It was the summer of 1966 and the legendary Sam Snead had come down with a case of the “yips.”
Nothing in golf is more dreadful than trembling hands that cause putts to roll astray. But when Snead found a simple cure — standing astride the ball as if playing croquet — officials quickly banned the technique.
“The history of the game cries out that you play it from one side of the ball,” Joseph Dey Jr., head of the U.S. Golf Assn., said at the time.
Golf is nothing if not protective of its traditions. The Snead rule is but one example of the sport’s rule-makers attempting to ward off change.
They have fought golf balls designed to fly straighter and clubs built to hit longer. The latest threat comes in the form of extra-long putters that golfers can anchor against their bellies or chests for stability.