At this past week’s USGA Pace of Play summit, former PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman didn’t exactly hold back his opinions. “When I attack a problem, I offend everybody,” Beman said. He’s definitely right about that. Just when we thought that the lid was closed on the issue of bifurcation, Beman has managed to open it back up.
For those who don’t know what bifurcation means, it’s the ideas that there should be two separate sets of rules for pros and everyone else, specifically when concerning the use of belly or long putters and anchoring. This issue appeared to be solved earlier this year when after dragging their feet, all the major golf organizations agreed to follow the joint decision by the R&A and USGA to ban anchoring putting.
Beman did talk about summit’s intended topic but quickly strayed to other issues. He defended PGA Tour players for the “bad rap” they get regarding slow play and that the problem is getting all those players through 18 holes. “It’s just not possible to get 144 (players) around in less than 4 hours, 40 minutes,” Beman said.
After giving his opinion on slow play, Beman turned to issues where he differs with the USGA. GolfWeek’s Jim McCabe even calls it “disrespectful to be an invited guest and then criticize the host.”
Beman started by caution the USGA from being “in lockstep” the R&A on the Rules of Golf – specifically on bifurcation. He doesn’t think it’s a bad idea – “There’s no evidence that bifurcation would hurt the game,” he said.
I view with caution the advisability of the USGA’s being in complete lock step with the R&A on golf rules and policy issues; and I say this with admiration and respect for both organizations. He went on:
“The R&A’s sphere of influence is worldwide where golf is mostly growing. Golf has major problems here in the U.S. The two organizations face far different problems; and solving them here in the U.S. might take more flexibility than the R&A may be willing to concede.
Bifurcation of the rules for equipment needs to be more fully examined.
No sport has been hurt by different rules for different levels of play — including golf.”
Check out all of Deane Beman’s remarks here.
What do you think Rock Heads? Should we still be talking about bifurcation? Let me know in the comments!