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December 19, 2012

Ping unveils plan to make equipment a factor in golfers' handicaps

Posted at 12:15 PM by Golf.com | Categories: Ping

Should a player who uses an antiquated persimmon driver to shoot an 80 have a lower handicap than a golfer who shoots the same score on the same course with a modern driver? Ping CEO John Solheim says yes, and he has applied for a patent on a handicapping system that would account for a golfer's equipment in addition to scores and course conditions. Here's the release from Ping:

PHOENIX (Dec. 19, 2012) – PING Chairman & CEO John Solheim announced today he’s applied for a patent that uses an equipment rating formula as a factor in calculating a golfer’s handicap. The pursuit of the patent, according to Solheim, is to ensure amateur golfers who want more options in playing the game have another choice allowing them to do so in a globally available format.

“The tone coming from the USGA and R&A in recent years suggests another significant equipment rollback may not be far away,” said Solheim, who applied for the patent in June of 2011. “We’ve already seen it with the groove rule and the proposed rule banning anchoring. We continue to hear whispers of more changes.  But as we’re also reading on the proposed anchoring ban, many directly involved in the game favor more equipment options, not fewer. I’m looking for ways to keep the game enjoyable for every level of golfer.”

The patent application details numerous scenarios in which equipment could be rated (balls that go varying distances, for example) and are also factored in with current variables, such as the challenge presented by each individual course.   Solheim suggests the expanded equipment options could be approved as “Conditions of Competition” so the new method of handicapping could exist within the current set of rules.

“One of the goals of this concept is to get people thinking outside the “traditional” box that seems to have been built around golf – due primarily to the influence of the professional game,” said Solheim. “This alternative approach to handicapping gives golfers the options to play and enjoy the game with the goal of keeping one set of rules. All of us who are part of this industry need to be looking forward to ensure the game grows in both appeal and participation. This is just one example of things we should be considering.”

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