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  1. We're in that special hell of rules controversies with the implementation of the new Rules of Golf. There have been some growing pains with the new rules, and that has allowed the golf media to tee off on its favorite target, the USGA. Which, to be fair, can make itself an easy target: https://www.golfdigest.com/story/despite-harsh-words-from-some-tour-pros-usga-pleased-with-roll-out-of-new-rules-of-golf. That aside, I wanted to talk about the "controversy" about the knee-height drop that the Rules now require. Rickie Fowler got a one stroke penalty for dropping from shoulder height this past weekend. Cue the complaining from him: https://golfweek.com/2019/02/22/rickie-fowler-hit-with-one-shot-penalty-for-illegal-drop-at-wgc-mexico-championship/ I can forgive him - he just had a brain fart, probably didn't gain an advantage in this situation, it cost him money. I'm always annoyed when I get a penalty, personally, and it's absolutely never my fault, okay? But cue the pearl clutching from the media: https://www.golf.com/news/2019/02/25/backstopping-pro-tours-under-policed/ I'm here to tell you that this is wrong, and knee-height drops actually make a ton of sense. One of the best things the new Rules do is simplify dropping. Now, all you have to do when dropping is land the ball in the relief area (without touching you or your equipment before hitting the ground) and ensure the ball comes to rest in the relief area. If you don't do this, you have to redrop. Pretty simple. Yes, you have to figure out what your relief area is, but that's pretty simple, too. (For a fuller explanation of this, see Rule 14 and the definitions in the Rules of Golf.) The old rules were much more complex. Specifically, if your ball rolled to one of 9 areas after you dropped it, you had to redrop. For example, if your ball rolled more than 2 club lengths away from where your ball hit the ground, you had to redrop. You had to know all of these 9 areas to know if you needed to redrop or not. So, the new way is simpler, right? Instead of learning 9 different triggers for a redrop, you only have to learn 1. Great! Why am I talking about when you have to redrop? This is why we're dropping from knee height. Generally, under the new Rules, your ball cannot go as far after hitting the ground as it used to without triggering a redrop. Dropping from knee height reduces the chance that a redrop will be necessary. It also means that a ball has less of a chance of embedding in sand when you drop it. It makes a ton of sense, really. Now, you might say, that's all fine, but why not allow dropping a ball from anywhere above knee height? I think you could easily game the rules to be able to place the ball when you really want to by simply dropping from shoulder height instead of knee height. Think about dropping on a side slope, for example. You're much more likely to have to redrop and place if you drop the ball from a higher point. Sure, this is rare, but why take the chance? We're all on the same page, right? Knee-height drops make a lot of sense. (If you want to know more about the changes to dropping, this is an excellent article that talks about this in a bit more detail: https://rulesgeeks.com/2018/12/30-days-of-2019-rules-changes-day-16-procedure-for-dropping-a-ball-in-playing-it-from-a-relief-area/) Now to the point of all of this: golf media, please take 5 minutes to understand the rule before issuing a HAWT TAKE about the rule. The USGA has a one page sheet that explains the rule: http://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/rules-hub/rules-modernization/major-changes/new-procedure-for-dropping-a-ball.html. You don't come off very well when you fail to read that. I know it's fun and easy to just mindlessly bash the USGA, but they do get things right. This is one of them. (Oh and by the way, the Rules are actually really good, as a whole. Maybe I'll talk about that in another post later.)
  2. For the discussion of Tiger's 15th major victory! </sarcasm>
  3. The site of the 2017 U.S. Open is near my old stomping grounds...I was born about 30 min. away from where Erin Hills was eventually built. I moved from that area long before the course was even planned, so I've never been there or played it or anything, but I learned some interesting things this evening. I have a good friend up there who works for a limo/shuttle company, and he has been driving people from Madison, Milwaukee and O'Hare to Erin Hills for several days, and he made several comments on how remote the golf course is. It might not be exactly in the middle of nowhere, but apparently a short drive would get you there. There is only one way in, and one way out. And these are country roads, not four-lane highways. They announced this site would host the U.S. Open in 2010...seven years ago, and they couldn't get a better road system in place? I thought that was one of the things that they took into consideration when they scout potential sites? It sounds like this course was earmarked to host USGA events before it was even built, so if they set out to design a course that would one day host a major, why wouldn't the road infrastructure be included? Anyway, the course itself is a monster...or at least can be, when the stretch it out. From the blacks it plays 7,800 yds, but it looks like it will play about 7,700 during the tournament. All four par 5s are over 600 yds, two par 4s are over 500 yds, and two others are over 480. This is the first time in many years the course will play to a par of 72, which actually gives the guys a chance to make up some ground.
  4. I started a new topic on this based on this comment: It's interesting, if you think about it… will the USGA dictate to Fox how they screwed up and misrepresented the USGA? Would this have happened on NBC? In other words, the USGA chose FOX as their broadcast partner, and FOX - by allowing their former players turned announcers to go on for so long about how unfair things were, and to misunderstand and mis-apply the rules, certainly didn't do the USGA any favors. Will this cause a change in the way the USGA allows FOX to cover their events?
  5. Hear me out. Suppose that the Rules Official correctly (IMO) ruled that Dustin Johnson earned a penalty stroke on the 5th green for causing his ball to move. I think there is a good chance - not a certainty - that he collapses a bit and/or Lowry plays well enough at that point that the outcome changes. Maybe they tie, maybe DJ loses outright… something. Consider that DJ probably played the last 13 holes not thinking he'd be penalized because he doesn't understand the rule, and how his mind set and decisions might have changed if he had been penalized. At the time, he'd have only been -3 while Lowry would have been -6. I will say it this way again. There is a good chance that because a penalty was not assessed initially and DJ thought he would not incur a penalty, it affected the play of DJ, Lowry, and others over the remaining 13+ holes. In other words, DJ might have LOST the U.S. Open if he had been assessed a penalty at the 5th hole instead of after he'd won by 3/4.
  6. From the album: 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont

    © 2016 Erik J. Barzeski

  7. From the album: 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont

    © 2016 Erik J. Barzeski

  8. iacas

    15th Flag at Oakmont

    From the album: 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont

    © 2016 Erik J. Barzeski

  9. From the album: 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont

    © 2016 Erik J. Barzeski

  10. iacas

    17th at Oakmont

    From the album: 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont

    © 2016 Erik J. Barzeski

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