On April 5th, I submitted to the USGA the content of the Northeast Ohio Golf story posted as An Easy Fix to the Lexi Melodrama.

Last Friday, a reply came back.

Ben Schade, the Rules of Golf Associate with the USGA, thanked me for my email, said he appreciated my offering thoughts on the topic, then offered some reasons why continuous putting was not a good idea.

I wish I could post exactly what Mr. Schade emailed back to me in response, but he won’t let me. The bottom of his email response said the following:

“This response is for your personal information and may not be posted or disclosed by email or internet posting.”

I emailed Mr. Schade back and asked him to grant consent to post his reply to NEOHgolf.com, saying that posting a detailed conversation like the one we are having benefits the game by gaining additional thoughts and perspectives from others who might read our discussion and weigh in.

He thanked me for asking permission in follow-up, but then reiterated that I could share the information but not “distribute the content of this email widely or through a website”.

While there is no legal standing for such a request, as a professional courtesy I will comply. So the following is a recap of the USGA’s response, instead of the actual response:

Mr. Schade said continuous putting was discussed as an option for the 2019 Rules Modernization plan, but was not included because of “complications”.

The first complication he referenced was that a continuous putting rule would have to be different for stroke play and match play, because order of play is inherent to the strategy of match play.

The second complication was that waiting for a player who missed a putt to go through his “whole routine again” would actually slow play down.

Then he said that the other recommendations included in the new Rule 5 were a better way to speed pace of play than the concept of continuous putting.

To me, these answers so widely missed the mark of the suggestions made in the original story that I had to respond:

 
Thank you for the reply, Ben.

Bettering the pace of play is simply a side benefit to the concept of continuous putting.

The primary reason for continuous putting: the elimination of multiple markings of the golf ball on the green where such markings can lead to “discussions” (accusations?).

Said marking sparked the issue behind the Lexi Thompson rules melodrama.

If continuous putting were the rule already, Lexi would have finished putting to completion and would not have had the ability to mark, thus eliminating the potential for any question and the 4-shot penalty she received.

Also, I do not agree with the assessment that a continuous putting rule would need to be different between stroke play and match play; in fact, it should NOT be different. I do agree that “order of play” in match play can be a factor in strategy, but it is just one factor. In the end, the successful execution of shots trumps strategy, all day every day.

(And candidly, many times the over-thinking of “strategy” leads to additional slow play.)

Finally, I disagree that “waiting for the player who missed to go through his whole routine again … would slow down play.” Ending all of the re-marking/re-aligning nonsense within that routine is the key! The part of putting “routines” that take up sooooooo much time is re-aligning a line marked on a ball. Since touching the ball again after the first putt would be illegal, such a rule clearly would speed the pace of play, not slow it down. The other competitors in the group could still prepare for their turn putting during the time the first player holes out.

So in closing, I hope the USGA will give full consideration to adding a continuous putting rule in 2019, as the reasons for continuous putting far outweigh the arguments you have listed here against it.

 

Agree with Mr. Schade?

Agree with me?

Have your own thoughts?

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