When I Become USGA President I am Changing the Rules of Golf


Over the past 100 years the United State Golf Association (USGA) has claimed to be the guardian of golf and with that to be looking out for the best interest of the players and making sure the rules of the game are enforced.

While I can respect some of what the USGA has done, I believe the organization has actually hindered the modern game and needs to be shaken up and re-organized. Perhaps similar to what is happening to the NCAA right now with college sports.

For example, if the USGA leaders were protecting the game why did they not create rules that set a limit as to how long a golf course could be (say 6,800 yards versus unlimited length)?

Why did they not put the limit on the ball back in the 1980’s when the research was starting to show it could be made to go unfathomable distances? Why do they keep making rules so difficult for the average player to understand?

When I become the next USGA president these are some of the things that I am going to do to protect the game for the next 100 years!

The first thing I am going to do is accept that the USGA is not the only governing body in the game any longer. We may oversee the amateur game, but when our rules cross over into the professional tours and all of the money that is involved in today’s sports world, it is time to work together with other groups in setting the rules. I am going to cross party lines and ask the PGA Tour, PGA of America, R & A, and the Masters Committee to work together and create a ruling body of golf that creates and oversees the rules of the game.

This new five-person committee will re-write the rules of golf to make the game simpler and more fun for everyone to play. When new rules are presented this committee will discuss the positives and negatives, and then vote on adopting the rule with a majority vote. There will be no more one organization making rules decisions that can negatively affect the livelihood or careers of golfers, not to mention making the game easier for everyday players.

Some of the rules that I will push to have eliminated once this committee is formed will be:

For all professional golf events we will eliminate the use of a scorecard and only rely on electronic scoring. In today’s world with the technology available at a PGA Tour event, a major championship or any other professional event everyone knows every score hole-by-hole. That someone can still get disqualified for signing a wrong scorecard and potentially lose thousands of dollars is, well, ridiculous.

For amateur events, if someone signs for a wrong score there will be no more disqualification or penalty stroke. It will simply be corrected.

If a ball comes to rest in a divot then the player will be entitled to free relief. The fact that a player can get relief from a man made obstruction, but not divots that man has been making all day is not right. Had this rule been in place in the 1998 US Open at Olympic Club, the great Payne Stewart might have three U.S. Opens.

Out-of-bounds will be eliminated from the game and the stroke and distance penalty will go away. This is one of the biggest problems with slow play and just because we have to put white stakes out to protect someone’s yard doesn’t mean we have to make the game tougher. I would suggest either allowing a free drop from the stakes, or play everything as a lateral hazard. I will let the committee argue this one!

All hazards will be only one color and players will have the option to drop two club lengths from the point of entry, or go back as far as you want keeping in line the point of entry and the hole, or replay the shot from within one-club length from your previous shot. No one should be confused over color and options anymore, especially Tiger Woods.

I will push for the new rules committee to begin rolling back the yardage on golf courses. The longest a golf course can play in any tournament format will be 6,800 yards and the future handicapping system will only be recognized from 6,800 yards or less. This will hopefully eliminate back tees. If owners across the country all eliminated their back tees tomorrow, pace of play would improve significantly overnight.

This might mean we see significantly lower scores in golf tournaments, but that is ok. Shooting 15-, 20-, or 25-under-par, in my mind, will be good for the game and show the game as being easier and hopefully get more people to try the game. Besides, when was the last time you watched something really difficult on TV and wanted to go try it.

I could probably come up with several more ideas to make the game easier and more fun with new rules, but for now this should keep the new committee busy for the near future.Gaylord Country Club