Escalation Not Conciliation Between USGA and Equipment Companies

By Adam BarrJanuary 4, 2002, 5:00 pm
It seemed at the end of last year that the U.S. Golf Association and equipment manufacturers might be willing to bridge the ideological gap between them. Any lingering personal animus between the USGA and the late Ely Callaway was gone, and new Callaway chief Ron Drapeau said in private conversations that he felt a more conciliatory mood coming.
But now, instead of checking the mail for invitations to a hatchet-burying party, golf industry insiders are wondering how recent developments will affect the future of the game.
The USGA announced on Dec. 19 its proposal to limit the size of clubheads to 385 cc, and to limit the length of clubs to 47 inches.
Its about distance off the tee, right? That was the natural assumption. But in an interview with me that aired Jan. 2, Dick Rugge, the USGAs senior technical director, said otherwise when asked whether the USGA had evidence that head size and length were elevating science over golfer ability.
Thats not at all what were claiming here, Rugge said. Were claiming that [some new, larger and longer clubs] are too different from the traditional and customary form and make.
The emphasized words are from the Rules of Golf, Appendix II(1)(a), which is designed to prevent clubs from becoming unrecognizable as golf implements. Rugge admits its a subjective standard, especially in light of the fact that so many unusual looking clubs have been approved over the years, including triangular, winged putters and shallow-face metalwoods.
Everybody has their opinions, Rugge said. The USGA has its opinions about these things as well, and also believes it has a responsibility to act on its opinion.
Its difficult with a subjective standard like this, but thats our responsibility and were not afraid to take it.
Not exactly fighting words, but not conciliatory, either.
Manufacturers will have until Feb. 19 to comment on the proposals. There is no guarantee the regulations will be adopted, no matter what the manufacturers say.
So far, nothing they have had to say has been favorable.
[The USGA has] presented no technical evidence that their limits are anything but arbitrary, Adams Golf CEO Barney Adams said in a statement. My education by the USGA in the Rules of Golf is that ball flight should be swing-affected and the player should not have a piece of equipment that produces results better than his swing. If this is just arbitrary then it stifles innovation, which is the heart and soul of the golf industry.
'The most surprising thing to us was the vivid juxtaposition of the two announcements ' said Wally Uihlein, president and CEO of Acushnet Co., the parent of Titleist & FootJoy Worldwide and Cobra Golf. (The USGA release also included the announcement that tests to develop a new Overall Distance Standard for golf balls would employ actual launch conditions instead of a more theoretical process called optimization, a result ball makers have been hoping for.)
'The golf ball announcement reflected the input and concerns of manufacturers, Uihlein said. Compare that to the heavy-handed announcement of the proposed club restrictions, which we think are indicative of the new administration and a new regulatory activism.'
The new administration comes in Feb. 2, when president-elect Reed Mackenzie will be sworn in at the USGAs annual meeting. Despite his reputation among some equipment executives as a hawk, Mackenzie says the Dec. 19 proposals were not his idea.
All I can tell you is that the impetus for that came from the Implements & Ball Committee, with no suggestion from me, Mackenzie said. But I did support the announcement when it came out.
I have no implement and ball agenda, Mackenzie said. I have a good chairman in place there, and I can rely on him. (I&B chairman Walter Driver did not return calls before deadline.)
Mackenzie also said that early comment from manufacturers may lead to a change in the language of the rules proposals. Rugge confirmed this, and said a possible extension of the comment period, while unlikely, is nonetheless on the table.
Meanwhile, Zevo Golf had intended to bring a 410 cc driver to the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Jan. 24-27. And new club entry Nike has one ready at 400 cc, and has solicited consumer comment on its website about the regulatory situation.
Whether or not the proposed regulations make sense depends on ones comfort level of golf purism. But larger questions loom. Chief among these may be the long-term effect of regulation (no matter how well-intended) on the recreational game, where flat participation levels have become an increasingly uncomfortable fact of commercial life. And that begs the complementary question: Would unbridled innovation some day make the game unrecognizable?
And if there is to be a bridle ' what kind of bit would it have, and who should put it in?
Check out the USGA's press releases:
USGA Announces Intention To Limit Clubhead Size & Club Length

USGA To Update Golf Ball Conformance Test
Who do you think will be the USGA's size limitations?
Share your thoughts!
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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.

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Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.