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Rules explainer: Will there really be no more provisional balls in 2019?

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Have you ever played a provisional ball? Of course you have not. Your ball lands in the fairway each and every time… I’m kidding. In all seriousness, though, in 2019, there will no longer be any provisional balls. This point has not gotten so much attention, so let me clear it up for you.

In 2019, it will be possible for golf clubs to apply two new local rules, which in essence give you the option–instead of going all the way back to the tee (or instead of playing a provisional ball)–to drop a ball with a two-stroke penalty in the vicinity of where your ball is lost or where your ball crossed the out-of-bounds margin. These two options, though, are only available if you have not played a provisional ball. Let me come back to that in a moment.

First of all, be aware that this local rule is meant only for non-elite-players. Thus, it will not apply for professionals, and it is not intended for elite amateurs.

Secondly, it is important to understand the reason for these new options: The governing bodies want to increase pace of play.

This is the scenario with the rules as they stand today

  1. You play a ball, and it goes towards out of bounds or towards some rough.
  2. You decide to play a provisional ball, and maybe you don’t have it in your pocket, so you have to go to your bag and get it.
  3. You declare to your fellow player that you play a provisional ball.
  4. You play the provisional ball.
  5. You now have to search for two balls, both the first and the provisional–so you might have to search twice.
  6. By the way: If the provisional ball is also near out of bounds or e.g. rough, you should in fact play another provisional ball for the provisional ball.
  7. If you did not play a provisional ball, and did not find your first ball, you had to go all the way back to play a new ball.

All this takes way too long. That is the reason that they have introduced this new option. So, you might ask: “Well then how exactly do we then proceed under these new local rules?” My answer is that I had hoped you had not asked, because it is not easy to explain.

Let me try a shorter version and a longer version. Both versions are a about a situation where you have played your ball towards out of bounds or towards an area (not in a penalty area), where you might not find it.

Short versions

Ball hit out of bounds

  1. Estimate the crossing point to OOB (“A”).
  2. Find the nearest fairway edge, equidistant from the hole (“B”).
  3. Drop e.g. on the fairway within two club lengths of “Y”, not nearer the hole.

Lost ball

  1. Estimate the spot where the ball lies (“A”).
  2. Find the nearest fairway edge, equidistant from the hole (“B”).
  3. Drop e.g. on the fairway within two club lengths of this spot, not nearer the hole.

If you proceed under that short version, you will comply with the rules. But to understand your options fully, you need to read the long version.

Long versions

Although the short version is correct, it does not cover all your options. Below I have copied the text from the local rule, where it is explained in more detail.

For two penalty strokes, the player may take relief by dropping the original ball or a substituted ball in this relief area (see Rule 14.3): Two Estimated Reference Points: a. Ball Reference Point: The point where the original ball: • Is estimated to have come to rest on the course, or • Last crossed the edge of the course boundary to go out of bounds.

b. Fairway Reference Point: The point of fairway of the hole being played that is nearest to the ball reference point, but is not nearer the hole than the ball reference point. For purposes of this Local Rule, “fairway” means any area of grass in the general area that is cut to fairway height or less.

Size of Relief Area Based on Reference Points: Anywhere between

  • A line from the hole through the ball reference point (or within two club-lengths to the outside of that line), and
  • A line from the hole through the fairway reference point (or within two club-lengths to the outside of that line).

Not really easy to understand, eh?

But here’s the point, as also stated above: These options are only available, if you have NOT played a provisional ball! In other words: If you chose to play a provisional ball, you also chose not to apply these local rules! Therefore, you have to do the math below.

  1. If I play a provisional ball (and it becomes in play) then it will cost me one stroke and one penalty, in all two strokes.
  2. If instead I don’t play a provisional ball and rather invoke the new local rule, then it will likewise cost me two penalty strokes.
  3. The big question then is: Do I think, that by playing a provisional ball I can be in a better position, than if I dropped according to the local rule?
  4. This could lead to the conclusion that you would maybe play a provisional ball if your stroke was very bad (e.g. only 40 yards into some rough). You then would think that you could do much better with a provisional ball) and that you would NOT play a provisional ball if you made a very long stroke (e.g. 250 yards), since there would be a good chance that the provisional ball would end up much shorter than if your applied the local rule and dropped in accordance.

The hope from R&A and USGA is probably that people will stop playing provisional balls…simply because it takes too long. But the dream for R&A and USGA would probably be this scenario in 2019

  1. Your ball seems to go towards out of bounds or seems to go towards some rough (outside a penalty area) where you maybe cannot find it.
  2. You immediately walk to the place where you think it is (without playing a provisional).
  3. If you don’t find it within the three minutes search time, you apply the local rule and drop/play another ball in accordance with that.

This will increase pace of play significantly. But the question is: What will players do? What would you do? From a player’s point of view it might look a bit more different, as stated above.

Some players would maybe do the math above, and sometimes play a provisional and sometimes not. Other players would think that it is a wonderful new opportunity and use it all the time. Other players again will find it hard to understand exactly where to drop under the local rule and thus would either do it wrong or not apply the new local rule at all.

So what is the conclusion then?

Well, maybe there will not be any more provisional balls played in 2019. Or maybe there will be, and there won’t really be any notable difference from today.

But no matter what, please remember, that these are only local rules, so in 2019 you must find out whether or not your club has such a local rule. And when you have found out, you must decide what to do in a situation where you can play a provisional ball. My guess would be, that many would do as they do today: not play a provisional ball.

Feel free to reply below. Will you play a provisional ball in 2019? Do you think golf clubs should have these local rules?

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I am founder of "The Oswald Academy", which has only one purpose: To teach in the Rules of Golf. My hope is to make the Rules of Golf interesting and easy to understand. I am publishing Rules Books, conducting seminars, letterboxes, writing blogs, publishing "The Oswald Rules School" (videos) and much more. I live in New York, but I was born in Denmark. I am a former lawyer, and have two kids - and one wife.

59 Comments

59 Comments

  1. Ganz

    Sep 19, 2018 at 10:12 pm

    FOR THE AMATEUR GOLFER: Make the entire golf course red staked. Simple, clean and still penal enough. No time wasted walking back to tees, hitting provisionals etc. 4-4.5 would be a treat to have on a regular basis and everyone’s playing by the same rules.

    FOR THE PRO: Play the rules as stated. You guys are amazing.

  2. Doug

    Sep 19, 2018 at 9:17 am

    Drop it where it went out. Thats how I typically play a casual round with buddies on the weekend. If the round is more serious, we play provisional’s.

    That said, I do have a friend who has delusions of grandeur. When its his ball that went out, he takes the drop 290 yards from the tee. When its someone else’s, he pulls the cart about 20 yards short. Unfortunately, I foresee this rule bringing out the inner DB in a lot of people.

  3. Joe Perez

    Sep 18, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    This is the way most of the people I know and play with have been doing it for decades, except the drop is at “relief point A” where it was lost or went out of bounds, with only a one stroke penalty. This new rule goes a step further by creating a situation where you might lose a ball in a lateral hazard (one stroke), and then have no choice but to wedge it back in play (second penalty stroke). The new rule, in allowing you to avoid a Provisional, makes up for it with the “wedge back into play” aspect.

  4. David Floyd

    Sep 17, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    Myself and the fellas I play with have been doing this all along. If any of us do play a 2nd off the tee, its a “called” mulligan. We amateurs normally give ourselves one per nine. If we cant find the first ball in short order, we take a drop close to where it entered the bad stuff, tack on the appropriate penalties and keep it moving. If we play a tourney then we abide by their rules. Simple & fun. FYI, we don’t play those $50.00 a dozen balls and that helps.

  5. 4Par

    Sep 17, 2018 at 6:07 pm

    These new rules are going to segregate groups at clubs…. I’ll be playing with the guys that try to play by the rules as we learned them 30-40 years ago. I’m not going to play with guys that want to walk 50 yards to the fairway and take a drop, putt from 5’ with the flagstick in after fixing every green imperfection, and try to convince me that they’re playing golf!

    I’m glad those guys are here supporting the course and keeping our bills paid but I don’t want to play by these new rules….

    • Millennial Falcoln

      Sep 18, 2018 at 1:30 pm

      4Par – care to elaborate? There are a few moving pieces in your argument that are confusing.

  6. Tee-Bone

    Sep 17, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    The USGA has become dysfunctional in 2018. The only golfers who will understand these new rules are the same ones who knew the rules before. These rules will do nothing for the 98% of golfers who have never made an effort to learn the rules from the book. The new relief for a lost ball rule is a joke. It is a “caving in” to pressure that we must “grow the game”, by relaxing rules, simply because young people don’t like rules.

  7. Malcolm Lewis

    Sep 17, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    Why is OB a penalty at all? It only makes sense if a golfer can gain an unfair advantage over the field by deliberately hitting OB. We’re already penalized by not being on the fairway when we hit OB accidentally.

  8. Dave

    Sep 17, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    Leave the weekend golfer alone and concentrate on the professional game where the take upwards of 5 1/2 hours.
    Monkey see monkey do.

    • Buster C

      Sep 17, 2018 at 5:39 pm

      AMEN! The Pros are the ones that need to speed up pace of play! Its been talked about forever but nobody does anything. Are they afraid to upset these pampered millionaires?? Talking for 5 minutes with their caddies over each shot, marking and remarking their ball numerous times after they plumb bob and view the put from every angle possible, etc. It is excruciating to watch these guys. And if you watch Jr. Golf you see the same exact things being done by young golfers. Make some rules for speedier play and enforce them….and make the game better for everyone.

      • StillaYankee

        Sep 20, 2018 at 10:47 am

        Exactly—I stopped watching golf, for the most part, more than 10 years ago. I just couldn’t take it anymore, watching these guys take forever on every single shot & then hit it bad or to the wrong place anyway. Then they’re drawing & fading when a simple straight shot is all that’s necessary sometimes. My father was a pro other pros went to for help & he stopped watching back in the 90’s, just couldn’t take it anymore. The players are given time limits & go over those limits & only some will get punished for it & it’s usually not the ones who do it often & also very rarely the top golfers.
        As for the rules, many ‘weekend’ golfers don’t know them because they don’t understand them as they always seem to have been written by lawyers. I try to teach the rulebook to my team & the boys look at me like I have 2 heads. The new rules are supposed to be for ‘recreational play’ but the average ‘recreational’ golfer still won’t understand them as written & will still spend 10 minutes looking for that $2-$3 golf ballbefore they ‘just drop 1 somewhere & continue on with their double’.

  9. David Dunlap

    Sep 17, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    I have a much better idea. Treat OB and LB exactly the same as hazards. Drop outside where the ball last crossed the margin of the OB or fairway. Lost stroke but not distance. That not only speeds up play, but makes the rules more rational. Can anyone explain why OB and LB are treated differently than HAZ? From what standpoint does the existing rule make sense? The new rule only complicates things and will NOT produce the intended result of speeding play.

    • Mike C

      Sep 17, 2018 at 4:29 pm

      They are treated differently because a ball hit OB completely missed the course. Plus you can’t treat them the same because you can still play a ball in a hazard. You can’t go on to someone’s private property and play a shot.

      • BooBoo

        Sep 17, 2018 at 7:54 pm

        The point is to treat all hazards the same. No more stroke and distance, just stroke. And, no playing out of hazards, either.

    • BooBoo

      Sep 17, 2018 at 7:57 pm

      Agreed, treat all hazards the same. No stroke and distance just a stroke. And no playing out of hazards either. Hit it out, go there, drop, keep going

  10. John A

    Sep 17, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    This rule reminds me of the old adage that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. Wow, what a mess of a rule! As if this game wasn’t difficult enough. I’m going to avoid it by hitting all of my shots right up the middle!

  11. HDTVMAN

    Sep 17, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    ???HUH??? I prefer the mulligan, but if I’m out of them, I just drop a ball on the line where I think it was last seen (usually 100 yards further up towards the green), take a stroke, and move on. Or, according to my group’s rules, take a max 7 strokes on a par 4/5 and move on. Just like if I’m behind a tree, and no one is looking, I kick it out (Judge Smail’s rule).

  12. Philip Pyle

    Sep 17, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    This new rule is a joke. Way too complicated. Will have ZERO POSITIVE EFFECT on pace of play. Possible negative effect.

  13. Fang

    Sep 17, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    Find the nearest fairway edge, equidistant from the hole

    From the hole, and what? Equidistant implies three points.

    • David Fay

      Sep 18, 2018 at 12:11 pm

      Equidistant to the point it crossed the OB line or where you think your LB is. It’s not that hard.

  14. Toaster

    Sep 17, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    Ok can see lots of “ discussions “ about where exactly a ball disappeared out of bounds, “ Ie creamed that one , must be at least x yards,” yet the player hadn’t hit one that far all round. Then who decides on the outcome, it’s a game of honesty but I can see disagreements coming if people have totally differing ideas on what happened and where it finished, therefor delays in play

  15. JC

    Sep 17, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    This weekend one of my approach shots flew the green, hit a cart path and bounded over a OB fence. The ball flew directly over the flag before it hit the path and went OB.

    Under the new rule, where can I take a drop?

    • Steve

      Sep 17, 2018 at 2:41 pm

      Did you read the article – 2 club lengths from the point it went OB

    • Steve S

      Sep 17, 2018 at 3:57 pm

      Good Question. The only place to drop under the rule “in the fairway” which to me means “not rough” is only nearer the hole.

  16. Dennis

    Sep 17, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    The more useful aspect of this comes when a player hits a ball off the fairway, seemingly in play, only to lose it. No need to return to the tee, the penalty is defined and you get to drop in the fairway. Most casual players would just drop (or place) a ball (but in the rough) and play on.If you don’t care about the rules, it doesn’t matter. If you do, then you have a time-saving way out.

  17. Fiorenzo

    Sep 17, 2018 at 11:59 am

    I agree with taking 2 shots penalty if a 250 yard drive goes out of bounds ; but if I skull a wedge from 50 yards and it goes out of bounds behind the green I will play a provisional hoping for a one putt.

    • Bobdobalino

      Sep 17, 2018 at 3:21 pm

      If the ball went put of bounds there is no point calling it provisional.

  18. Joe Perdue

    Sep 17, 2018 at 11:57 am

    What an awful rules change. Absolutely awful.

  19. Joe virdone

    Sep 17, 2018 at 11:50 am

    Ive been playing golf for 50+ years, most of the time as a mid-high single digit …always carry extra ball, and cannot ever remember the first scenario you built.. will always play the provisional…thanks…

  20. Randy Wall

    Sep 17, 2018 at 11:49 am

    I’m just wondering how widely the “local rule” will be adopted. For example, here in the Pac NW, in the winter, many courses adopt a winter rule of a free drop within 6″ or a club length, due to course conditions. But not all do. And sometimes it seems really dumb to play it as it lies, when the course is soggy, and we are outside the handicap score counting period.

    The same might be true with this rule. If a lot of places decide that this isn’t true to the spirit of the game, then it might rarely be adopted. Despite the fact that those of us who shoot in the 90’s or higher could really use this.

  21. Acemandrake

    Sep 16, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    What is “Y”?

    Estimate the crossing point to OOB (“A”).
    Find the nearest fairway edge, equidistant from the hole (“B”).
    Drop e.g. on the fairway within two club lengths of “Y”, not nearer the hole.

    • Steve

      Sep 17, 2018 at 2:50 pm

      I wondered exactly the same thing (“Y” doesn’t seem to be referenced anywhere). Also, if you leave the teeing area without playing a provisional – the option of going back to the tee should be lost (I don’t think that is the case – or is it ?)

  22. Tiger Noods

    Sep 14, 2018 at 3:08 am

    My dream scenario is different. I was a proponent of all laterals, but someone astutely pointed out that sometimes, there needs to be a super-severe penalty.

    OK, I agree. Lateral for most things, but if you have housing/buildings you’re protecting, it’s simple. OB = pick-up triple bogey. (Or your pickup score.) No finishing a hole you lose your ball on out of bounds.

    Imagine the weekend hacks that step up to a par 4, and banana ball it. Write 7 and move on. That’ll actually speed up play.

    • Steve

      Sep 17, 2018 at 2:45 pm

      That’s going to make it worse for the housing you are trying to protect. I’m hacking my way up the rough – about to take my 6th shot from the rough ….. aaahhh lets send it into the housing estate and settle for a 7. Think again !!!!

  23. Andy

    Sep 14, 2018 at 1:39 am

    Bonkers. Taking skill out of the game. Good luck with all the arguments determining ‘the vicinity’ of where the wall was lost / OB…

    • talljohn

      Sep 17, 2018 at 12:22 pm

      You have to do that now for a Lateral Hazard. No difference.

  24. Larrybud

    Sep 13, 2018 at 11:05 pm

    Not going to affect pace of play one minute. Few players play stoke and distance, and those who do aren’t hitting many provisional or balls ob.

    Usga should have made guidelines for the tee time intervals and course setup, which has much more influence on pace than the occasional provisional

  25. AJ

    Sep 13, 2018 at 10:28 pm

    Get rid of OB and just have hazards with 1 option for drops, 2 club lenths. Done. Simplified!

    • AC1

      Sep 15, 2018 at 3:47 pm

      I absolutely agree! Perfect solution

    • Steve

      Sep 17, 2018 at 11:38 am

      Players would favor the OB side if you had a hazard on opposite side and this would create a problem for OB neighbors. Other than that great idea

      • Boyo

        Sep 17, 2018 at 11:43 am

        Don’t buy a house on a golf course. OB rule sucks.

      • JB

        Sep 17, 2018 at 12:04 pm

        Why favor OB vs a Hazard? The penalty for the hazard is 1 less stroke vs. the OB.

  26. DJ

    Sep 13, 2018 at 10:24 pm

    stoke and distance. drop 2 club lengths (estimate this) from where the ball crossed OB or the hazard. Example – i hit the ball OB left. I go to where I think it crossed and within about two club lengths, I drop my ball and play my next shot. Invoke 18.1 if you know your ball was taken. A lot of hackers like to take $4 Pro V1’s
    18-1. By Outside Agency – If a ball at rest is moved by an outside agency, there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced.
    Note: It is a question of fact whether a ball has been moved by an outside agency. In order to apply this Rule, it must be known or virtually certain that an outside agency has moved the ball.

  27. Begemot

    Sep 13, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    just take a mulligan and be done with it

  28. sprcoop

    Sep 13, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    I’m thinking this is going to drop handicaps, and save time. Anyone hitting a bad tee shot that is potentially lost or OB has the same chance of doing it again with a provisional. Don’t ask me how I know that. Being able to walk that 2nd ball out to the fairway is a guaranteed fairway hit and going to save strokes.

    • TRUMP 2020

      Sep 14, 2018 at 4:18 am

      Its not a fairway hit, you went OB. That fairway drop will be a 2 stroke penalty you moron. You’re not saving strokes. Do you even play this game?

      • N

        Sep 14, 2018 at 6:18 am

        I don’t know if you’re just trolling here?

        In the situation the OP has described; hes saying if you walked back to the tee there’s a good chance of you hitting it OB again (as many do). Once the player finally gets the 3rd ball in play they’re playing their 6th shot from the fairway.

        If you drop a new ball where your original ball was lost you would be playing your 3rd shot from there.

        So yes obviously it could save strokes for many. Maybe don’t call people morons if you cant do simple maths.

        • Chris B

          Sep 14, 2018 at 12:28 pm

          You’ll be playing 4 from the fairway edge. Tee shot that went oob, 2 penalties plus the shot from the fairway edge. I’d sooner take a provisional.

          • EJ

            Sep 17, 2018 at 11:52 am

            You would still be hitting 4, with no guarantee that you will be in the fairway.

        • kg

          Sep 17, 2018 at 11:28 am

          Wrong N. 2 stroke penalty so you’d be playing your 4th shot.

      • Jim

        Sep 17, 2018 at 12:16 pm

        Why in the world do you call someone a moron just because you disagree with his comment?

  29. Scott C

    Sep 13, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    I don’t understand why they don’t just make everything a lateral hazard and have one stroke penalty. Honestly, why does it matter if stakes are red or white? I know why under current rules, but new rules could be all red stakes.

    • Mark Harr

      Sep 13, 2018 at 4:53 pm

      >>”I don’t understand why they don’t just make everything a lateral hazard …”

      What if out of bound is not lateral? What if the out of bounds is behind the green? Then lateral does not work too well, does it?

      Also, this same rule works for lost ball, not just out of bounds ball.

      And remember to take proper 2 stroke penalty for lost or out of bounds ball.

  30. 2putttom

    Sep 13, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    I am amazed at the plethora of golfers that do not hit a provisional.

  31. mike

    Sep 13, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    heres my question, say i hit the ball potentially OB, can i play a provisional, then if i dont find my original ball in play, can i choose from the fairway if i would rather play from where my provisional is, IE if i hit a great provisional in a better position from where my drop would be, or because I have hit a provisional am i forced to play from where it ended up, IE also hit the provisional it OB, or a bunker, or just shorter. basically does playing a provisional mean you cannot take the 2 strokes and drop or could you choose after you have looked for your ball. if you can choose it would be in your best interest to always hit a provisional as there would be no downside, only upside of being in a better position then the drop would allow.

    • John

      Sep 17, 2018 at 11:32 am

      No. As soon as you hit the provisional you’re committing to playing it if you don’t find your first ball. It would make play even slower if you hit a provisional then checked the lie then decided to take a drop from the fairway instead. The rule on lost balls was fine as it was. The powers that be are dumbing down the game.

    • Kg

      Sep 17, 2018 at 11:38 am

      No Mike. Once you hit a provisional you no longer have the new ‘Drop’ option. This is what the USGA needs to make everyone understand because most (if not all) clubs WILL adopt this local rule. When people don’t understand that it will make things even slower due to big long drawn out discussions/arguments on what the rule is.
      I hit a lot of provisionals now even if i’m 90% sure my 1st ball is in-bounds and i’ll probably find it. It’s like a free mid-round practice ball. But it wastes time and is taking advantage of the rules. That comes to an end January 1st.

  32. Dave

    Sep 13, 2018 at 11:01 am

    i have 2 leagues where they already adopted their own rule of drop where it was lost and 1 stroke penalty to keep things moving. it actually allows high cap players to stay in the hole in match play. it will be interesting if leagues change to the new rules which is an extra stroke penalty as it should be….

  33. MakesSense

    Sep 13, 2018 at 10:40 am

    This seems to make a lot of sense from a practical standpoint. If I hit a ball OB left, re-tee “dropping 2, hitting 3”, my ball is likely to end up about the same distance from the hole as it would if I walked up to where the ball went OB, dropped a ball and took 2 strokes. Either way, I’m hitting 4 for my approach, and not messing with a second ball is less time-consuming.

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News

GolfWRX Morning 9: Remembering Celia | Valentino Dixon freed | Bryson the muse

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

September 20, 2018

Good Thursday morning, golf fans. Did you catch the stealth announcement in yesterday’s M9? The FedEx Cup, in addition to other stated changes, will be changing its name to the “FexEx Cup.” At least, that’s the conclusion you could have drawn from the typo in my subject line. More coffee hopefully equals fewer mistakes this morning.
1. Remembering Celia
We know what happened. We will probably only ever have a superficial understanding of why it happened. The golf world now turns to remembering Celia Barquin Arozamena.
  • Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols writes…”Celia Barquin Arozamena was a feisty competitor. She was thoughtful too. The kind of player who bought flowers for teammates on Valentine’s Day and left inspirational quotes on the bulletin board. Iowa State coach Christie Martens choked back tears on the phone as she talked about the special relationship Barquin Arozamena had with her own daughter, Norah.”
  • “There are no answers for times like this. Only questions, tears and cherished memories of time spent with a 22-year-old woman whose future was bright”
  • “The spotlight is on her because of her golf,” said Martens. “But it’s everything else about her that has made her so special to me personally and to our team.”
2. Valentino Dixon freed
AP Report…”A New York prison artist who never played golf but became known for drawings of lush courses he could only imagine was set free Wednesday after authorities agreed that another man committed the murder that put him behind bars for nearly three decades.”
  • “Valentino Dixon walked out of Erie County Court into bright sunshine and hugs from his mother, daughter and a crowd of other relatives and friends, ready for a meal at Red Lobster and vowing to fight on behalf of others who are wrongly convicted.”
  • “Earlier Wednesday, a judge agreed to set aside Dixon’s conviction in the 1991 shooting death of 17-year-old Torriano Jackson on a Buffalo street corner and accepted a guilty plea from another man who had confessed to the killing two days after it happened.”
  • …”While behind bars, Dixon rekindled his childhood passion for drawing, often spending 10 hours a day creating vivid colored pencil landscapes, including of golf courses, while imagining freedom. Articles in Golf Digest and elsewhere have drawn public attention to Dixon’s case. NBC Sports’ Jimmy Roberts spotlighted Dixon in a 2013 segment for his “In Play” series on Golf Channel”
3. Bryson remains a muse
The scribes can’t get enough, and who can blame them? Nearly every week, DeChambeau offers bon mots or behavioral fodder for articles-and the overarching storylines are too good not to pick up a pen/peck at a keyboard.
This week, it’s David Dusek writing about BAD’s comfort with his place in the golf world.
  • “Part of DeChambeau’s comfort level comes from knowing his game is firing on all cylinders right now. He enters this week ranked fourth in strokes gained total (1.664), 13th in scoring average (69.62) and after having played a few practice rounds under bright Georgia sunshine, he said East Lake suits his style.”
  • “…DeChambeau is also getting used to the demands that are being placed on him and the commitments that come with success.”
  • “I’ve had to prioritize now more than I’ve ever had to in my life, so Brett (Falkoff, DeChambeau’s agent) has been very instrumental in that, my caddie (Tim Tucker) has been helpful with that,” he said. “I’ve just had to plan things out more and really be on point. When I wake up in the morning, I can’t be messing around. I’ve got to get up and get ready to go to work. It’s more of like a 9-to-5 job in a sense.”
…and ESPN’s Bob Harig with “Bryson DeChambeau is different from every golfer you’ve ever seen,” the angle of which you can probably surmise.
  • “What makes DeChambeau different from others at the highest level of the game is his “single-length” irons and wedges. Each club measures 37.5 inches and is built with a 7-iron shaft — unlike traditional sets of irons that get progressively shorter as you go from a 2-iron down to a wedge…All of the head weights in his irons are 280 grams, and he uses oversized grips on each of his clubs.”
  • “Jordan Spieth, who has known DeChambeau since their college days at Texas and SMU, respectively, is somewhat amused but also impressed with the approach….”I think he phrases stuff differently than he needs to at times, but the belief in what he’s doing is very important in this game, and when you’re that exact on what you’re trying to do … . When you feel the slightest bit off, you’re trying to fine-tune to the nth degree,” Spieth said.”
4. Brooks wasn’t invited
Credit to Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker for getting Brooks Koepka’s response to being left off the pre-tournament interview schedule at the Tour Championship.
  • “[The media] has their guys they wanna talk to,” Koepka said when tracked down on the course. “I’m not one of them and that’s fine.”…”We don’t get asked to do many interviews, so I’m not gonna go out of my way to do one,” he said. “I don’t really care.”
  • “You’ve got guys who will kiss up, and I’m not gonna kiss up,” Koepka said. “I don’t need to kiss anyone’s butt. I’m here to play golf. I’m not here to do anything else. A lot of guys are known for the stuff they do off the golf course and who they like to hang around. It’s pretty obvious who’s doing that and who isn’t. I don’t need to bend over backwards to be friends with anyone [in the media], but certain guys do that because they want their names written. I’d rather be written about because of my play.”
  • “Sometimes it does suck, but I’ve started to care less. Come Sunday, I won’t forget it when everyone wants to talk to me because I just won. I don’t forget things.”
5. Tiger reflects on 2018
USA Today’s Steve Dimeglio with a few notes and some context from Tiger’s pre-Tour Championship presser.
  • “Starting his comeback ranked 1,199th in the world, he is now No. 21. Exceeding his own tempered expectations, he has six top-6 finishes, including a tie for second in the Valspar…Championship, a second in the PGA Championship, a tie for sixth in the British Open and a tie for sixth in the BMW Championship, the third of four events in the FedExCup Playoffs.”
  • “He also earned a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup, and will play in the biennial tussle with Europe for the first time since 2012. And he’s one of just 30 players to make it to The Tour Championship.”
  • “I haven’t been here in quite some time, and it’s great to have accomplished one of the goals I set out at the beginning of the year, to make it back to East Lake to be part of The Tour Championship and part of these top 30 guys,” said Woods, who is looking for win No. 80 and his first since 2013. “To have come back from where I’ve come back from and to get here has been a pretty tall order and something I’m proud of.”
  • Woods offered this perspective on his attitude entering the season…”I just needed rounds. In order to get rounds, I needed to be physically fit and healthy enough to do it, and I felt pretty comfortable to be able to add a tournament in there. I just needed to keep my body strong, keep it moving, and eventually I would find a game that could contend and that eventually would lead to wins.”
6. “Weird”
A solid take from Geoff Shackelford on the new FEC format-and Justin Thomas as well.
  • “The PGA Tour faced one major dilemma in trying to improve the FedExCup: how to make sure FedEx gets full value for their sponsorship.
  • “….So to have recent FedExCup champion Justin Thomas calling the new 2019 system “weird” right out of the chute, with the social media reaction suggesting he gave the perfect summary of how most feel, comes off as pretty weird given all of the brainpower put into the latest FedExCup overhaul.”
  • “From Bob Harig’s ESPN.com story…”It’s something that is very, very weird and going to be hard to get used to,” Thomas said. “We talked about it, and it’s … never going to be perfect.”
7. Ryder Cup memorabilia of years past
Our Gianni Magliocco rounded up 10 interesting finds from eBay and elsewhere.
A 1987 Ryder Cup money clip, a 2010 Scotty Cameron Team Europe putter cover, and much more!
8. Here comes the night
Dark wedges are in. Titleist’s limited edition Slate Blue Vokey SM7 is the latest example of the phenomenon.
  • WRX staff report…”The Vokey SM7 L Grind proved to be a welcome addition for those golfers who were looking to excel around the greens on firm conditions. The enhanced heel, toe and trailing edge grind provided the lowest bounce option available from Titleist upon its release.”
  • “Now, Titleist has announced the release of their new Vokey WedgeWorks Limited 60-degree T Grind. Just like the L Grind, the latest release from Titleist is a low-bounce option designed for players with a shallow attack angle playing in firm conditions, however, the new T Grind’s dual-bounce sole allows the wedge to sit closer to the ground, making it easier to get the leading edge under the ball and promoting lift. According to Titleist, the dual bounce sole creates a narrow, forward bounce which helps to provide a gliding sensation.”
9. Bury me in the Ryder Cup
Credit to Golf Digest’s Alex Myers for this funerary find.
He writes…”Urns for Ashes is now offering a Ryder Cup replica urn. And all kidding aside, this thing looks pretty sweet:..Here’s what it says under product description”
  • “A perfect send off for a golf loving friend or family member. We have been commissioned to create a variety of golf urns for ashes, from a customised bag to a ball and tee to immortalise a special memory. Our 3d printed, 100% unique urns are hand finished in as much detail as you wish. We work with award winning designers and artists to ensure only the highest quality. I look forward to helping you create a memory to keep forever.”
  • “According to someone who works for the UK-located company, the Ryder Cup replica urn was actually a special request recently made by a Golf Digest reader,” which the company decided offer for sale after the positive response.”
Is Ian Poulter a Golf Digest reader?
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Breaking down FedEx Cup changes | Details in amateur golfer’s death | USGA survey

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Yes, I know in the subject line of the email version of the M9 I said “FexEx.” I am an idiot. With the cat out of the FedEx box, however, there’s nothing I can do…
1. FedEx Cup changes officially official…
As had been previously established, the Tour will move from four playoff events to three. Most dramatically, the rumored staggered Tour Championship scoring, with the No. 1 player on the points list starting at 10 under, is now a reality. The next four players in the standings will being a 8 under through 5 under. No 6-10 will start at 4 under. Every five players after that will start a stroke further back, with No. 26 through 30 beginning at even par.
  • There will also now be a $10 million regular season bonus pool sponsored by Wyndham Rewards, aptly named the “Wyndham Rewards Top 10.”
  • The FedEx Cup Playoffs will wrap prior to Labor Day, thus finishing before the NFL season kicks off. The field for The Northern Trust will be 125 players, 70 for the BMW Championship, and 30 for the Tour Championship, with the points remaining the same for the first two events.
  • Regarding the $10 million Wyndham Rewards Top 10, the Tour says it, “will also put an even greater premium on excelling over the course of the FedExCup Regular Season.”
  • The leader of the top 10 will earn $2 million, with the runner-up pocketing $1.5 million. The existing FedEx Cup bonus pool will now total $60 million-$25 million more than the existing pool. Accordingly, the FedEx Cup champion will earn $15 million, rather than the $10 million in the current system.
2. …still not playoffs
And yet…still the Playoffs are not playoffs, as Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner points out.
  • He also offers this take: “In a move that surely will alienate many of its hardcore fans, the Tour on Tuesday unveiled its new format for the Tour Championship. Beginning next year, players will begin the week at East Lake with a predetermined total based on their position on the points list, the leader starting at 10 under par.”
  • “In an age of points and projections, the Tour’s desire for simplicity is understandable – RIP, Steve Sands’ whiteboard – but its new-look finale violates the spirit of competitive sports…There are no head starts in sports. That’s the beauty of them.”
3. Details in amateur golfer’s death
Look, this story is just awful. May Celia Barquin Arozamena rest in peace. That said, details were scarce in the initial report of her on-course murder, yesterday, so I made the decision to wait until there was more of substance to report. Now there is. It’s horrible. Here it is.
  • Per an ABC News report…”A homeless man has attacked and killed a top amateur golfer from Spain who was playing a round near her university campus in central Iowa, leaving her body in a pond on the course, according to police.”
  • “Collin Daniel Richards, 22, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Celia Barquin Arozamena, a student at Iowa State University (ISU)…Barquin was found Monday morning (local time) in a pond at Coldwater Golf Links in Ames, about 50 kilometres north of Des Moines.”
  • “Police were called to the golf course around 10:20am to investigate a possible missing female after golfers found a golf bag with no one around it.”
  • “Officers found Barquin’s body some distance from the bag, with several stab wounds to her upper torso, head and neck, according to the criminal complaint filed on Tuesday against Mr Richards.”
  • “A police dog tracked Barquin’s scent to a temporary camp along a creek near the golf course, where Richards had been living in a tent, the complaint said…Officers found Mr Richards with several fresh scratches on his face consistent with fighting, and a deep laceration in his left hand that he tried to conceal, it said.”
4. Tiger Woods off probation
Golf Channel Digital report…”Tiger Woods’ year-long probation stemming from last year’s DUI arrest has been terminated a month early.”
  • “According to Sam Smink of WPTV, Woods, 42, was let off probation early for successfully completing all regular and special conditions of his probation after pleading guilty to reckless driving and entering a diversion program last October.”
  • “Under the conditions of the program, Woods was required to pay a $250 fine and court costs, attend a DUI school and undergo a substance abuse evaluation and treatment program. He was also subject to random drug and alcohol testing under the program.”
5. The Full Dechambeau
Bryson DeChambeau, scientific method in tow, is testing the effects of morning dew on his golf ball.
  • Before we get into specifics: I don’t think there’s anything crazy about this. Golf is a game of variables and minimizing misses. Any effort to further understand a variable or minimize a potential miss is wise. Full stop.
  • Anyway, here’s what BAD was doing per Christopher Powers, “DeChambeau, who does things a little differently to say the least, took his preparation to a different level on Tuesday at East Lake ahead of this week’s Tour Championship. According to the PGA Tour’s Sean Martin, who was watching DeChambeau closely on the range, the Mad Scientist was spraying his golf balls with water to simulate morning dew, because of course he was.”
Photo via PGATour.com’s Sean Martin.
6. Spieth’s violation settled
…but we know not how.
  • ESPN’s Bob Harig…”With next week’s Ryder Cup, Spieth will have played in just 24 events this season after competing in 24 last year. All along, he had planned on being at East Lake, where he won the 2015 FedEx Cup.”
  • “PGA Tour regulations stipulate that a player in violation of the policy is subject to a “Major Penalty,” which can include a minimum fine of $20,000 and a suspension of at least three tournaments.”
  • Don’t expect Spieth to be sitting out any tournaments. In fact, according to the PGA Tour’s Andy Pazder, it appears that Spieth will be adding events in the coming season.
  • “We have come to a resolution,” said Pazder, the tour’s chief tournament and competitions officer, on Tuesday at East Lake, site of this week’s tournament. “You will see it next season. I think it will be good for the tour, for fans and for golf in general.”
I guess we’ll look forward to that next season…
7. Jay Seawell reflects
PGATour.com’s Helen Ross filed an excellent look at the work of Alabama men’s golf coach, Jay Seawell.
  • A bit…”Under Seawell’s guidance, the Crimson Tide won national championships in 2013 and ’14, and finished runner-up in 2012. Five of his former players are on the PGA TOUR right now – Justin Thomas, Trey Mullinax, Tom Lovelady, Bud Cauley and Michael Thompson.”
  • “Seawell says Thomas was probably 15 years old when he started recruiting the future world No. 1. He remembers getting a call from someone who said the teenager might be interested in attending Alabama and Seawell followed up immediately. After all, he says, Thomas could have gone anywhere in the country. He had the “buffet in front of him,” the coach explains.”
  • “The recruitment on him started from him, believe it or not, and that’s the way it happens a lot,” Seawell says. “There are a lot of players out there and so he just kind of sent word through a third party who called my phone.”…”They said, ‘Hey, I think Justin Thomas would be somebody who’d be interested. They wanted me to know that if you’re interested they would like for me to watch him play.’
  • “So it kind of was initiated by Justin and his father and of course, when we first saw him we were like, ‘Wow, this is great.'”
8. USGA survey time!
The USGA wants your feedback on the distance debate.
  • As for the essence of the questionnaire, Geoff Shackelford had this to say.
  • “The USGA/R&A distance survey is a bit like a Robert Trent Jones design: needlessly long, seemingly takes longer to get through than you think, isn’t the most rewarding experience and you’d never do it again….But unlike some tired old RTJ effort, this one really won’t cost you a dime and will entertain at times if you are intrigued by reading between the lines or general survey construction.”

And for our international readers, the R&A’s

9. Out of bounds
I want to call your attention to the fine work Ms. Amanda Rose is doing for GolfWRX. She’s only made a handful of videos at this point, but this former college golfer has something of the spirit and substance of Katie Nolan; and it’s a voice we certainly could use in the golf media space.

Check out her latest Out of Bounds video

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The FedEx Cup overhaul is official. Here are the details

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The PGA Tour substantiated the rumored changes to the FedEx Cup Playoffs, Tuesday, unveiling a new playoff format in general, an overhaul of the Tour Championship in particular, and a new regular season points race.

As had been previously established, the Tour will move from four playoff events to three. Most dramatically, the rumored staggered Tour Championship scoring, with the No. 1 player on the points list starting at 10 under, is now a reality. The next four players in the standings will being a 8 under through 5 under. No 6-10 will start at 4 under. Every five players after that will start a stroke further back, with No. 26 through 30 beginning at even par.

There will also now be a $10 million regular season bonus pool sponsored by Wyndham Rewards, aptly named the “Wyndham Rewards Top 10.”

The FedEx Cup Playoffs will wrap prior to Labor Day, thus finishing before the NFL season kicks off. The field for The Northern Trust will be 125 players, 70 for the BMW Championship, and 30 for the Tour Championship, with the points remaining the same for the first two events.

“This is a significant and exciting change for the PGA Tour, our players, our partners and – most importantly – our fans,” said PGA Tour commissioner, Jay Monahan. “As soon as the Tour Championship begins, any fan – no matter if they’ve followed the PGA Tour all season or are just tuning in for the final event – can immediately understand what’s going on and what’s at stake for every single player in the field. And, of course, players will know exactly where they stand at all times while in play, which will ratchet up the drama, consequence and volatility of the competition down the stretch.”

Regarding the $10 million Wyndham Rewards Top 10, the Tour says it, “will also put an even greater premium on excelling over the course of the FedExCup Regular Season.”

The leader of the top 10 will earn $2 million, with the runner-up pocketing $1.5 million. The existing FedEx Cup bonus pool will now total $60 million—$25 million more than the existing pool. Accordingly, the FedEx Cup champion will earn $15 million, rather than the $10 million in the current system.

Alternatively, there’s Geoff Shackelford’s summary of the changes: “This will be easier to follow than the current system where algorithms proved consistently boring to follow. This has to be better…the FedExCup as we knew it, did not work.”

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