Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rules of Golf change - anchored putting strokes


By USGA and The R&A
November 28, 2012

Rule would take effect on January 1, 2016, allowing for transitional period; 
Belly-length and long putters would remain as conforming clubs

To see this graphic click here

The R&A and the United States Golf Association (USGA), golf’s governing bodies, today announced proposed changes to the Rules of Golf that would prohibit anchoring the club in making a stroke.

The proposed Rule 14-1b, which follows an extensive review by The R&A and the USGA, would prohibit strokes made with the club or a hand gripping the club held directly against the player’s body, or with a forearm held against the body to establish an anchor point that indirectly anchors the club.

The proposed new Rule would not alter current equipment rules and would allow the continued use of all conforming golf clubs, including belly-length and long putters, provided such clubs are not anchored during a stroke. The proposed Rule narrowly targets only a few types of strokes, while preserving a golfer’s ability to play a wide variety of strokes in his or her individual style.

Prior to taking a final decision on the proposed Rule, The R&A and the USGA will consider any further comments and suggestions from throughout the golf community.

“We believe we have considered this issue from every angle but given the wide ranging interest in this subject we would like to give stakeholders in the game the opportunity to put forward any new matters for consideration,” said Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of The R&A.

Proposed Changes to Rule 14-1
The proposed change would relabel current Rule 14-1 as Rule 14-1a, and establish Rule 14-1b as described below:

14-1b Anchoring the Club
In making a stroke, the player must not anchor the club, either “directly” or by use of an “anchor point.” 
Note 1:  The club is anchored “directly” when the player intentionally holds the club or a gripping hand in contact with any part of his body, except that the player may hold the club or a gripping hand against a hand or forearm.
Note 2:  An “anchor point” exists when the player intentionally holds a forearm in contact with any part of his body to establish a gripping hand as a stable point around which the other hand may swing the club. 

The proposed Rule change would take effect on January 1, 2016, in accordance with the regular four-year cycle for changes to the Rules of Golf. This timetable would also provide an extended period in which golfers may, if necessary, adapt their method of stroke to the requirements of the Rule.

For more information about the newly proposed Rule, as well as additional information including videos and images of strokes that would be allowed or prohibited by the proposed changes to Rule 14-1, visitRandA.Org/Anchoring or USGA.Org/Anchoring.

New Rule Would Define and Preserve the Nature of the Stroke
In proposing the new Rule, The R&A and the USGA concluded that the long-term interests of the game would be served by confirming a stroke as the swinging of the entire club at the ball.

“Throughout the 600-year history of golf, the essence of playing the game has been to grip the club with the hands and swing it freely at the ball,” said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis. “The player’s challenge is to control the movement of the entire club in striking the ball, and anchoring the club alters the nature of that challenge. Our conclusion is that the Rules of Golf should be amended to preserve the traditional character of the golf swing by eliminating the growing practice of anchoring the club.”

New Rule Would Address Recent Developments in the Game
This proposal reflects The R&A’s and USGA’s responsibility to define how the game is to be played. Aspects of how a player must make a stroke have been addressed in past Rules changes, such as the century-old Rule codifying that the ball must be fairly struck and not be pushed, scraped or spooned and the 1968 prohibition on the “croquet” style of putting.

“As governing bodies, we monitor and evaluate playing practices and developments in golf, with our primary mandate being to ensure that the Rules of Golf continue to preserve the fundamental characteristics of the game,” added Davis.

Although anchoring the club is not new, until recently it was uncommon and typically seen as a method of last resort by a small number of players. In the last two years, however, more and more players have adopted the anchored stroke. Golf’s governing bodies have observed this upsurge at all levels of the game and noted that more coaches and players are advocating this method. The decision to act now is based on a strong desire to reverse this trend and to preserve the traditional golf stroke.

“Anchored strokes have become the preferred option for a growing number of players and this has caused us to review these strokes and their impact on the game,” said Dawson. “Our concern is that anchored strokes threaten to supplant traditional putting strokes which are integral to the longstanding character of the sport.”

Review Process and Timetable
Earlier this year, The R&A and the USGA announced that they were reviewing the subject of anchoring. There has been widespread discussion of the issue throughout the international golf community which has been noted by the governing bodies. 

Each organization is expected to take a final decision on the proposed Rule change in spring 2013. Anyone wishing to provide written comments to the appropriate governing body is encouraged to do so by February 28, 2013 as directed on the respective websites: RandA.Org/Anchoring orUSGA.Org/Anchoring

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Frost delays benefit your golf's true!

It is fall again and in many areas of the county and world, golf course turf is beginning its season of sleep. These turf types have earned this rest after providing us with hours of enjoyment this past season! The recent two past seasons in the midwest and East have been extremely difficult for turf health given the drought and high temperatures that have been experienced in many areas or flooding and humidity in other areas. Regardless of whether you have warm season (Bermuda) or cool season (fescue, bluegrass, and bentgrass) turf, this is the time of year the grass plant is trying to store energy for their winter dormancy period. You can think of this dormancy like a bear's hibernation. Well, actually that is not true as bear's do not truly about the hibernation of a turtle. At this time turf managers are feeding their turf with fertilizer formulations that are readily taken up by the plants for carbohydrate storage in their root structures. This storage is actually how the plants survive throughout the winter months as photosynthesis and respiration are considerably slowed down or nearly stopped depending upon your climate and turf type. Without this carbohydrate storage the plant may die during the winter and not green up in the spring. Carbohydrates are the energy source for the plants just like in our own bodies.
The phenomenon of frost also occurs at this same time period. Frost and foot or cart traffic can actually be a killer of turf during the fall months. When the temperatures are dropping and day lengths continue to shorten the plants ability to create and store energy is significantly decreased as well. Plants need the sun to photosynthesize (make food). The shortened day length also means the soil is cooling down but often times is warmer than the outside air temperature. This leads to FROST or ice crystals on the outside of plants. When the frost is really heavy the actual internal cells of the plant can also become frozen. Frost is a naturally ocurring phenomenon and does not hurt the turf on its own, but when combined with foot or cart traffic, it can have dire consequences on the turf survival. When a tire or foot applies pressure to the frosted leaf the crystals of the ice and frozen plant cells can rupture or burst.
 Plants use a structure inside of the cells called mitochondria to produce photosynthesized sugars into a usable energy form of ATP or ADP much like our human digestive system. When the plant cell is ruptured the cell dies and the mitochondria is no longer able to produce energy to the plants' roots. If the majority of the cells are ruptured then the plant looses its ability to produce energy regardless of how much fertilizer you apply as leaves are what photosynthesize not the roots. However, if your turf is healthy and has an ample supply of stored carbohydrates the plant may survive the winter depending upon conditions.
Now how can a frost delay benefit your golf game?  Let me explain or even show you....
By delaying play until the frost has melted your golf course can continue to survive and thrive as nature intended. These frost delays actually help your golf game by maintaining the consistent course conditions that your golf facility and superintendents wish to provide to you on a daily basis. Frost in the fall is exceptionally dangerous as the plant must survive all winter on its reserves without a replenishable energy source (photosynthesis). Frost during the spring, although just as detrimental to the plants cell structure, is not as dangerous as the day lengths are getting longer and the plants will be able to possibly recover as they are awakening from dormancy rather that preparing for dormancy. Take a look at the picture below:

This photo above photo was taked at the first tee at Dairy Creek in the fall of 2010.  The brown areas showed up in the afternoon after a golfer walked across the tee while waiting for the OK to play during a frost delay.  Patience is a virtue.  These footprints were reseeded and looked fine in a couple of months.  Now, please have a look at the next picture. 

The above photo represents the foot traffic from a typical foursome of golfers on a putting green.  This photo was taken during a morning of heavy dew and the paper footprints are used to drive the point home.  Look at the area around the hole.  Now, imagie this picture with brown (dead) footprints just like the first photo above and multiply it by 2, 3, or maybe 10 foursomes!  Is this a green you would like to putt on?  Now perhaps you don't care because there are other courses in the area to play while this one recovers, but suppose this is your club or your favorite course...wouldn't you be upset that someone couldn't wait to play for a small delay so that YOU could enjoy a true putting surface and better ball roll?  Don't true putting surfaces and better ball roll benefit your golf game?  There you have it... frost delays benefit your golf game!
Please respect your fellow golfers enjoyment of the game and the golf course itself by following the various signs or rules associated with your next round of golf.  As operators we are not trying to add unneccessary regulations to the game, but rather we are trying to protect the assets that we as golfers value for the enjoyment of everyone.  Golf course superintendent's can fix nearly every turf problem or situation.  It just costs money and as golfer I prefer to keep the cost of golf down without having to perform unnecessary repairs that can be averted with a short delay or courtesy.  Please contact me if you have questions or if I can provide any further information.
Golf is a game of honor, tradition, and passion.  It is also a source of social interaction and recreation. Have fun when you play your next round and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings while you recreate and socialize with those in your group!  Keep swining.
" The greens were so fast I had to hold my putter over the ball and hit it with the shadow."
~ Sam Snead

Friday, November 2, 2012

Affordable Golf in Pinehurst?

I recently returned from a golf symposium that turned out to be one of the best golf industry conferences in my career.  I have to admit that I was worried when I prepared my suitcase for my flight right into hurricane Sandy as the feelings in my gut were not good. It turned out that the golf Gods were on my side as I got one of the last flights out of DC Dulles airport heading anywhere before the entire place was shut down all together.  Luckily my flight left on time and we headed to Raleigh where the storm had already passed and not a drop of rain fell on me during my trip to the Southeast.

The symposiums' mastermind was Rich Mandell, president of Richard Mandell Golf Architecture.  Rich has attended many conferences in his past and felt unfulfilled by the results, so he decided to create the Symposium on Affordable Golf. 2012 was the third year it has been attended and the participation continues to grow.

Representatives from all facets of the golf industry were present.  Architects, superintendents from the GCSAA and Europe, pros from the PGA and LPGA, owners and operators, consultants, contractors, the USGA, players, writers, etc.  Essentially if you can think of anyone that has an interest in the golf industry they were there.  The topics lead to open, honest discussions that sought to determine what golf was, is, should be, and could be in an effort to create a more sustainable industry.  Now, sustainability means different things to many individuals.  The overall message had to do with people, planet, and profit.  Meaning that golf must serve its customers (people) while being mindful of the environment (planet) in an effort to remain in business (profit).

We discussed the slogan "Brown as the new green"  that was flown a couple of years ago and overall was not well accepted by either players or superintendents.  Really this effort was to promote firm and fast not necessarily brown turf.  The entire room understood that water is a precious resource and we must all do our part to increase water conserving efforts and that means that golfers are going to have to change their desires from less of an emerald green to more of an apple green in the effort toward sustainable golf courses.  Fewer inputs such as water, fertilizer, and pesticides are where the industry is heading and we all need to do a better job of educating golfers that the dark green hues are not in the best interest of our sport.

Topics ranged from how less of an artificial influence by golf architects can actually add more to the game regarding strategy vs. penalty to actual sustainable practices at golf courses.  I was flabbergasted that the Symposium would ask me to come speak at the event and bring our model of Zero Waste to the discussion.  It turned out to be a perfect fit for many of the discussion as we are doing what much of the symposium was geared toward.  We are attempting to reduce or eliminate our waste to landfills and educating the general public how our practices can influence or translate to their daily lives, introducing new people to the game of golf, and moving to a more organic means of maintaining turf.

We further discussed the generation gap of golf.  This involved 6 golfers and their views of the game.  Great discussions developed about traditions like why are blue jeans unacceptable, why do people pick up the game, and does the game really need to grow or is it OK as is?  We also learned about how a 27 hole executive course is doing its part to provide quick golf at affordable rates for all.  That is plenty to think about over night as day one came to an end.

Day two opened with a discussion about the survey that Rich put together to try to determine what golfers value as important.  This topic lasted nearly an hour and a half, but never lost relevancy or the audiences attention.  We then moved to a project in which an architect used sustainable means to build a golf course for one individual for $3 million.  I loved the fact that the project did not include the construction of tee boxes and that the winner of the previous hole picks the tee location for the next hole.  The entire course is maintained with a $300K budget that includes only two cutting heights...fairways and greens.  There is no rough and very little soil was moved for this project.  Truly sustainable!

The final discussion was about finding the romance in golf and spend less time selling the business.  Dana Rader is the president of the LPGA and she stated that there are no new golf tips.  The golf swing has changed little since the time of Old Tom Morris (I hope you know this name) and golf pros have no business charging such high prices for golf lessons.

I made a number of contacts and friendships that I hope will last for a long time.  The trip will definitely be on my radar in the future, mark your calendars for Oct. 28th and 29th, 2013.  Oh, did I say where...10 miles from PINEHURST!

My take aways were many but here are a few.  1) Golf is steep in tradition, but we need to make the game fun again and remove barriers that may inhibit people from taking up the game.  2) The sustainability of golf needs a remodel that coincides with golfer education.  Finally, 3) we need more people that have PASSION for the game and what it means.  The meaning is not always easy to describe, but I can tell you that my passion was rekindled with just the trip alone.  If you are not sure where your passion has gone, take a trip to Pinehurst and find it around every corner and on the face of nearly everyone you meet.  Join me next year for the Symposium on Affordable Golf and find out what golf can mean to you.