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Original Issue


I was not a fan of bifurcation—separate rules for amateur and professional golfers. But the proposed anchored-putting ban changed my mind.

Though I used a belly putter to win three of my four PGA Tour titles, I believe man wasn't meant to putt with a club anchored against his body. So let's ban anchored putting on the Tour but allow amateurs to keep doing it. That's why we need two sets of rules. Golf as a sport isn't doing well enough that we can afford to discourage anyone from playing.

The gap between Joe Average Hacker and Joe Tour Pro has never been wider. Technology has maxed out equipment in ways we never imagined—high-launch drivers, low-spin balls, exotic shafts and adjustable heads. Tour pros don't use drivers, we use rocket-launchers. But recreational amateurs are still terrible. Let bifurcation allow manufacturers to build even better clubs for the masses while keeping the pros in check, so classic courses like Merion and Muirfield remain relevant.

College baseball changed the specs for metal bats two years ago to make them less hot and perform more like the wooden bats used by pros. We could do that with the golf ball under bifurcation. Pros would whine, then we'd adjust, while amateurs would use a slightly longer ball.

We could have our cake and eat it too with bifurcation. We all call it golf, but amateurs and pros don't play the same game. Not even close. The talent levels aren't the same. Why should the rules be?

Steve Flesch is a 15-year PGA Tour veteran.