It’s a phrase that gets bandied about – but what is bifurcation in golf?
Bifurcation in golf
Let’s start with the formal definition: ‘To divide into two separate parts.’ Pretty simple, but how does this relate to our wonderful game?
For years the governing bodies, The R&A and USGA, have been working on the distance insights project and looking into if they should change the equipment rules due to pros hitting the ball so far and ever-increasing ball speeds.
When we look at the increases in driving distances in golf it is the professionals and elite amateurs that are gaining the most distance and the quickest. It is not often your average club golfer slogs a drive 300+ yards down the fairway but this is a frequent occurrence on professional tours around the world.
So why should the average golfer have to suffer and use dialled-back equipment which would reduce their hitting distance, which many argue would decrease their enjoyment.
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Many people believe the solution is to have separate sets of rules for professionals and amateurs. This would mean there would be no changes to your equipment, and you can continue to rip it round your home course in 85. The pros, however would then use dialled-back equipment to reduce hitting distance because apparently, no one wants to see Bryson Dechambeau bombing it 350 yards.
It’s important to know at no point in the R&A report do they mention bifurcation, or suggest it is the correct solution, it is just a popular topic amongst golfers.
The most popular idea for bifurcation in golf is to have two separate golf balls. This makes the most logical sense as it means people transitioning from the amateur to professional game wouldn’t have to completely replace all their golf clubs to meet different requirements. They could simply swap to the new ball which you have to re-purchased on a regular basis anyway.
Those who are against bifurcation argue it would be a disadvantage to aspiring amateurs who want to turn pro. Do they take the risk of using the pro ball early but risk not performing as well on the amateur stage. Or do they wait until they turn pro and have to take time to adjust to the new ball? It could certainly result in players breaking onto the tour and winning in their first few events, as Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa did in 2019.
Another problem is lots of amateurs love to use the same equipment as the pros. Would the game have the same buy-in from them if they feel they can no longer relate to the stars they look up to? There is also the argument that fans want to see pros hit it far, watching DJ hit it 300+ is far more entertaining than him hitting it 250, is it not?
So what are your thoughts on bifurcation? Does it have a place in golf? If you have any more questions, you can tweet me.
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