The Non-Conforming Rule Book for Recreational Golfers
January 1, 2021
"Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated." – Arnold Palmer
Twenty years ago, Arnold Palmer shocked the golfing world when he endorsed the idea that recreational golfers should worry less about playing USGA-conforming clubs and focus more on enjoying the sport. Although the former U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur champion had long been a staunch supporter of strict adherence to USGA protocol, he was severely criticized by purists for suggesting anyone cheat at golf. Palmer’s newfound position also shocked the United States Golf Association, but it is important to understand that Arnie and many of his loyal followers (Arnie’s Army) were turning seventy.
So, was this the case of an aging golf super star losing touch with game?
Not likely, five years earlier Palmer had partnered with media entrepreneur Joseph Gibbs to launch a subscription network devoted to providing the nation’s first 24-hour television coverage of a single sport… The Golf Channel. Conversely, he was at the top of his business game and was one of the first to notice how big the business of golf had become. What Arnie saw was the rise of recreational golf in America and the need to relax the rules in favor of making golf more fun for all. Palmer told The Golf Channel’s chairman, Peter Kessler, in a live interview that he was not recommending anyone use non-conforming clubs in competition, and it was hurtful that people would ever think he would tolerate cheating.
Applying Advanced Technology
At the center of Palmer’s controversial position was his aggressive promotion of a thin-faced driver with a springy face. It was Callaway’s first attempt to manufacture a non-conforming club specifically for the recreational golfer. Although the club was illegal to use in USGA-sanctioned tournament events, Palmer thought it unfair at the time to deprive millions of recreational golfers of the advanced technology that could improve their experience. Moreover, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club (RA) would split with the USGA by not making the rebound effect a measurable standard. After all, there was a new generation of golfer who might play often but likely would never tee it up in tournament play. Nonetheless, arguments over what would become known as the “trampoline effect” continued.
While golf purist will always see non-conforming equipment as taboo, ensuring weekend players enjoy their round of golf could be equally as important for the future of the sport. Non-conforming drivers can offer a more-forgiving launch, but for the most part, are built using the USGA specifications. Most important, after two decades of recreational rule bending, the game has not gone to hell in a handbasket. In fact, most rounds of local play include other USGA non-conforming concepts like the mulligan or the four-foot give-me. Yes, Palmer profited from the business of golf, but he was one who could personally understand how a golfer might treasure hitting out-of-date steel shafts, blades, and persimmon heads for a nostalgic round. That’s why he felt everyday golf should be a recreational activity, while USGA-sanctioned events remain commercial competitions.
Building Your Custom Fitted Club
Since the earliest days of golf, the goal of clubmakers has been to build a driver that it is easier and more fun to hit. That’s why KRANK GOLF decided it was time to make distance and accuracy more attainable for all golfers, including USGA-conforming clubs for World Long Drive Champions like Justin James and Heather Lynne Manfredda. However, if you believe the game played by Tiger Woods has little in common with the game you play, a custom-fitted driver with active-face technology can make the course feel shorter and make the sport of golf a lot more fun to play. Adding an extra 20-40 yards off the tee box and playing in the fairway really is a big deal when your swing speed is 60, 70, 80, 90 MPH.
For over 17 years KRANK GOLF has been developing and refining the art of club design. We were born in the Sport of Long Drive out of our passion to smash golf balls as far as possible. Now, we have grown to fully understand what it takes to build a driver that performs at given swing speeds. The simple truth is many golfers, especially older golfers just want to enjoy the game and have more fun. The reason this driver in non-conforming is because the spring effect of the face of the driver far exceeds what the USGA allows for tournament play. If your swing speed is under 110 MPH, and you want to absolutely maximize distance off the tee box and don't care if the driver you hit conforms to USGA rules for spring effect, the Formula 11 High-COR driver is for you.
Optimal Distance and Accuracy Off the Tee
For golfers who enjoy the exercise, the scenery, and the opportunity to socialize with other golfers, there is no reason not to take full advantage of golf technology. After all, a custom fitted driver can help players at all levels shoot better scores whether they choose to swing conforming or non-conforming clubs. Non-conforming club designs exist to allow golfers, who are either not interested in tournament play or not ready for tournament play, to take advantage of the latest golf technology. Plus, non-conforming clubs are a natural gateway that offers potential for the recreational golfer to grow into traditional conforming designs. Playing golf with your friends and qualifying for the U.S. Open are not the same and should not be connected. For most foursomes, golfers decide on the rules at the first tee; and this is “as cast in stone” as enjoying a round of golf needs to be.
Photo credit Debby Wong