LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Cristie Kerr, one of the game’s best putters, doesn’t believe players will leave the flagstick in the hole too much at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions.
“These pins this week,” she said, “they’re super thick.”
Unless she’s some 70 feet out, don’t expect Kerr to leave the flag in while putting anywhere this season. Lydia Ko figured it’d be a good idea to follow Kerr’s lead, given her putting prowess.
“I have heard that some players will use a flagstick depending on a few things,” said LPGA official Pete Lis. “The size of diameter, because they don’t necessarily have to be a certain diameter, what the flagstick is made out of, whether it’s made out of fiberglass or it’s made out of metal. So with respect to is the ball going to ricochet off of it, or is it going to deaden the blow once it hits it?”
The changes in the Rules of Golf have been in process for quite some time, but that doesn’t mean everyone is prepared. In an effort to be proactive, the LPGA has offered webinars, a dedicated email address for questions and, beginning on Wednesday at the TOC, rules officials on the practice grounds to answer questions on pro-am days. Caddies have been relaying players’ questions as the boss warms up.
“There’s so many rules changes,” noted Lexi Thompson. “I’ve got to read them all. I’ve got to just ask before I do anything.”
To that end, the LPGA has extra officials on site this week as well as Kathryn Belanger from the USGA. At the Australian Open, Grant Moir from the R&A will be on hand to assist.
Hot topics of so far include dropping the ball at knee-height and players no longer being able to use caddies to line them up.
“The no lining up is the greatest change in all the rules,” said Stacy Lewis.
Lincicome has long used a caddie to line her up. When asked if she had practiced without that particular assistance, she noted that she plays every day of her life at home without it.
“It’s going to be fine,” said Lincicome. “I think it was just, you know how everybody has their kind of trigger in what makes them, like their pre-shot routine, I guess.”
That was her trigger. Now she’ll have to find a new one.
If someone on tour gets lined up out of habit, there will be no backing out to avoid the two-stroke penalty.
“It’s not a correctable error,” said Lis.
Players at Tranquilo have been practicing the new drop technique from knee height. While it looks odd, Lis said it was done in tandem with the relief area moving from one club length rather than two. Now when a ball is dropped, it cannot roll outside of a club length. Also, the measuring club that’s used now must be the longest club in the bag (with the exception of a long putter).
Ariya Jutanugarn delivered the line of the week so far on the new rules, joking that Moriya night have an advantage when it comes to the new drop technique.
“I’m OK about that, but I feel like my sister is going to be cheating,” said Ariya. “Her knees are low. Like, Mo, don’t be cheating. Don’t go too low.”