Frank, in a future missive, please enumerate the arguments against bifurcation. I commend to you Jimmy Walker’s recent rant.
I would like to quote from a previous ‘missive’ of mine in November last year regarding the furor about the ball going too far.
It started with –” “Our longest holes are a little more than a drive and a putt.” ……. “If the carrying power of the ball is to be still further increased, all our courses will be irretrievably ruined as a test of the game.” — as expressed by USGA president R.H. Robertson in 1902.”
Thankfully — even though the “carrying power of the ball” has increased somewhat – our courses have not been, “… irretrievably ruined as a test of the game.” In fact, most courses – other than those which have been designed to accommodate the very elite players, and are thus unplayable for most golfers — are still very playable and certainly not too short to adequately challenge more than 99% of the golfing population.
The knee jerk reaction – which has not been thoroughly vetted — is to say that we should change the rules for only those who are causing the problem – i.e. bifurcation of the Rules. There are many “local rules” and “conditions of competition” that are effectively adopted for elite competition and not used otherwise; so why not extend this to the ball specifications? Changing the ball specifications is not a playing rule affecting how a competition is conducted but an across the board change in the rules affecting everybody, which is undesirable.
The solution to the problem – which may be a “perceived problem” — must therefore be bifurcation.
This is, in itself a problem and not an option because it upends the tenets of the game, which are so clearly stated in the Joint Statement of Principles drawn up by the USGA/R&A, which states in part that, “The USGA and the R&A continue to believe that the retention of a single set of rules for all players of the game is one of golf’s greatest strengths.” This belief goes without saying and has been part of the game since its inception.
Other than the fact that bifurcation is profoundly at odds with that which has been generally accepted for hundreds of years, it is impractical and extremely difficult to implement as those who aspire to be elite players and play in The Open or the U.S. Open, come up through the ranks to qualify and must therefore change their ball in the process.
Mark, after thinking this through for a minute or so, one will probably find that the medicine is worse than the disease, and that the disease may not be life threatening. There are also less disruptive solutions to this concern, such as course set up.
Hope this gives you an insight into my thoughts on the subject.
As always, your comments are welcomed below.