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Time for USGA and R&A to dump the caddy-line-up

May 24th, 2013 · No Comments

Now that the anchoring dragon has been slayed, what’s next?

At Geoff Shackelford’s blog he asked readers to choose between 1) distance, 2) caddies lining up players, 3) simplifying the rule book, 4) all of the above, and 5) nothing.

Of the 692 ballots cast, I sided with the 127 (16%) who chose #4. In my opinion, all are important, and we’ve got two and a half years remaining in the current period for changing the rules, so let’s get to it.

Now, if I had to put one of the three on the back burner, it would be simplifying the rules, because that’s going to take a while, and I see a greater urgency for rolling back the ball (the choice of 49% of all voters) and eliminating the caddy line up (which drew a paltry 11%).

Distance first. This is a no brainer. You’ve probably read all of the economic arguments for shortening courses such as the upkeep and the time it takes to play today’s super long tracks. From an aesthetic point of view, the pro game would also be so much more enjoyable if they has to hit something besides a wedge or 9-iron to every par 4, and if it took two mighty blows, the second with a long iron or fairway wood, to reach the par 5s in two.

While the announcers marvel at 350-380 drives, the thought of them sickens me – I would much rather watch the way Nicklaus and Company played a 440 par 4, busting a drive and purring a 4-iron.

Now for the caddy-line-up. In many ways, this is a far more sickening development that the anchored putter. For one, it takes more time for a player to go through their routine at a time when slow play is a plague on the pro game. It has a direct impact on a player’s results for 18 tee shots and at least another 14-16 from the fairway. And, if their caddy helps a player to line up their putts, the total, excluding tap ins, could rise to 50 or more. While watching the player from behind the tee, the caddy blocks our view of much of the player’s preshot routine.

Worst of all, the caddy-line-up gives the player direct assistance in playing the shot, something that should never happen. Nicklaus, among others, has said that aiming is one of the big skills in golf. If the caddy-line-up is allowed, a player does not even have to master one of the most essential elements of the game. I think caddy-line-ups, or using the traditional club on the ground are fine – for the practice tee. But not on the course!

So, eliminating the caddy-line-up should go first because it is the easiest to fix – one stroke of the legislative pen – and no one except those few pros who employ it will even have reason to complain as probably less that 1% of all amateurs use a caddy, and most of them for just toting the bag.
A

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