"It's okay for recreational golfers to use non-conforming clubs."
Say it ain't so, Arnie. When golf's majors needed a shot in the arm you shot 65 in the final round and won the U.S. Open at Cherry Hills. When golf needed a leading man on television, you were its Clarke Gable. Whenever the game needed someone to remind its army of golfers of the importance of playing by the Rules, you were our most passionate spokesperson.
So why now, when the game, the USGA, and your fellow golfers need your leadership, have you suddenly taken this position? The recent announcement by a major manufacturer that it would sell non-conforming clubs was not surprising, but the decision by Palmer who recently signed an endorsement agreement with the company to support this position was a major disappointment.
Palmer has talked repeatedly about the need to respect golf's traditions and the importance of everyone playing by the same set of Rules and even enforce those Rules on themselves. For him to now state that recreational golfers don't have to abide by all the Rules is not only disappointing, it's wrong.
As I have stated before, golf needs a strong independent organization to establish reasonable equipment standards. If left unchecked, technological advances could undermine the principle reason we play golf? The challenge and if advancing technology leads to the construction of longer golf courses, golf's two biggest problems, cost and slow play, will only grow worse.
The solution is simple: Golf needs someone to draw the line on clubs and balls. Golf needs the USGA.
The line we don't need is one that attempts to say which group of golfers the Rules apply to. It doesn't matter if it's the U.S. Open, the Met Open or two guys just playing a dollar Nassau; golfers expect their fellow golfers to play by the same set of Rules. This fundamental principle has existed since the first set of Rules was drawn up in Scotland in 1744. Any action that threatens it could start to unravel the unique aspects of the sport that attracts us to it.
So the MGA (and The Met Golfer) will continue to work with our member clubs to be sure that all golfers play by the Rules, use only conforming balls and clubs for all club events and for scores posted for handicap purposes. It's not simply a question of supporting the USGA; it's the right thing to do for the game of golf.