Should they play different rules?
Should Pros Play By Different Rules?
Well, last week’s diatribe on the Rules sure got lots of input from you guys, and I thank you all for chiming in. We had some problems with the Rules Survey, but hopefully we’ve corrected that and you can make your opinions known through this link – Rules Survey.

So, to continue on with something related to that subject, I’d like to toss out the idea that the PGA Tour Players should possibly play by a different set of Rules than the rest of us. Hear me out, then chime in with your own opinions, OK?

You’ve all probably read the quote by Bobby Jones, who watched Nicklaus play and remarked, “He plays a game with which I am not familiar.” When Tiger came out, that quote was dusted off by many in regard to his remarkable skills and talents.

When I was younger and watching the stars of the 1970s-80s, I found that my iron play was generally about a club shorter than they were. The TV announcer would say, “He’s 165 and has a 6-iron. Well, that was a 7 for me, so I could relate to the game they played. Long par fours were 425-450 yards, and many par 5s were real three shot holes. Those player who could hit par 5 greens in two shots were outstanding fairway wood and long iron players, and considered longer than their peers.

But when an announcer says, “he’s 245 and hitting 4-iron”, what the heck is that???? I can’t even hit a 4-wood that far!! The gap has widened tremendously, and therefore created a significant disconnect between my game and that of the tour professional. To me at least, it has made professional golf much less interesting to watch, but you might not feel that way.

Now we’re seeing par 4 holes over 500 yards (there were two in Dallas last week) and par 5 holes reduced to driver and mid-iron . . . sometimes short irons . . . for these guys. What kind of golf is that? And where does golf course architecture go from here – 8,000 yard courses?

There’s been talk of a different ball for the pros and maybe even different rules governing equipment. So why not?

We see different rules of play for professionals in many sports – basketball, football, baseball . . . but let’s look at baseball, because pros use wood bats to keep every ball park in America from having to be rebuilt, and to save pitcher’s lives. The ball is just too hot off of aluminum to be allowed.

So why not put equipment in the pro golfers hands that reduces the distance equation some? They’ll still be longer than all of us, because of physical conditioning, better technique training, and scientific fitting of clubs and ball. But wouldn’t TV golf be more interesting if the pros were only a club or two longer than you are, rather than 40-50 yards?

And while we’re on it, why not give them weekly courses with really firm greens, bunkers that vary from hole to hole . . . or even waste bunkers all over the course – no rakes!!!!!

Golf is a hard game, and it should be for these guys, too. I like seeing them grind and struggle in the U.S. Open . . . it’s more like the way we all have to play. Work hard for every par. Birdies are few and tough to make. Bogies and larger lurk on every hole.

What do you guys think?
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.


[ comments ]
Tim Horan says:
I would give up golf completely if the equipment the pros use was "restricted". I know that what they use now is better than that which we can buy over the counter. That makes my achievements extraordinary! If you reverse this trend and say impose a less lively ball on the pros my achievements become less worthy and open to ridicule. I would feel cheeted. I certainly wouldn't wish to go out at the weekend and beat myself up over this hard enough game. Briefly on the subject of V grooves...the next set of wedges I get will have V grooves.
5/29/09
 
dlouder says:
I agree with you, but only for equipment rules. I don't think play rules should differ between the two, but certainly tech has helped them. They have the money and time for it, we don't. I'm sure if I had Hank Haney, and a 100% custom set of clubs, custom ball, etc I could hit the distances (still wouldn't be straight), but lets face it, the tech is making them. That or they are juicing- sorry, I couldn't resist saying that... and now I'm laughing while typing.
5/29/09
 
Kickntrue says:
I think we should at least admit that tech is already being limited. They could easily make balls that fly 400 yards if they were allowed. Most companies don't want you to know tech is maxed out- because they want you to buy a new driver every year, but it's close. I think I like playing with the same equip and rules, though I wouldn't be opposed to taking a "hot" driver out and hitting a couple balls 350 with my weekend group- just to drop their jaws.
5/29/09
 
mjaber says:
I think they should be restricted to what we, the general public, can use. Until it is released to retailers, it should not be allowable on the PGA Tour. I read today that Stewart Cink is using a prototype Nike putter. The TM R9 was in play before it was released to retailers.
5/29/09
 
Ben Crane says:
Wouldn't be good for the manufacturers. I see a lot of articles on golf sites regarding "What's in his bag?" every time someone wins the tournament. Who's going to be enticed to go buy that same driver the pro was hitting 260yds?
5/29/09
 
mmontanaro says:
NO NO NO! Who cares if the announcer says 245 is a 6-iron. I play my game with my equipment and know my yardages. The beauty of golf is that I can often go to the courses the pro's play, and play them, by the same rules with similar equipment. But at least I'm comparing apples to apples. If you start changing the ball, the hole, or the rules, you will forevery start putting an asterisk next to everything. "Yeah, he won the tournament, but it was with a 5 inch hole or an amateur set of clubs." No thanks. Pro's are so much better because they work harder. Work hard and you'll get better too.
5/29/09
 
cppwizard says:
I say use the same rules and same equipment. Just tighten up the tournament courses more. It is more fun to watch them struggle and work for pars and an occasional birdie than coming in at -20 something on the last day.
5/29/09
 
props123 says:
I don't think there should be restrictions. They are better and that is whey they are pro's. I think golf is fun to watch because of their long drives, etc. If you restrict that I wouldn't want to watch. The public wants really good golf on equipment that is available to all. Some have more money to spend on clubs and balls, etc., but all in all, if we try to conform the best players to be like us, what is the point? We need to try to get better each and every time we go out.
5/29/09
 
mattlagolf says:
THe reason why they are hitting 4 irons 225 yards is not becouse of the clubs or balls, it is just that the players are in better shape and physical conditon, (extcept for john daly) give camillo villegas a club from the 80 and he would mabey loos 5-10 yards at most. the clubs dont control the players.
5/29/09
 
falcon50driver says:
Everybody seems so worried that the pros have so much better equipment than we do. A short story here if I may. I met a professional golfer from South Africa, not yet on the PGA tour, passing through my town. I had the honor of playing 18 holes with him at my local course. He played from the tips and of course I played the 6300 yard tees. He was 8 under par. I invited him to ride along with me on a trip to Wisconsin, and we played Sentry World, He shot 5 under from the tips. A little later he took a trip with me to Canton Texas and we played 36 holes he shot a total of 10 under par that day. After 4 rounds we played together, he was a total of 23 under par. It is amazing to watch a player that has the whole game. I believe good equipment plays a big part, but the players still have to make the shots. 23 under par for 72 holes on three courses that he had never seen before and no caddy for advice. How good is that?
5/29/09
 
Werepuppie says:
Actually I have a comment and a question.As far as the pro distances go,I have heard it said that their clubs are not at all like mine.The lies are different,pro 5 iron loft equals my 3 or 4 iron loft.Does anyone know if this is true?
I do believe that the equipment,both balls and clubs must be restricted.Otherwise traditional courses will become useless.Augusta struggles with this each year.
I do not think this would hurt the equipment sales,most golfers I know would not play with equipment that was too hot for the pros.
5/29/09
 
Werepuppie says:
Maybe we could make a rule that all clubs are made to the same specs and cannot be tinkered with.Example:All 3 woods are the same loft.
5/29/09
 
kidputter says:
The pros hit 6-iron 225 because it's not a TRUE 6-iron. The lofts on these clubs have been tweaked so much that they're not conventional clubs anymore.
There's NOTHING wrong with the game, other than cheaters and slow players.

Want to FIX the game? Initiate a shot clock and balls with flight counters built in. If the ball moves more than a specific distance, a stroke is counted. Only thing to work out is picking your ball up after marking it on the green.
5/30/09
 
JWHpurist says:
Leave it all alone. Let all play by "The Rules Of Golf",let technology evolve and be used, but allow the rough to be high and other conditions to be more challenging. Stress accuracy not distance and set up courses to demand skill and feel and see what happens. I am a "Player" not a fan, and could care less if the final score is -20. I enjoy the game and play it to develop my own personal skill without regard to what the others do! Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to get on the Tee with my neighbor,in a round of golf,and watch him hit a "Wicked Slice" into the RH water hazard or creek @ 220 off the tee @ #2 at Phoenix Lake with his "10.5* Tin Can Driver(Graphite Shaft)" while I use my Stan Thompson Custom Persimmon 9* Driver(Steel Shaft,Stiff,SW D2)to hit a drive 260 +or-10 in the center of the fairway!Vintage clubs(well maintained)work well when used properly and produce increased skill level! I have 8"Tin Can Drivers" so I can pick and choose. but like "The Old Stuff"!JWHpurist
5/30/09
 
ToddRobb says:
Tiger's Day

6:00 am Lifts weights
7:30 am Eats Breakfast
9:00 am Hits Balls
11:00 am Putts
11:30 am Plays 9 holes
12:30 Lunch
1:00 Hits Balls
3:00 Short Game
4:00 Plays 9 Holes
5:00 Hits Balls
5:30 Putts

How could we possibly even try to compete with that as amateurs?
5/30/09
 
ToddRobb says:
Does it really matter what the pros hit???? When I'm on the course I consider my bag a bag of "tools" with numbers on them to identify each one. I think that's what gets a lot of high handicappers in trouble with their game, how many times has someone asked " what ya hit??". Besides being a penalty, why would I care what another golfer hit a certain yardage? All you should need to know is how far it is, then take into consideration the wind etc, etc. Evolution can't be stopped, the pro players get custom fit for their body type, swing speed, swing type ( upright,flat, one plane or two plane), they workout, and they stretch on a daily basis. Golf courses will never become obsolete, the scores may come down but so what?? They still have to hit the ball in the right direction. The game is just fine thank you very much, tee it up and play away.
5/30/09
 
ToddRobb says:
I played the other day with a high school kid, we were playing the tips, the second hole is a 230 yard par 3, I'm hitting a 3 wood, he's got an iron in his hand. I hit the green and he's pin high in the right bunker, I make par, he makes a 5. All day he was crushing the ball deeep into the woods. The two guys on the tour that are at the top of driving distance are ranked 38th and 201st respectively in fedex cup points. Driving distance or iron distance for that matter doesn't necessarily translate into wins, it's a combination of things, but distance is closer to the bottom of the list. Technology is what sells golf equipment to the regular folk like us, the pros get most of their equipment free, as a matter of fact they get paid to use it. Leave the rules alone, if they hit it farther than we do, good for them. You can't tell how far they hit it watching on television anyway.
5/30/09
 
falcon50driver says:
JWHPurist, We've heard about how much better golfer you are than everyone else here, using ancient equipment, but we only see one score entered. A nine hole course where the second time around is just a do over. And it's a thousand yards shorter than the average course. Let's see some scores on a real course.
5/30/09
 
Bryan K says:
You know...I'd rather not hit my drives 300 yards. I have a hard enough time finding them the way it is.
5/30/09
 
onedollarwed says:
Stiff shafts, delofted clubs, the number is only to divide them sequetially. Wegdy was concerned with golf fans relating to the pro game - I think because it's more possible tha in other sports. All I need to relate to them is to see them miss 3-footers, hook their junk into the deep rhubarb, and melt down and plop their snowballs in the water. Oh yeah, Phil 4-chipping is pretty cool. I can't even do that!
The newer wooden baseball bats are thinner, lighter, and most often maple. It's nice to think that an old timer with a lathe in the garage could make one for me out of an old table leg. Pro's can afford to use them disposably.
5/30/09
 
onedollarwed says:
I want to see them play less lush conditions. Does anyone know if drainage/ watering/ mowing/ green surfacing technology has changed as much to help the pros as equipment has?
Also, the technical and psychological support must be awesome. I still don't know how far my clubs hit precisely, and under what conditions, and with which balls, in what weather?
Most of us take hardly any lessons - imagine years of that investment!
Imagine also, years of good honest technical information, and equipment comparisons/ tweaks.
What makes them succeed is that they can take advantage of 90% or more of all these advantages. How much have we taken advantage of our equipment? Very little - it may even hurt us.
5/30/09
 
onedollarwed says:
It's like when you watch women putting terribly on the course. You know it has nothing to do with gender, and women can be just as competetive. There is no feat of brute strength going on, it's just that in the world I grew up in (and less so now), all boys were constantly a hitting balls and pucks with all manner of sticks, target shooting with baseballs, bows and arrows, guns, etc. etc. Very few girls were. How are you going to replace decades of futzing with projectiles with minute technological enhancements with putters? No way.
How can you reach for a maximum spin ball using low spin drivers, and irons you can't control, and zippy wedges that leave your ball short?
A gorilla can use the biggest driver with the highest MOI and improve by 25% off the tee. Great! The best golfer in the world misses a three foot putt. What more do we need?
5/30/09
 
onedollarwed says:
OK, on a lighter note...
Pros have to carry their own bags - this could work!
5/31/09
 
mankowa says:
Last PGA event I went to, I didn't see many players playing with tennis raquet sized irons like the average golfer does. These guys are useing blades or slight tour cavity at the most, which aren't very forgiving. Yes they get everything fitted perfectly down to a tee which does help, but these guys are amazing players. I played the week after TPC a few years ago when I was a 2 handicap and the fact that the winning score was 10 under just blew my mind, I shot 82 and felt really good about myself and the greens had been watered for a good week, not the parking lots that they were playing on. Pro's are pro for a reason, they are better than us. Yes the courses are immaculate but they are incredibly difficult for the average player, if you had to play on the easiest PGA stop every week, you might pull out all of your hair.
5/31/09
 
birdieXris says:
I think it's a awful idea to change the rules for the pros. The beauty of golf is that we all play by the same set of rules. The handicapping system makes it so that a less advanced player can play a more advanced player on level ground. That even goes up to the pros. They have handicaps too. If you change the rules for them, then there's no reason to change the rules. THose guys on average hit it pretty far, but there's still pros on tour that hit it 260 and 270 off the tee and are relatively short. What happens to those guys when the rules and equipment get changed? In golf, everyone needs to have the same chance to make the same shot at any given time. Limiting that by tampering with equipment or rules just wouldn't be right IMO.
5/31/09
 
Werepuppie says:
mankowa,I am forced to disagree with your comment on the difficulty of most pro tour stops.I have played one at TPC Heron Bay.The pro tees were way back and there were 112 bunkers,many of which were fairway length.I usually have trouble breaking 100 but shot a 95 from the whites,and the next year shot a 93 from the blues.While I admit I did not play the golds which were the pro tees,still I found it easier to play because of the bunkers which saved many errant shots.Most courses that the average guy has to play are way tougher.There is maybe 5-10 yds of rough and then your ball is LOST or OB in someones yard.The pros have a large amount of cushion off the fairway.
5/31/09
 
Tim Horan says:
@birdieXris
At least someone got my point. Yes, the pros do have advantages over us mere mortals; Time to practice, sponsors, equipment, caddies, crowds that find their ball; They are dependent on it for their living. I do not want to play with an equipment advantage (ball or clubs) it de-values my golf. I just want to work harder at it to become better; closer to what they are doing. The handicap system will take care of the rest.
6/1/09
 
tennesseeboy says:
I can hit my lob wedge about the same distance as Patton Manning can throw a football. WHO CARES!!! it's a different sport. If you change the pros equipment, they'll be playing a different sport.

Golf is golf. Everyone should play by the same rules with the same equipment.
6/1/09
 
rynolinks says:
why do the pros throw harder, hit harder, make more baskets, more home runs, faster, etc? cause that's their job.
why do pro golfers hit it farther and better? it's their job.
why is their job? cause they're naturally gifted and they work hard to be good enough with those natural talents to be a pro, to play for a job.
there are restrictions and changes in the various different games for pros that are intended for their play to be real, to keep it from ceasing to be a game but a ridiculous folly.
we can't talk of the difference between pros and amateurs as merely technical or situation-related (as in they've got the coaches, money and time). it's like the old saying "you can be anything you want to be": not everyone can be a masters champ, win wimbeldon, ace the sat, be a member of mensa.
it is a technical game where equipment changes some things, but "prototype" does equate "works-perfect-no-matter-who-uses-it!"
6/1/09
 
onedollarwed says:
I'm sorry. They are playing a different game than 99% of us.
If you were a teacher, and you had the best materials, equipment, facilities, students, parents, and administrators... it's a way different game.
Even if your job would be a cakewalk in many respects, you have to step way up in terms of taking advantage of all of the improvements.
And this has very little to do with natural talent.
Golf like many other sports, asks for a minutely specific set of skills/ talents. If the money is there, the freaks of nature will come out.
My natrual talent is incredible in many areas, but what can I do against Shaq, or Newitski?
6/1/09
 
onedollarwed says:
One of my favorite sports episodes was MJ playing baseball. Even buying himself a spot on the team, he couldn't compete. Was that AAA or AA? I really admired him for that. I thought he could've been a great goalie for the USA soccer team in the world cup - he probably sucks at kicking though. You can't knock his work passion or intensity. Tiger can't sing either.
6/1/09
 
onedollarwed says:
Sorry, this is getting a little abstract.
6/1/09
 
Thorre says:
The only change needed is wooden drivers. I think pro tennis players should have stopped at wooden raquets.
6/2/09
 
onedollarwed says:
that's it!
6/2/09
 
onedollarwed says:
while we're at it... wooden balls too! ...to go with the wooden personalities.
6/2/09
 
jp24 says:
ToddRob on Tiger's Day....
That's a day I'd pay for! I don't know many men that like golf who would rather be working than golfing. Golf as a JOB is insane it's awesome and something I'd love to do. I'm trying to teach the game to my son and watch him learn in hopes one day he'd be lucky enough to get to play on tour even if it's the lowest level tour. To play golf for free and cover your expenses doing it would be IMO the best job one could ever have. I didn't have the parents that played when I was growing up. I'm working with him to give him a shot at being a good golfer and maybe if I'm lucky the sport will pay for his college education. I love taking him with me and one day hope the 5 year old that caddie's for his dad on the weekends will let me caddie for him once in a while if he's good and lucky enough to have golf as his job.
6/2/09
 
jp24 says:
That being said those of you that say we hackers play on better or tougher courses are crazy. The pro's play the best longest courses, use the newest and best clubs, have all the technology because they are the best of the best at what they do. It's pretty simple, IMO. If TaylorMade or Titleist was at your local pro shop giving out clubs and paying the local pro or anyone to use their clubs there isn't a golfer out there that wouldn't take those clubs for free. Even if you were going to sell them on Ebay you'd take them.
6/2/09
 
jp24 says:
Do they have an unfair advantage I wouldn't say anymore than an NBA player does over someone. They practice and practice and practice and even then they aren't guaranteed anything they still have to perform. They are just better at Golf. I love it and I'd love to have their jobs and play golf all the time but I am not good enough as most of the players on here aren't either but so what. Doesn't mean I don't love the game.
6/2/09
 
jp24 says:
I like the game as it is, It's a game and the Pro's are the best that's why they play for money and we pay to play. We take classes or are forced to training sessions sometimes and these are our crappy professions. Either way they get what they work for and for all of them it took them time and money and much of the time their parents time and money to get them to the Pro's. What they do with all that when they get there is up to them. They are just better at Golf then we are so what. What kills me is how VJ doubled up Tiger one year in Golf winnings and still made less than half what Tiger did... it's all about the endorsements. Become good enough to get a years worth of solid endorsements while you're young play a few years maybe win a tournament or two and retire and golf for fun the rest of your life. What more could you ask for.... IMO not a whole heck of a lot!
6/2/09
 
onedollarwed says:
It may be helpful to deliniate what abilities go into making someone a competetive golfer. Bear with me, this may be rough at first, and I'm sure to leave things out. Some of my sources include: Williams Louis Gates Jr.'s:
The Unlevel Playing Field : A Documentary History of the African American Experience in Sport (Sport and Society).
Stories and thoughts from the 1936 Olympics (My German-American grandfather traveled there with the US track team and befirended Jesse Owens)
Studies in Intelligence/ Multiple Intelligences.

The point is to separate nature/nuture in some way. I may not be willing to do so actually - I would lean more to the Nature side almost exclusively.
6/3/09
 
onedollarwed says:
What is true is that your genes (and thus gender/ skin/ hair/ eye color to some degree) still places you in language/ cultural/ economic locations for the most part, especially early in life (and largely determines height). Not many 4 year olds decide to move from Mobile to Atlanta to be around Middle/ Upper class people. This is true for White people - though less so.
I would say that most "Natural" talent actually is the product of practice. Opportunities for practice are limited to friends/ family/ region early on (see Jamaican Bobsled team).
My kids seem musically gifted because there are instruments strewn all over the house, musicals are always playing, and we're always singing. Much of that was acquired through hard work, and the opportunity to possess and maintain a veritable orchestra.
6/3/09
 
onedollarwed says:
But golf takes brains and emotional stability - sorry John Riggins. These kids of intelligence are dependent on probably hundreds of genetic factors. Also, it seems that ambition is inversely related to intelligence (in the classic sense) to a large degree. (Long-term Ivy League studies).

So... given general physical atributes, opportunities and access to practice early (to establish innateness), emotional readiness, specialized intelligence, ambition to work, and well let's just call it luck... a lot is required of professionals in every field.
Acting doesn't look hard, but go ahead try to get a job acting!
Measure yourself against pros in all of those categories - It's much easier to be a dentist or doctor.
6/3/09
 
falcon50driver says:
Don't get to talk much around the house I guess....
6/3/09
 
JamminJonah says:
I think pros should have to use persimmons. Partly because of the distance equation, but mostly because they sound so much prettier off the tee!! Would a home run be the same on an aluminum bat? I feel that way about tee shots. A golf course shouldn't sound like college baseball.
6/30/09
 
[ post comment ]
Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

Click here to learn more about Terry.
Click here to for Terry's blogroll.
 
    Golf Talk
Most Popular:

Subscribe