NCGA Golf

Spring 2017

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G olf, a sport whose integrity is built on the pri- macy of its meticulous and honor-based rules, a sport where acceptance of punishment is a centuries-old badge of honor, a sport that demands an intense and abiding respect for its traditions, has finally met its match. The Millennials. The recent proposed changes to the Rules seem aimed at the generation whose Snapchat-level attention span does not lend itself to a five-hour walk around your local muni, much less a 55-second plumb bob. Rule changes like leaving the flagstick in while put- ting, or forgiving the accidental movement of a golf ball on a green are meant to both speed up the game, and to make everyone feel better when things go wrong. Heck, they're even giving you the option to remove your ball from a bunker and accept a two-stroke penalty. Not to sound like Grandpa Simpson here, but: Doesn't anyone want to work for anything anymore? I know. Save your 'Old Man Yells At Cloud' GIFs. I can already see you posting them on my Twitter timeline. Yes, golf is a different game since the days Old Tom Morris put on the tweed blazer and chopped it up with a few dozen sheep on the Scotland coast. Smart organ- izations change and adapt with the times, as I was just saying to my friend who still plays a golf ball stuffed with goose feathers. So, in the spirit of change, and understanding that these kids coming of age in the 21st century aren't your father's golfers, let's come up with a few more rule changes to ease the royal and ancient game into royal and modern: ADJUST THE OUT OF BOUNDS RULE FOR AMATEURS: Ever since I took up the game at the tender age of 13, I've waged war with Oscar Brown, aka the O.B. rule, aka the rule that can crush your spirits like a jack boot crushes an ant. The worst is when a golf course declares an area out of bounds – and it's an area still on the golf course. How can a ball be out of bounds when it's still on the golf course? Some questions are unanswerable, sports fans. I get that when we spray a golf ball into an unfortunate neighbor's yard, there should be a price to pay. But stroke AND distance? Maybe for the pros, where big cardboard checks worth $1.7 million are on the line. But for us duffers on a Saturday morning, looking to enjoy the game and move at a decent clip and not shoot 102? Please change O.B. rules to the same rules as lateral haz- ards. We'll take our stroke. Just give us the distance. Please. YES, A TIME LIMIT:This is one that the USGA is "recommending." They are "recommending" a time limit of 40 seconds, maximum, to execute a golf stroke. I recommend they make it a rule. At anything in life, no one likes overly deliberate behavior. OK, I'll grant my heart surgeon a pass to behave in a deliberate manner. But other than that – guy staring at his phone while walking in front of you on a street, guy ordering a coffee at Peet's and taking a paragraph's worth of words to do so – we'd like to get a move on. In this, we follow the lead of our muse, Al Czervick, who once provided life advice to a slow player: "WHILE WE'RE YOUNG!" It doesn't take a coddled Millennial to understand that faster action is good in sports. Pace is good in NBA fast breaks, quick working MLB pitchers and no-huddle NFL offenses. It is im- measurably more pleasing to the soul. Swing the club! THE OLD SAND FILLED DIVOT THING: It's sort of amazing that in the sweeping, golfer-friendly Rules changes, they didn't address this old bugaboo. How, in any world, can my shot be penalized for landing in a divot left by a golfer before me? It's one thing to "Play it as it lies." It's another thing to "Play it in the Hose Job Shop because Some Guy In Front Of Me Bludgeoned the Fairway." It's simple. Treat sand-filled divots like sprinkler heads. Nobody gets hurt. That's our goal here. WELCOME BACK METAL SPIKES: Here's where I lose golf course superintendents. But Millen- nials are into skinny jeans and hoodies and facial hair and tattoos, right? They like to look cool. Nothing says cool more than the click-click of metal spikes approach- ing the first tee. Sure, nobody likes a shredded, spike- scarred green. But soft spikes are no bargain. Give me aural pleasure – and better footing – over an overly cautious soft spike world. In general, the Rules of Golf are inching towards sanity. If it took the idea of coddling Millennials, so be it. Some good stuff has come out of it. Heck, next thing you know, they might outlaw triple bogeys. I'd support that, too. Brian Murphy hosts the KNBR morning show "Murph and Mac" and was the San Francisco Chronicle's golf writer from 2001–2004. 72 SPRING 2017 | WWW.NCGA.ORG M U R P H Y ' S L A W The Big Shift: Tweed Blazers to Skinny Jeans BY BRIAN MURPHY

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