Watched and listened to Golf Channel's annual State of the Game roundtable at the WGC Accenture Match Play, ably refereed by NBC's Dan Hicks and featuring Johnny Miller, Nick Faldo and Brandel Chamblee batting back and forth the game's more pressing issues and arguments of the early part of the year. Aside from the usual carping about Tiger's perceived progress or regress, there was the usual old-men griping discussion over bifurcation and setting up pro-golf-only rules that would ban the anchored putter, reduce the size of drivers and even ban lines on golf balls.
This is all good fun, and as someone who has voiced an opinion or two in his day, I think the discussion is worth having. But before we go too far down this road, let's make sure our facts are straight. At one point, Chamblee suggested even the slightest adjustment in driver performance might pay meaningful dividends.
"The spring effect, they could lower that in the professional ranks. Every hundredth of a point they lower it, is worth five yards when you swing it 100 miles an hour."
First of all, how a driver performs is a lot more complicated than isolating a simple COR limitation, but before we do or suggest anything, perhaps we should focus on the science. So in the interest of setting the record straight, if the COR limitation was lowered by a hundredth of a point, from .83 to .82, it might result in something like two yards, not five.
In other words, not a big deal. Not to put words in the mouths of the panel, but in large part, I think what they wish is that fear be restored to the professional game in greater quantity than it currently exists. You might get there with a rule that outlawed anchoring, and you might get there with a rule that cut driver size in half. But you won't get there by lowering COR by a hundredth of a point.
And we can talk about bifurcation until the cows come home. I don't particularly want to, but I'll suggest this: Bifurcation already exists with the groove rule and it already exists with the way so few golfers play by the rules. I still think if the pros are asked to play by a fundamentally different set of rules, even in some small way like anchored putters or lowered COR, the possibility exists that average golfers over time will likely drift closer to the game the pros play than some other game no matter how easy it supposedly might be, hundredths of a point notwithstanding.
--Mike Stachura**Follow me on Twitter @MikeStachura