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Golf’s New Rules: Few Players Know Them, Fewer Understand Them – The New York Times



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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am never fails to rattle Darius Rucker’s nerves. This year though, Rucker, the three-time Grammy Award winning musician, had more to fret about than hitting a spectator or getting in the way of his pro partner, Kenny Perry.

“Now you’re scared that somebody’s going to come call a rules violation on you with something that you don’t know about anything,” Rucker said before the tournament began last week.

The pros are just as worried. The United States Golf Association and the R&A revised the sport’s rule book to simplify the game and speed up the pace of play. But so far the changes, which took effect at the start of 2019, have been harder to follow than a game of Simon Says.

In the few weeks since the modifications took effect, players have repeatedly sought guidance from the nearest rules official, their caddies or pieces of paper tucked inside their golf bags, undermining for now, at least, the stated intention of making things simpler and faster.

And it’s adding an extra bit of hesitancy to the pros’ trip through the course. During a rain-sodden second round at Pebble Beach on Friday, Hunter Mahan was forced to consult a tournament-issued rules sheet before touching his ball. “We thought we knew what the rule was,” Mahan said, “but there’s no clarity, so having an official or actually having it written down is the only true clarification.”

One of the new rules lowered the height from which players make a drop: it is now from the knees, rather than the shoulders, a change that the former men’s world No. 1 Adam Scott described as awkward. Whenever he bends over or squats with the ball, he can’t help but imagine rules officials assigned to monitor potential rules violations squinting at their screens, scrutinizing his release down to the inch.

“They’ve just written more gray areas into the game that were not necessary,” said Scott, who won’t make a drop without asking his caddie or a nearby official if he has the height right.

Even those enforcing the rules have been confused about how to interpret them. During the second round of the Phoenix Open earlier this month, Denny McCarthy was assessed a two-stroke penalty under Rule 10.2b(4), a new regulation that prohibits caddies from standing behind players as they line up for their shots.

ImageA rules official closely observed as Bryson DeChambeau lined up a putt during the Sony Open in Hawaii last week.CreditKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

While McCarthy took a few practice swings, his caddie stood behind him. McCarthy stepped away before hitting the shot, and when he came back to the ball and set his stance, his caddie was standing off to the side. The next day, the PGA Tour announced that it had rescinded the penalty after reviewing McCarthy’s actions, and his score of 67 became a 65.

Somewhat lost in the turbulence created by the alignment rule in the men’s game is the fact that the change was seen as directed at the L.P.G.A., where caddies lining up players had been more common. Brittany Lincicome, an eight-time L.P.G.A. tour winner and two-time major champion, said she was glad “it wasn’t one of us” who became the rule’s first victim.

After the caddie-alignment episode with McCarthy, and several similar situations involving other players, the U.S.G.A. and the R&A issued a clarification: If players reset their stances after their caddies have surveyed a shot, there is no penalty.

“Going in, we knew there were certain things that were going to come up that you’d say, ‘We’re not sure we contemplated this or the intention was never to have this outcome,’” Mike Davis, the chief executive of the U.S.G.A. told the Global Golf Post. He added, “All in all, in terms of how they’re being perceive around the globe, it’s very positive.”

That wasn’t the case for Rickie Fowler, who took dead aim at the caddie-alignment rule during the Phoenix Open. “You’re talking about growing the game and making things play faster and whatnot,” he said, “but that’s not growing the game.”

Adding to Fowler’s exasperation was a run-in with one of the rule book’s unchanged regulations on the Sunday of the tournament. He took a two-stroke penalty for hitting a shot into the water, then absorbed another one-stroke penalty after his ball rolled back into the hazard several seconds after he walked toward the green to survey his chip.

After carding a triple bogey, Fowler, in a show of gallows humor, petitioned the rules official, Slugger White, for a rules modification.

Fowler hung on to win, but Tony Finau, who watched the round unfold on television after missing the cut, saw the gravity in Fowler’s joking.

“As I watched that transpire, I couldn’t help but think, ‘This is not what the integrity of the game is about,’” Finau said. “He didn’t do anything for that ball to move.”

One player’s mishap is another’s teachable moment. An L.P.G.A. rules official disseminated the video of Fowler playing the hole, noting that he could have avoided the second penalty by making his first two drops, then using a tee to mark the spot where he intended to place the ball. After surveying his shot, he could have then replaced the tee with his ball before taking his shot.


Rickie Fowler criticized the updated caddie-alignment rule during the Phoenix Open last month, saying it wouldn’t help with “growing the game.”CreditMichael Reaves/Getty Images

Breaking up the sequence of drop-drop-place like that was illuminating to Lincicome: “I didn’t even know that was a thing,” she said.

Another new wrinkle on the course this year is using the flagstick as a backboard on putts; to speed up play, golfers can leave the pin in no matter where they are on the course, including the green. Anticipating the outcome, Bryson DeChambeau said last year, “The U.S.G.A.’s going to have to go back on that one, like, ‘No! We made the hole bigger!’”

It sure has seemed that way to Scott, who ranked 165th on tour in 2018 in strokes-gained putting. Putting with the flagstick in the hole, he is ranked No. 26. “To be honest,” Scott said, “it almost changes the whole aim of the game. It’s to hit the pin, not hole the putt.”

He added, “It takes speed out of your head so much. It even takes some reading of the green out.”

DeChambeau has a point. The game’s governing bodies might be eager to simplify the rules, but their intent was never to make the game easier.

And, in the end, have they really simplified anything?

When Scott looks at the remaining layers of rules as well as the lingering and newfound confusion, he, like Fowler, wonders how it is growing the game. Imagine picking up an unfamiliar board game, he said, and opening the box to find 84 pages of rules. Would you bother playing it?

Now picture the same game, with only five or six rules to learn to start out. Which version would you find more appealing?

“Let’s have all the rules on the back of the scorecard for people to get into the game of golf,” Scott said, adding, “And then as you get playing more you can maybe learn some finer points of this very complex game.”

Though Jay Monahan, the P.G.A. commissioner, said last week that he felt proud of how quickly and nimbly the alignment rule confusion was addressed, Scott disagreed.

“We haven’t had a lot of changes in golf in the history of the game , and we’ve had a lot recently — rules changing weekly in some cases — and it’s crazy,” Scott said.

He added, “I think we’re becoming the laughingstock.”

Golf’s New Rules: Few Players Know Them, Fewer Understand Them - The New York Times was originally posted at by


Pro golfer disqualified at Honda Classic for violating new greens-reading regulations



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Alex Cejka was disqualified in the first round of the Honda Classic on Thursday for violating the new greens-reading regulations that went into effect at the start of the new year.

Cejka’s disqualification, which came after he had already played 14 holes of golf on Thursday, was a result of him using “greens-reading materials that did not fit the new scale” permitted by the new Rules of Golf, according to PGA Tour rules officials.

USGA, R&A chiefs differ on success of new rules rollout

While it’s still unclear which of the new greens-reading regulations Cejka violated, the USGA implemented a new rule on what materials can and cannot be used when reading the greens during a competitive round.

The new rule of limiting the usage of greens-reading materials on the course was made with the USGA’s belief that “the ability of golfers to read greens using their own judgment is an essential skill that should be maintained,” and the interpretation “limits the size and scale of detailed putting-green maps and any similar electronic or digital materials that a player may use during a round to assist with reading his or her line of play on the putting green.”

Pro golfer disqualified at Honda Classic for violating new greens-reading regulations was originally posted at by Pat Ralph

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Myrtle Beach Golf: The ultimate guide to America’s ultimate golf destination



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Myrtle Beach, S.C., is as much an idea as a place, and for many that idea can be boiled down to three phrases: Myrtle Beach golf, Myrtle Beach golf, Myrtle Beach golf. But take a step back, crouch, and get a read on the place itself, and it’s clear that Myrtle isn’t just a matter of abundance. For those in the know, there is tremendous quality on offer, too. More and more, that extends beyond the fairways and greens to all aspects of a Myrtle Beach golf trip — dining, nightlife, attractions, you name it. Here’s how to ensure that you make the most of your next Myrtle golf getaway.


Barefoot Resort & Golf

Myrtle Beach’s Fab Four, with designs from Greg Norman, Davis Love III, Tom Fazio and Pete Dye; players looking for a true golf-resort experience should venture no further. Love is a GOLF Top 100 You Can Play course, while Dye hosts Hootie & the Blowfish’s annual post-Masters pro-am. Fazio is sneakily tough, while Norman may be Barefoot’s most playable 18.; 866-638-4818

Caledonia Golf & Fish Club

The first solo design by the late, great iconoclast Mike Strantz and another GOLF Top 100 You Can Play course, Caledonia is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Its biggest highlight may be its last one, with the 18th green sitting practically in the shadow of its graceful antebellum clubhouse. Without doubt a must-play for anyone coming to the area.; 800-483-6800

The Dunes Golf & Beach Club

A grand dame of the Grand Strand and yet another Top 100 You Can Play, the Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed Dunes Club is the area’s most storied 18 — and arguably better now than it’s ever been. Rees Jones has overseen renovations to the course in recent times, including a new bunker project in 2018, a year that also saw the clubhouse remodeled.; 843-449-5236

Grande Dunes

Smack-dab in the heart of Myrtle Beach, Grande Dunes, designed by longtime RTJ Sr. protégé Roger Rulewich, this links-style layout is set on a bluff overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway, with forgiving fairways leading to subtle, vexing greens. Six holes play along the Intracoastal, including the downhill par-3 14th, among Myrtle’s most photogenic holes.; 877-283-2122

Myrtle Beach National Golf Club (King’s North)

The premier course at this 54-hole facility, King’s North was redesigned by Arnold Palmer in 1996 and features one of Myrtle Beach’s most memorable holes: Its par-5 6th, dubbed “The Gambler,” sports a second, island fairway that if reached makes hitting the green in two a good bet. The island-green par-3 12th is another do-or-die hole not soon forgotten.; 877-283-2122

Pawley’s Plantation Golf & Country Club

This Jack Nicklaus Signature Design is one of the most prestigious courses on the Grand Strand, and its back nine may be the prettiest, too. The highlight: the gorgeous, terrifying par-3 13th, which plays to a peninsula green surrounded by a saltwater marsh. Pawley’s plentiful 200-year-old moss-draped oaks are as Southern as sweet tea, too.; 877-283-2122

Pine Lakes Country Club

A must-play for history buffs — it’s the area’s first course and remains a highly enjoyable layout. Home to the Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame, Pine Lakes was designed by Robert White, a native of St. Andrews, Scotland, as well as the first president of the PGA of America. During the winter, free chowder’s on offer at the turn; the rest of the year, it’s mimosas.; 877-283-2122

Surf Golf & Beach Club

A classic 1960 layout from George Cobb, who co-designed Augusta National’s Par-3 Course with Bobby Jones, the Surf Club is private but permits guest play in partnership with certain local hotels. Appropriately enough, its most memorable hole is a peninsula par 3, No. 6, but the entire course hangs together gracefully, all of a piece.; 843-249-1524

Tidewater Golf Club

GOLF’s Best New Public Course in the U.S. in 1990, Tidewater is as scenic as it is strong. Holes 3 and 12 comprise Myrtle’s most handsome pair of par 3s, both of which play along Cherry Grove; eight holes in total play along this inlet or the Intracoastal Waterway. A recent greens renovation has helped make Tidewater among the area’s best conditioned courses.; 843-466-8754

TPC Myrtle Beach

For those desiring a stern challenge, TPC Myrtle Beach is the place. This spring, the course will host both an NCAA Regional Championship and the fourth-annual Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship. (DJ is South Carolina-born and went to college in the Myrtle Beach area.) Tom Fazio’s design team oversaw a bunker renovation project last summer.; 877-283-2122

True Blue Golf Club

Still another Top 100 You Can Play layout and, as another Mike Strantz design, a sister course to Caledonia. The theme as True Blue is bigness, from the generous fairways to the large, tilting greens to the yawning waste bunkers. A former indigo and rice plantation, True Blue sports impressively varied terrain with some significant elevation changes.; 888-483-6800


Arcadian Shores Golf Club

Rees Jones’s first design, Arcadian Shores underwent a major renovation two years ago that included new greens, cart paths, bunkers and a new clubhouse. A very good layout at a very good price.; 843-449-5217

Arrowhead Country Club 

Just five miles from the Myrtle Beach International Airport and with 27 holes, including a couple on the Intracoastal, it’s hard to beat Arrowhead for convenience — or value for money, given how reliably good the conditioning is.; 800-236-3243

Legends Resort (Heathland)

An early Tom Doak solo design done in a links style, with nods to courses such as St. Andrews, Cruden Bay and Lahinch, here is your chance to view a portrait of the architect as a young man, and for a reasonable fee.; 800-299-6187

Prestwick Country Club

Maybe not a hidden gem to the degree of Scotland’s Prestwick, nonetheless this Pete and P.B. Dye design hides in plain sight in the heart of Myrtle Beach. It’s a stern test whether tackled from the 7,000-yard-plus tips or otherwise.; 843-293-4100

For those in the know, there is tremendous quality on offer in Myrtle Beach.


So, you’re looking to take it easy on yourself, maybe post a career-best round, enjoy a good walk not spoiled by double-bogeys? Here are the five best area tracks with low slope ratings and high fun factors.

Crown Park Golf Club; 843-756-3200

Meadowlands Golf Club; 910-287-7529

Myrtle Beach National (West); 877-283-2122

The Witch Golf Club; 843-347-2706

The Wizard Golf Course; 843-236-9393


Savvy travelers will generally choose the courses on their itinerary first and work their way backward from there, selecting a hotel, resort or condo that’s convenient to golf. There are, naturally, other potential considerations — a villa might be perfect for a buddy trip, while players with their family in tow might want to be right on the beach in a place with a pool and on-site activities. No matter the logic, these accommodations are all well above par.

Anderson Ocean Club and Spa

Condo accommodations overlooking the water in the heart of Myrtle Beach, with easy access to golf and nightlife.; 844-887-9452

The Inlet Sports Lodge

Boutique property located in Murrells Inlet and a short walk to the outstanding food, entertainment and scenery at Marshwalk — ideal for a South Strand trip.; 877-585-9360

Litchfield Beach & Golf Resort

Oceanfront resort located just minutes from Pawleys Plantation and Caledonia; large property with on-site restaurants, great spot for big groups.; 888-734-8228

Marina Inn at Grande Dunes

Four-Diamond property with condo accommodations located along the Intracoastal Waterway and across from the Grande Dunes Resort Course; has a Ruth’s Chris among its restaurants, and its open-air bar along the waterway, Anchor Cafe, is a lively happy hour spot.; 843-913-1333

Marriott OceanWatch Villas at Grande Dunes

One of the area’s nicest properties, with villa accommodations overlooking the Atlantic, it’s located in Myrtle Beach, just steps from Dunes Golf & Beach Club.; 843-692-5500

Mar Vista Grande

Four-Diamond oceanfront property with 3- and 4-bedroom condos that make it perfect for groups; set in the heart of Myrtle Beach, it’s just minutes from Tidewater Golf Club.; 843-877-0413

Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort & Spa at Grande Dunes

Great waterfront location, indoor and outdoor pools, pool bar, full-service spa—what’s not to love?; 843-449-8880

North Beach Plantation

Across from Barefoot Resort, its entrance conjures Atlantis in the Bahamas. Six pools, including a swim-up pool bar, and a spa, help make it a premium North Myrtle Beach property, as does its outstanding restaurant, 21 Main.; 855-904-4858


Aspen Grill

The name may suggest Colorado, but this is traditional Carolina cuisine to the core. While the menu changes seasonally, if the scallops over wild mushroom risotto with fried spinach is available, it’s a must.; 843-449-9191

Chive Blossom Restaurant & Bar

Part of a thriving restaurant scene on Pawleys Island that also includes Bistro 217 and Perrone’s, Chive Blossom leans Southern but also brings in Asian, French and Mediterranean flourishes. Its soups are renowned, as are its signature cocktails.; 843-237-1438

New York Prime

Turning meat and potatoes into the extraordinary is what the best steakhouses do, and New York Prime (which also has locations in Atlanta and Boca Raton) does just that. Its steaks are aged 28 days, and you’ll remember them much longer than that.; 843-448-8081


Brookgreen Gardens

Let’s say you tweak your back, or you’re of the opinion that a little culture won’t kill you. If so, visit Brookgreen Gardens, which holds the country’s largest collection of American figurative sculpture, showcased in a lovely garden setting, as well as a botanical gardens, a zoo, and historical exhibitions and excursions.; 843-235-6000

 Hawaiian Rumble MiniGolf

For players with kids in tow, or those still a kid at heart, miniature golf is a Myrtle Beach must. You can putt-putt away in a tropical setting at Hawaiian Rumble, an 18-hole course that wends its way through a garden straight out of Maui, with a 40-foot volcano at the center and Hawaiian music wafting through the air.; 843-272-7812


Barefoot Landing on the Waterway

For golfers on the Grand Strand’s north end, the waterfront Barefoot Landing offers the House of Blues, Dick’s Last Resort and Bully’s Pub & Grill for those still energized after the sun has set on 36 holes of golf.; 843-272-8349

Broadway at the Beach

This outdoor complex is a major shopping, entertainment and dining hub. Its recently renovated nightlife district offers everything from dancing to dueling pianos to a Dave & Buster’s.; 800-386-4662

Topgolf Myrtle Beach

Got something to work out in your swing? Just want to eat and drink in the presence of others hitting balls? The new Topgolf in Myrtle Beach will have you covered once it opens, slated for this March.; 843-945-3318

Myrtle Beach Golf: The ultimate guide to America’s ultimate golf destination was originally posted at by Evan Rothman

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What’s with the odd-shaped Directed Force putter Adam Scott’s using at Honda?



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Even since the anchor-ban went into effect at the start of 2016, Adam Scott has been searching for a suitable replacement for the 52-inch Scotty Cameron Futura X putter he used to win the 2013 Masters. He’s floated the long putter to stay within the rules, tried a myriad of conventional-length mallets and blades with different grips, and even dabbled with the arm-lock method in his last few starts.

So far, nothing has caught on.

At the Honda Classic, Scott added another putter to the list in the form of L.A.B. Golf DirectedForce’s oversize mallet, which features a maroon-colored head and arguably one of the most interesting shapes on the market. The putter is essentially designed to reduce head twisting through a lie-angle balanced design that keeps the face straight to the path during the stroke.

Increasing head weight can reduce twisting, but according to L.A.B. Golf DirectedForce, dialing in the center of gravity, lie angle, length and grip can have an even more profound effect. The putter manufacturer touts their toe and heel weights — which are installed on each side of the face as well as the sole — work in conjunction with the position of the shaft to eliminate twisting.

Adam Scott giving DirectedForce’s putter a shot at Honda.

— Jonathan Wall (@jonathanrwall) February 28, 2019

In addition to Scott, Bryson DeChambeau and Jason Dufner have given L.A.B. Golf DirectedForce a chance over the last few years, but outside of a few notable names, the putter hasn’t generated much traction on tour.

The timing of Scott’s switch is actually quite curious given that he was coming off a stretch with the arm-lock method where he ranked 14th and 15th in strokes gained: putting at the Farmers Insurance Open and Genesis Open. Scott ranked 165th and 89th in the statistical category the past two seasons.

Even the crew handling this week’s PGA Tour’s Live coverage from the Honda Classic admitted they were surprised with Scott’s decision to go away from arm-lock. “We watched him for a couple of weeks and he looked reborn on the greens,” said announcer John Swantek.

Scott was spotted testing L.A.B. Golf DirectedForce putters in two different head colors on Monday at PGA National but told the Golf Channel’s Chantel McCabe that he didn’t have plans to put it in play. Apparently, the former Masters champion had a change of heart and decided to give it a try.

Adam Scott says he doesn’t plan to add one of these new putters to his bag this week but is constantly testing and trying to gather info.

— Chantel McCabe (@ChantelMcCabeGC) February 26, 2019

His first round with the putter didn’t go according to plan, as Scott shot 2-over 72 and missed par putts from inside 8 feet on two of his last three holes. He only made 62 feet worth of putts during the first round.

What's with the odd-shaped Directed Force putter Adam Scott's using at Honda? was originally posted at by Jonathan Wall

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