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Our Opinion: USGA's Hits Home Run in Benching Palmer

By Staff

Golf needs Arnold Palmer. But his decision to endorse illegal and trick equipment is reprehensible given the magnitude of his reputation. The USGA reminds Palmer that he is not above the rules.

The rules of golf apparently do not mean much to Arnold Palmer.

And to Palmer, his business relationship with Callaway and his desire to make a buck, mean more than the long-established rules of golf.

Palmer's endorsement of Callaway's non-conforming ERC II driver put a black eye on the game of golf and Palmer himself. It's sad a man who has a sterling reputation would be so far in the rough to endorse equipment that has been determined by the United States Golf Association as illegal.

Shame on you Arnold. And kudos to the United States Golf Association.

USGA president Trey Holland boldly stood up for his association and the game by removing Palmer from his 25-year association as honorary chairperson of the organization's membership program. Holland effectively said "the rules do matter." Palmer, 71, began an alliance last fall with Callaway Golf and attached his name to the ERC II, which exceeds the USGA's allowance for "spring-like effect." The USGA has decreed the club illegal for competition or to post scores for determining an official handicap.

Palmer's endorsement and decision to put his name next to the ERC II is reprehensible given the magnitude of his reputation and what he has meant to the game. Few have done more for their sport than the friendly, gregarious old gentleman.

More than a great golfer, he has been the greatest and classiest ambassador golf has ever had. As one of most significant figures in golf history, it is Palmer's responsibility to encourage golfers of all skills to uphold the game's rules and procedures. It is his responsibility to encourage golfers to aspire to achieve great scores within the rules of golf, not through the use of cheap, trick equipment from manufacturers whose priority is increasing corporate earnings.

Thankfully, Holland and the USGA stood up for the game decisively and courageously and told Palmer that he needs to re-think his endorsements.

Golf was around long before Arnold Palmer or Eli Callaway. The game will be around long afterwards. Golf has been successful because its rules are considered sacred and because there is a governing board to enforce those rules. Palmer has a magnificent reputation and presence that is enjoyed by few in sports.

Palmer and Callaway have demonstrated a reckless arrogance and regard for the rules of golf and the USGA by even considering endorsing an illegal club. Palmer's actions lead one to believe that he thinks he is bigger than the game that made him so successful.

No golfer is bigger than the game. And the USGA has every right to determine its standards for equipment. If they do not enforce standards for clubs, then handicaps and golf courses will lose relevancy.

Fortunately, the USGA has stood their ground.

If it really is okay to use illegal golf clubs, then why not souped up golf balls that go a mile? Since the rules don't matter, why have a limit on golf clubs in the bag? Why not a mulligan or two for recreational golfers?

The USGA needs Arnold Palmer in its organization. Golf needs Arnold Palmer. Arnold Palmer needs to end his association with illegal equipment and follow the rules.


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