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19th Hole

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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19th Hole

‘I drove the living p*** out of the ball today’ – Jordan Spieth left frustrated by ‘bizarre’ current form after opening 73

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On Thursday, Jordan Spieth shot an opening round 73 (+1) at the Valero Texas Open. In typical Spieth fashion, the 73 was relatively unconventional with circles and squares all over the scorecard.

On the front nine, Spieth four bogeys and two birdies to make the turn in 38 (+2). On the back nine, things got even more interesting. The three-time major champion made a double-bogey on the par-5 14th followed by an incredible hole-in-one on the par 3-16th.

After the round, Spieth said “I’m playing so much better than I’ve been scoring”.

He added that he “drove the living piss out of the ball today”, which caused frustration because one bad drive on 15 created a big number. Spieth then said, “my driving stats don’t look the way they actually feel”.

Spieth will try to put it all together in his second round on Friday morning at TPC San Antonio.

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19th Hole

Anthony Kim says doctors told him that he ‘may not have much time left’ ahead of LIV return

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While speaking in with the media in his pre-tournament conference for LIV Miami, Anthony Kim revealed that he was told by doctors that he “may not have much time left” at some point during his twelve years away from professional golf.

“I mean, you know, not to get too far into it, but when doctors are telling you that you may not have much time left, that’s a pretty rude awakening. I still think about it to this day when I’m out there and I get frustrated with my golf, you know, how far I’ve come. And other people don’t need to know the journey. I’m going to share it, and the people that find inspiration and strength from it, I hope it can influence them in a positive way. But yeah, it was — I got to a point where, you know, I may not be here speaking to you guys.”

This week, “AK” is making his first start in the United States since his return. Kim has played in two tournaments in both Jeddah and Hong Kong and has finished 53rd and 50th.

Despite the poor results on the leaderboard, Kim shot a 65 in the final round at Hong Kong Golf Club, which is incredibly impressive considering he told David Feherty in an interview this week that he picked up a club for the first time three months before LIV Jeddah.

The 38-year-old credits his two-year old daughter, Bella, for saving his life and being his inspiration.

“I got professional help. I think that I didn’t deal with a lot of the trauma and whatever came from my life, and I buried it because I didn’t want to show anybody weakness, right. And I thought by showing vulnerability, that was weakness, and I’ve come to a point in my life where I don’t care if somebody thinks that about me or not.

“My daughter is all I care about, and I know it almost sounds corny for me to say but as long as she’s proud of me, I’m a happy man.”

Kim is set to tee it up for the first round of LIV Miami at Trump Doral on Friday.

*Featured Image Photo courtesy of LIV Golf*

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19th Hole

Notah Begay gives gloomy update on Tiger’s injuries ahead of 2024 Masters

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While speaking with USA Today, Tiger Woods’ good friend, Notah Begay III, discussed the health of the 15-time major champion.

“He’s trying to formulate a strategy and approach that he can work within given the constraints that he’s presented with. And he’s got some constraints,” Begay said. “He’s got zero mobility in that left ankle and really has low-back challenges now, which he knew he was going to have.”

At Begay’s tournament he hosts that Tiger’s son Charlie played in, Tiger told him, “My ankle doesn’t move. So, something’s going to take the stress. I mean, the stress is going to transfer somewhere else.”

At the Genesis Invitational, that pain transferred to Woods’ back, causing him to withdraw from the tournament.

“For the past couple months, he’s been trying to find a way to recover,” Begay added. “He can play the golf. We always knew the question was going to be ‘Can he walk the 72 (holes)?’ That’s still up in the air. But can he recover, from one round to the next? That’s the biggest question that I really don’t know and he’s not going to know either until he gets out there and figures out whether the way he’s prepared for this year’s Masters is going to work for him.”

Last year, Woods made the cut at Augusta, but was forced to withdraw over the weekend due to plantar fasciitis.

The week will be sure to test Tiger, as Augusta National is one of the most difficult walks in golf.

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