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Webb Simpson incident at Kapalua shows intent behind Rules of Golf modernization – Golf Channel

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KAPALUA, Hawaii — Webb Simpson was searching for his ball in the weeds short of the fifth green Saturday at Kapalua when he stepped on a clump of grass and out popped the ball. Five days ago, he would have had to add one shot to his score.

Under the new Rules of Golf, he put it back where it was without penalty.

There has been plenty of talk about players putting on the green with the flagstick in the hole, and having to drop the ball at knee-high length instead of shoulder-length. This was the first example of the intent behind the five-year project to modernize the rules.

It’s all about common sense.

“Under the previous code where a player is searching for the ball, who is the most interested to find the ball? The player,” said Stephen Cox, a PGA Tour rules official “Who do we penalize? They player, who then becomes the least interested in finding the ball.”

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One example of that came last year in the first round of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills. Phil Mickelson pulled his approach into grass so thick that he couldn’t see it. A marshal placed a tiny flag in the vicinity of where it was last seen.

Mickelson explained to the volunteer that if he stepped on the ball, it would be a penalty, but it was OK if the volunteer accidentally stepped on it.

“You’ve got to find it, man,” Mickelson said. “Get in there and find it.”

The marshal did, and Mickelson then asked an official if there was a rule that he had to play the shot if he couldn’t see it. There was no relief then or now for that one.

Simpson called for a ruling to be sure. It falls under Rule 7-4 that says, “There is no penalty if your ball is accidentally moved by your, your opponent or anyone else while trying to find or identify it.”

Simpson still was left in a tough spot in high grass. He blasted it over the green and eventually made bogey.

A year ago, it could have been worse.

Webb Simpson incident at Kapalua shows intent behind Rules of Golf modernization - Golf Channel was originally posted at https://www.golfchannel.com/news/webb-simpson-incident-kapalua-shows-intent-behind-rules-golf-modernization by

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PHOTOS: What's in the bag at the Genesis Open

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PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — If the Genesis Open was a movie, it’d be a blockbuster filled with A-list talent. Tiger Woods leads a loaded field that includes, among others, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson. With most of the big names in professional golf at Riviera Country Club, GOLF.com equipment editor Jonathan Wall is on site providing a running equipment gallery of what players are using, as well as any new gear that surfaces on Tour this week.

Keep checking this story over the next few days as additional photos are added.

Monday 

PHOTOS: What's in the bag at the Genesis Open was originally posted at https://www.golf.com/gear/pros-bags/2019/02/12/photos-pros-bag-genesis-open-2019/ by Jonathan Wall

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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.

Image

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 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/12/sports/golf-new-rules.html by

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Kuchar's Caddie Controversy

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February 12, 2019

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Kuchar's Caddie Controversy was originally posted at https://www.golf.com/golf_video/kuchars-caddie-controversy/ by

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