Dear USGA

This generation of Harmon’s in front of the WFGC Clubhouse, Bill and C.H.

Dear USGA,

I went to your website and read your mission:

“The USGA promotes and conserves the true spirit of the game of golf as embodied in its ancient and honorable traditions. It acts in the best interests of the game for the continued enjoyment of those who love and play it.”

As someone who has loved and played the game for over 50 years, I could not be more disappointed in how you have protected the game. Would you say that our national treasures, the courses themselves, have been part of the tradition of the game?  I would. You have allowed modern technology, especially the ball, into the game and now many of our national treasures are obsolete. You also state on your website that part of your mission is to listen to the golfers. Jack Nicklaus and many others have tried to tell you that you must address the golf ball. It goes too far and because of its construction, it does not curve much. The golf that was played at WFGC was a brand of golf that I cannot relate to. I think there are thousands of other golfers that would fall into my camp. You will lose tremendous viewers to your product if people cannot relate to the game being played. Since the Open I’ve had people tell me it was like watching a different sport. I call it “guerilla golf” and it holds no interest to me.

I hold nothing against Bryson DeChambeau. He figured out a way to benefit from you continually allowing technological changes to the equipment to allow the ball to go farther and straighter. I would ask that you would consider two other sports that are played in the same season such as baseball and tennis. Even though fans like to watch home runs, did they introduce a solid steel bat that could make the ball go farther? They have not. Their historic baseball parks are still as relevant today as they were in 1920. Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium…. they are all fine to play baseball just as they are. You don’t find them having to move the fence back. One of the really beautiful things about golf in the past is that someone with small stature could compete against others who were much larger. It is like the David and Goliath paradigm. Champion golfers came in all shapes and sizes. In guerilla golf, if it continues, expect to see most golfers look the same. Currently, you have Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, and a few others. If the current trend continues it won’t be possible for someone like Ricky Fowler or Mike Weir to compete.

In the early 2000s, the International Tennis Federation changed the tennis ball to improve the game. Technology had been introduced into tennis and the game was not being played as it was originally intended. Power serving had become too dominant and tennis was seemingly one dimensional. Why can’t the USGA take similar action?

One of the blessings of my life was to spend three summers working for Claude Harmon at the Winged Foot golf club. It was so disappointing to see your champion hit less than half of the fairways. Even with the brilliant Tillinghast green complexes, he was still able to score six under par and win your championship. You all seem to do a good job on the setup with the green speed and there was plenty of rough. But with your champion hitting wedges to every hole it was a joke really. Koepka, DeChambeau, and others, play a smashmouth brand of golf where they use science to figure out how to hit the ball as hard and high as humanly possible.

Your issue is that when golf’s viewers watched Freddy Couples or Ernie Els they were inspired to incorporate some of these players artistry into their own game. Ask any club professional how business was the week after the Masters. Golfing viewers can’t relate to the new smashmouth golf. Many of my friends, me included, simply switched and watched the NFL during the final day of the US Open. If someone had told me days prior that this would happen, I would not have believed it.

What about all the other great, old classic courses that don’t have the resources to build new tees, etc.? These new tees not only cost money but also add to maintenance so you are driving up the price of the game.

You have ignored your responsibility and allowed the ball and the equipment to change the game. Shame on you. I will be dropping my membership to the USGA and will encourage everyone I know to do the same.

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