MAJOR RULES CHANGES ARE SELDOM SMOOTH SAILING IN SPORT
History is littered with tales of bitter disputes between those advocating a shake-up of long established regulations and their opponents who are determined to retain the status quo. Rugby is a prime example.
We talk to Dean Murphy who is part of an international committee looking at various aspects of golf.
While the Southern Hemisphere nations have long been plumping for new rules aimed at speeding up the game, the majority of their Northern Hemisphere counterparts are content for referees to have the tools to slow things down, encouraging the traditional 10-man, set-piece dominated game.
It's a battle that has raged on for years.
So you could be forgiven for a bit of pessimism at golf's bid to introduce a worldwide handicap system in just over two years' time.
All going to plan, there will be no more need to fear heading out on course in less than optimal conditions, due to concerns about the damage you could do to your handicap.
Rain or shine, windy or calm – all will be taken into account with a daily slope rating, calculated using the results of each and every round played on the day.
In other words, if you have a bad day because it's blowing a gale or the fairways are under water, don't stress, because you're probably not the only one and the slope rating will reflect that.
It's one of a number of improvements Kiwi golfers can look forward to, in what is effectively the USGA handicapping system already employed here, with some good bits
“I think everyone’s landed on 90 percent of it though - it’s probably just the final 10 percent that’s taking quite a bit of debate and quite a bit of trialling and testing to get right. I think the goal is to have that all settled by the end of this year and then there will be two years before it all comes into force.”
added from the other five systems currently in force around the world.
This bold new hybrid is scheduled to come into force at the start of 2020.
However, that will require an accord between the bodies governing the existing rules around the globe.
After decades of autonomy, what chances they will all accept a one size fits all approach? It's not as far-fetched as you think. Led by the R&A and the USGA, a committee has been set up involving all the interested bodies, to make a global handicapping system a reality.
And believe it or not, much positive progress has been made.
New Zealand Golf CEO Dean Murphy is on the well-funded committee, which meets around four times a year.
He's confident they're on target to meet the 2020 deadline.
“As you would expect, the various bodies around the world all think they have the best system, so everyone's fiercely debating the key points,” he told NZGM.
“I think everyone's landed on 90 percent of it though - it's probably just the final 10 percent that's taking quite a bit of debate and quite a bit of trialling and testing to get right. I think the goal is to have that all settled by the end of this year and then there will be two years before it all comes into force.”
That's led to what looks on the face of it to be a bit of a compromise.
While everyone will now be working off the same base system, each local territory will also have some optional modules they can choose whether or not to include.
Murphy believes allowing that sort of wriggle-room makes sense, given the vastly different environments around the world.
“For instance, New Zealand Golf will have the authority for the system in our territory, which means we can make sure it's going to suit our local conditions and anything we may need to adjust here.”
Agreeing the nature of those modules is now the main challenge for the committee members, but Murphy doesn't see it hindering the planned rollout in 2020 after some vigorous but positive debate at the latest meeting prior to the recent US Women's Open at Trump National in New Jersey.
In fact, he believes it could easily have been implemented in 2019, but has probably been delayed 12 months so as not to clash with the introduction of new rules at the start of 2019.