Non-Conformity is the Gateway to Innovation

  Non-Conformity is the Gateway to Innovation's recent article by Tony Covey got us thinking. If recreational golf is the majority, why are so many trying to push them out of the game, not allowing them to use what equipment works best for them. Remember the saying, to each their own? Why doesn't this matter in the world of golf? Whose game is it anyway? These are some excerpts from the original article that really stood out for us at Polara Golf:

The USGA Has Over-Stepped

As trustee for the rules of golf, the USGA has grossly over-stepped in their management of the equipment space. It’s one thing to create rules defining competition-legal equipment, it’s quite another to issue a mandate effectively prohibiting golf companies from producing anything that doesn’t conform.

We’ve talked about Major League Baseball governing Little League or the NFL forcing its rules on Pop Warner (that ball is not regulation, kid), but the closest parallel I can find to golf is competitive cycling.

As with golf, the UCI (cycling’s governing body) has rules that cover every aspect of the spot, including equipment. There are bikes that are deemed competition-legal and bikes that are not. The difference between golf and cycling is that if I just want something to ride around the neighborhood, my choices aren’t limited to UCI legal bikes.

I’m free to buy a non-conforming bike from any number of reputable, top-tier companies, and nobody is going to accuse me of cheating anyone or anything.

How is that any different from a recreational golfer who plays non-conforming clubs?

And you know what…while cycling has its share of problems; recreational cyclists, and kids jumping mounds of dirt on Huffys aren’t among them.

Why should guys who aren’t competing against anyone be forced to make a choice between playing competition legal equipment, or non-conforming clubs from a relative nobody?

Why should the USGA dictate what equipment is available to the recreational golfer?

Non-Conformity is the Gateway to Innovation

Non-Conforming Equipment is Good for Golf

You think I’m insane? I’m just getting started.

Mainstream non-conforming equipment could ultimately be good for the health of the game. While I’m not one to believe that slow play is killing golf, or long courses are killing golf, or the cost of equipment and tee times is killing golf (nothing is actually killing golf), I think there are some pretty simple steps we could take to improve the overall health of the game, and letting golfers play gear that makes the game more enjoyable is certainly one of them.

  • You want to mitigate the impact of longer courses? Let guys hit the ball farther.
  • You want to speed up play? Let guys hit the ball straighter and keep them out of the damn woods.
  • You want to attract new golfers? Make the game more fun, and part of that means giving non-competitive golfers the ability to play whatever it is that makes the game more enjoyable for them.

And what about the guy who can’t bend over, or who got hurt and lost 50 yards

What’s the greater tragedy, having somebody who used to love the game walk off the course and never come back, or allowing them to play (recreationally, of course) with anchored putters and juiced up drivers?

Non-Conformity is the Gateway to Innovation

More than anything else, a line of non-conforming clubs would give the golf companies something they haven’t had in a while; complete and total freedom to innovate. As it is in nearly any other industry, imagination, not regulation, becomes the limiting factor.

Since a non-conforming line wouldn’t be bound by any of the conventions of what a golf club is, what it looks like, what it’s made from; golf companies would be free to experiment with new materials, new geometry, and completely new ideas.

How is this bad for golf?

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