“If I had my way, every golf green would be made into a huge funnel. You hit the funnel and the ball would roll down a pipe into the hole. I’ve always considered that golf is one game and putting another.” — Ben Hogan, after missing the cut at the 1957 Masters.

If you are a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs football team, or a fan anywhere but New England, you are probably screaming for a rule change regarding overtime in professional football. The Patriots won a coin toss and were able to score, ending the championship game. This was done without the Kansas City offense ever having the opportunity to touch the ball. Only at the professional level does this overtime rule exist.

Professional sports often play their game under a different set of rules. In baseball, the professional game is played with wooden bats, while others use aluminum. Basketball has three point circles that vary depending on the level of play. In golf, we feel that we are playing by the same rules as the professional game, but we are fooling ourselves.

Bifurcation is defined as “the division of something into two branches or parts.” A river breaking into a tributary is an example.

In golf, we have been playing by a single set of rules. The USGA and R&A are moving toward a split in the rules: one for the professional and top amateurs, and one for us, the majority of golfers.

The 2019 rule changes started the move to break into two classifications. Amateurs are given an option when hitting a ball out of bounds. You can hit a second ball from the tee or take a drop where the ball went out. The professional players do not have that option. The professionals need to hit their second ball from the spot where the ball was struck. The big issue in a separation of rules lies not in the rules but in the equipment — more to the point: the golf ball.

Golf is the only sport where the participants play with different balls. The characteristics of the golf ball (if you believe the marketing gurus) are designed for the ability of the player. The talent level between the best players in the game and the majority of golfers is not even close. The average pro drive is 294 yards. A player who is a “scratch” to 5 handicap hits the ball on average 250 yards. A 6-10 handicap hits around 231 yards. Ten-19 handicaps hit at 215 yards and 20-28 handicaps at 195 yards.

Age is also a factor: Twenty-to-30-year-olds hit on average 238 yards; ages 30-40 hit about 231 yards; ages 40-50 hit about 220 yards; ages 50-60 hit about 211 yards; and 60 and over hit an average of 196 yards. (Stats are from Game Golf Live, a real-time tracking system).

Players from Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods to Dustin Johnson have voiced concerns as to the distances the current balls carry and how it is affecting the game. This is not a new concern but is a serious conversation among the USGA and R&A.

The pro player and top amateurs will be using a ball designed to carry a maximum distance (300 yards is the number being used). This will put more of a focus on shot-making and course management. The power game will be reeled back.

The average golfer will be allowed to use the ball that is currently in play. This change will continue plotting a course by creating two sets of rules: one set for the top players and the other for the majority.

Many golfers feel the game they are playing is the same as the pros. This is not even a debatable subject. Our talent, the conditions and local rules under which we play change the nature of the game. Where we might have an advantage is that we are enjoying the game more. So be prepared for changes in the game that separate golf at the highest level from that played by most at courses around the world. Bifurcation in golf is not far away.

Club notes

North Conway Country Club, 50 Norcross Circle, North Conway, (603) 356-9391: Week 2 of the Thursday Ledgeview League saw Buddy’s Boys take first gross. The Rivers Edge team was first net. Closest to the pin winners were Doug Dugrenier and Mo Garrette. The standings have the Salty Dogs and Rusty Nailers in first place, followed by Sub Par and Not About the Golf teams. Week 3 of the Monday League saw the Golfaholics take first gross. The Putt Up or Shut Up team took first net. Mike Simoni got closest to the pin for the men. The ladies have a carry-over. I Like Bug Putts is leading in the standings, followed by the Teezers, with a tie for third between The Golden Tees and Golfaholics. This weekend the Member/Member will be played Sunday. A reminder: Wednesday evenings music is played in the Ledgeview Grill. An appetizer menu is available.

Wentworth Golf Course, Route 16, Jackson, (603) 383-9641: Week 3 of Red Fox League saw the Oak Lee Boys post low score for the night, followed by Shanks-A-Lot and Divots and Drivers. Jeremiah Donaldson and Lisa Baughn won long putt contest. On Wednesday, Wentworth will host the Kennett Kickoff from 5-7 p.m. Free hot dogs and hamburgers will be served for any middle school or high school students from Kennett that attend. Wentworth will be promoting the summer discount for the kids and playing opportunities for those that might want to experience friendly competition. PGA Pro Bob McGraw will be offering free tips during an on-course clinic to those who attend. In addition, a putting course will be set up to challenge the students. Saturday at 11 a.m. Bob is offering a chipping and pitching clinic. The class is limited to six students, and the fee is $20 per student. Call (603) 383-9641 to sign up.

Hale’s Location Golf Course, West Side Road, North Conway, (603) 356-2140: Men’s and women’s leagues started this week. With a nice increase in participation, the women had a shotgun start. Leading the way in quota points was Mary Murphy who also got closest to the pin. For the men, it was Dave Pierce leading the way. He was followed by Bill Earle and Joe Rubino. Bill also got closest to the pin. Spring golf rates remain the same Mondays through Thursdays at $32 for nine holes and $42 for 18. Weekend rates are now $42 for nine holes and $59 for 18. Both rates include the use of a cart. Nine, Wine, and Dine has returned. For $65 plus tax, you get nine holes of golf with a cart, a full dinner, dessert and a wine or beer. Reservations can be made online at haleslocationgolf.com or by calling (603) 356-2140. Reservations made online do not include a cart.

Eagle Mountain Golf Course, Carter Notch Road, (603) 383-9090: Week 3 of Don Ho action saw a two-way tie for the top spot. With 6.5 points, the Bud Buggy team and the Pin High team set the pace at the Jackson 9. Thursday Eagle League winners were Russ and Ellie Veale, Mike Peloquin, Lori Babine, Terry Fitzgerald and Dan Andrews. Terry got closest to the pin honors. To work on your game and the skills necessary to be successful in the 19th hole, check out the ad in the paper. For $12 you get a bucket of range balls and a beer. We can never practice enough. The Jackie Butler Memorial Golf Tournament is June 16. Registration is at 8:30 a.m. and there is a shotgun start at 9:30. Call pro shop for more information.

Lake Kezar Country Club, Route 5, Lovell, Maine, (207) 925-2462: Golf is in full swing at the Lovell 18. The pro shop is now open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. The Mixed Scotch Doubles format started this week. The Tuesday Morning Social League is off and running. In Week 1 action, the team of Dick Trapani, George Basset, Ron Ela and John McInerny took first place. If you would like to play, a sign-up sheet is in the clubhouse. These are four-man teams with a different format each week. A shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. gets things going. The cost is a $10 initiation fee and weekly dues of $8. A weekly commitment is not necessary. For information, call Dick Trapani at (207) 256-0080. June 16, Lake Kezar CC will host the Jim Hadlock Tournament. Find out more at the clubhouse.

Indian Mound Golf Club, Route 16B, Ossipee, (603) 539-7733: Player-friendly 18-hole golf course with a relatively level front 9 and gentle rolling terrain back 9. They have one of the largest selection of golf equipment in the Mount Washington Valley. Their selection of drivers, fairway woods, hybrids, wedges and putters features brands that include Ping, Titleist, Cobra, Callaway, Cleveland, to name a few. You can even demo equipment or visit them during one of the several demo days we host. Indian Mound Golf Club offers instruction for all levels of the game. Whether you are an accomplished player or new to the game, the professional staff will 2assist you at accomplishing your golfing goals. Our staff takes pride in offering a personal touch to their lessons. They will also tailor any individual lesson, playing lesson, or group lesson to meet the needs of their guests. Indian Mound also offers a selection of group clinics.

Omni Mt. Washington Golf Course, Route 302, Bretton Woods, (603) 278-8989: The course will host the BW Memorial Golf Tournament on June 23t. This is an 18-hole scramble to benefit Omni Hotels’ “Say Goodnight to Hunger” campaign. Check out the Wednesday Men’s Twilight League and the Ladies 9 and Wine Social on Thursdays. Go to brettonwoods.com/golfcard. A Preferred Golfer Card is available for $179 at the same website.

Linderhof Country Club, 10 Club House Road, Bartlett, (603-9074): Playing under great conditions, the Black Fly Open kicked off with a Yellow Ball Scramble. The team of Frank Conway, Kevin Soraghan and John Cahill took home the honors. A pre-season rate is available for non-members at $20 per player for unlimited golf. The Twilight League will begin July 11. Players can complete their round anytime Thursday afternoon and get their score card in for prizes and drawings. There will be hor d’oeuvres and live music from 5:30- 6:30 p.m. During the spring season, the clubhouse is open for limited hours. No tee times required. Just sign in and put your greens fees in the cash box. The club is still booking private tournaments and catered events. Call Jono at (603) 383-9074 or the House Chair, Paul, at (603) 387-7737.

19th Hole

One of the great perks golf offers is the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life — people whose occupation you would never encounter except for the common thread of loving golf.

What singer/songwriter/golfer do you think wrote the words to this song? “I’m gonna grow my hair down to my feet so strange/So I look like a mountain range/And I’m gonna ride into Omaha on a horse/Out to the country club and the golf course/Carry The New York Times, shoot a few holes, blow their minds.”

Bob Dylan is the writer and carries a 17 handicap. Dylan loves the game of golf. Maybe he was thinking about the game when writing “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

Hopefully you run into someone new and interesting during your next round. Have a great weekend!

Joe Soraghan may be reached at joesoraghan@yahoo.com.

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