MARCH 7, 2017

By Gary Van Sickle

You probably heard about the rules changes proposed recently by the USGA and R&A (bit.ly/2mL2inb). I was pleasantly surprised by most (but not all) of the changes and credit the governing bodies for trying to simplify the game.

However, I can’t stand back and listen to absurd claims that these are a “pace-of-play” initiative. These changes aren’t going to speed up play. In fact, I believe they will hurt the pace of competition rounds.

The proposed rule about leaving the flagstick in when you putt is a nice adjustment, but what’s that really going to save in recreational golf? Five seconds once in a while before somebody in the foursome can pull the pin? That is of no real consequence in an 18-hole round.

A quest for common ground on divot holes

Your article on the proposed rules, and more specifically dealing with divots, was right on the money (“Revised rules ought to give ground on fairway divots,” March 3, bit.ly/2m3zA2w). It may be the rule that golfers complain most about. There is an opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed rules changes at usga.org/rules, and I would hope people concerned with the divot rule, or any other, will do just that. It is relatively easy to go through the survey and provide additional comments.

In the news

Committed: To play an LPGA event for the first time in five years, Lorena Ochoa, at the Lorena Ochoa Match Play on May 4-7 in Mexico City. Ochoa, 35, left the tour in 2010 with 27 victories and as the world’s top-ranked female. 

Announced: By the U.S. Golf Association, the 12 sectional qualifying sites for the U.S. Open, to be played June 15-18 at Erin Hills in Erin, Wis.: May 22 at Ono GC in Japan; May 29 at Walton Heath GC in England; June 5 at Big Canyon CC and Newport Beach (Calif.) CC, Jupiter Hills in Tequesta, Fla., Hawks Ridge GC in Ball Ground, Ga., Woodmont CC in Rockville, Md., Canoe Brook CC in Summit, N.J., Brookside G&CC and Lakes G&CC in Columbus, Ohio, Springfield (Ohio) CC, Germantown CC and Ridgeway CC in Memphis, Tenn., Lakewood CC in Dallas and Tacoma GC in Lakewood, Wash. Registration: champs.usga.org/index.html

Died: Writer Ken Bowden, who collaborated with Jack Nicklaus on 12 instructional books, including Golf My Way, at age 86 after a long illness.

Keeping score


Number of amateurs who will be competing this week in the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course in Palm Harbor, Fla. Jimmy Stanger, a Virginia senior who grew up 45 minutes from Innisbrook in Tampa, won the 2016 Southern Amateur and advanced to the Round of 16 in the U.S. Amateur.


March 7-8
Mid Atlantic Golf Merchandise Show
Marriott Residence Inn, Gaithersburg, Md.
March 9-12
European Tour: Hero Indian Open
DLF Golf and Country Club, New Delhi
PGA Tour: Valspar Championship
Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead), Palm Harbor, Fla.
March 10-12
Michigan Golf Show
Suburban Collection Showplace, Novi, Mich.
March 16-19
PGA Tour: Arnold Palmer Invitational
Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Orlando, Fla.
LPGA: Bank of Hope Founders Cup
Wildfire Golf Club at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, Phoenix
March 17-19
Champions Tour: Tucson Conquistadores Classic
Omni Tucson National, Tucson, Ariz.
March 18-19
Portland Golf Expo
Holiday Inn by the Bay, Portland, Maine
March 22-26
PGA/European tours: WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
Austin (Texas) Country Club
March 23-26
PGA Tour: Puerto Rico Open
Coco Beach Golf Club, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
LPGA: Kia Classic
Aviara Golf Club, Carlsbad, Calif.
Web.com Tour: Chitimacha Louisiana Open
Le Triomphe Golf and Country Club, Broussard, La.

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