The 2013 U.S. Open at Merion quietly demonstrated that professional golfers and the everyday or weekend golfer play entirely different games in different circumstances with different rules.
1. Out of Bounds: the pros finally had to deal with out of bounds and how many strokes did it cost? Average golfers face this all the time.
2. Rough: the pros finally had to deal with rough over their shoes. Average golfers deal with this all the time due to our cheap courses only mowing once a week or less.
3. Conditions: no matter what, courses prepared for a tournament are in top shape with markings for ground under repair, etc. Pros get every advantage in regards to course conditions.
4. Caddies: a professional caddie is not a normal caddie. Besides most amateurs rarely having a caddie. Pro caddies are similar to on course coaches/psychologists.
5. Venue Change: the course layout/yardages were changed mid tournament to help the pros score a little better. When does that ever happen for the weekenders playing an informal tournament on a golf weekend?
6. Equipment: the pros have EVERY advantage in terms of equipment. Tiger has a reference set at Nike’s manufacturing facility to ensure that each club made for him is exactly the same!
7. Balls: some pros play with a higher compression ball that only a very few golfers could ever compress. Is this an advantage to those few?
8. Ball Spotters: the pros get the advantage of ball spotters/finders with their little flags. Average golfers take strokes all the time trying to find a ball hit in rough so high the foursome can’t find it. We know it’s somewhere… we just can’t find it.
9. Officials: the pros get in trouble and they call for help. Sometimes knowing the rules can help! (Burrowing animal anyone?)
10. Conditions Again: I have to restate conditions, this weekend proved that the pros regularly play on different courses in different conditions than most of us. When faced with similar conditions that the average golfer faces, the pros scores started to seem a lot more familiar.
The USGA and PGA should create two separate rules or start playing courses like the rest of us with equipment that we buy off the shelf!
Guest Blog Post: Matthew B.