With all the buzz Wednesday surrounding the proposed changes to the Rules of Golf, a nagging question has resurfaced: Should pros and amateurs play by two different sets of rules?
When GOLF.com posed that question to 50 PGA Tour professionals at the Waste Management Phoenix Open last month, 31 of them, or 62 percent, said the Tour should indeed have its own rules. (The question was part of our annual Tour pro survey, which we’ll publish in full later this month.)
According to the Tour, however, bifurcation of the rules is not going to happen, at least not any time soon. Here’s what Ponte Vedra told Golf Channel reporter Todd Lewis:
According to a SVP of Rules & Competition for @PGATOUR there will not be a separate set of rules for Tour players & amateur players.— Todd Lewis (@ToddLewisGC) March 1, 2017
At least a couple of the proposed new rules seem particularly unsuited for the pro ranks. For example, it’s hard to imagine pros being permitted to leave the flagstick in the hole over slippery putts, in effect using the stick as a backstop. Then there's the spike-mark amendment. U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell tweeted that he believes pros could take advantage of the new allowance, which would permit players to tamp down spike marks.
Other pros also took to Twitter Wednesday to debate the tweaks.
I think the changes are moving the right direction for golf, but I think professional golf should have its own book— Graham DeLaet (@GrahamDeLaet) March 1, 2017
Maybe there should be professional rules and amateur rules because I'm not getting a good vibe about some of these proposed changes— Daniel Berger (@DanielBerger59) March 1, 2017
Agree with this. Some rules good, others not crazy about ( fixing spike marks will be abused, grounding club in bunkers) https://t.co/egpjlRm6V9— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) March 1, 2017
I like a lot of the new rule changes but this one I'm not so sure about pic.twitter.com/CtgQdqUf3z— Arron Oberholser (@ArronOberholser) March 1, 2017
Distance-measuring devices would also seem to be out of place at the highest levels of the game, though the Tour could institute a local rule that would prohibit them.
As Matt Kuchar’s caddie, John Wood, wrote on GOLF.com, "I think there is a skill in figuring out a yardage when your player has hit one off course — well off course. To be able to simply whip out your DMD and laser the flagstick would take out an important component of what the players and the caddies have to do."
The proposed changes won’t be written into law until Jan. 1, 2019. In the meantime, expect the bifurcation debate to rage on.