Now that the perceived scourge of anchored putting has been addressed by golfs ruling parties, ending it by 2016 by which time desperate golfers will have found another way to duct-tape their putting strokes together perhaps the more serious issues facing the game can be addressed.
Its way past time to do something about distance.
That means rolling back how far a golf ball can go, even when its hit by Bubba Watson. It means making sure that the shiny new driver some of us want for Christmas doesnt magically add 12 to 15 yards to our tee shots as much as we might like that, especially if those extra yards were of the straight variety.
If that new driver adds 12 yards to our tee shots, think about how much it might add to Rory McIlroys tee shots, like he needs it.
Power has always been a big part of golf and it should be. But what has happened over the past 15 years or so has changed the game far more than anchored putting threatened to.
The proof is in the 500-yard par-4s.
Its in the before and after photos of Augusta National.
Its in the work underway on the Old Course, which supposedly isnt being done to combat distance but is certainly being done to add defense to a course too short for the modern professionals should the wind lay down.
But its not just about how far players can hit the ball now. Its about the overall negative effect its having on the game.
Classic courses can be overpowered. New courses if there are such things any more require more land to build. That drives up costs and greens fees and the time it takes to play.
Banning anchored putting isnt going to drive players from the game, not many anyway. But five-hour rounds, too many long par-3s and greens fees that look like a 26-handicappers score are doing it.
In a teleconference to announce the rules change related to anchored putting, both USGA executive director Mike Davis and Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R&A, were asked about the problem of distance in the game and both suggested the possibility of aggressive steps to combat it. There are studies under way about the impact of distance on the game. Everybody knows how much fun studies can be.
Neither said change was coming, however.
Acknowledging the problem is easy. Fixing it, not so much.
Dawson pointed out that distance has stabilized in the professional game but its still out of control. Jack Nicklaus has talked for years about fixing the ball. So have others. Augusta National considered a tournament ball at one time rather than lengthening the course again. It would be fun to see the Masters create its own golf ball for use one year.
The threat of litigation from equipment companies intent on selling new toys every year and the inevitable evolution in technology has become golfs 800-pound gorilla. The issue may ultimately be forced by land and water concerns.
Golfs leaders are right that we should get accustomed to seeing courses that arent emerald green from horizon to horizon. Thats unrealistic and unnecessary unless youre Augusta National. Water costs will continue to climb and there arent many developers rushing out to build new golf course communities.
A 300-yard drive used to be extraordinary. Now its what someone named Bobby Gates, the 21st-longest hitter on the PGA Tour, averaged this year.
Golfs rules makers did the right thing about anchored putting. Now its time to take on the bigger issues.
NOTES: Sarah Dow took up golf 14 months ago. Since then, shes made two aces at The Palisades Country Club, more evidence that golf works in mysterious ways. The overhaul at Pinehurst Resort continues with work on the members clubhouse and the backside of the clubhouse. When the 2014 mens and womens U.S. Opens are played there, the view behind the 18th green at Pinehurst No. 2 will be noticeably different with the low green awning gone, replaced by white columns like those on other sides of the building. Concords Jim Aughtry keeps accumulating trophies. The 51-year old recently won the Senior Amateur Tour national championship tournament in Pinehurst, adding it to the national Amateur Tour championship he won in Hilton Head Island, S.C., last year.
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