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Point Counterpoint


us–help golf? Yes T


he difference between average golfers and elite


professionals is vast, and it’s a gap that is growing wider with each new generation of clubs and balls. Those guys are good, perhaps too good. The .001 percent not only gets media attention and sponsorships, but also is the driving influence behind wickedly long, difficult and expensive tournament courses that make for slow play and six- hour rounds, discouraging new and casual golfers from returning. With the very health


of the sport at stake, it’s time to add weight to the Thoroughbred saddles with bifurcated rules, one set for amateurs and another that handicaps professionals, in a manner of speaking, to keep them on the same track as us plodders. For example, Jack


Nicklaus has long called for a rollback in the distance a golf ball can travel, if only because it renders the classic courses he played


Jay Stuller is an author, journalist, corporate speechwriter and frequent contributor to this magazine.


20 / NCGA.ORG / SPRING 2012


Would two sets of rules– one for professionals and one for the rest of


in his prime obsolete. But at the recent Honda Classic, Nicklaus added a wrinkle to the raw distance argument. “When I played, if I would play with an ama teur at his club, and we both played from the back tees, I might out-hit him 15 or 20 yards,” explained Nicklaus. “It wasn’t a big deal. You play with him today, the guy’s out-hitting (an ama teur by) 100 yards. They are play ing with the same equipment. Something’s different.” It could be golf ball and


club technology, combined with modern training. But no matter the reasons, it’s mighty hard for an average player to relate to today’s tour pros. Granted, none of us can dunk like Blake Griffin, but at least we can duplicate his slams on an 8-foot hoop. On any given day, an amateur can hit a short iron as stiff to the flag as any professional. We’ll never hit drives 320 yards, or sky an 8-iron 200. I’m not advocating


for a dystopian future along the lines of Kurt Vonnegut’s, where in 2081


to the pros. We ought to have them on every tee, fairway and green. In any event, different


rules for different levels are not unprecedented in sports. Games are longer in pro football and basketball, while Major League Baseball has a significant equipment restriction. College, high school, Little League and recreational softball teams use durable aluminum bats, which are much too powerful and dangerous in the hands of a big league hitter. MLB requires wood bats in part because of tradition; the velocity of baseballs flying off aluminum


the Constitution ensures that every American is fully equal, and to enforce it a Handicapper General makes handsome men wear red rubber noses and ballerinas weights so their gracefulness doesn’t make anyone else feel less talented. Put Rory in frosted coke-bottle glasses, require Phil to use hickory-shafted clubs, and make Tiger play with his left arm tied behind his back? While I like the images, the notion is as sensible as Vonnegut’s total equality satire. On second thought,


how about a 24-second shot clock on the PGA Tour, which might cause twitchy Keegan Bradley to disintegrate? Then again, a 24-second shot clock is too good an idea to be confined


would do more damage to home run records than did performance-enhancing drugs. Then there’s safety; already vulnerable to liners up the middle, pitchers would get seriously drilled. Bifurcating the rules


wouldn’t be that difficult. Ping Chairman John Solheim recently proposed a ball distance rating with three different categories, including a shorter professional ball—so we can stop building new tees on the other side of the parking lot, which adds to the cost of maintenance and green fees—the best of current balls and an open category so inventors can go wild helping hacks add 50 yards to their drives. The balls would have color coded dots, and the distance would be incorporated into the current handicap


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