1 pointOne of the big changes in 2019 was the USGA/R&A overhaul of the Rules of Golf. Our Club runs a series of net tournaments for our members. Our members range in age from 50 to 94 with handicaps of +1 to 36. I was a bit pessimistic that our members would be able to accommodate all the Rules changes. After a season of watching our members play in our Tournaments, here are a few of my observations. The option to leave or remove the flagstick has turned out to be a bit of help on pace of play. In almost every instance, we have left the flagstick in when putting or chipping from a significant distance. We no longer need to tend or remove the flagstick for a long putt and then replace the flagstick for a chip. Unless a ball gets in another player’s line, we all just putt or chip without delay. Once close in, many of us are ambivalent to the flagstick being in or out so if someone wants it in, we all putt with it in, or vice versa. The few times we have had an “in-out” situation, the first player to hole out serves as the caddie. Most players have gotten used to the knee height drop. There is a tendency for some players to crouch a bit when dropping. Whether this is an accommodation for aging backs and legs or a bit of an unconscious “cheat” is unknown. Unless someone squats down while dropping, I don’t think I am likely to make an issue of this. We have had a bit of confusion over whether the new Local Rule related to lost or O.B. balls was in effect for our events. It was not. Still, I have heard anecdotal accounts of some of our higher handicap groups using the Local Rule during our Tournaments. We will need to make that a point of emphasis next year. Almost nobody uses the term “Penalty Area.” Old habits die hard. Also, there is still some confusion as to whether a red marked penalty area allows the “back on a line” option (yes) and the yellow marked penalty area the 2-club length option (no). Accidentally moving a ball on the green never happened in my groups. I am sure it happened during the season but not when I was present. I still have an involuntary twitch when I see someone tamping down scuff or spike marks and other non-pitch mark damage. I will learn eventually. Also, I have not witnessed anyone spend an inordinate amount of time repairing the green so my concern that this Rule change might slow things down has not come to pass. A couple likely double hits were seen and it was a relief to not have to ask the player whether they thought they made a double hit. I like this change. Some players are likely not following the “relief area” limitation when a ball rolls after a drop judging from what I have seen. Under the old Rules a ball could roll 2 additional club lengths. We may need to review that with our club members. The ability to move loose impediments in a penalty area or bunker is used by our players. No one has made an issue thinking this was a penalty. Accidentally moving a ball during a search was never an issue when I played. I think this Rule is ripe for abuse but I have not seen it. All in all, our aging members seemed to have picked up on most of the changes. All the effort put in by the USGA, our State Association and our Club seems to have worked. Of course, there are a lot of nuances to the Rules that I and my fellow members likely missed or forgot. Still, the transition went a lot better than expected. What has been your experience?
1 pointPlayed yesterday in the WA Assistant's Championship at Fircrest GC. Weather ended up being perfect despite the tendency this time of year to rain. I ended up shooting even par 71 and T-4th. The round started off interesting, with a duck hook drive into the woods left. I punched it out to 100yds and stuck the 3rd to 8ft which I made to save par. My irons overall were good. The tough part about this time of year is getting distance dialed in as the air starts to cool, so needless to say I was leaving a few shots short. Not a lot short but enough to annoy. Wedges were in the same boat, good enough but left a few short of where I wanted. Driver started out rough, but I found the click halfway through the round. I needed to feel like I was sitting back towards my heels a little at address. Unfortunately, one wayward tee shot did lead to a double bogey. That hole started with the bad drive, but I punched out and left myself about 45yds for my 3rd. I left that on the green but 20ft for par. Missed that and the following 4 footer. That 20ft putt was the last time that I hit a putt by the hole that round 🙄 The 4ft putt was stupid, I got lazy and lifted. Once I found my driver swing, I was hitting the ball great tee to green, but like I mentioned, I left all birdie putts short. Overall, I birdied 2 par 5's and 1 par 4. The par 4, I stuck my 52 to a foot, thought it had a good chance of going in. I also had that double bogey and a 3 putt bogey late in the round. I played with 2 other guys, both of whom are multiple-time winners in our chapter. One of them ended up winning with a 68 and the other shot 73. Comparing our play styles, I'm right with them tee to green. But short game, they are super sticky. Leave them a chip or pitch within 30yds and they are within 5ft almost every time. I lost a couple shots from not chipping/pitching my ball close. I knew it's been something for me to work on, but it was good to see where I need to be at. This was the last real tournament for me this season. Having my kid this summer made it difficult to play in any big events, as expected, but next year I'll be in a few more I hope.
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