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Opinion & Analysis

Why do golf’s ruling bodies keep making the game more difficult?

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Golf is one of the most difficult games on the planet. So why is it that golf’s ruling bodies, the USGA and R&A, continue to establish new rules that make the game more difficult?

The argument is often made that we need to protect the integrity of the game. If that is the case, we need to all immediately go back to using all wooden clubs and feathery golf balls. And let’s go back to letting sheep maintain our golf courses, too.

Innovation is good for the game. Lower scores are more entertaining at the professional level, and much more fun for the amateur golfer. They bring more fans, more revenue, more players and a generally healthier industry.

Let’s look at the last three major decisions with respect to the rules of golf:

  • Limiting the spring-like effect (COR) of drivers

Limiting the coefficient of restitution (COR) in a driver limits the distance that golfers will hit a golf ball. Longer drives bring crowds to PGA Tour events. Bubba Watson is one of the hottest players on the PGA Tour and John Daly is still popular for this very reason.  Amateur players benefit from hitting shorter clubs into every hole with a hotter driver.

  • Dulling grooves in wedges and irons

Controlling a groove’s volume and sharpness limits the amount of backspin that can be generated, particularly out of lies in the rough. This will lessen the ability of golfers to hold greens, and depending on conditions it can lead to higher scores — players will have to either pitch or chip instead of putt.

Again, lower scores lead to a more entertaining product and less enjoyment at the amateur level. If you look at scoring at the highest level, one could argue that this ruling really hasn’t affected touring pros – if it has, the changes are minimal. Amateur golfers were the one who lost in this scenario, especially the ones who like to play by the same rules as the pros and were forced to buy new wedges.

  • Anchoring of the putter

Anchoring the putter will allow some players to get more enjoyment out of the game, and for some it will allow them to play at a higher level. Some use the technique to escape the yips, while others use anchoring for health reasons. Regardless of why a player decides to use an anchoring technique, it will immediately make the game more difficult for some by not allowing all to give the technique a try.

The bottom line is that the governing bodies should not be focusing on making the game more difficult for the less than 1 percent of the golfing population that make a living playing the game. They should allow innovation to make the game more fun for us all.  Making the game more fun for most of us will also allow for a more entertaining product with lower scores. If you want to protect par in your championships, don’t make the game more difficult by changing the rules and stifling innovation. Make the rough higher, the fairways narrower and greens smaller in your course setups. Yes, I’m talking to you Mike Davis.

Click here for more discussion in the “Golf Talk” forum. 

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. butch

    Dec 1, 2012 at 8:41 am

    For whatever it is worth I don’t think any of these “improvements” made the game any easier for the average golfer. The average golfer can’t compress the spring on a high COR driver, doesn’t hit the ball cleanly enough in the rough to benefit from square grooves and in my group of golfers I have not seen anyone improve their putting stats from using a long putter. So the real game that is being “protected” is the professional game and very high level (future pros) amateur golf game.

    But having said that the point is well taken that we don’t want to go back to wooden clubs and feather balls. I don’t even want to go back to wooden headed, steel shafted driver. So advancing technology has kept some of us in the game by giving us a chance to play well.

  2. mpierce

    Nov 30, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Poorly thought out article…written to stir the kettle. Why not just keeping letting manufacturers make the equipment hit it farther, make the ball go longer and keep obsoleting more and more great courses? The game can always benefit from developers building more courses on bigger parcels of land that go bankrupt or existing courses can always find more land. Oversized drivers, long distance balls and anchoring the putter should have been banned on day one. They stopped Sam Snead from putting side saddle and deemed the stroke illegal. 13 clubs you swing and one you don’t. I think it is time for the governing bodies to govern by simplifying and purifying the rules. The threat of litigation from manufacturers and players has reduced ability to act decisively for the good of the game!

  3. stu

    Nov 30, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Its a game of skill, talent, control of spin, flight, distance…………..get a grip.
    Anchoring is not part of the game, its not a swing, not like the game was intended to be played.
    The only part of your body to touch the club should be your hands, two points. Not your chin and two hands, not your belly and two hands which are three points. The r and a and the pgatour should have also banned Kuchars grip also.
    Play a different sport if you cant stick to the rules

    • Scott

      Nov 30, 2012 at 11:35 pm

      Putters have been anchored for over 100 years. Stu, you have some anger issues you need worked out.

      • stu

        Dec 1, 2012 at 12:20 pm

        you are right Scott, I do have anger issues, only with those who dont care about the values of the game. Think about the title “why do they keep making the game harder”…going by the way that idiot thinks we should play every hole with driver then lob wedge. Technology has made golf as easy as its ever been, but rather than work on their game or get some lessons, these bozos think they can just buy the latest driver and it will solve everything.
        We have a generation that have not hit and cannot hit 2,3, 4 or 5 irons because they would rather hit a hybrid!!!
        same with the long putters!!
        Those Bodies are just preserving the game.

        • Scott

          Dec 3, 2012 at 1:33 am

          I look forward to seeing you play some day with your hickory shafts and gutta-percha balls. Oh, and shoot your 130 score. However, I agree that people need to spend more money on lessons than equipment and they should focus on a quicker pace of play, while they are at it. See, these are two issues that should be addressed before worrying about long putters (or hybrids). Almost every sport has specialized equipment for different situations e.g. catcher’s mitt in baseball, or a kicker in football, goalie equipment in hockey, (not really a sport but NASCAR tunes each car differently for each track – and the cars are hardly “stock”). If they allow “claw” grips why not anchoring? As soon as I see players clear their hips and have a full shoulder turn on the putting green, I will agree with those who like the ban of the long putter. The proposed ban is very inconsistent and a horrible ruling. Look for the USGA and R&A to see the error of their ways and overturn the ruling during the 90 day review period.

          • stu

            Dec 5, 2012 at 5:39 pm

            Scott , the only reason I may shoot 130, is because the length of courses we have today as a direct result of the technology. I’ll play the old gear , on an old course length , no probs. There will be no 130.!
            I play a European handicap system, single figure golfer, and all through practice and effort.
            Same mizuno mp-33 irons for the last 8/9 years.
            2 iron and all, no hybrids.
            My rant was not for the sake of nothing. The article is poorly thought out. I stand by my point that it has never been easier to play the game because of the equipment.
            As for the specialized equipment, I have no probs with any of them, as long as its with a swing and in keeping with the game. Two hands only on the club no matter what the length and as long as the stance and stroke are within the rules. And you are right the rule is a little vague, (I would rather they banned Kuchars stroke too), but it is a step in the right direction, for the good of the sport. The main bone of contention for me is that they were irresponsible to have left it this long. I feel for the likes of Tom Kite and Bernhard Langer who have been using it for prob 20 yrs.
            Next step is the ball, change how far the ball travels and watch the shot makers rise to the top. Its been fun and thanks for taking the time to comment. If you ever come to Ireland, bring the hickory and persimmon and we’ll play a few……

  4. stu

    Nov 30, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Stop whining,
    Why cant we change balls from distance balls for your drive and to a soft ball for wedges and putts.
    Why cant we have 20+ clubs in the bag.
    Why cant we tee it up in the fairway too or have placing all year round.
    Why cant we have mulligans and gimmies in a comp.
    Stop whining, we have titanium drivers, balls that dont spin off the driver but dont roll away on approach shots, hybrids, lighter shafts, adjustable clubs, basically every imaginable technology to make the game easy and you complain about making the game hard?

  5. Eric

    Nov 30, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Forget integrity of the game.

    Let’s focus on what makes this game fun- it’s the challenge.

    If you want easy, go tee off the ladies tee.

    If you want a rewarding round of golf, find the appropriate tee for your driving distance, and then play.

    Do the best you can with the equipment you have. If you want to shoot lower, find someone better than you, and let him hit the shot for you. It’s called a scramble – then you can have “fun”. If you want true enjoyment, then simply play well.

  6. alexander park

    Nov 29, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    amen

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Opinion & Analysis

Fantasy Preview: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

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There is a sense that this is the week where the 2018 PGA Tour season truly gets underway. An iconic golf course playing host to a world class field, which includes none other than Tiger Woods. Last year, Jon Rahm won the event in sparkling fashion, draining a monster eagle putt on the 18th green to take the title by three strokes at 13-under par.

With a top field usually on show here, it’s no surprise that the role of honor list is so impressive. Besides Tiger Woods having won the event a remarkable seven times, the likes of Snedeker (twice), Jason Day and Bubba Watson have all won here in recent years — the only surprise victor in the past seven editions being Scott Stallings in 2014. With this being his first event of 2018, Tiger will grab the headlines no matter what happens, and I think every golf fan will be fascinated to see how the 14-time major winner will perform on a course he dearly loves.

The event is played over two courses on the opening two days, Torrey Pines (South) and Torrey Pines (North) before switching to the South Course for the final two days. The South Course is a real test, measuring more than 7,500 yards and usually with thick rough. The shorter North Course offers up the best opportunity for scoring, which adds pressure to each player’s solo trip here during the week. There is even a difference on the greens, as the South Course uses Poa Annua while the North Course has Bentgrass.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Jon Rahm 8/1
  • Rickie Fowler 12/1
  • Hideki Matsuyama 14/1
  • Justin Rose 16/1
  • Jason Day 18/1
  • Tiger Woods 22/1
  • Marc Leishman 22/1

On such a long golf course such as the South Course here at Torrey Pines, there is no doubt that length off the tee is important. But the ability to find the fairway is equally so. It was a surprise that up until last year Justin Rose (16/1, DK Price $10,600 ) had never displayed his best golf at Torrey Pines, but a T4 in 2017 shows that at long last he may have finally figured out the course.

The usually reliable Rose ranks sixth in this field for Strokes Gained Tee to Green over his last 24 rounds and third in Strokes Gained Total. With limited birdie opportunities available, certainly on the South Course, I expect Par-5 scoring to be crucial this week… and Justin is a player with the ability to eat up Par 5’s. He sits fourth in Strokes Gained on Par 5’s in this field over his last 24 rounds. Performance on Par 4’s in the range of 450-500 yards should also prove vital with both courses containing five holes each in this range. Rose is 15th in Efficiency on holes of this length and sixth in Strokes Gained on all par 4’s in his last 24 rounds.

Rose made an important birdie on his final hole last Friday to make the cut in Abu-Dhabi, and in doing so seemed to shake off some of the rust in his game over the weekend. The current Olympic Champion shot bogey-free rounds of 67 and 69 over the weekend, giving him good momentum for this week. Rose finished ninth in Driving Distance last week and 10th in Driving Accuracy. If he can replicate that sort of form with the driver, then he should be able to give himself an excellent chance come Sunday afternoon.

The Farmers Insurance Open is an event which Tony Finau (35/1, DK Price $8,700 ) seemingly loves. In three appearances, he’s improved each time with finishes of  T24, T18 and most recently T4. His reliable Tee to Green game is a key factor behind his joy at Torrey Pines. Finau ranks 11th in this field in Strokes Gained Tee to Green over his last 24 rounds and ninth in Strokes Gained Approach. On the important 450-500 yard Par-4 range, he sits 13th in Efficiency over the same period. The long hitter also excels on the Par 5’s. In his last 24 rounds, he ranks third in this field for Strokes Gained on Par 5’s. As usual with Finau, the question mark surrounds his putting. But he seems to be a little more comfortable on the greens at Torrey Pines, where he has gained strokes over the field on the greens in all three previous visits here.

If you’re looking for reliability in your DraftKings lineups this week, then it’s hard to look past Charles Howell III (45/1, DK Price $8,300 ). In his last five trips to Torrey Pines, the Augusta native has finishes of T9-T37-T5-T16-T2 with a career Strokes Gained Total of +39 here. DraftKings players using Charles this week will also be glad to know that he has never missed the cut at this event in 15 visits. He scores very well on the key statistics for the week, suggesting another high finish may be in the offing.

Howell III is fourth in this field over his last 24 rounds on Par 4’s between 450-500 yards, while he’s 19th in Strokes Gained on Par 5’s in this same period. He is also trending upward in 2018, finishing T32 at the Sony Open and T20 at CareerBuilder last week. It would hardly be a shock to see Charles post his best finish of 2018 at a site he loves, and if he is ever to win again it would probably be less surprising to see him do it at Torrey Pines than anywhere else.

In terms of value down the board, J.J. Spaun (90/1, DK Price $7,500) jumped out right away at being a little undervalued this week. It seems like Torrey Pines is a good fit for the California native. Last year he finished an impressive T9 on his debut. It also seems like Spaun is hitting the ball better than ever at the moment. Over his last 24 rounds, he ranks ninth in Strokes Gained Tee to Green, seventh in Ball Striking, fourth in Approaching the Green and seventh in Strokes Gained Total — excellent statistics that he will be eager to see manifest into positive results soon. Spaun is sixth in Par 4’s ranging between 450-500 yards over his last 24 rounds and is also very competent on Par 5’s, where he sits 21st over the same period. At a price of $7,500there seems to be good value in adding Spaun to your DraftKings line up this week.

Recommended Plays

  • Justin Rose 16/1, DK Price $10,600
  • Tony Finau 35/1, DK Price $8,700
  • Charles Howell III 45/1, DK Price $8,300
  • J.J. Spaun 90/1, DK Price $7,500
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Opinion & Analysis

More Distance Off the Tee (Part 1 of 3): Upper Body Training

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If you read my previous story, Tour Pro’s Revealed: 3 Tests to See How You Stack Up, you are well aware of the fact that improving your upper body power is one of three sure ways to increase your distance off the tee. If you have not, I strongly suggest you check it out to gain some context about what is to follow and what is critical for your golf game.

Through our testing and the testing done of many of the industry leaders in golf performance, we have found that the ability of golfers to generate “push power” from their upper body is critical to maximize efficiency and speed in the swing. The way that you can test your power is simple. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Keeping your back on the chair, chest pass with both hands a 6-pound medicine ball as far as you can. When you compare this to your vertical jump as described in More Distance Off the Tee (Part 2 of 3): Lower Body Training Plan, the number in feet you threw the ball should be relatively close to your jump in inches.

If you threw the ball and it went 5 feet, you have an upper body power problem. If you threw the ball 25 feet and jumped only 14 inches, your upper body is not the problem — you probably need to focus on your lower body. It’s not rocket science once you understand what you are looking for. What can be challenging is knowing how to improve your power once you identify a problem. That is where the rest of this article comes in. What I am going to outline below are three of the most common upper body power exercises that we use with our amateur, senior and professional golfers.

The key with any power training exercise is to make sure you are as rested as possible between sets so that you can be as explosive as possible for the repetitions. Try not to do more than 6 repetitions in a set to assure that each one is as fast and explosive as possible.

Med Ball Chest Pass on Wall

This is one of the most basic exercises there is for developing upper body push power. Make sure your feet are about shoulder-width apart and don’t be afraid to use your legs to help maximize the punishment you deliver to against the wall!

Med Ball Wall Ball

Watching the video, you may be scratching you head and wondering why this is in the upper body power article when clearly the athlete is using his legs. The reason is that in the golf swing, power starts with the legs.

Med Ball Sky Chest Throws

This one is simple. Laying on your back, all you need to do is push the ball up as high as you can, catch it on the way down and the explode it back up into the air as high as you can. If you incorporate this exercise into your routine even once a week, you will see huge gains in your ability to swing faster if this was a problem area for you.

That being said, power creation requires not only speed but also strength development. It is also important that you have a solid strength program to increase your ability to generate more force. While this is beyond the scope of this article, finding yourself a solid golf fitness expert will help you create your ideal program.

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GolfWRX Forum Member dpb5031 talks about the TaylorMade Twist Face Experience

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Forum member dpb5031 (aka Dewey) joins TG2 to talk about his Twist Face Experience at The Kingdom. Recently, him and 6 other GolfWRX Members went to TaylorMade HQ to get fit for new M3 and M4 drivers. Does Twist Face work? Dewey provides his answer.

Listen to the podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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