As the Association of Golf Professionals celebrated 100 years of existence, 2016 saw many firsts, beginning with the major championships all crowning first-time winners. Danny Willett donned the green jacket at Augusta after an epic collapse by the hottest golfer on tour, Jordan Spieth. Dustin Johnson finally broke through for his first major championship at the U.S. Open despite many pundits doubting that he would ever hold up to a major challenge. A classic battle then ensued at the Open Championship with Henrik Stenson’s remarkable putting down the stretch to deny Phil Mickelson a second title. Then, Jimmy Walker surprised everyone at the PGA Championship. Probably the biggest first was golf back in the Olympics, which turned out to be quite an exciting finish as Justin Rose birdied the final hole and saw the raising of the Union Jack atop the medal ceremony. And although not a first, the Americans recapturing the Ryder Cup was quite a relief to many on this side of the Atlantic. Yes, it was quite a year, but not entirely without controversy. The USGA continued to bumble its way along. The ban of anchoring the putter went into effect, of which the intent was clearly to eliminate the long putter, but Bernard Langer still used his effectively. The moronic way they handled rulings at the men’s and women’s opens left many exasperated and wondering whether these people have a clue. Worst of all, in my opinion, was ruling that people playing alone could not post scores for handicap purposes. In a game that is founded on integrity and honor, the so-called protectors of the game don’t trust golfers to play by the rules unless someone is watching them. What kind of message does that send? Maybe these are the people that can’t be trusted with decisions on how we play and enjoy ourselves on the golf course. By Mike Stevens, USGTF Certified Golf Teaching Professional, Tampa, Florida    
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