Repeat after me: New drop is not that hard
It's dangerous to speak for someone else. However, at a four-day PGA/USGA rules workshop in January, a USGA official explained the USGA/R&A process in selecting a new dropping height.
Initially, a ball was to be placed, but the R&A objected. A compromise was negotiated for a height of one-half inch, which was published for comments from the general public. After receiving those comments, knee height was chosen.
The ensuing commentary from pros and duffers alike on how to get that little round ball to knee height is comical. An easy way was demonstrated during the workshop: Hold the ball in two fingers, and bend slightly at the waist as if you were kissing your seated sweetheart goodbye. When your hand gets to knee height, let go of the ball.
How difficult is that?
Although some dropping methods are entertaining, such as Rickie Fowler's demonstration, the "proper" method works well for me.
Try to give the USGA some credit once in a while. In the end, rule changes are vetted and a final vote taken.
Robert Patten Burns
(Burns is a rules official with the Iowa Section of the PGA of America.)
Governing bodies should rethink drop rule
The USGA and R&A need a mulligan on the drop rule.
Rather than state that the ball must be dropped at knee height, the rule should have been stated “at or above knee height.” The reason for knee height has been stated as “increasing the chance that the ball stays in the relief area.” It also helps minimize the extent of the ball embedding in the sand when dropping in a bunker.
A penalty for dropping above knee height should come into play when the drop results in the ball leaving the relief area. If the drop is made at knee height and ends up out of the relief area, then no penalty. Continue as stated in current rule.
Players are going to do what’s beneficial to them, and not do something that would result in a penalty. If there is a chance that the ball could end up out of the relief area, they will drop from knee height; why risk a penalty? If the ball is on flat ground and there is no risk that the ball would end up out of the relief area or maybe bounce into a divot, why should the player be penalized?
Maybe over time, everyone will be dropping from knee height anyway, and there wouldn't be the stigma of the rule being a “stupid rule.”
A small bucket of advice
One reason why the pros don’t like the new drop rule is because they don’t get to place the ball where they want it after two drops roll out of the drop zone. However, I agree that it should be amended to allow the drop from the knees up.
Caddies should not be allowed to align players. Pick your target, align yourself and take your shot. They are the best players in the world, so show it without on-course assistance.
I don’t understand the controversy over the flagstick rule. If you don’t want it in the hole, then take it out. If someone wants it in, then so be it.
Finally, PGA Tour players need to quit complaining publicly and play the game. Justin Thomas has been a whiner for as long as I can remember. If they have complaints, appoint a group of players and meet with the ruling bodies to address their issues. Their public whining does no one any good and makes them look like what many people think they are: rich, pampered, spoiled brats.
Forest Ranch, Calif.
It’s time for Recreational Golfers of America
With all the questioning of the 2019 Rules of Golf revisions and dislike, why doesn’t the PGA Tour come out with a published set of rules for its members?
Since the USGA has failed to provide separate rules for pros and amateurs, and seems to have a don’t-care attitude for everyday golfers, I would think that this is a prime opportunity for someone to start a competing organization that caters strictly to the everyday golfer. Marketing possibilities seem endless: Recreational Golfers of America (RGA)? Why not?
I used to be a USGA member, but the association just seemed interested in selling hats and bag tags, so I dropped my membership. The harsh criticism that the USGA has received for the current rules debacle is well deserved. The blue coats and their dictator, Mike Davis, need some real competition. I would be willing to give another organization a chance to be that competitor.
There’s no quit in Maggert
I had to write about what Jeff Maggert did over the weekend at the Champions Tour’s Hoag Classic.
On Friday, he five-putted the final green at Newport Beach (Calif.) Country Club from about 5 feet. Yes, five putts. Back and forth it went. He shook the hands of his playing competitors, and off he went.
I do not know what he did after that, but I do know what happened in Saturday's round: he knocked in his second shot from the fairway on the first hole, the par-4 10th – from a quadruple bogey to an eagle, just like that. He made another eagle five holes later and went on to shoot 63 – a 13-shot turnaround from Friday to Saturday.
Other players on that tour would have packed their bags Friday evening and gone to the airport. Five putts for some is beyond embarrassment, but not Jeff Maggert. Somewhere between Friday evening and Saturday morning, he decided to get back on that horse, and boy did he ever. He eventually tied for third, one stroke out of a playoff won by Kirk Triplett.
That shows the greatness of Jeff Maggert's approach to the game and understanding that what has happened is over and what has not happened is potentially wonderful. It should be used as a role model for every golfer: never, ever give up.
Boca Raton, Fla.
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