Keeping Score

From the Morning Read inbox

Embrace new rules and don’t be a fuddy-duddy
Mike Purkey must have stumbled into a penalty area. He is all wet on his column about going back to the old rules (“Flagstick, drop rules should be reversed,” Jan. 18).

First, leaving the flagstick in the hole is going back to the old rule. I cannot see the controversy here. As for the criticism from Justin Thomas, he sounds like a middle-school girl having a bad hair day.

The new rule for dropping the ball makes sense when one considers the limitations imposed by identifying a relief area. The ball must remain within the area without a two-club-length grace area. The lower dropping point will make the results less random and will save the many re-drops from the past.

Somehow, these rules fit together in an effort to speed up play. Purkey sounds like an old fuddy-duddy.

Jim Kavanagh
St. Augustine, Fla.
(Kavanagh is a senior rules official with the Florida State Golf Association.)

Straight truth about the new rules
I don’t understand all the uproar about the new ball drop and pin-in rule changes (“Flagstick, drop rules should be reversed,” Jan. 18).

First of all, if Justin Thomas can’t see himself putting with the pin in, then take it out. It’s optional, Justin. No one is saying you have to keep it in.

Maybe the way to encourage or discourage this rule is to alter the size of the flagstick. Is there a rule concerning its diameter at the hole? I grew up in an era when leaving the flagstick in was allowed. Some courses used a flagstick that was a small metal rod at the bottom, which then connected to a larger piece of metal or wood about 1 foot up. The flagstick had two different diameters.

And as for the new drop rule, all anyone has to do is let his arm extend downward and slightly tilt his shoulders. That should get the overwhelming majority of players within the new rules. It’s not that big of a problem.

Hit it in the fairway and don’t land in a divot, then none of this will ruin your day.

Charlie Jurgonis
Fairfax, Va.

Get used to the changes and keep playing
In reply to Mike Purkey’s rules story, it sounds to me like PGA Tour players are asking, Who moved my cheese? (“Flagstick, drop rules should be reversed,” Jan. 18).

Anyone who has been doing something a certain way for years is going to take issue with a change to that routine. I’d guess that most bogey golfers like me don’t feel strongly either way about the flagstick rule. Leave it in, take it out … whatever! It doesn’t look bad to leave the pin in; it looks different. I’m planning to leave it in for my league play this year and see what happens. I’ll bet a lot of guys in my league will do the same.

The drop rule is a big, Who cares? Shoulder, knee … just drop and hit the next shot.

Anchored putting is a different story. The USGA’s Mike Davis might have thought it looked bad, but an anchored stroke gives the player an advantage. That’s the reason anchoring should remain illegal, regardless of how it looks. The only thing that should touch any club is the player’s two hands.

Most rule changes aren’t made to fix anything; they are made to improve things. Let’s continue to improve the game and the golf experience. We old guys should just get used to the new rules and play on.

Gregg Cook
Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Don’t bury USGA so soon on changes
The USGA was very clear on this: The purpose of these rule changes was to speed up the game (“Flagstick, drop rules should be reversed,” Jan. 18). Will they?

There’s absolutely no doubt about the knee-drop height (and it's not too swift to say a shorter person has an advantage when the old rule had the ball being dropped from shoulder height). Maybe for perfect fairness, the player should be required to toss the ball a minimum of 15 feet into the air. And compensating for the shorter knee height is that the shorter player may well have a smaller drop area, as his driver might be shorter. For all, the shorter drop height means fewer re-drops.

As for the flagstick being allowed to remain in the hole, that's not so obvious. If it hurts the percentage of made putts, it will slow the game. If it helps, players will accept it, and the rule will contribute to speeding up the game. Several studies have been done. None shows that it hurts all putts, and some show that it generally helps. It’s a little early to indict the USGA.

The USGA is perfectly capable of screwing up, but this is not it.

Stephen Pearcy
Aiken, S.C.

Proper club fitting boosts performance
Yes, new clubs can be expensive, but it can make a big difference when someone is playing with the wrong type of clubs, and clubs that weren't properly fitted (“Soaring club prices ignore golf’s reality,” Jan. 8); (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Jan. 9; Jan. 10; Jan. 11; Jan. 14; Jan. 15; Jan. 18).

As a club fitter, I frequently see high-handicap golfers with an older-model and/or hand-me-down set that is not easy to hit. When they buy a newer, game-improvement set, it usually results in better scores and more enjoyment.

Equally important is fitting the golfer to clubs that are the right length, proper lie angle and correct shaft flex. My own father was still playing with stiff-steel-shaft irons and couldn't understand why he couldn't hit his irons like he used to do. I put him in a graphite senior flex, and he began hitting greens again. Plus, he didn't run out of gas at the 12th hole any more.

So, if you want to get the most out of your game, get a proper club fitting for the right specs, and the right type of clubs for your game.

Ken Horn
San Antonio
(Horn is a master club fitter and sales associate with Golf Galaxy.)

It’s a poor fit
I was fitted for new irons once several years ago. I immediately lost 8 yards per club, with no increase in accuracy. This set also ended up being the most expensive set of irons I have ever purchased.

So, excuse me when I guffaw at ads for new technologies in clubs and fitting providers. I seem to do fine deciding what to purchase by myself.

Rob Craig
Mount Pleasant, Mich.

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