Modern Equipment Will Kill Modern Golf (Updated)

**Update At Bottom

If the Modern Golf Swing doesn’t

I heard all of the uproar about Rory McIlroy’s drive at the PGA Championship venue Quail Hollow this week – a 365 yard carry with the driver is impressive!

I couldn’t wait to get a look at his numbers – I mean, the winning long drive distances from the 90’s were in the 360-380 yard range, and these guys had 135 mph club and 195-200 mph ball speed to get those distances in total, meaning carry and roll, not just carry.

So, I shook my head when I saw this:

“Hmmm,” I thought – 181 mph ball speed produced a 365 yard carry – and the 181 mph ball speed means Rory’s club impact speed was between 120-124 mph (since perfect impact produces a Smash Factor of 1.5, the minimum club speed to produce 181 mph ball speed is a fraction over 120 mph, and since he got 365 yards of carry on that drive, I’d bet the Smash was between 1.47-1.5).

“Hmmm,” I thought further… Rory McIlroy is able to carry the ball distances with a ball speed of 180 mph that would have won the Remax Long Drive championships hands-down as recently as 10 years ago…


We Interrupt This Posting For The Requisite Conspiracy Theory

Now, call me cynical, but Rory has just made a big splash and fuss the past few months with a major equipment change – his ball – and while I would never accuse anyone of fudging around with the algorithm** on the launch monitor (because it isn’t actually tracking the ball all the way, it calculates distance using launch specs and algorythms) in order to sell balls  not without evidence, that is… the recent ball change and accompanying hype did come to mind when I saw the numbers…

“Hmmm….365 yards Carry With 181 mph Ball Speed…”


(Note: I had a long driver who has been in the past few World Championship events tell me a while back that you can fiddle with the metrics on the launch monitors to produce varying distances and speeds on the same swing, which can be abused in the stores to sell equipment… just saying….)


We Will Now Return You To The Initial Posting

So, dispensing with the conspiracy theory, if those numbers are accurate – that means, it isn’t Rory – there are 15 Tour players right now averaging 120+ mph club impact speed, which would produce the same 180 mph ball speed with 1.5 Smash – it’s the equipment, namely, the ball

No wonder he says this about his ball:

“The best ball I’ve hit in… ever…”

The modern equipment is wrecking the game, and will soon make every course obsolete.

I mean, next thing you tell me, a guy will be able to hit a ball so far off course that it goes 100 yards sideways – and still far enough forward to get it close to the green on his next swing…

Wait… Never Mind…

Although I’ll say this – if your swing was bad enough that you drove the ball that far off line with a persimmon club, you’d be parking the expensive cars and not driving them.

But there’s nothing to see here, move along…


I just saw Rory hit a drive on the 9th hole at Quail Hollow and, with 180 mph ball speed, he carried the ball 304 yards.  He had 172 to the hole remaining on 488 from the tee box, which makes it about 315-320 yards with carry and roll…

That is completely in line with what I’d expect.

So, I’m inclined at this time to call “BS” on the 365 yard carry with 181 mph ball speed as delivered by the launch monitor… I know that launch conditions will vary from drive to drive and produce various carries, but 60 yards difference with only 1 mph difference in launch speed?

I don’t buy the 365, and that’s my personal opinion, which does not reflect the opinion of this blog… /update

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17 thoughts on “Modern Equipment Will Kill Modern Golf (Updated)

  1. Terry

    The range is apparently 10 yds downhill and was downwind yesterday. I believe the pro tracer is juiced however to wow the fans, just like on course announcers seem to often get club selection wrong to inflate iron yardages.

    BTW Jason Kokrak won the long drive comp on Wed. with 321 yds (fairways wet /no run out/cooler temps)
    McIlroy 313yds.

    1. D Watts Post author

      The range is apparently 10 yds downhill and was downwind yesterday. I believe the pro tracer is juiced however to wow the fans, just like on course announcers seem to often get club selection wrong to inflate iron yardages.

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who has noticed, Terry… and now imagine the range is downhill and downwind and perhaps you program another 10-15-20 or however many mph in following wind…BINGO! 365 yard carry!

      I’ve been reading comments at some various golf site as well and apparently, for those who know Quail Hollow, there is no way that the range even has 365 yards of space from the tee blocks to the back, so more conspiracy for the CT addicts… but you and I are not by any stretch the only ones calling BS on this.

      As for the irons – they also don’t give you the loft like the wedges. They’ve been strengthening the lofts so much that a 5 iron from the 90’s is now called a 7, and the only difference is the shorter shaft for the “7”

  2. Terry

    Yeah with those ball speed/ swing speed numbers, I doubt a 365 yd carry is even possible unless you are getting LOTS of help.

    1. D Watts Post author

      Thanks for reminding me, Terry – here is the BIG WOW picture of Justin Thomas carrying the ball 355 yards with 178.9 mph ball speed (with nearly perfect Smash at 1.49) AT ALTITUDE in Mexico City last winter at the WGC

      They played the WGC at 7,500 ft above sea level…

      So, I said to someone in an email exchange a few minutes ago that one couldn’t carry 365 with 181 ball speed unless it was in Mexico City…and here you see that even in Mexico City… you might JUST be able to do it.

      At 600 ft above sea level on a range at Quail Hollow?

      Not in a million years without Hurricane Andrew giving you a little help…

  3. targettom

    Agreed, the numbers are very questionable. As for launch monitors, when I am testing in a store I always bring a club I know well to compare with. As for the irons on tour, some of these guys hood their lead wrist so much they can turn a 5 iron into a 3 iron. I assume they de-loft there woods and driver too

  4. Harleyweedwhacks

    I have the old 2005 Titleist irons (not sure type) and I look at the modern 5 iron compared to mine, and it looks like my three iron.

    I saw Jordan Spieth hitting drivers to the end of the range at 295 carry, while Rory was “hitting” it 365 carry to the same spot. It’s all bullshit to make the modern PGA tour player look better than he is. Really, in reality, they’re about plus 2 to plus 3 handicaps, not plus 7 or plus 8. The guys who win week after week maybe have a handicap of plus 4. And really, they make these golf courses that the pros play easier than usual, not counting majors, with fairways that roll, picture perfect and smooth greens, and rough that is finely mown.

    I once heard from a playing professional himself that they make the courses easier. The pin locations are in flat spots, the fairways roll, and the rough, although about 2 inches tall, is fairly mown. When it’s downwind, they move the tees back a little. When it’s upwind, they move the tees up. And during the week, the tees get used by over 100 players, they can’t use the tips the whole time, so they move the tees up, which can cut about 30 to 40 yards off the hole. He also said that there is no par 5 on tour that plays 630, and no par 4 that plays over 480. The yardage might indicate that, but it doesn’t play that length, due to the fairway roll and the mown rough, and overall holes don’t play that long as a general rule.

    The pros are just decent below scratch players with a sponsorship. They’re nowhere near as good as the media make them out to be.

    1. b.mattay

      I think you are way way off base with this one. I am a +2 myself would say I am 5 shots worse than a PGA tour player. I know of two players in my city who play off a legitimate +4 to +5 and they can’t even sniff a cut on mini-tours. The guys on tour are great players with legitimate +6/+7/+8 handicaps.

      1. D Watts Post author

        Thanks for dropping in to comment, b.mattay – I read HWW’s comment last night and got distracted before I could respond. I woke up this morning to read your comment and have to agree with you.

        I’m a swing guy, and I hate the modern swing – but if we’re talking about playing the game on a whole, these guys on Tour are freaking good… when you can shoot 65 or 63 or even 59 on a course that would challenge a scratch player to break 80… there’s nothing more to be said.



    2. D Watts Post author

      I have to agree with b.mattay’s point here, HWW:

      I am a +2 myself would say I am 5 shots worse than a PGA tour player. I know of two players in my city who play off a legitimate +4 to +5 and they can’t even sniff a cut on mini-tours. The guys on tour are great players with legitimate +6/+7/+8 handicaps.

      I caddied at a PGA of A qualifier for a pro who was around +2 hdcp and who had once qualified for a PGA Tour event. He nearly did it the day I carried his bag, coming in T3 when 1st would have gone through. The pro who did qualify that day played in the Farmers Insurance Open and didn’t even sniff the cut.

      I also know of the common sentiment around the pro circles that if you can’t shoot 65-66 on your own home course every time you play it – don’t think you’re going to play with the big boys any time soon.

      Bryson Dechambeau won the NCAA title and the U.S. Am, and couldn’t earn his card his first year as a pro, had to win a playoff event to play this year.

      I have a beef with some of the things to do with pro golf – such as the modern swing is killing their career longevity, as well as injuring non-pros who swing that way.

      I don’t like the modern equipment, it’s far too forgiving for the guys who are the best in the world, the constant fudging of their distances (they’re great, do they have to carry the ball 365 yards to impress me? Hell, no) and so on…

      But they are the best in the world, and even the “worst” PGA Tour pro is so much better than even the top amateurs… so, I have to agree with b.mattay – whatever my issues with the game, these guys are amazing golfers.

      It’s all about getting the ball in the hole, as Jordan Spieth shows day in, day out. He’s a terrible ball-striker (driver, for sure) compared to the best of them, but as a golfer, he is lights-out great… I will never imply otherwise.

  5. targettom

    there has been a couple of bizarre tournaments (e.g. last years Colonial) where none of the guys were making very good shots for a while. But yeah I think they are in a different league. I’m not buying all the distance claims the announcers make, but they do hit it far. And they make difficult shots look routine, like the downhill sidehill fairway bunker shot from against the lip which lands pin high; or the amazing 3 wood approach shots – and some are magicians occasionally.

    1. D Watts Post author

      Colonial last year – where Jordan Spieth couldn’t hit a fairway but was chipping in and making 30 foot bombs to win it… that’s the difference between Spieth and most of the Tour, he wants it more than they do, à la Tiger Woods before his Sean Foley days.

      I personally can’t stand to watch events where Spieth is spraying it everywhere and still winning, but he’s got the grit and grind that these other millionaires-by-top-20-finishes just don’t have.

      For that, he’s got my respect as a competitor. But watching him play the way he does and win still gives me heartburn.

      And I’ll say it again, in case I’ve ever given a different impression – the guys out there are fabulous players.

      I just hate the modern golf swing that is killing them all and shortening careers, and it can’t go away quickly enough.

  6. peterallenby2013

    Day’s coach/caddie certainly did him no favors allowing him attempt to play that ridiculous shot out of the rough on 18. There was ZERO chance, not even an infinitesimal scintilla of an option to move the ball into a better spot . Faldo’s immediate post mortem was spot on: The BESt he could have hoped for was a ball into that snarly Bermuda rough leaving him less than optimal control for the next shot onto the green. Instead, Day almost rinsed his ball in the Porto Pottie Park!! And just like that, a snowman blew him out of the tourney…

    As for Spieth, I am in your camp DJ – He is a version of Tiger Woods – short game savant – when it is on, watch out, but when it is not – ORDINARY…When it comes to making money, the adage stands tall: “Drive for show, putt for dough…”

    1. D Watts Post author

      “Drive for show, putt for dough…”

      And the way things are going, Jordan will win more majors in his career than Rory.

      Of course, if Rory could have hit some of those 365 yard carry drives during the competition instead of on a rigged launch monitor at the driving range… he might have won this one going away 😉

      1. peterallenby2013

        Indeed! NY Times yesterday had a story about Jamie Sadlowski and his challenges in becoming a regular (i.e., no need to win to get rich!!) Tour pro. Now there’s a guy who can launch a drive! But SCORE well? Not consistently and not yet…But Jamie is a fiery competitor who has as good a chance as any, I think of making it to the “show”..Of course, a little help with his swing from a fellow Canadian probably would help his chances…

        1. D Watts Post author

          Of course, a little help with his swing from a fellow Canadian probably would help his chances…

          I have one thing to say to that – he is working with Peter Kostis, so…


  7. ian stockham

    With those guys its all about the short game, watching Speith at the Open was funny, putt after putt, he was walking up to 10 ft putts never even considering he would miss, and Recall Woods was the best scrambler ever all those 10 , 12 footers for par !!

    1. D Watts Post author

      That’s right Ian – but TW really could hit a ball. The only club he struggled with at his prime was driver, and that’s why Nicklaus is the G.O.A.T. – he could hit every club in the bag and putt the lights out.

      Oh, and those 18 majors 😉

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