"hmmm....grammar rules are not usually optional".
According to the sources you gave, the use of hyphens is completely optional in this circumstance in American English. I copied and pasted this in my previous post
"According to wikipedia the hyphens must appear:"
Can you give me that cite -- I cannot find wikipedia saying that anywhere
"But I think this is a rule, not an option, and the NYT Style Guide is the best source of American usage."
An example of hyphens being used from a NY Times article is not the NTY Style Guide saying that they must be used.
"I am right."
It would appear you are not. Unless you can point me to where Wikipedia supports you.
Conventionally, and with the support of modern writing guides, compound modifiers that appear before a noun phrase must include a hyphen between each word, subject to certain exceptions. Hyphens are used in this way prevent confusion; without their use, a reader might interpret the words separately, rather than as a phrase. One or more hyphens join the relevant words into a single idea, a compound adjective.