“One of the undisputed pleasures of golf lies in the comforting knowledge that all golfers around the world play the same game. Imagine the chaos that would exist if there were, as some have suggested, different Rules for professional and amateur golf or each country had its own unique code of Rules. It is the uniformity and worldwide acceptance of the Rules that allow us to compare our rounds to those of the top players and to appreciate a tournament played on the other side of the world.”

- David Fay and Michael Bonallack
From the foreword to The Rules of the Green: A History of the Rules of Golf

The case for unification is rooted in the game’s history. In his seminal work, The Rules of the Green: A History of the Rules of Golf, Kenneth Chapman observed that since the first written code of rules appeared in 1744, the Rules of Golf evolved through periods of adaptation, consolidation, divergence, and eventually unification. This march to unification, where the game is played by one set of rules, has been an inexorable one with interruptions only occurring when opposing parties had a political or economic agenda.

There are two fundamental forces driving this progression to unification. The first is the essence of the game; the emotional allure that compels golfers to play and experience the same course or shot as one of the game’s greats, even if just to aspire. The second impetus is the dysfunction and instability caused by multiple sets of rules. Prior history of multiple sets of rules created widespread confusion and prompted the need for clarification and unification. The fact remains that the game’s growth, and its globalization, are inextricably linked to the idea that golfers – of all skill levels – play the same game.

For its first 100 years, the Rules of Golf provided political and economic stability as most of the newly formed golf clubs adopted the Rules of 1744. The Industrial Revolution helped facilitate golf’s first growth era. International commerce flourished and transportation improved. Golf’s first major competition, The Open Championship, was established, and for 20-plus years, contested according to the rules of the host club.

In 1895, the United States Golf Association (USGA) was formed. The USGA decided their competitions would be played according to the Rules of Golf, as adopted by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, while reserving the interpretation and decision making prerogative. C. B. Macdonald, winner of the 1895 U.S. Amateur Championship and first chair of the USGA special committee to “interpret the Rules of Golf,” highlighted the difference between American and British golfers in his letter to Horace Hutchinson:

“We find in America that it is necessary to have the rules more clearly defined, as people (Americans) are more inclined to play more by the letter than the spirit.” (Golf, February 12, 1897)

These differences between ruling bodies became exercises in bifurcation as separate rules applied to medal and match play, center shafted putters, steel shafts, the stymie and the number of allowable clubs.

When the great “balloon ball” experiment failed in 1931, it culminated in the R&A and the USGA having separate sets of golf ball rule specifications for the next 50 years.

The tension from this experience led to the first major collaborative decision on the road to uniformity – the adoption of the 14-club rule in 1938.

Post World War II, a meeting between representatives from the game’s major golf organizations resulted in the joint R&A-USGA Code of 1952. This marked an unprecedented and historic decision to unify the Rules of Golf. Clearly, the growth of the game for the next 30 years, its globalization and commercialization, went hand in hand with this unification.

In 2002, the R&A and the USGA accelerated the march toward unification with the landmark issuance of a Joint Statement of Principles where they announced,

“The R&A and the USGA continue to believe that the retention of a single set of rules for all players of the game, irrespective of ability, is one of the game’s greatest strengths.”

For 250 years, there has been documented progress toward uniformity and worldwide acceptance of the Rules. Yet there are new voices advocating for “Bifurcation,” arguing that the game should reverse direction for political and economic reasons.

The three most common arguments advanced by bifurcation protagonists are:

1. “Today’s professional game does not mirror today’s amateur game.”

While some lament that PGA Tour players aren’t playing the same game as amateurs, this is more a commentary on the skill of the professional golfer than amateurs’ desire to play a different game. Part of the fabric of the game is the relationship between the game’s best players and all golfers who play. Today’s amateur golfers maintain the same appetite to emulate the swings of of the world’s greatest players and play America’s greatest courses as ranked by Golf Digest.

2. “Golf participation has matured and the adoption of different sets of rules will allow the game to renew its participation growth."

1990 to 2000 was the most innovative decade in the game’s history, yet during this period, golf participation in the U.S. and Europe flatlined. Golf is a game of the middle class, and golf has a demographic issue. In the Western world, today’s middle class is the same size as in the early 1990s.

3. “Golfers just want to have fun. They do not play by the rules today and the formalization of multiple sets of rules is just sanctioning what is already reality.”

If golfers don’t play by the one set of rules that exist today, why are two sets of rules required? If the argument is that golfers don’t play by the rules and bifurcation will help grow the game, then how will two sets of rules contribute to additional participation? The logic is flawed.

In a passage entitled “Rambling Thoughts” (Scotland’s Gift: Golf), C. B. Macdonald, America’s first rules expert, observed that the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews never attempted to mandate that its rules be forced upon those who played. They simply stated:

“We are going to play the game as it was handed down to us by our forefathers. We will tell you how it was handed down and we will provide you with our interpretation of the rules and endeavor to convey to you all the spirit of the game, but do as you like, much as we desire to see you play the game that has been played for some many centuries in Scotland.”

Today, more than 250 years after the first Rules of Golf were codified, the game is played by 55 million golfers in over 150 different countries. A final C. B. Macdonald quote reinforces why globalization requires unification. It is prescient given that it was written in 1927:

“Golf is a world encircling game. One of its charms is that no matter where you go, whether America, Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe or Scotland, the game is the same, with only such rules as are necessary to govern the local situation.”

History remains a wise and thoughtful teacher.

In the men's championship match of the 2013 Australian Amateur at Commonwealth Golf Club, the two finalists relied on only one equipment brand for each and every shot: Titleist.

Both the winner and runner-up, competing for the year's most prominent individual amateur title, trusted Pro V1x golf balls, Titleist 913 drivers and fairways metals, Titleist irons, Titleist Vokey Design SM4 Spin Milled wedges and Scotty Cameron putters to make their way through the match-play bracket. In addition to the championship, the 2013 Australian Amateur champion receives an exemption into the 2013 Australian Open Championship.

Trailing 5-down to his opponent at various stages, the Winner fought back to win his maiden Australian Amateur title with a 3&2 victory.

“I’m gobsmacked, I can’t even believe I came back from that,” the winner said. “I played some good shots and put him under pressure and holed some putts. I thought if I could him get down the last hole I was in with a shot but turns out I got it done before that which was quite nice. Mum was pretty stoked when I told her, she was just yelling and couldn’t get a word out,”

A total of 177 players in the 216-player starting field teed up Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls at Woodlands Golf Club and Commonwealth Golf Club, more than 8 times the nearest competitor with 20 and four times all competitors combined.

Titleist was also No. 1 across every major golf club category, including: drivers (132); fairway metals/hybrids (145); hybrids (82); iron sets (134); wedges (144 players); and putters (97).

Below is closer look at the Titleist equipment of the 2013 Australian Amateur winner and runner-up.

AUSTRALIAN AMATEUR CHAMPION:

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Driver: Titleist 913D3 10.5° w/ A•1 SureFit Tour Setting (Attas 3 60X)
Fairway wood: Titleist 910F 15°, B•1 Setting (Mitsubishi Diamana Kai'li 70)
Irons: Titleist AP2 3-9 (KBS Tour X)
Wedge: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled SM4 52•08° (KBS Tour X)
Wedge: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled SM4 56•11° (KBS Tour X)
Wedge: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled SM4 60•07° (KBS Tour X)
Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2

AUSTRALIAN AMATEUR RUNNER-UP:

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Driver: Titleist 913D3 9.5° w/ A•1 SureFit Tour Setting (Oban Devotion 70 XX)
Fairway wood: Titleist 910F 15°, A•1 Setting (Mitsubishi Diamana Kai'li 80)
Irons: Titleist MB 3-9 (Project X 7.0)
Wedge: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled SM4 52•08° (Project X 7.0)
Wedge: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled SM4 54•14° (Project X 7.0)
Wedge: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled SM4 60•04° (Project X 7.0)
Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2


Click on Image Above to Launch Slideshow

It's the first stop of the 2013 PGA Tour season on the continental U.S. and a quick look at the Humana Challenge leaderboard (which is currently dominated by red numbers) shows that players already have their games in shape.

And as the official counts come in,Titleist is the overwhelming top choice in golf balls at the Humana Challenge with 106 players in the field of 156 relying upon a Pro V1 or Pro V1x, more than six times the nearest competitor with 16. Titleist was also the favorite in the iron sets (42), sand, lob and approach wedge (160) and putter (57) categories.

Highlighting the golf ball count, a total of 62 players are relying upon a 2013 Pro V1 (11) or Pro V1x (51) prototype as the tour seeding and performance validation process continues.

Check out the slideshow above to go inside the ropes and see what the players including Titleist Brand Ambassadors Geoff Ogilvy, Webb Simpson, Bud Cauley, Kevin Na,  and Patrick Cantlay, among others, were up to early in the week.

Good luck to the field!

This week's event is.....

Click Image Above to Launch Slideshow

Team Titleist EMEA packed up their gear and made the trip to Abu Dhabi Golf Club to catch up with the Titleist Brand Ambassadors and golf ball loyalists in the field for the 2013 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. This tournament marks the start of the three event Desert Swing on the European Tour, and also sets the pace as the Race To Dubai starts in earnest!

And as the players catch their stride in the year long race, Titleist was the overwhelming top choice in golf balls at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship with 75 players of the field of 126 relying upon a Pro V1 or Pro V1x, nearly four times the nearest competitor with 19. Titleist was also the favorite in the sand, lob and approach wedge category with 138, nearly twice the nearest competitor with 70.

A total of 32 Titleist golf ball loyalists relied upon a new 2013 Pro V1 or Pro V1x prototype, including Titleist Brand Ambassadors Matteo ManasseroBernd WiesbergerThomas Levet, Gregory Bourdy, Michael Hoey and Lee Slattery, as well as Titleist golf ball loyalists including major winners Michael Campbell and Todd Hamilton, along with Joost Luiten, Tom Lewis and Gregory Havret.

Check out the slideshow above to take in some of the action from earlier in the week and thanks to Team Titleist EMEA for all of the great images!

There is still dew on the fairways of 2013, but Titleist golf ball loyalist Louis Oosthuizen is in mid-season form. Oosthuizen relied on his new 2013 Pro V1x prototype for a come-from-behind victory at the Volvo Golf Champions in his native South Africa on Sunday. Louis began his final round five shots back, but closed with a joint best of the day 6-under 66, to edge the overnight leader by one stroke.

In the land where palm trees sway, Titleist Brand Ambassador Tim Clark trusted his new 2013 Pro V1 prototype to a final round 9-under 63 and second place finish at the Sony Open in Oahu, Hawaii.

• • •

EUROPEAN: Playing in just his second official event with the new 2013 Pro V1x prototype, Titleist golf ball loyalist Louis Oosthuizen captured the Volvo Golf Champions. He posted a 16-under par 272 victory total which included six birdies in the first 11 holes Sunday.

“After being five down, to make it up after 12 holes, I was really chuffed about that. I just played really well all day.”

The win marked Oosthuizen’s sixth career European Tour title and elevates him to the fourth spot in the Official World Golf Ranking.  Oosthuizen has had seven top-ten finishes in his last eight starts.

He becomes the fifth player to win with a new 2013 Pro V1 or Pro V1x prototype golf ball since the seeding process began last fall, joining Luke Donald (Pro V1x/Dunlop Phoenix), Adam Scott (Pro V1/Australian Masters), Hiroyuki Fujita (Pro V1/Japan Series JT Cup) and Angel Cabrera (Pro V1x/107 Visa Open de Argentina) in the new prototype victory circle.

Titleist was the most played golf ball at the winners-only event, with 17 of the 33 players relying upon a Pro V1 or Pro V1x, more than twice the nearest competitor with seven.  Oosthuizen’s win is the first for Titleist on the 2013 worldwide professional tours.

• • •

PGA: The 2013 PGA TOUR’s first full-field event is in the books from Honolulu where 144 players teed it up at the Sony Open in Hawaii.  Titleist was the overwhelming top choice in golf balls with 103 players relying upon a Pro V1 or Pro V1x, more than six times the nearest competitor with 15. 

A total of 62 Titleist golf ball loyalists relied upon a new 2013 Pro V1 (12) or Pro V1x (50) prototypes, including runner-up and Titleist Brand Ambassador Tim Clark (New Pro V1, 913D3 driver, 913F fairway metal, CB irons, 712U 4-iron, Vokey Design SM4 pitching, sand and lob wedges) and third place finisher Scott Langley (New Pro V1x), who was playing in his first event as a PGA TOUR rookie.  Langley tied for third with fellow Pro V1x loyalist Charles Howell III, as three of the top four finishers relied upon Titleist for their success. Titleist was also the field favorite in sand, lob and approach wedges with 135 and putters with 57.

In addition to the new golf ball, Clark put a new Titleist 913F fairway metal (15.0) and 712U prototype 4-iron in play this week for the first time. The last time TT saw Tim Clark was in Las Vegas in November, where he first put his New Pro V1 in play.

 

 

1
2
3