I play solo all the time and recently sent the following letter to the USGA regarding Rule 5.1. No response. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Dear USGA Senior Managing Director Bodenhamer and Senior Rules Director Pagel:
It is with great sadness that I write you today.
My father taught me the game of golf when I was 13 years old. I played junior golf, collegiate golf, and senior golf in California, Maryland and now in my home state of Idaho. I am 60 years old with a handicap index of 2.6 and have played thousands of rounds on over 150 courses during my lifetime. I have been a USGA member for many, many years. My golfing now consists of very early morning, casual solo rounds on the weekends. I play the ball down, count every stroke and follow the Rules of Golf. My rounds are routinely completed in two hours or less. I very much enjoy the solitude of my early morning rounds. At the end of my round I faithfully post my score. I am proud of my handicap. And while I play alone, I have never been accused of cheating by the higher authority that regularly accompanies me throughout my rounds. Apparently, that is does not sit well with the USGA because it is now implementing a new rule to judge and control the casual solo golfer who desires to maintain a handicap.
With the USGA's adoption of new Rule 5.1 (requiring a peer review process for verification of a solo round for purposes of handicap posting) it is abundantly clear that the USGA has officially lost its way. The USGA Mission Statement says, in part, "It acts in the best interest of the game for the continued enjoyment of those who love and play it". I don't think so and here is why.
New Rule 5.1 appears to establish a silly and unnecessary process for solo golfers to post a score. More importantly, the USGA insinuates that we solo players are now cheaters. There is no way around that perspective. I must sheepishly follow the new rule process if I want to establish or maintain a handicap. Comply and post and I'll be fine. I can no longer simply play, quickly post (most often online) and go home. Frankly, it is unclear to me at this point if I can even maintain a handicap under the new rule as a solo golfer. News Flash: the vast majority of solo golfers who maintain handicaps are not cheaters and don't care about formal competition - regardless of the desire to establish that handicap. Having played the game for 47 years and supported the USGA through membership for most of that time it hurts me deeply to feel that the once reputable USGA no longer trusts me.
I wish I could congratulate the USGA for its fine work and betterment of the game. Unfortunately, I can't. Instead I must admonish it for contradicting its mission statement by unnecessarily changing the game to the detriment of the casual solo golfer. And it did so during a time when the game is largely stagnant and struggling to find relevance with the younger generation. Well played, USGA.
In closing, I share a couple of song titles for your reflection: Bob Hope's "Thanks for the Memories" and Don Merideth's famous Monday Night Football serenade, "Turn out the Lights, the Party's Over".
Regrettably, our decades-long relationship is over. I wish you and the USGA the best in the future.
Idaho Golf Association Number xxxxxxxx