Jack Nicklaus on the USGA rules change he likes, and one he thinks will be reversed

May 30, 2019

Welcome to You Don’t Know Jack, a five-part GOLF.com series in which — in a nod to the Memorial Tournament, being played this week at Jack’s place, Muirfield Village GC — we’re bringing you a daily dose of something you (most likely!) didn’t know about Jack Nicklaus.

The revised Rules of Golf that rolled out on Jan. 1, 2019, were a hot topic in the first months of the season. Knee-high drops! Pin-in putting! The list goes on and on.

It’s only May, but some of that chatter has already cooled down as players — and amateurs — have gotten used to the new set of rules. Although reviews are still coming in. Just two weeks ago at the PGA Championship, Phil Mickelson said the new rule which allows players to repair spike marks and other damage to the greens has paid off big time.

“Huge difference,” Mickelson said. “I think with greens as fast as these are, any type of imperfection or bump or whatever is really brought out, and to be able to smooth them out and fix those, I think makes a big difference, especially inside four or five feet. You don’t really do much outside of 20 feet because you can’t see them all, but I think it’s really helped with the short putts and I think it’s made for the afternoon rounds to have a much better or less disadvantage.”

Mickelson isn’t alone. Jack Nicklaus is a fan of that change, too. Nicklaus signaled out that revision among the ones he liked in the June issue of GOLF Magazine, in which he was a guest editor.

“We don’t really have spike marks anymore, just the odd blemish,” he said. “If we could’ve done that when I was playing, you’d have spent half your day tamping down spike marks.”

As for the one he’s not a fan of, Nicklaus isn’t alone. The knee-high drop rule was one of the most criticized changes. Bryson DeChambeau, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler were among the marquee players who voiced their displeasure with the rule.

“I think they’ll change the drop-it-from-knee-height rule,” Nicklaus said. “It looks silly. How about ‘Anywhere between the knee and the waist'”?

We’ll have to wait to find out whether or not Nicklaus’ prediction comes true. For now, it’s just one more change we’ll try to get used to.

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