot of “three reverse-c idols and a Texan.”

Of course, it only took one response, for someone to offer up this classic shot of Arnold Palmer and Ben Hogan. One assumes that the fact that they didn’t care for one another only enhanced their badass postures.

 

Also, dicko999 (who better to post the following?), offered a cropped version of the legendary Presidents Cup streaker shot. Beyond the absurdity of the scene, the facial expressions make this shot great.

Just a fantastic thread that you’ll want to check out–and hopefully add a photo of your own to.

Check out the thread.

 

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