Putting with the pin in.
Waves of populism and disruptive change are flowing through our world today, and there’s no better evidence than the radical simplification of The Rules of Golf being proposed by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and the US Golf Association (see page 40).
The PGA of America will allow pros to wear shorts during practice rounds of the PGA Championship this year, and it sounds like the PGA Tour schedule might flip, with the PGA moving from August to May and the Players Championship from May to March (page 46). The Ladies’ Golf Union in the UK merged with the R&A in January, and even crusty old Muirfield in Scotland have decided in take in women members now.The European Tour is experimenting with varied tournament formats, and the PGA Tour is rattling the Golf Channel in America with talk of starting its own TV network.
Cheers to all these advancements as the game evolves to attract new players, but I think the rules changes are especially bold and smart because they are designed to quicken the pace of the game. I don’t agree with many of the young pros who advocate breaking with the “amateurs” and creating their own handbook of rules. I find myself on the side of Tiger Woods, who tweeted congratulations to the USGA and R&A for “great work to benefit the game.”
I especially endorse “legalising” the use of range finders and GPS devices to level the playing field between everyday players and pros with pro caddies. And I like Ian Poulter’s suggestion that “tour green books” should be banned – these are the intricate drawings that show slope on the putting surface and inevitably slow down play as pros study them like a Braille Bible and then ask their caddies to look at the putt.
I’d go along with Jimmy Dunne of Seminole Golf Club in Florida, who said he planned to test drive the full menu of proposed changes right away. Don’t tell me it will mess up handicapping.Americans already engage in civil disobedience with mulligans. I’d also reverse the USGA’s bad decision to disallow solo rounds for handicap purposes.The spirit of the proposed changes is based on trust and sensibility.
We did a little brainstorming among the Golf Digest staff and came up with some new and a couple of old ideas to reboot golf. (Feel free to send us yours at firstname.lastname@example.org.)