Lunch with Barney Adams, and bifurcation

About once a year I have a chance to have lunch with Barney Adams, the guy who founded Adams Golf and the driving force behind the concept of Tee It Forward. Barney is one of the smartest guys in the golf world, mostly because he just applies common sense to the issues everyone else in the golf world frets about.

Somehow the conversation Tuesday at Keedy’s in Palm Desert moved around to the anchored putter and bifurcation, or the creation of a separate set of rules for touring professionals and recreational players. Most authorities in the game are against the anchoring putting stroke and strongly against the idea of two sets of rules. Adams is in favor of both, and naturally he has his reasons.

Barney Adams (file photo)

As for the proposed anchored putting ban, Adams blames not the USGA, but the R and A. He believes the USGA just kind of went along with the R and A, which has long wanted the ban because R and A officials believe the long putter is unseemly. Adams likes the idea that the club can make things a little easier for recreational player and wonders who the ban is coming now when the long putter can be traced back more than 80 years. He also doesn’t belileve the anchored putting truly makes a big difference in putting statistics.

As for bifurcation, Adams’ common sense approach tells him that there are already two sets of rules for golf. There is the set of rules that Tiger and Phil and Rory play by every weekend on your television, and there is what the average golf plays by in their weekly game at the club or when they get out to a daily fee course.

Did you ride in a cart in your last round? Tiger and Phil can’t do that in the entertainment business of the PGA Tour. Did you hole out ever putt in your last round, or did one of your partners slap back a two-footer you faced, saying “that’s good”?

Did you perhaps violate a rule on a water hazard because you didn’t actually know the options of a hazard, or a lateral hazard? Did someone in your group hit a ball in the rough, only to discover the ball was really out of bounds, and then just drop a ball? The rule is stroke and distance, you know?

And after perhaps violating the letter of the law once or twice in your round, did you post you score for official USGA handicap purposes??

Adams doesn’t look at these little violations of the Rules of Golf as moral sins, just as the way recreational golfers play the game in the real world. And the real world has nothing to do with the tiny, tiny group of golfers who play on the PGA Tour. So if we aren’t going to overhaul the recreational game to make sure every golfer holes out ever one-foot putt or passes a water hazard rules test before teeing off, then we essentially do have two sets of rules, Adams proposes. And why are we banning recreational golfers fro the anchored putter if there are already, in essence, two sets of rules?

It’s kind of interesting to think about it in those terms.