This is the first post of many on the USGA’s “A Guide To the Rules on Clubs and Balls.” The Guide is available online; however a printed copy should be on the desk of everyone involved in ball and club design.
The USGA should be commended on the Guide as it is extremely well written and contains commentary and numerous illustrations explaining the rules. It is the “Introduction” that is the focus of this post. Particularly, the following sentence:
While not wishing to stifle innovation, the purpose of the equipment Rules is to protect the traditions of the game, to prevent an over-reliance on technological advances rather than on practice and skill, and to preserve skill differentials throughout the game.
This is the type of aspirational statement should be analyzed and perhaps questioned. Are the Rules stifling innovation? Is there an over reliance on technology? Could technology ever eliminate the skill differential throughout the game?
I don’t believe that technology could ever eliminate a skill differential in the game. Guess what, if you gave Tiger and I the same high-tech nonconforming clubs and balls he would beat me by just as much as if we were both using identical sets of rental clubs and x-out balls. The skill differential position just doesn’t hold water.
As for over reliance on technology, is technology reliance a bad thing if the skill differential is maintained and it makes the game more enjoyable for the average golfer? What better way to convince an entire generation of kids that golf is a great game than to enable a 10 year old to hit a drive 175 yards right down the middle?
Frankly, I would be more concerned about technology rendering many of the 16,000+ golf courses in the