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  1. http://www.golf.com/tour-news/2017/06/01/rules-arent-made-be-broken Quotes in red are from the article… No. 1. Video should be used in rules disputes almost never. No. 2. Magnified video should never be used at all. No. 3. The rules officials at the PGA Tour/USGA/LPGA should be ashamed of themselves for hijacking these events. No. 4. Penalties should not be assigned after players sign their scorecards. No. 5. TV viewers at home (and who are these people anyhow?) should not be permitted to influence the outcome of a golf tournament, as it is unfair to the players who get more TV time, and also because it's weird. … Here's an easy solution to the various problems outlined here: Play by the rules. Had Thompson marked her ball correctly in the first place, there would never have been an issue. Really, it's a world-gone-soft that turned Thompson into a victim here. The rule that governs marking a ball on a green could not be more straightforward: Mark, and return the ball to where it was. She didn't do that. … Like Woods, I used to think that the use of videotape, and the whole call-in thing, was strange. But 20 years ago, Davis Love III helped me understand, with impeccable logic, why it makes sense: A player should want his or her scorecard to be as accurate as possible, and more scrutiny will only help make a player achieve that goal. Love's worldview shows an elemental understanding of the game that defines his life. In other sports—in football, in basketball, in baseball, in hockey—trying to get away with something is part of the game. Golf is the complete opposite. Also, what kind of champion would you have if broadcast TV showed a winner hoisting a trophy, and YouTube showed, for example, that same golfer carrying 15 clubs? Indeed, what's so hard about playing by the rules? They're not "unfair" because everyone is subject to the same RULES. No, not everyone is subject to the exact same conditions, but that's never been the case, and attempting to do that is a foolhardy endeavor that will always fail. But everyone can - and should - play under the same RULES of the game. "My side" of the debate is often characterized as saying "the rules are the rules, period, end of story," but that can be said in two different ways. Did Lexi deserve a penalty? Absolutely, per the rules, she did. The Rules don't leave leeway to say "well, but it probably didn't really help her, maybe, so can't we just this one time not penalize her…?" They're written and applied, and that's the way it must be for the rules as they are. That statement does not mean that everyone (or that I) support every rule written and back it 100%. There are a few rules with which I have some quibbles, though understanding where the rules come from and the underlying principles tends to minimize anyone's beef with too many of the Rules.
  2. Rule 7-1b prohibits a competitor from practicing on a "competition course" prior to a round or play-off of a stroke play event. Great, and I have no problems with this -- if I'm a later tee time, it isn't fair that I might be able to get to the course at the same time as someone in the first group, wander over to the 18th green during his or her round, and see how that bunker that fronts the green is playing today. I keep the rules book italics above because competitor and course are definitions in the Rules. In fact, rule 33-2 tells the committee to define accurately the course. That's also great and I have no problems here either. If the golf complex we're playing has one eighteen-hole course, the interaction is fairly straight-forward: get there and you may use the range and other designated practice areas. There's probably limited benefit (at most) to four hours on the range before a round compared to a normal warm-up range session, so the early tee times aren't disadvantaged here. But when they have multiple courses in the complex, this is less clear to me. My home course (18 holes, regulation) shares a parking lot and a name with a nine-hole par-3 course that measures under 1000 yards. Is this a decision for the committee to make, whether competitors may play the par-3 course prior to their round? My reading of this says that the committee should define (under rule 33-2) the course, so they could prohibit it. Alternately, since we aren't using those holes, would they not be part of the course? Or because they're in the complex, are they always? That ends the question I'm actually worried about in the short-term. I love my club (and I haven't asked my club committee what the rules on this are -- this isn't the result of a dispute or anything), but I live a bit further away than I used to. Time was I could easily plan my day to get there an hour before my tee time. Now with traffic, if I have a later tee time, I'm more likely to get there 3 hours early to avoid risking a traffic delay that could cost me warm up time or even my spot. And it makes me wonder what I'm going to do with the difference. Thinking about this has caused me to come up with two other related questions though. There's another complex near me that has two 18-hole regulation courses. If we had a tournament there, how would the other course be treated? If I had a noon tee time at course A, would I be within the rules to make a 6am tee time at course B and play it day-of? What if that complex, rather than using an established 18 hole course, finds a route around the complex using eighteen holes, some from A some from B? Would playing on one of the 18 excluded holes be permitted, even though most days they'd be part of the same course as some of what I'd be playing? My instinct is that this has the same answer as the previous question, but I'm not sure what that is. Thanks in advance for any help on these interactions. Finding help for this on Google was surprisingly tough (or perhaps I'm just not good at it) -- I mostly found standard explanations of the main rule. The Tufts book explained why the rule exists, but that didn't help me figure out what the ruling should be.
  3. Here's a thread where we can all speculate and share data and thoughts and discuss "theories" and hypotheses… I've shared parts of this in other topics, but I hope to collect everything here, while simultaneously simplifying my position (maybe? hopefully?). I'd previously written a post about how you should almost always leave the flagstick in when you're given the opportunity to (without penalty). It, when you're off the green, tends to help you far more often than it hurts. The flagstick typically slows the ball down and lets it fall into the hole or at least stay closer than it otherwise would have. Then few weeks ago, the USGA and R&A published their proposed rules changes for 2019 (talk about those in the Rules of Golf forum), and one of them was to abolish the two-stroke penalty for striking the flagstick (in the hole) after a stroke from on the putting green. A Dave Pelz study from decades ago backs this up, as does basic physics (collisions lose energy). This, I immediately felt, had the potential to massively change the game of golf. My experience, the research I've read, and talks with others in the sciences and in golf have virtually convinced me of this. The USGA/R&A seem to be ignoring this, saying only "On balance it is expected that there should be no advantage in being able to putt with the unattended flagstick in the hole:". I think they're wrong. The rule is proposed among many to speed up play, and while I admire the USGA's/R&A's desire to speed up play, I'm not even sure it will do that - many have said it may slow play in most instances because where we currently take the flagstick out and put it back in once per hole on most holes, we may find situations where different players prefer the flag in or out and change its status when it is their turn to putt. This topic will not discuss pace of play - just the potential (or real) advantages to be gained. I think these potential advantages will affect two types of putts: Short-medium putts from 4-6', with lesser benefits out to about 10' or 12'. These are putts where players are somewhat or quite likely to hit the hole and, thus, the flagstick. Long putts from 25+ feet. Currently "tap-ins" are about 2' out, but if the first bullet point becomes an issue, and "tap-in" range extends to 4' or 5', the importance of getting your 30-footer to a foot or two diminishes greatly. In this topic, I'd like to explore the pros/cons, the physics, the data, the science, the mentality/psychology… and all of that stuff. I'd like to discuss the theory, the hypotheses, etc. behind this "advantage." This topic isn't about pace of play. It's not about whether we play golf into a "hole" and that this violates some sacred idea or something. It's just about the "advantage." First, some stipulations: There are few regulations on flagsticks. Circular in cross-section, not super dampening like foam or something, not strongly tapered… that's about it. I'm only suggesting a change from 12" past capture speed to about 3' to 4' past capture speed. Do not take me saying "bash it at the stick" or things like that as suggesting that I think players should hit a 5' putt with enough speed to go 10' past the hole. There's some grey area here because greens stimp at different speeds, uphill putts stop closer to the hole than downhill putts traveling the same speed at the hole, etc. Grey areas are unfortunately unavoidable. Players all have different psychologies. Some players will be struggle to do things other players can do more easily. Let's jump right in. Credible arguments for this proposed rule creating an advantage: The flagstick slows the ball by a greater factor than it decreases the time the ball spends suspended over the hole. Unless you have exceptional distance control, effective capture speed can remain about the same. Hitting the ball more firmly allows for a larger margin of error. It also reduces the tendency of a slow-moving putt to "wobble" or be moved off-line due to imperfections. Players, particularly poorer putters, leave a lot of putts from 6' to 15' short. This change would let them be more aggressive. The situations where the flagstick should be removed (it leans too much, it's moving around a lot in the wind) almost never occur. The flagstick offers an aid - it gives the player yet another point or two at which to aim. Credible arguments against there being any advantage: Three putts from short range may increase. Poor putters miss the hole from short range and will miss a lot of the come-backers. Hitting putts faster eliminates the putts that would fall at the outer "edges" of the hole with slower capture speed. These putts don't touch the flagstick, and lip out with faster speeds, but would fall in the "edge" or "side" with slower speeds. Let me take a look at the "pro" list above. 1. The flagstick slows the ball by a greater factor than it decreases the time the ball spends suspended over the hole. Simply put, the ball has to fall 0.84" or so to fall into the hole. Gravity is a constant, so this becomes a matter of time - time which the ball is unsupported and able to fall (another grey area: the ball can be "supported" partially along the "side" of the ball, slowing its descent). But back to the idea of time… Time for an object to fall 0.84 inches is about 0.066 seconds. So what can affect the time it takes? Two things: the speed the ball is traveling (faster = less time), and the route it takes over the hole (going straight across the middle of the hole provides the longest route and the most time to fall) - taking a cord along the edge provides a much shorter route. Many who think they should take the flagstick out when they are chipping from off the green say "the flagstick takes up room in the hole." It does, and so no ball can take a "long" route through the middle of the hole - it will be deflected. So, the question becomes this: how does the flagstick function to affect the time the ball spends unsupported over the hole? It's not as simple as subtracting the diameter of the flagstick from the 4.25", because the ball will contact the flagstick with its outer edge. If you imagine a ball that's hit directly at the flagstick, it will only spend about 2.1" unsupported by the ground - 1.035" from the time the center of the ball goes over the front lip until the front side of the ball hits the stick, and another 1.035" on its way back directly the way it came. The first 1" will be much shorter in time because the ball is moving much more quickly. 2.1" of travel does not afford the ball very much time to drop, and yet… we've all seen a ball rocketing at the flagstick, smack into it dead-center, and fall. In testing I've done, I've rolled balls with as much as 20' past capture speed on a flat portion of a green stimping at about 10 and had them repeatedly fall in to the hole. I shouldn't have to tell you… none of the balls rolled at the same speed went into the hole with the flagstick removed. Thus, the conclusion is simple: the flagstick dampens the speed of the ball by a significantly larger factor than it reduces the distance (and time) that the ball spends in free-fall. A few working physicists have supported this statement in my talks with them, though none have gone beyond preliminary calculations to quantify this, or to measure how advantage declines as you move away from direct hits, though one added that even a "half-ball hit" (he knew I played pool/billiards) should be pretty close to the same math - the ball traveling farther and thus having more time help to offset the less direct impact. Grey areas: 1. Flagsticks differ in their composition. I was using a pretty traditional flagstick, but some courses have wooden flagsticks, metal flagsticks, fiberglass, etc. 2. I'm unsure of how long this holds - It's obvious that a ball that overlaps the flagstick by 0.01" will act almost as if there was no flagstick in there, and regular capture speed rules will basically apply. 2. Unless you have exceptional distance control, effective capture speed can remain about the same. From this thread… … you'll see that a ball putted only 1' past the hole has only the center 2.6" of the hole. At 2' past, the capture width of the hole shrinks quickly to 1.9". Those look like this: Now, obviously that ball rolling 1' past isn't even close to hitting the flagstick, but it's still going to drop (in a pure physics standpoint). The ball hit 2' past is going to hit the flagstick if one was there, but even the edge of the ball isn't passing over the center of the hole (the ball is 1.68" in diameter). (These numbers are part physics, part experimental data, and come from Mark Sweeney.) A ball rolling 3.5' past the hole has an effective capture width of only about 1.2". That looks like this (the flagstick is pictured here simply for continuity): Losing 1.4" is significant (0.7" on both sides) to 0.8" (0.4" on each side) is fairly significant, and that's why, under the current rules, I've suggested people understand and read the capture speed topic, and to strive to deliver the ball with the speed that takes it only a foot or two past the hole. The question is now… what's an effective capture width with the flagstick in the hole and the ball rolling at about 3.5' past the hole? Obviously we need the ball to impact the flagstick enough to slow it down, so let's make an educated guess (based largely on the tests I did last fall, and yes, I know, you're going on a little faith here, but @david_wedzik and I will test thoroughly soon, hopefully this Friday). In my testing, and again I intend to document this fully very soon with Dave, 1.8" provided sufficient flagstick-ball contact to get putts to fall with the flagstick in the hole. "But we've lost 0.8"!", you'll say. And you're right. But remember, that's if you're able to deliver 1' past capture speed. Add just a little and hit your putt with 2' past capture speed and your 2.6" wide target drops down to 1.9" - basically the same width as the picture above. Also, that 0.8" you lost is not the same value. Huh? Consider that PGA Tour players make 77% of their five-foot putts. If we place a bell curve over the effective capture width of the hole, it would look something like this: PGA Tour pros hit the center of the hole more often than they hit the edges of the hole. They don't use whatever size capture width they are given evenly - that's why they make the majority of their putts from 5'. The outer edges - where we're relying on a slowly rolling ball to fall in - don't have the same value as the center of the hole. Bad putters make only about 50% of their putts from 5'. Their bell curve might look like this: Note: the center of the hole is still more important, but the edges are relatively more important. Bad putters hit the center of the hole less often and hit the edges or miss completely more often. If you're still awake at this point, you're correct that 2.6" is wider than 1.8". Even 1.9" is wider than 1.8". If you putt a ball with 3.5' past speed 1.1" off-center, it will miss the flagstick and be traveling too fast to go in. You're correct! But… here's the important thing… With the flagstick in, delivering the ball with 2' past speed within the 1.9" zone or 1' past speed within the 2.6" zone, and the ball will still fall. The flagstick is not hampering your ability to do this at all. There's no negative here - the only negative is if you choose to hit the ball with faster than 2' past capture speed… at which point the flagstick begins to help. At 3' past capture speed, without the flagstick the capture width of the hole shrinks to 1.4". Leaving the flagstick in gains 0.4". It’s insurance in case you hit the ball a little too firmly. If I had to boil down the “is it an advantage” thing to one thing, there it is. This is an important point, so I'm going to hammer it again. If you want to keep putting the way you’re putting now (without the flagstick), do it… but leave the flagstick in, because it will not hurt you if you have good distance control, and WILL help you if you don’t. There's literally no downside here (assuming one of those two conditions - flagstick leaning a LOT or high wind and a jostling flagstick - aren't met). Grey areas: 1. Ball speed vs. roll-out distance on different stimps is not linear - a ball rolling at a speed of x on a stimp 8 green and rolling out 2' past is not rolling 8x/12 if it rolls out 2' on a stimp 12 green. This is why a ball can roll out 3' but still fall in the sides of the hole at Augusta National: the ball is rolling slowly. 2. Players aren't robots. They won't control ball speed to 1' exactly. If they could, and people could read greens perfectly, and greens didn't have imperfections, I'd say take the flagstick out for these putts! 3. Hitting the ball more firmly allows for a larger margin of error. It also reduces the tendency of a slow-moving putt to "wobble" or be moved off-line due to imperfections. Let me address the second part first. In the last 6-12" of a putt, the ball has a tendency to wobble. It's moving more slowly, and minor imperfections can have a large effect on a ball. That's why, though the ideal capture speed is "dead weight" making the hole its full 4.25" wide, it's impractical because you'd leave too many putts short and the ball behaves unpredictably near the hole. Whether you call it the Dave Pelz "lumpy donut" or just the minor variations in the putting surface due to the fact that grass is not a perfectly flat, smooth surface (nor are golf balls, for that matter)… the ball can divert from its path quite a bit in the last foot of its travel. Hitting the ball more firmly makes the path more consistent and thus more predictable. Go ahead… roll a ball on a putting green and watch the last foot of its roll. It'll divert relatively easily, and more so on the slower, bumpier greens many average golfers play. Now, regarding the margin of error… time for more math. Gravity pulls a ball down the hill. If the hill had 0% slope (i.e. dead flat), it would not pull a ball at all. The acceleration due to gravity would be 0 distance/time^s. If the hill had infinite slope (i.e. was a vertical wall), acceleration would be x distance/time^2 (or 9.8m/s^2 if you want to use those units). Any slope between those two points: 0% and infinite %, will be between 0 and x. More slope = more acceleration downhill (i.e. more break). Hitting a ball more firmly means that a ball gets to the destination (the hole) in less time. This lower amount of time means that differences in gravity due to a slight mis-read or a slight error in your start line can be reduced. I'll use some generic units here for distance and time, "d" and "t" because the specific units aren't important. Let's imagine that for a 2% slope, a putt breaks 100d/t^2. A 1% slope will be about 50d/t^2, and a 3% slope about 150d/t^2. Let's imagine two kinds of putts. One takes 10t (time units) to get to the hole (the one we hit firmly), and the other takes 12t to get to the hole. This chart shows how far the ball will deviate due to acceleration (from physics, the ball will travel d = 1/2*a*t^2). I've left the units off just to make the numbers convenient to use, so we could be talking about micrometers per hour squared (though given the units I chose, mm/sec^2 might be relatively close units). Putt Time 1% (50) 2% (100) 3% (150) Delta 10t 2500d 5000d 7500d +/- 2500d 12t 3600d 7200d 10800d +/- 3600d Let's assume the pro reads a putt as 2%. If he plays it firmly, and he's off by 1%, his ball will deviate from the line he read by 2500 distance units (say, 2.5cm). If he's wrong by that same 1%, but hits the ball more softly, and it takes longer to get to the hole… he's going to be off by 3600 distance units (say 3.6cm). A 120% difference (1.2) in time becomes a 144% (1.44) gap in the line. The firmer putt gives our golfer here a larger margin for error in his read. In graphic form, putts would look something like this, where the middle line of each is the proper read (this isn't to scale or the top and bottom blue and red lines would actually be a bit farther apart): If our golfer chooses to hit the ball at 2' past speed (red) or 4' past speed (blue), and 2500d translates to 0.75 inches offline (a make, with the flagstick in, as it is within the 1.8" zone), then his error will send his slower putted ball (red) 1.08" (0.75 * 1.44) offline, which is not within the 1.9" width allowed for a make. He'll miss with the slower putt, and make (comfortably) with the blue putt. In other words, and simplified… when you putt a little bit firmer, a putt has less time to deviate from the line before it reaches the hole if you misread the putt slightly. The faster putt gives you more margin for error in misreading your putt. Good players have known this for a long time. That's why PGA Tour pros rap the ball in the back of the hole (even without the flagstick). That's why you hear "I'll just firm it in and take the break out of it." They're not hitting the ball with 6' past speed… they just hit it with 3' past speed or so, to increase the margin of error on their read. Yes, they're comfortable at hitting their lines to within a small percentage, but as we know already, PGA Tour players make 77% of their putts, and that includes all putts… whether they misread them, hit them too softly or too firmly, etc. So > 77% of the time, they are able to hit their line pretty darn well. Within about half a degree, that number is actually well into the 90% range. 4. Players, particularly poorer putters, leave a lot of putts from 6' to 15' short. This change would let them be more aggressive. Higher handicap golfers leave a lot of their putts short from 6-15'. Just look at this chart, which pretty much matches what @david_wedzik and I have charted: On that chart, you'll see that the 90s golfer leaves over 10% of their 8' putts short of the hole, and nearly 30% of their 15' putts have no chance of going in because they don't even reach the hole! In a chart (there's no real scale here, but you may pretend the vertical line is at 15' or so), these results may look like this, with green representing good golfers, and red representing bad golfers: If leaving the flagstick in and making the come-back putt easier increases the confidence of the two groups to where they can hit their putts with the pace to go just one foot further, we might see a chart that looked more like this: As you can see here, this means 10-20% of their putts that previously came up short will now reach the hole and have a chance to go in. Now, not all of that 20% will go in, but if even half did, it would be a HUGE bonus. Hell, if even a quarter of the 20% went in, bananas! Who wouldn't want to make 5% more putts from 15' (where the 90s shooter only makes 20% right now… despite leaving nearly 30% short of the hole). Ah, but what about an increase in three-putts? Even without the flagstick, 90s shooters three-putt from 12-15' less than 5% of the time. That number is not going to double by adding one foot of pace to the putts, and even if it did double, it would still only break even if just a quarter of those 20% of putts that now reach the hole fall in. Plus, the flagstick will make the come-back putts easier to make. This advice, btw, to make sure you get your 6-15' putts to the hole, applies whether the flagstick is in or out, under the proposed rules or the current rules. This is advice you should follow now, and advice which would only be more relevant and important should this proposed rule actually be put into place in 2019. 5. The situations where the flagstick should be removed (it leans too much, it's moving around a lot in the wind) almost never occur. I debated even leaving this one in here. The first four reasons are pretty strong, IMO. But it's here, and I'll try to be quick about it. The flagstick impedes a ball going in under two very rare circumstances: The flagstick leans toward you so much a ball will not fit between it and the hole. (If it leans toward or away from you a little, it's actually even more advantageous than if the flagstick is straight up and down. So we're only talking about a LOT of lean, and only toward you, in this case.) The flagstick is jostling around in the hole because of high winds or something so it could knock your ball away. (Even this one requires perfect "bad" timing - if the flagstick is jostling away from your ball at the time of impact, your chances of holing the putt are increased even more over a steady flagstick left in.) So, if one was forced to make up some advice about putting with the flagstick in, and they understood ALL of the above five points, they would still conclude that you should leave the flagstick in, even if the advice was not allowed to add the addendum "unless one of these two situations exists." These two situations almost never occur. The ball is almost always helped by the flagstick being in the hole. 6. The flagstick offers an aid - it gives the player yet another point or two at which to aim. I've seen advice on shorter putts about aiming at a small blade of grass at the back of the cup, or where you want the ball to enter the cup, or other sorts of things. Jordan Spieth, for a number of years (he may still do it, I don't know) used to look AT the hole when putting short-ish putts… So, and yes, this is a very small reason or "pro," but that's why it's #6 and only gets three paragraphs: a flagstick can offer another thing at which to aim. It provides visual certainty as to where the middle of the hole is, and players and caddies can say things like "right edge of the stick" or "half a ball outside the stick" or whatever. For straight-ish putts, the flagstick is in the middle of the hole, and obviously offers a nice aiming point. Never mind that the flagstick shadow can be quite helpful in aiming. There have been a number of times when teaching AimPoint classes or playing by myself that where the flagstick shadow was on the green, on the edge of the hole, etc. was helpful in offering an aim point for my putting. In summary… Here's the deal… With the flag out, at 1' past, the capture width of a hole is 2.6". At 2' past, it's 1.9". At 3', it's 1.4", and at 4' it's 0.9". With the flag in, at 1' past, the capture width of a hole is 2.6". At 2' past, it's 1.9". At 3', it's 1.85", and at 4' it's 1.8". At 5', it's 1.7". For good putters, who can reasonably control their start lines to +/- about 0.9" at the hole, adding a little pace to their short-ish putts can remove some wobble, provide more margin for error on their reads, and allow them to make more putts. The flagstick offers a significant advantage. For poor putters… even if you just keep putting the same way you are now (except please take our advice on not leaving so many makeable putts short - hit them just a little harder), leaving the flagstick in can not hurt you, and on the putts you "goose" a little, can only really help you. Maybe you're confident from 4' at hitting the flagstick, but not from 6'. Or from 3' but not even 5'. Either way, it can't hurt you, and can only help you… just not as much as it can help a good putter. The "cons" above assume everyone's going to be smacking the ball at the hole so it runs out several feet farther than it does now. The cons above can be completely eliminated if everyone just putts as they do now, and recognizes situations where hitting the ball a bit firmer and using the flagstick is advantageous. There's no downside here. Not if you're smart enough to take the flagstick out (or re-center it in the hole) when it's leaning 30° toward you… And that is why I'm opposed to this rule. It's only really an advantage. The USGA and R&A are wrong that it will offer no advantage, and in fact, I would imagine that it will offer the biggest advantage to the better players. Despite the fact that, say, they make 77% of their five-footers while the 90s golfer makes 50%, and thus have a smaller range to improve (23% versus 50%), I still imagine, if this rule passed and was instituted, that we might see that 77% go up by a larger percentage than we see the 50% increase. In truly closing, look, this post was composed over three days, and multiple hours, and many, many stops and starts. I retain the right to fix any errors, tweak my conclusion, and otherwise to edit. For anything that affects the actual points and isn't just grammatical or spelling in nature, I'll note it publicly in this topic discussion. I encourage everyone to read this over, and to consider what I've said, and to discuss. I think this is important, and I think the USGA/R&A are risking seriously altering the game if this proposed rule sticks. I'm fighting this fight because I care about golf, and I do not think that we should be playing into anything but a hole, ultimately, for the shots that are more likely to go in - putts from on the green. I'd support a rule that let you keep the flagstick in the hole for putts outside of a certain distance, like 20', because for those I could perhaps be swayed by pace of play arguments… but I don't think such a rule will exist because then we'd have to be able to measure 20' or 7 yards or some distance pretty accurately (and often quickly).
  4. bkuehn1952


    I enjoy Rules discussions. One learns a few things and also experiences another’s perspective. I started playing competitive golf late in life (35 or so) but I made it a point to learn the Rules well before I ever entered a tournament. Frankly, I see no point in playing any game without a clear understanding of the Rules. Collecting double the rent on an unimproved Monopoly or “castling” in chess are details and one can play either game without knowing the rule. One is likely, however, to see more success if one is aware of all the “details”. Still, for all our efforts we all stub our toes on occasion. A discussion about Rules recently got me thinking about my top Rules snafus. I cleared a long cross hazard off the tee and got to my ball. It was just where I thought it would be, having barely cleared the hazard. Yep, “Titleist” was clearly visible. I laid up short of the next hazard because of a poor lie. Then I discovered that the “Titleist” I had hit was not my “Titleist”. That was the last time I have done that, so far. I and my other three competitors were finishing up a decidedly indifferent one day tournament. The organization that ran this particular event had a condition of competition that every foursome was to finish the round within 4 ½ hours or, if over that number, finish within 12 minutes of the prior group. As usual, every group suddenly stepped on the gas with about 3 holes left. For whatever reason, we just could not be bothered with sprinting between shots on the last holes. As we turned in our cards, the official said, “everyone in the group has been assessed a one stroke penalty.” He got ready for a tirade but we all shrugged and said, “okay.” He was momentarily stunned and then smiled. “I have never had 4 people accept a penalty so easily.” That was, however, the last time I was penalized for slow play. In the final round of our three day City Championship, I was surveying my severely downhill putt for par. As I addressed the ball, it rolled a ¼ turn. I had not touched it but back in the day, after taking one’s stance and grounding the club, any movement was on you. I announced the penalty and, fortunately, was aware enough to move the ball back to its original position prior to playing the next shot. I stopped grounding my club on the green for several decades. We were playing a tournament at my home course. I typically played the “White” tees but for this event, it was “Blue.” The driver of the cart I was sharing drove up and parked next to the “White” tees. I had honors. You can guess the rest. My pre-shot routine now includes checking the tee color. Of course, I have made both the ride and walk of shame back to the tee after losing my tee shot and neglecting to hit a provisional. Some might say I hit too many provisionals but honestly, I don’t plan to ever make that walk back again in a tournament. With the proposed changes to the Rules, I am getting ready to go back to “school.” There will undoubtedly be fresh opportunities for me to “step in it” a far as Rules breaches. Still, it won’t be because I did not continue to study and attempt to understand the Rules.
  5. http://golfweek.com/2017/05/18/for-2nd-straight-year-ncaa-womens-championship-to-begin-on-thursday/ I heard about this in the telecast and had to play it back again to make sure I had heard it correctly. The NCAA accommodated BYU (or any other school which has a policy of not competing on a particular day of the week for religious reasons). This year, that amounted to letting Alex White play her "Sunday" round on Thursday. Normally the four rounds are competed on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Saturday's round was canceled due to the bad weather. The weather conditions were crazy different Thursday vs. Sunday. On Thursday, conditions were calmer, warmer, and completely dry. On Sunday, conditions were super wet, windy, and quite cold. Yet because on Thursday Alex Smith played the ball down (no lift, clean, and place), the entire field had to play the ball down on Sunday. I get the idea of being accommodating. I'm not saying this is a slippery slope, and that eventually someone's going to say "I can't compete [insert some odd claim here] because of religious reasons." But it still strikes me as a little odd. What if she had won? When they aired a brief segment about this, the woman was T8. Is there a better way to handle this sort of thing? (Note: if the "solution" had been for her to play twice on Saturday, then they could claim that's unfair as it's 36 holes in one day… plus Saturday's play was washed out and canceled. At least the current solution has her playing in the "final round" under some pressure.) That said, I can also see the case for saying "look, we're having a competition. If you want to be a part of it, you'll play Sunday. We'd rather be unfair to one person than to 120+ others by letting you compete on a different day, with better weather and no fellow competitors playing with you, etc." I'm not sure that's the side I come down on, even, but I could see that being a perfectly legitimate side, too. What do y'all think? (I put this in Rules for now, but could move it… I'm not sure what shape the discussion will take.)
  6. I'll keep this short and sweet. I'm issuing a challenge to everyone here that can get out to a practice putting green and do this. Warm up putting around the green to get a feel for the speeds. Find a hole with a little slope to it. Not flat, but nothing crazy either (3% or so is fine). The putt should have 4-5' around it in all directions on the putting green. Put 12 balls down at the 12 clock positions and 4-5' away from the hole. Putt them toward the hole and count how many of the 12 you make. Put the flagstick in. Go to another hole and hit a few putts to get used to how firmly you can hit the putts and how little break you have to play.* Try to hit the ball with enough pace to go about 4' past the hole only. (Make sure the flagstick is pretty straight up and down, and ideally, it's somewhat like those available on the course. Bonus points if you can borrow a flagstick like those used on the course for your tests. Ask the head pro or superintendent.) Put 12 balls down in the same spots and repeat the process with the flagstick in. Count the number of putts you make. Repeat once or twice if you're not bored. This will get you 12, 24, or 36 putts of each type. Post your results here in this thread. Be honest. Also post your observations, like "I found it difficult to play so little break and missed a few putts high with the flagstick in." Or whatever you feel or think or observe. * I am allowing a brief amount of practice before both types - warm up (practicing) before you putt without the flagstick, and then warm up (practice) just how firmly you have to hit putts and how little break you have to play with the flagstick in. Again, 4' past the hole only. My advice is NOT to hit the ball with 10' past capture speed. Even if a bunch of you hit 72 putts each (36 to each configuration), this won't be too much more than anecdotal evidence, but I'm pretty sure that we'll find - within the limits of people's ability to quickly get comfortable with the break/speed of the flagstick-in method - that the flagstick in will noticeably increase the make percentage. I'll have a few of the kids do this downtown and will chart their results for them in this thread. Give every putt your best effort. Post multiple times if you like - if you try this several times, or if you get some buddies to do it, etc. I'll assign every entry a number and will draw a random number at the end for a small prize.
  7. This is for the discussion of this portion of the new Modernized Rules. Player Behavior Expected Standards of Player Conduct Code of Player Conduct Elimination of the Requirement to Announce the Player's Intent to Lift a Ball Reasonable Judgment in Estimating and Measuring
  8. For the discussion of the upcoming announcement from the USGA/R&A in the wake of the Lexi Thompson rules breach and subsequent discovery and penalty.
  9. http://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/rules-hub/rules-modernization/major-proposed-changes/proposed-change--reasonable-judgment-in-estimating-and-measuring.html The proposed rule says: In talking with a few USGA folks, they've said this is mostly for estimating where a ball crossed the margin of a penalty area or GUR or whatever, or for measuring 20" or whatever (i.e. if they measure but the stick is half an inch from the ball, and they drop at the 20" mark, that's fine) on drops. But then in the "reasons for change" they specifically say this: Does 0.7" count as a "small inaccuracy"? To me, for a well-sighted athletic young woman, "reasonable" is a pretty small window. I don't think placing the ball 0.7" away is at all "reasonable." Especially when she did nothing but lift the ball a few inches and put it right back down. She didn't walk away and forget that she'd marked the ball to the side. That's why I still don't think that rule would have saved her. It would have simply led to more controversy. Wayne likely doesn't feel it was "reasonable" either: I think she's at fault of more than a "small inaccuracy," particularly when you consider that she lifted the ball only a few inches and was staring down at it the entire time. If you ignore Wayne's talking, you'll see many replays in a row of her lifting and replacing the ball… poorly. Unreasonably.
  10. Can someone explain where and when drop zones are necessary or required? We have a par three which has a pond to the right of the green, and a creek that run to the left side of the hole, and wooded area behind the green. All hazards are red staked, and the wooded area is also red stakes, I think there's a creek for the pond overflow deeper in the woods. I'm guessing our drop zone is a local ruling? Another question, can red staked hazards have drop zones? I thought drop zones were for yellow stake hazards only?
  11. This is for the discussion of this portion of the new Modernized Rules. When to Play During a Round Encouraging Prompt Pace of Play Maximum Score Form of Stroke Play
  12. This is for the discussion of this portion of the new Modernized Rules. Ball in Motion Ball in Motion Accidentally Deflected
  13. This is for the discussion of this portion of the new Modernized Rules. Equipment Use of Clubs Damaged During Round Adding Clubs to Replace a Club Damaged During Round Use of Distance-Measuring Devices
  14. This is for the discussion of this portion of the new Modernized Rules. Taking Relief Measuring the Size of the Relief Area Where a Ball Must Be Dropped and Played Proposed New Procedure for Dropping a Ball Where a Dropped Ball Must Come to Rest Fixed Distance (Not Club-Lengths) Used for Measuring Time For Search Before Ball is Lost Substitution of Ball Always Allowed When Taking Relief Relief For an Embedded Ball
  15. This is for the discussion of this portion of the new Modernized Rules. Ball at Rest Ball Moved During Search No Penalty for Moving Ball on the Putting Green Standard for Deciding Why a Ball Moved Replacing Ball When Original Spot is Not Known
  16. This is for the discussion of this portion of the new Modernized Rules. What is this portion? It's the other proposed changes that didn't make the list of "bigger" changes, like… 10.2B(3) What's 10.2B(3)? Well… http://www.usga.org/content/dam/usga/pdf/2017/rules-modernization/rules-and-definitions-2019.pdf says: YAY! I've been on that one for awhile now. That topic was from 2015, but I'd been in favor of something like that for a long time before that.
  17. As last happened in 1984, the USGA and R&A are reviewing the Rules of Golf, top to bottom, end to end, 1 through 34. They tend to do this every 25-35 years or so. They may make sweeping changes. They may decide they pretty much like them as they are. The only guiding principles are… the Principles as outlined in: So, what changes do you think they should make? Why?
  18. A recent topic addressed the idea of modifying golf in an attempt to make the game more enjoyable. There’s nothing new to the idea of simplifying or modifying rules in games. Rules are changed in Monopoly and Scrabble. Poker can become a completely different game by making various cards wild. When playing pickup games of football or basketball, our rules were nothing like those of official high school, NCAA, or the pro ranks. Even these levels of the same game have variance in the rules. So it’s not that weird for the rules to change for casual golf or a practice round. Even golf leagues break the rules of golf to make the play faster, easier and more enjoyable in an attempt to get more to participate. In these circumstances, golf is whatever those playing together can agree upon…. or not. I’ve been criticized for not taking an illegal drop on the green side of a hazard, for not repositioning the ball to get a better lie, and for not taking a mulligan or breakfast ball. “You’re just making the game harder than it has to be” I’ve been told. Modifying the rules for casual golf is not an issue. But some want to actually amend the rule book because they feel some rules are just too hard. My favorite example… “I couldn't find the ball even though I saw it stay in the fairway from the tee box. I shouldn't have to suffer a stroke and distance penalty”. Again, it’s fine to take a drop in a casual game. I’ll do it all day long on a busy course. But that one act automatically turns an official round into a practice round. The rules of golf and the handicap system are standards. Choose to play by the rules and you know exactly where you stand compared to others who do the same. Use the handicap system and it not only gives a poor player a fair chance to beat a better one, it also forces the better player to bring his or her best game to the competition. What other sport does that? Then there’s what constitutes a regulation course and the variations that exist from one course design to another. In addition, each course offers more variation in differing sets of tees. The best part about this system is that the difficulty of each is accounted for. I don’t fully understand the rating system, but it seems relatively logical, even if a bit convoluted. Playing from 6500 yards is more difficult than playing from 5800. The change in the rating and slope of each set of tees reflects that. More importantly, each players may find either option more enjoyable than the other on a given day. The rules, handicap system and course rating system are pretty damned good as is. What’s even better is that no one is sticking a gun to my head making me follow the rules or keep score. If anything, more pressure is applied to break the rules in favor of faster play. I find it ironic that I tend to play more by the rules when playing a solo round, considering I can’t apply those rounds to an official handicap index. While specific rule-breaking during a practice round may hone some skills, scoring lower as a result does not make me a better player. For me, leaving the flag in on short putts makes that part of the game easier. It’s psychological more than anything else, but I stopped doing it on all but the busiest days. Why? Because I want to get better at that skill in the event I start playing official competitions. The same goes with abiding by any of the rules. I hope to get to the point where this desire to improve starts to subside a little. I want to have more days where my enjoyment on the course is less dependent on the score. But I’m not there yet. I still want to get considerably better. To me, the only way that happens is to include rounds where I play 100% by the rules and from a set of tees or a course rating that challenges the limits of my distance and ability.
  19. So I heard a bit on why the PGA Tour (and web.com, Champions, etc.) do not allow rangefinders. Tim Finchrm doesn't like them. They're not worried about slow play. They think it would have almost no effect. They do think that's what caddies are supposed to do, know yardages, but it's almost entirely Tim. They also expect that if the new rules specifically allow rangefinders as they expect that they'll just adopt that and not use a Local Rule or a Condition of Competition to rule them out (which if the rules change the way they think may not even be "allowed") to disallow them.
  20. http://simplegolfrules.com/CodeOne/ - based on the current (as of 2011?) Rules of Golf http://simplegolfrules.com/CodeTwo/ - described by the authors as "dramatically different." Too far? Just right? Essential and foundational principles undermined?
  21. This topic is for the discussion of what happened at the 2016 PGA Championship to Jordan Spieth on the 7th hole. Jordan was on the cart path but didn't want to take relief from that as it would put him behind a big pine tree. His ball was also sitting in a puddle, so he wanted to take relief from casual water. After a protracted discussion with the RO, during which Jordan indicated his line of play to be to the right a little (to miss the tree), and attempted to drop several times toward the right near a second smaller puddle, Jordan finally dropped to the right somewhat and back a fair amount and, in taking his stance, was standing outside the casual water. He ostensibly used the club he'd use to hit the shot, and the RO cleared his play as he was not standing in the water, nor was his ball in the water, or the area of his swing. But when he played the ball his toes were "over" the water. I don't know if they touched much (or any?) water, but they were visibly within the boundary of the casual water. This was pointed out on the telecast immediately, as you'll see in the video, and later by Gary McCord in suggesting that people would be calling in. What do you think? To be clear, I'm not asking whether you think he gained an advantage, whether the rule is lame, whether call-ins should be allowed (the commentators didn't need to "call in" but they, too, aren't rules officials or members of the committee)… This discussion is solely about the Rules of Golf as it applies to this topic, and whether Jordan should be penalized. As best as I can, the order of events: Jordan finds his ball in a puddle on the cart path. He indicates to the RO he wishes to take relief. The RO indicates that this puddle is the instance of casual water they need to get away from. Jordan indicates his line of play, and the RO indicates the nearest point of relief (to the left of the puddle). Jordan measures one club length with his driver to the right and then tries to drop as far right as possible as it will leave him an easier shot. He even drops once or twice outside of a driver club length and is told to re-drop. He eventually drops and places, then takes a stance to show the RO that his foot is not in the casual water. (I believe this is also on tape - I saw the entire thing on the the live stream. The TNT coverage had less than the whole saga.). When he makes his swing, his foot (toes) is as you see above: in or over the casual water from which he took relief. So again, does this meet the definition of complete relief? Or does he deserve a penalty? Did he alter his stance from what he showed the RO? What do you think of this, as it relates to the application of the Rules of Golf?
  22. http://www.usga.org/rules/rules-and-decisions.html#!rule-18 In light of Dustin Johnson's rules issue in winning the 116th U.S. Open, how would you change the rule to make it best? Because currently, the rule says that you simply weigh the evidence and make the best possible decision. If it's really windy, and it's likely the wind moved the ball, there's no penalty. If you make a stroke in the proximity, and nothing else seems to have contributed, you are deemed to have caused the ball to move. The old rule was basically "once you do something, almost anything that moves the ball is your responsibility." For example, if you addressed the ball and then a gust of wind moved the ball, you were penalized. So the new rule is, IMO, better, but clearly not perfect. Where there was no grey area before, but players were penalized for actions that were NOT their own, now they aren't penalized but there's more of a grey area because people are asked to determine and make a judgment.
  23. CarlSpackler

    Man Up!

    A lot of people are questioning the rules of golf these days. Just like many are calling for a simpler tax code here in the US (myself included), people think the rules are too complex to understand. I’m guessing that it isn’t so much that they are too difficult to understand than it is hard follow when you have to penalize yourself. The world we live in seems to be migrating further towards a philosophy of “Do whatever you want”. People don’t think that laws apply to them. We are self-centered and spoiled and becoming more so as time goes on. For years, I fought the notion in a golf league that we should adopt a different set of rules to “simplify the game”. I asked what was so hard to understand about hitting a 3rd from the tee if your tee shot goes out of bounds. It’s a simple notion that is easy to understand. When their argument about rule difficulty failed, they would quickly revert to a rational of speeding up the game to prevent the walk back to the tee. I then explained the concept of a provisional ball if you hit your ball towards OB and aren’t sure if it stayed in. It only takes a few minutes if that to tee up another. More resistance came and then people started calling me “Rules Nazi” and said that I was taking the fun out of the game. Tagging @missitnoonan. The conclusion I finally came to was that they simply couldn’t face the reality that they were not as good as they believed they were and needed to take away some of the penalties involved in golf to shoot better scores. It stinks to have add 2 strokes to your score for one lousy shot. I’ve had to do this more often than I care to recall. I have had to take the “walk of shame” many of times when I couldn’t find my ball in the deep rough. After doing that a few times, you become familiar with the notion of a provisional ball. The funniest excuse I heard was that you shouldn’t be penalized for a lost ball because tour pros have marshals and galleries to find their ball and the common golfer does not. They didn’t like my response that they should go to Q-School and get their card if they need help finding their ball. The rules are complex and there are a lot of grey areas. This is why there are so many debates and discussions after the fact. When the playing field varies from course to course and the randomness of nature is involved, bizarre circumstances are going to arise. What do you do if your ball hits a power line that crosses the fairway and pulverizes or hits a flying bird and drops straight down? What if a dog runs across the fairway and picks up your ball that already came to rest and runs off with it? I have actually witnessed those things happen. I am thankful that there are people that have studied the rules in depth, but they are not available during the casual Sunday round. Lord knows we don’t want people flipping through the ROG app to figure it out in the middle of a round either. Playing by the rules is a learning process. You have to start with the basics and move forward, but first you have to commit to following the rules no matter what the outcome or how fair it may seem. After all this rambling on, what is my point? I suppose my point would be to man up, play by the rules, and stop whining about them. Don’t be like my older siblings who made up or changed rules of a game as they went along when they began to fear that they might lose to their younger brother. If you aren’t playing by the ROG as they are defined, you are not playing golf and need to come up with a different name for what you are doing. A coworker and friend who died of cancer said when I described the “rules” that were being proposed for golf league, “That’s not playing golf! That’s playing slap-and-tickle!” Rest in peace Mike. You always knew how to put things.
  24. So again: Player A commits three serious breaches that, for whatever reason, nobody but A sees. Player A wins by one stroke over Player B, who wasn't even in the group. Player A is caught on camera doing all of these things. Because it's caught on camera, A wins, B finishes second, and we're just to go about on our merry way? Also, please keep your answer short, because it's… for this thread. This thread isn't about using all or any video evidence. Where in the heck is that written in the Rules of Golf? And though you've used the word "opponent" what about a fellow competitor who likely isn't even in the same grouping with any other given player?
  25. In match play between Players A and B: 1. Player A hits drive. Ball clips a tree branch hanging well over the fairway about 150 yards out and nobody sees where the ball lands after that. Most possibly landing straight down below the tree or OB way to the right of the fairway beyond the tree line in to a yard. 2. Upon arrival near the tree search is conducted for a few minutes but ball nowhere to be found. Finally opponent locates 'a' ball in the yard (same brand) and it is presumed that it is player A's ball (OB). 3. Player A proceeds to head back to the tee convinced that ball in the yard is his. But while he is en route to the tee to put a 2nd ball in play, his opponent finds the original ball 30 yards further (identifies it from player A's mark on the ball) from the tree area in the middle of the fairway, but does not let Player A know that the original is found BEFORE the 2nd ball is hit from the tee, later citing that the original ball is not in play anymore since it had been DECLARED OB and hence not in play anymore, regardless of the fact that it was found in the fairway. Was the original ball still in play? Does 27.2b apply?
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