There is a lot of talk going on right now about distance in golf. Many think there is too much of it: Balls flying too far, courses getting too long, and average people losing interest in playing the game because of it. Most think our classic courses are no longer a challenge for the modern implements of the game. Several people, including Jack Nicklaus, are calling for reduced-flight balls or changes to equipment for the pros. Others advocate a separate set of rules for recreational golfers. Clearly, some rational approach is needed to deal with the issue. What has been good for the manufacturers has not necessarily been good for growing the sport. Longer and harder courses to protect par have added costs and time, things that drive today’s instant gratification society away from the game.   Maybe it is time to take a step back. What would happen if the pros had to play with restricted equipment? My guess is not much if the governing bodies were sensible about it. Would it cause chaos if pros played under defined rules and recreational golfers did not? Unlikely. Serious golfers will always play by the rules. Key word here – serious. Recreational golfers don’t play by the rules now. As Bobby Jones put it, there is golf and then there is tournament golf. So, in my opinion, it is much ado about nothing. We don’t need two sets of rules. There is one rule book that has served golf since 1744. Either play by them or don’t. If one opts for the latter, just be aware that you will be ineligible for tournament play.   Our modern-day governing bodies should go back and look at what our forefathers preached. From the R&A a century ago: “We are going to play the game as it was handed down ….. we will tell you how it was handed down and provide you with our interpretation of the rules and endeavor to convey to you all the spirit of the game, but do as you like, much as we desire to see you play the game as it has been played for centuries.”  Seems fairly sensible to me. By Mike Stevens, USGTF Level III Member, Tampa, Florida
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