It's probably fair to say that the penalties aren't getting called nearly as often as they did post-lockout. That said, it's nowhere near as bad as it was before the lockout.
I also saw someone refer to the skill of the goaltenders and that might be true to a small degree. My feeling is that defensive players and systems are simply on the uptick. How many times have you seen odd-man rushes recently? You guys can argue skill, but playing defense is about discipline and consistency. Today's blue liners are always in position these days.
Recently the focus has been on the concussion issues. They want to take any sort of violent contact out of the game and have done a big job of it. Perhaps it would be a good time for a crackdown on the obstruction infractions. ... Wait. Habs have the fourth ranked power play and second-ranked penalty kill. Yup. Break out the whistles.
I think the USGA (and R&A) are taking the view that a handicap system is designed to promote fair competition. It's not primarily a status symbol or personal measuring stick. There are any number of ways to monitor your own progress other than an official handicap.
Folks play differently when they're with other people. I don't mean following the rules; I mean there are pressures and rhythms involved with competition and play in groups that are not present in a solo round. Since handicaps are primarily for use in group competition, they should reflect the ability of the golfer when playing in a group.
I remember 8 years ago or so when I went to Dubai to get married they were just laying the foundation for burj khalifa, when I visited a few months ago that tower just revolutionized the whole area with the dancing fountain alone costing something like 200M $$.
I read the news today about how they secured the funding for the kingdom tower at 2B $$.. I'm just really shocked that they would build it in Jeddah and not in Riyadh.. A very strange decision IMO.