Subject: Napster vs. ERC
Date: 3/09/01 8:23:28 AM Pacific Standard Time
Dear Mr. Limbaugh:
After listening to some of your comments regarding Napster this week and those addressing the ERC Driver issues a couple of weeks ago; there are some interesting parallels. It is clear that technology is outstripping the boundaries of both copyright laws and golf course design parameters.
Your cogent points regarding the copyright protection of your content and your advertisers are admirable and wellmade. Your analogy relating to bank robbery is good, but what about your use of an ERC Driver during friendly games with your buddies?
Unless I miss my guess, your enthusiasm for golf is accompanied by a desire to abide by the rules. While I dont pretend to know them all, I think your use of the ERC invalidates your handicap. A participant in the USGA Handicap System is required to post all scores. As an honor based system in what is generally an honorable game, the exclusion of rounds played with an ERC precludes the user from having a true handicap.
After considerable though and conbversations, I must admit that I come down in the Eli Callaway/Arnold Palmer/Rush Limbaugh camp in disagreeing with the stance taken by the USGA: but until the USGA recognizes that technology cannot be ignored and their stance is untenable, the rules are the rules. This begs the question of your stance on Napster and your efforts to protect your content along with those involved in producing copyrighted material and how that relates to your use of the ERC.
The ultimate irony of the ERC controversy is that the ERC presumably would lower scores and help the USGA divine lower handicaps. Just as Napsterlike technology adopted by the record companies (I date myself) would allow me to burn compilation CDs at a lower cost than buying 15 Metallica or Eminem CDs, the recording industry has let technology get way ahead. The USGA also has a conflicted history in light of its early acceptance of steel shaft technology years ahead of the R & A. Maybe the USGA should hire David Boies due to his uncanny ability to speak on both sides of any issue including, but not limited to Microsoft, Napster and election law.
As a market researcher by training and a golf business consultant by trade, there are other ironies and parallels at work as well. The number of golfers with a USGA Handicap only comprise 10% - 15% of the total golfers in the US. Even with that minority participation the USGA does serve to define how the game should be played for all. Without the USGA and its attempts to provide framework for the game, golf would risk the anarchy of unlimited mulligans, eight foot gimmes and balls flying into foursomes still putting out. How similar is that to the fact that 20% of the registered voters subjected us to 8 years of Bill Clinton and at the same time a similar minority gives us the potential to recover the dignity we lost over the next 4 years. Whether it is the USGA or our political system, they may be flawed, but they need to be protected; as is indicated by your stance on Napster and a lot of other issues.
With that type of golf and governmental anarchy being promoted by Clinton and Hugh Rodham, who unfortunately could not be joined by Vernon Jordan during their recent round at Indian Creek; you might need to rethink your position on the ERC for the sake of consistency. I would bet there is a good chance that Clinton is or will be using an ERC due to his lack of respect for the game of golf and just about anything else and I would hate to see you in that company.
Thank you for all your broadcast excellence. I hope you can find a way to adjust to a Hawkeye VFT. Please feel free to call with any golf related questions that dont relate to skill or proficiency.
Stuart C. Lindsay
Edgehill Consulting Group, Inc.