High Hopes

I won't give up my fight against a rule limiting tee heights
June 18, 2006

I'm mad as hell,and I'm frustrated. The cause of my anguish is the absurd decision made by theUSGA two years ago to limit the length of a tee to four inches. The rule changeforced me to stop using my homemade extra-high tee, thus robbing me of my golfgame--the most important thing in my life after my family.

I was in my late20s when I first played golf. I had trouble hitting my driver, so after a fewyears I experimented by putting a rubber tee on top of an upside-down soda can.With the ball propped eight inches off the ground, my drives began going longand straight, and my handicap plummeted to two.

For 35 yearseverything was great. I played several times a week and, employing my homemadecontraption, competed in amateur events in California, including several U.S.Senior Amateur qualifiers. Along the way I made 14 holes in one, which led tostories in SI and the Santa Barbara News-Press in the late 1990s. I suspectthose articles at least partly inspired the USGA to change the tee-height rule,because virtually no other golfers were using such a tall tee, and all myfriends who have tried the big tee hate it.

But I can't playwithout it. Now I constantly hook my driver, my handicap has ballooned to 13and I'm no longer competitive. Losing my game hurts so much because I'm a69-year-old retired accountant who has only a limited amount of time left toenjoy the sport.

So I've declaredwar on the USGA. Among other things, I've initiated a telephone campaignagainst USGA officials, including David Fay, the executive director, and DavidHayes, the manager of rules education and technology. Nobody has ever given mea concrete explanation as to why the rule was changed, and now no one at theUSGA will take my calls. I've also contacted the ACLU and a private attorney,but they told me that taking on the USGA would be impossible. My last-ditcheffort might be to fly to New Jersey and picket USGA headquarters in Far Hills.I recently called Sgt. Josh Fowler at the Bernards Township police station toget the town's picketing rules.

All of my friendssupport my fight, but I'm not optimistic. The USGA has been cold and mercilessto me, and the organization is under intense pressure to make it look as ifit's trying to thwart technology that appears to provide an unfair advantage,even if that means making meaningless rule changes. (Wouldn't everybody haveused a tall tee if it was such a boon?)

Still, I'm noquitter. I'll fight the USGA as long as I'm alive. I've had a taste of goodgolf, and I want my game back.

TRUST ME

by JAMES P. HERRE

Vijay Singh has always been only as good as hisputting. Watch out, Winged Foot.

New Math
The seniors' Bank of America Championship is canceled due to rain

GRAYBEARDS + FLOODS + TWO BY TWO - AN ARK * FISH INTHE FAIRWAY = TOURNAMENT WASHOUT

PHOTOTODD BIGELOW/AURORA (SPINRAD)KICK THE CAN Spinrad's makeshift tee doesn't conform to USGA rules. SIX PHOTOSSTAN BADZ/WIREIMAGE.COM (STADLER); CORBIS (WAVE); DAVID WALBERG (PAIR); PHOTOFEST (ARK); HUNTER MARTIN/WIREIMAGE.COM (FAIRWAY, SCOREBOARD)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)