Word out that the USGA and also the R&A are proposing to introduce bifurcation to the game, where pros may have to play some events with a distance-limited golf ball.
Players are up in arms, but I don’t see why – if I were competing in golf and had to play a limited-distance ball, I wouldn’t care, because everyone else would have to play the same ball.
The issue I see is that if it’s not implemented Tour-wide (every event doing so), then you will have absolute chaos where pros have to calculate on the fly what a particular ball will do compared to the one they prefer and use.
Of course, no one ever has any problem playing different putting surfaces in different parts of the world, so it may be just another adjustment to be made playing at the highest level.
But I’d go one step further and roll back club head maximum sizes to 90’s era sizes, because if you see the size of the Titleist driver head that Tiger Woods used to win his Tiger-Slam – if it was good enough for him…
Look up the specs on the Titleist 975D… it was – and I kid you not, because I have one myself (thanks again, Jim!) – and it was 260 ccs. Today, the limit is 460 ccs, which is ridiculous.
Training wheels on a bicycle.
The thing is you see, it’s not that Tiger Woods was some alien who could beat the world at golf because of some weird anatomy or DNA – he just simply was a great golfer who out-worked the rest of the competition.
He wanted it more, and he went out and got it. I’ve said for years that Tiger Woods is among the G.O.A.T.s of golf, but that he also had the worst swing, mechanically, of all of them.
Meaning, he had to work the hardest and longest to get the results he did, barring perhaps Ben Hogan himself.
The alien was Jack Nicklaus, who learned a basic swing at ten years of age and then became the greatest major champion ever in his spare time, between fishing trips around the world.
The Real Alien
And guess what? The Golden Bear has been proposing a ball rollback for years now.
The problem is that golf pros today seem to be adverse to having to do any work at all other than bombing the ball, gouging it out of the rough if they’ve missed the fairway, and then chipping and putting.
It seems that actually having to hit the ball on the sweet spot of the club, having to work the ball left and right, higher or lower, and of course having to hit approaches to short par-4s instead of driving them, or having to hit a 3rd shot to a par-5 instead of reaching easily in 2, are all just too much work to have to do to earn millions of dollars playing a game.
Cry me a river.
If that’s too much to do to play for millions, then perhaps an employment change is in order, because the only advantage a player will get over another with a shorter-flying ball is one – with more work put into the above mentioned areas, and that is completely optional to the player.
So, if you want to put in the extra work to regain the lost skills of yesteryear, you will gain advantage. If you don’t, and insist on continuing to bomb and gouge, you’ll simply be doing it with longer distances into the green.
But with a club change as well, those who can’t do the first thing you had to do back in the days to play golf, which was to make solid contact, then you shouldn’t really be playing for millions to begin with, should you?
I don’t hear baseball pros whining that they can’t use aluminum bats that non-pros get to use.
Or basketball players complaining that they don’t get to use smaller (and easier to handle) basketballs with lower rims such as are used in grade school gyms.
The only people I hear demanding to be allowed to use training wheels on their bicycles (using equipment designed for the amateur who can’t hit the sweet spot on their clubs and thus need shoebox sized driver heads and balls that don’t spin as much) are golf pros.
And frankly, I have no sympathy.
Of course, there could be a worry in the Modern Golf Swing world that if players have to swinger even harder with their faulty Modern swings to get distance out of the ball, they’ll be going down with injuries with even more frequency than they are now.
Again, no sympathy. The first rule of taking up a sport is learning the fundamentals, much of which is simply proper technique.
Only then might we get rid of the snake-oil selling “instructors,” “gurus” and swing “analysts” currently pushing horrendous and bogus swing techniques onto innocent beginners and pros alike, and get back to sound swing mechanics.
So, I’m all for this new proposition, introduced Tour-wide, and even more – reigning in the club sizes as well.
The problem I see is if they make only the tours play the limited ball then the tour gets the quality balls and us non tour players get the low quality product. Big manufacturers like Tit, Taylor, Srixon, Bridgestone, Callaway are “not” going to make 2 different top quality balls, they don’t give a crap about the non tour players when it comes to quality golf balls.
I think it would be in their interest to make 2 balls, Walter – for one, the technology is already there for the current balls in use, all they’d be doing would be to introduce the “Pro Special” ball.
The R&D is a sunk cost for the current ball. I don’t see why they wouldn’t continue to make and sell the current balls, which would likely be the bulk of their income.
I don’t see too many people choosing to play the Pro ball for amateur play, but I certainly would do just to compare myself with the big boys! 🙂
Well of course they wouldn’t stop making the present balls, but they aren’t going to put lots of R&D into balls for the non tour players in the future, only into the tour players balls. Or the tour gets the new R&D and the non tour(us) get the last gen tour balls and as far as the distance difference most(95%+) nontour players wouldn’t be able to tell the difference I’m sure.
I’d say they’ll go where the money is, Walter – how much does a manufacturer earn selling balls to pro players vs amateur/casual players?
Considering they give balls away to and even pay players to use their balls, they’re going to have to make money somewhere.
How much money do they earn if the average amateur stops buying their balls due to lower quality?
It would be a gold mine for a ball manufacturer if others stopped selling quality casual play balls. At least, that’s my take on it.
We’ll see what happens regardless if and when it does go into effect!
I understand your point, but they have always lots of R&D for the tour players not for us. If they make the balls for the tour available to the general consumer then no one will buy any other anyway. I mean really, limiting the ball distance doesn’t mean much for most who have swing speeds <100 or just over. I think it's better if everyone just plays the same ball specs and let's move on. On the other hand this is just a BS move anyway as it's not like every tour course has been lengthened by 500yds, maybe 100yds if that.
The only place there’s a problem is in the men’s pro game. That has to be resolved. How they do it and make everyone happy, I’ve no clue!
It will be interesting to see the outcome that is for sure.
from what I understand, this will only affect elite male events. the ones who have been vocal about it aren’t complaining about the rollback necessarily. They are complaining about the parameters that they are using to measure it. The old measurement was 120 mph clubhead speed, 10 degrees launch and 2,520 rpms should only go 317(carry+roll), +/- 3 yards. Now the parameters are 127 mph, 11 degrees launch and 2,220 rpms for the same distance. If you can swing at 130+ and hit the sweet spot and hit it straight, you should be rewarded for it. I think that measure should be around the 300 yard mark and and it should focus on ball speed and spin not clubhead speed.
They should reduce driver head size to the size of the TM mini drivers and drop COR and CT. I would also increase the spin of the ball, reduce rollout to less than 7% of carry, and shrink the fairways. I don’t think the pros would complain(much) about the reduction in driver head size. It would be no different than hitting a low lofted 3 wood(TSR2+ can go down to 11.5 degrees of loft, TM mini driver can go down to 9.5). Driving accuracy would go up quite a bit but distance would be reduced by maybe 20 yards. you can realistically get 330 yards out of a mini driver(with a proper swing of course). Total driving(distance and accuracy) and superb iron play should win week in and week out.
The other thing is, it should be all golf balls, not just tour balls. What happens when a business who is trying to increase revenue every year for shareholders has to manufacture a product that will not make them any money because of exclusivity? Answer……they pass that burden on to the consumers. Golf ball prices will increase across the board, not to mention that “EXTRA” R&D that has to go into creating new golf clubs that mitigate the distance loss and optimizes spin and launch characteristics gets passed down to the consumer as well($1200 drivers of the shelf, $600 fairway woods and hybrids). This could make an already expensive sport in struggling economies all but disappear
Hey Brandon, long time no talk! Good to see you.
I’ll be perfectly honest – the best course is to roll back the ball across the board, IMO. Clubs as well.
I can remember being thrilled the first summer I took up golf, at my first 250 yard drive. I was pumped! I was using a composite alloy driver, really low quality, with a basic Top Flite ball.
Fast forward just two summers later, where I borrowed my instructor’s titanium driver and, with a Strata ball, hit a drive of 330 yards on a 550 yard hole.
The equipment got out of hand and needs to be rolled back.
If that mean’s everyone has to settle for shorter distances than at this moment, so be it.
A 300 yard drive will still be impressive if one loses 15-20 yards with the equipment.
This whole thing on distance makes no sense. The only ones who hate it are the equipment makers and they have too much clout in golf anyways.
My 2 cents.
Good to talk to you too, I have been lurking watching your postings.
I agree with you about the ball being rolled back totally and not just for the elite males. If they do it for all golf balls then you don’t have to worry about a product that produces no revenue and equipment can still be affordable. I would love to see smaller driver heads as well. Like I said, they won’t lose as much distance as they think if they go down to mini driver size. the Taylormade 300 mini driver is 307 cc, the Original One mini driver is 275 cc and the Titleist TSR2+ fairway wood is 190 cc. All three of those are considered tee clubs and they have all been reviewed as bombers. They just have no real market because their head size too large for the average person to hit off the deck and they don’t produce the distances of their larger headed counterparts. If I had the money to create my set from the ground up(hopefully i will be able to soon) I would make one of those 3 previously mentioned clubs as my tee club and just have a driver for par 5s and reachable par 4s.
I just had another thought, they should put restrictions on loft as well. Drivers no less that 7* even with adjustability, fairway woods no less than 11 or 12 degrees, and since there aren’t any 1 or 2-irons being made anymore, irons should not have a loft less than 21 degrees of loft. That would help with distance too
Another thing is, drop the pro tee boxes. They seem to always be hitting from an elevated tee. The should be hitting from the same level as the green or the fairway. I have seen tee boxes that give you like an extra 15 or 20 yards just because you are sitting 15+ feet above the fairway
All valid points. If the PGA Tour simply let the fairways grow a little longer, narrowed them and stopped putting downhill chutes in the landing areas, level tees, much of this nonsense would go away without any other measures.