The USGA, in its current makeup, serves no purpose to the game of golf that can’t be easily replaced by any number of bodies. The overpaid, clueless and self-serving band of idiots that run it would be well served by resigning en masse, or voting to disband the organization. It cannot do one single thing that couldn’t easily be handled by other bodies, and like a fish, it has rotted from the head.
At one point, they tried to serve the golfing public, but a litany of bad decisions and a current makeup that has come from the private course community (nothing wrong with them but they cannot understand the golfing public) has meant that their services are no longer needed.
Try this test- other than conducting national championships (which they can’t seem to do particularly well), what else do they do?
Turfgrass research? Universities, the private sector and golf management companies are doing the same thing.
Water usage? Courses in California are already having to make hard decisions, and many courses could easily cut water use by 10% without a noticeable change by regular golfers. Every square inch doesn’t need to be pristine green, but the course needs some water. Not that hard to understand.
You know what would help? A radical idea by this young hippie radical weirdo said that there should be a tournament ball (specifically made for tour professionals) that all players have to use that would cut down on the 8,000 yard courses you’re seeing. That crazy person’s name? Jack Nicklaus, and he’s been saying it for 30 years now. The USGA banned Callaway’s ERC driver a little over a decade ago, but the ball remains unscathed. I’d argue that the 8,000 yard courses are causing more harm than anything, and the USGA hasn’t done a damn thing about it. Gary Player, who’s built courses around the world, has a few fairly intelligent thoughts.
He did everything but a mic drop.
Growing the game? Nonsense. The First Tee does a better job at actually getting kids playing the game, and the PGA of America’s Get Golf Ready program is a value proposition geared at new golfers. I trust people that actually work at public golf courses and understand the average golfer over the overpaid idiots in Far Hills. Their commercials that they run (mostly during USGA events) are self serving.
A lot to love about golf? That’s your message? Great. How much money and research went into giving this the thumbs up. Why not add “and we love puppies!” at the end while you’re at it?
Conducting National Championships? My god, where to start. The PGA Tour does this (run tournaments) on a weekly basis, and they seem to be able to leave courses in serviceable condition and they actually have a decent relationship with the players. The USGA has three open championship events for the professionals (Open, Women’s Open, Senior Open). If you watched the US Open this past year (or the year prior), you saw them seemingly attempt to kill a course off by not watering it. Yes- teaching people that not every square inch needs to be perfectly green, but killing off greens and fairways or leaving greens resembling “cauliflower” isn’t helping anyone. When they finally leave, the course has to, seemingly, repair the damage that they do and that is going to take water, fertilizer, time, and money. Frankly they get it wrong more than they get it right, because they have this obsession with protecting par as if it were a family heirloom. To which I would respond…why?
Ask yourself this- did it hurt the Masters that Jordan Spieth finished -18? Conditions were favorable and he played outstanding! Same with the PGA Championship…did Jason Day finishing 20 under par sully the event’s integrity? NO! He played fantastic golf! Oh, but the Open Championship…Zach Johnson got into a playoff with a 66 and finished -15. Surely you were all horrified and fanning yourselves needing your fainting sofa at the prospect of such a low score. You weren’t? Okay then!
Look, I’m not suggesting that the US Open be made easy, and to the USGA’s credit, they’ve tried eliminating the 6″ rough. The US Open is at Oakmont next year. They don’t need to do a damn thing to that course…it’ll protect itself so stop trying to interfere. And quit changing the par of holes. It’s silly and serves ZERO PURPOSE. If it rains a bunch and someone shoots -12 to win…SO WHAT? Rory McIlroy lit up a soggy Congressional in 2011. It happens. Johnny Miller shoots a 63 and they’ve spent the last 40+ years ensuring that will never happen again.
Equipment? They’re the body that (rightly) tells professionals you can’t anchor the putter to your body. Fair enough, but the PGA Tour could have said “yeah, we’re not going along so good luck with that” but they didn’t. But let’s give amateurs (not playing at a US Amateur/Walker Cup level) the chance to use the broomstick if they want (use state amateur events as the cutoff point). If you play with me and use it…have at it. Jack Nicklaus gave you a solution 30+ years ago about a tournament ball. And you’re still letting it run amok. As a player, if you know you’re going to be playing in an elite amateur competition, you know you can’t use the broomstick. Casual golfers? Go to town.
Rules? The R&A already do this for most of the world. Remember the Callaway ERC driver? Yup, the USGA outlawed it, but the R&A said it was okay. Did the USGA rules keep you from buying one? Nope. Which means…that the pro tours and elite amateurs should play under one set of rules, and let the rest of us off a bit.
Yes, this means bifurcate the rules. There’s no reason not to. Again- if you’re an elite amateur or professional, then play under the “championship” rules (my term). Again, I’d make the cutoff at state amateur associations and let them decide what they want to do. Anyone wanting to try to qualify for the US Amateur or US Women’s Amateur (or the senior versions) should probably play under my Championship Rules. Use a bifurcated version for anyone below that cutoff line (meaning about 90-95% of golfers). While you’re at it, for the rest of us, I’d get rid of OB, and play everything as yellow or red stakes. I’d allow the broomstick putters and anchoring, and I’d like to see a global standard on handicaps from ONE body.
Still trust these idiots to regulate the game? If so, would you like to buy a bridge?
Pace of Play/Improving the Golfer Experience? Watching the US Open (both men and women) and the glacial pace that they set…if these mouth breathers aren’t going to enforce it to the pros (or set up a course that is a 5-hour round waiting to happen), then maybe, just maybe they aren’t the people to tell me about pace of play. State associations and other people (some I’ve written about!) have ideas that are far better than anything coming from the USGA. But they want to “have a dialogue” which is a nice way of saying they aren’t doing anything. Penalize a tour professional for slow play (meaning a stroke penalty) in the National Open, and then you can have your dialogue. Others have suggested a “time par” which would work wonders and would put pressure on groups to move things along. They get around Augusta National in four hours on the weekends, and that course isn’t exactly an easy breezy walk. Just saying. Remember this one?
And yet, here we are with 5 hour rounds still a thing. How’s that promo working for you? You know what worked? The PGA of America’s “tee it forward” program. I do this, and you know what? It’s a hell of a lot more fun hitting mid-short irons to greens rather that hybrids and long irons.
Handicaps? Now I’m angry. Their decision this week that rounds played as a single should not count towards your handicap might be the dumbest thing I’ve seen in some time. I like to (hell, I prefer) to play as a single. Why? Because I play faster (and better) when I’m by myself when I’m not dealing with three dip shits who are clueless about pace of play. Golf Canada already told the USGA they weren’t adopting their silly rule, and the R&A (which governs the rest of the world) isn’t adopting it either. Their idea of “peer review” is the exact kind of bullshit that some private club jackass talks about when they lose their club championship. I play at public courses, and post my handicap scores online because my “home” course has gone to pot (when I would post them on a computer at the course). So who in the hell is “reviewing” my scores? NOBODY. I have all of my scorecards (they’re in a shoe box). Who is reviewing them? The starter? The guy in the pro shop who’s on the phone 70% of the time? Maybe the maintenance guys, when they’re done rolling the greens can “peer review” my scorecard. The beverage cart driver? If you want to come over and review my scorecards, have at it.
The other nonsense being spewed is that a round by yourself is “practice” which is completely farcical. So does that mean rounds on vacation shouldn’t count? What about casual rounds after work? Better get rid of 9-hole rounds too.
I hear all the time about “golf being a game of honor” and self policing…but we need peer review? Fine, here’s my peer reviewer.
If the concern is sandbaggers (or bandits, as the Brits call them), a true bagger can dump a round or five pretty easy to get that index up, and then at a tournament, they shoot a couple net 59’s because they practiced or had a hot putter (what they’ll tell you); maybe they bought The Perfect Club! Their proposal won’t stop this one iota. A separate tournament index (I don’t know the guy’s name but I met him years ago at the old Dupont World Amateur event who came up with this idea…he was from Wisconsin and a fine chap)!
If you want to establish that no more than X amount (say 50-60%) of your solo rounds can apply to your index, then that’s a reasonable compromise. If you want to establish a “max differential” on solo rounds…then again, I’m good with that. But we didn’t get either of these options, which would serve the purpose of combating sandbagging.
And not to give away a secret, but since I’m posting scores on-line, what’s to stop me from inventing a playing partner who happens to not have a USGA handicap? I’m not saying I’d do this, but this points out the silliness of their stance.
Sorry dude, great round, but it doesn’t count because…well, the USGA doesn’t trust you.
Turn handicapping in this country over to the R&A. I have a copy of their rule book. They already govern handicaps for most of the world so it wouldn’t be a big adjustment.
So the USGA, I’ll humbly offer this suggestion from Jon Taffer:
Come to find out that the USGA are set to elect only the second woman as their President. IIRC, Judy Bell served as president in the late 1990’s. While I still see the USGA as something we don’t need, for the sake of the game I hope she can take them back into relevance.