Golf’s New Rules: Few Players Know Them, Fewer Understand Them




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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in no way fails to rattle Darius Rucker’s nerves. This yr though, Rucker, the three-time Grammy Award worthwhile musician, had additional to fret about than hitting a spectator or getting in the way in which wherein of his skilled confederate, Kenny Perry.

“Now you’re scared that somebody’s going to come call a rules violation on you with something that you don’t know about,” Rucker talked about sooner than the match began closing week.

The professionals are merely as apprehensive. The United States Golf Association and the R&A revised the sport’s rule information to simplify the game and tempo up the tempo of play. But up to now the changes, which took influence at first of 2019, have been more durable to adjust to than a recreation of Simon Says.

In the few weeks given that modifications took influence, players have repeatedly sought steering from the closest pointers official, their caddies or gadgets of paper tucked inside their golf baggage, undermining for now, a minimal of, the acknowledged intention of making points easier and sooner.

And it’s together with a further little little bit of hesitancy to the professionals’ journey by the use of the course. During a rain-sodden second spherical at Pebble Beach on Friday, Hunter Mahan was pressured to hunt the recommendation of a tournament-issued pointers sheet sooner than touching his ball. “We thought we knew what the rule was,” Mahan talked about, “but there’s no clarity, so having an official or actually having it written down is the only true clarification.”

One new rule has lowered the height from which players make a drop: it is now from the knees, barely than the shoulders, a change that the earlier males’s world No. 1 Adam Scott described as awkward. Whenever he bends over or squats with the ball, he can’t help nevertheless take into consideration pointers officers assigned to observe potential pointers violations squinting at their screens, scrutinizing his launch all the way in which right down to the inch.

“They’ve just written more gray areas into the game that were not necessary,” talked about Scott, who gained’t make a drop with out asking his caddie or a close-by official if he has the height correct.

Even these imposing the foundations have been confused about simple strategies to interpret them. During the second spherical of the Phoenix Open earlier this month, Denny McCarthy was assessed a two-stroke penalty beneath Rule 10.2b(4), a model new regulation that prohibits caddies from standing behind players as they line up for his or her images.

While McCarthy took a few comply with swings, his caddie stood behind him. McCarthy stepped away sooner than hitting the shot, and when he received right here once more to the ball and set his stance, his caddie was standing off to the facet. The subsequent day, the PGA Tour launched that it had rescinded the penalty after reviewing McCarthy’s actions, and his score of 67 grew to develop into a 65.

Somewhat misplaced throughout the turbulence created by the alignment rule throughout the males’s recreation is the reality that the change was seen as directed on the L.P.G.A., the place caddies lining up players had been additional widespread. Brittany Lincicome, an eight-time L.P.G.A. tour winner and two-time important champion, talked about she was glad “it wasn’t one of us” who grew to develop into the rule’s first sufferer.

After the caddie-alignment episode with McCarthy, and several other different associated situations involving completely different players, the usG.A. and the R&A issued a clarification: If players reset their stances after their caddies have surveyed a shot, there isn’t a such factor as a penalty.

“Going in, we knew there were certain things that were going to come up that you’d say, ‘We’re not sure we contemplated this or the intention was never to have this outcome,’” Mike Davis, the chief govt of the usG.A. suggested The Global Golf Post. He added, “All in all, in terms of how they’re being perceive around the globe, it’s very positive.”

That wasn’t the case for Rickie Fowler, who took ineffective intention on the caddie-alignment rule all through the Phoenix Open. “You’re talking about growing the game and making things play faster and whatnot,” he talked about, “but that’s not growing the game.”

Adding to Fowler’s exasperation was a run-in with one in every of many rule information’s unchanged guidelines on the Sunday of the match. He took a one-stroke penalty for hitting a shot into the water, then absorbed one different one-stroke penalty after his ball rolled once more into the hazard quite a lot of seconds after he walked in the direction of the inexperienced to survey his chip.

After carding a triple bogey, Fowler, in a gift of gallows humor, petitioned the foundations official, Slugger White, for a pointers modification.

Fowler held on to win, nevertheless Tony Finau, who watched the spherical unfold on television after missing the reduce, observed the gravity in Fowler’s joking.

“As I watched that transpire, I couldn’t help but think, This is not what the integrity of the game is about,” Finau talked about. “He didn’t do anything for that ball to move.”

One participant’s mishap is one different’s teachable second. An L.P.G.A. pointers official disseminated the video of Fowler having fun with the opening, noting that he may need prevented the second penalty by making his first two drops, then using a tee to mark the spot the place he meant to place the ball. After surveying his shot, he may need then modified the tee collectively together with his ball sooner than taking his shot.

Breaking up the sequence of drop-drop-place like that was illuminating to Lincicome: “I didn’t even know that was a thing,” she talked about.

Another new wrinkle on the course this yr is using the flagstick as a backboard on putts; to rush up play, golfers can depart the pin in whatever the place they’re on the course, along with the inexperienced. Anticipating the consequence, Bryson DeChambeau talked about closing yr, “The U.S.G.A.’s going to have to go back on that one, like, ‘No! We made the hole bigger!’”

It sure has appeared that method to Scott, who ranked 165th on tour in 2018 in strokes-gained putting. Putting with the flagstick throughout the hole, he is ranked No. 26. “To be honest,” Scott talked about, “it almost changes the whole aim of the game. It’s to hit the pin, not hole the putt.”

He added, “It takes speed out of your head so much. It even takes some reading of the green out.”

DeChambeau has a level. The recreation’s governing our our bodies might be eager to simplify the foundations, nevertheless their intent was in no way to make the game less complicated.

And finally, have they really simplified one thing?

When Scott seems to be like on the remaining layers of pointers along with the lingering and newfound confusion, he, like Fowler, wonders the way it’s rising the game. Imagine choosing up an unfamiliar board recreation, he talked about, and opening the sector to go looking out 84 pages of pointers. Would you problem having fun with it?

Now picture the similar recreation, with solely 5 or 6 pointers to be taught to start out. Which mannequin would you uncover additional attention-grabbing?

“Let’s have all the rules on the back of the scorecard for people to get into the game of golf,” Scott talked about, together with, “And then as you get playing more you can maybe learn some finer points of this very complex game.”

Though Jay Monahan, the P.G.A. commissioner, talked about closing week that he felt proud of how shortly and nimbly the alignment rule confusion was addressed, Scott disagreed.

“We haven’t had a lot of changes in golf in the history of the game , and we’ve had a lot recently — rules changing weekly in some cases — and it’s crazy,” Scott talked about.

He added, “I think we’re becoming the laughingstock.”

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