USGA and R & A proposing new rules for pace of play and more

AP Photo

On Wednesday the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient (R & A), the two worldwide governing body of golf rules, announced numerous rule change proposals to help the pace of play, clarify some silliness on rules violations involving the ball moving, etc. and also allow electronic range finders to help players with their distances.

If they are approved, the proposals will go into effect for January 2019.

You can view the entire list of what’s being proposed to change here.

There are some good moves in this.

I am in favor of the rules being eliminated about the ball moving after unintentional acts around it being a penalty. You probably recall this was an ugly scene for the USGA and debating about penalizing leader Dustin Johnson for his ball appearing to move after he addressed to putt it (photo above) in the final round of the U.S. Open at Oakmont. Johnson went on to win by more than what the penalty would have been. So, it ended up being moot, but it was still a whacky episode.

I also like the encouragement of “ready golf,” too. Although, having previously called on course play-by-play for PGA Tour Radio and, the “ready play” stuff happens frequently anyway. This is usually, when someone is having obvious trouble finding their ball, figuring out what to do, etc. The usual protocol is the other player(s) asks the slower player if they can just go ahead to speed it up.

Now, it will be scrutinized to help speed it up. And, you have the leverage of putting the group on the clock for slow play. And in these proposed changes, the USGA and R & A repeat that it should be :40 when it’s your turn. I want it more closely monitored and enforced, even on the stars. Right now? It’s almost selective according to status and name recognition and if it’s on TV or not.

It doesn’t bother me that caddies help players line up a putt or stand behind them in the fairway. So, I think those proposed new rules are silly. We regularly see caddies giving yardage and clubs and strategy advice, already. So, either forbid all the help or allow advice and assistance.  I am for the second one.

Finally, I will NOT go so far as to be a fan of the electronic range finders by the player (caddie). I realize that on the PGA Tour and now, some other tours, they regularly have the yardage available to fans and players alike via lasers and “Shotlink” technology on scoreboards. They are very accurate, but not always right.

But understand, with their own judgement and their caddie’s help, the players almost know to the foot what the distance is anyway (at least the better players do).

And look, I know that Tom Brady has an offensive coordinator who can talk to his helmet and comes over to the sideline on NFL Sundays and gets to look at Surface tablet to diagnose the opposing defense. But that’s football.

I just want the human element on figuring it out, which is still the way of the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship require, to remain in golf. Can you see Rory McIlroy’s caddie at Augusta with the range finder out trying to pin point his second shot distance on Sunday on 15?

Can you see the “Al Czervik using his ‘Albert Einstein’s’ viewfinder putter in Caddyshack” becoming reality on greens? (Okay, that’s a little much)

It’s Blasphemy, I say! Let them make the educated guess, like what’s gone on, forever.

All in all, losing silly over reaching, needless rules of golf is a good thing. So good for the USGA and the R & A.

Now, we wait to see what gets approved and made official.

No Limit Golf
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