8 Intriguing Charts from the Distance Insights Report
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8 Intriguing Charts from the Distance Insights Report

8 Intriguing Charts from the Distance Insights Report

This week, the USGA and R&A released their joint Distance Insights Report. The full document runs 102 pages and looks at everything from distance on tour to the sustainability of 7,500-yard courses from an environmental perspective. It’s nothing if not thorough.

Still No Answers

While many were expecting definitive conclusions and an action plan that would likely include rolling back the ball, the report was surprising in its near-total lack of conclusions. The only definitive is that more study is needed (so more study we shall have) and the only real surprise is the suggestion that the governing bodies might be open to implementing local rules that would functionally roll back equipment at the tour level only. As GolfWeek’s Eamon Lynch aptly describes, “It’s bifurcation by another name.”

Wouldn’t that be something?

For those invested in the future of the game, or what the game’s future might mean for you, the report is worth a read, though you might find the summary documents more digestible. Regardless, it’s all publicly available for your consumption.

Charts, Charts, and More Charts

Typically, this would be where I’d rail against the findings and argue against a rollback and that day may certainly come (and soon) but, today, I wanted to focus on a selection of the charts from the Distance Insights Report. Amid the indecision is a collection of insightful, thought-provoking, and cool bits of data that are relevant to both the larger distance discussion and what we do here at MyGolfSpy.

So, with that said, let’s have a look at my favorites.

Tour Driving Distance

This first chart shows driving distance across major tours over a 39-year span. Beyond stating the obvious — that professionals have been steadily gaining distance for decades —  it doesn’t make sense to focus on much before 2006 when the last bit of meaningful distance limiting regulations went into place. Going back to 1980 provides plenty of ammo to sound off on massive distance increases but data from before the limit on length, head size, volume, and MOI are basically just for show.

Within the modern era, it’s true that tour distance continues to rise – though it’s worth noting that the data aren’t normalized based on venue, weather conditions or any number of other meaningful factors, so there’s likely some noise in the data.

What’s most interesting to me is the unexplained jump in distance from 2016 to 2017. I’m hard-pressed to find a viable explanation. It’s not like golfers figured out launch monitors, fitting, and improved fitness while manufacturers produced a banner crop of drivers … at least not all at once. Weather conditions, anomalous data … it’s hard to say.

I suspect it’s data from the Korn Ferry Tour that have the governing bodies most concerned. Presumably, that’s where our next generation of professional golfers is coming from. Depending on the year, they’re already five to 10 yards longer than the PGA TOUR guys and it’s reasonable to assume that the guys behind them will be longer still.

There’s no end in sight.

If you’re concerned about distance on the PGA TOUR and what that means for classic courses and the real estate necessary for new courses, this chart is your best argument.

Amateur Driving Distance

The data from this chart come from the R&A which conducted research with club golfers. As an aside, it strikes me as odd (and less than thorough) that the USGA doesn’t have similar data for the USA. There’s an opportunity here to partner with Arccos and Shotscope to gather more comprehensive information about the amateur game.

As you can see, amateur golfers are not overpowering courses. As a whole, we haven’t gained much of anything from one year to the next. Score one for an aging population of golfers, I suppose.

That data in the Distance Insights Report closely correlate to the information we obtained from Shotscope. Within its database, across all golfers, the average driving distance is 216 yards. For golfers with handicaps of nine and under, it’s 237. During our annual driver tests, we typically find the average drive to be around 230 yards and it’s worth noting that we remove a small percentage of outliers and skew a bit towards faster swing-speed golfers.

The bottom line is that there’s no evidence to suggest a distance problem at the amateur level.

Speed and Distance Increases

This chart shows the increases in the 90th percentile of clubhead speed on the PGA TOUR. Basically, it’s data from the fastest of the fast.

As we look to explain the reason for the continued distance increases at the professional level, the usual suspects are fitness, optimization, and the equipment itself. As we saw from the tour distance chart, USGA regulations haven’t changed and certainly haven’t been relaxed since the MOI limit was put into place. Theoretically, the contribution from equipment should be capped, although between aerodynamics, manufacturing improvements, and some wiggle room within the Rules, some portion of the increases can likely be attributed to the gear.

What can’t be explained by gear alone is the steady increase in clubhead speed. Maybe a tick or two comes from improved aerodynamics but improved fitness (generally more athletic golfers) and a better understanding of how to gain head speed are likely the most significant contributing factors. The increased speed, along with improved launch conditions, likely explains the continued distance increases.

Wet vs. Dry

We’ve long suggested that the simple solution to the distance problem is to grow the grass and soften the course. Watch a PGA TOUR event and it’s immediately obvious that they get more roll than we do. For the most part, tour venues play firm and fast.

Look what happens when it rains during an event. When conditions are soft, the median driving average drops by 4.4 yards.

The argument against softening courses is that water is going to be in increasingly short supply so maintaining soft conditions won’t be viable. I’ll leave it to the agronomists to argue those points but a little bit of extra length on the ground – even if it means exploring alternative, drought-resistant grasses — could be a solution. These things cost money, however.

Dialing back the ball doesn’t present nearly as many challenges for course owners and operators although ball makers certainly don’t love the idea.

Distance Insights Report – The Equipment

Among the charts in the report were several related exclusively to the evolution and performance implications of golf equipment. Some of what follows are things we wanted to look at anyway so we appreciate the USGA doing the work for us.

Average Iron Loft

It’s not just drivers that are going farther. You know the equation: if you want irons to go farther, jack the lofts.

The chart above depicts the change in average iron loft throughout the bag from 1970 or so to the present day. It more or less states the obvious but seeing the progression is fascinating just the same.

To be sure, there are some legitimate design reasons behind strengthening lofts on modern irons and those reasons often work to our benefit but, yeah … it’s wild how much things have changed.

Average Iron Length

As lofts have gotten stronger, clubs have gotten longer. This goes hand in hand with forgiveness insomuch as a more forgiving head allows for a bigger miss which makes longer shafts viable, even for less than competent ball strikers.

It’s also important to consider the role of lighter steel and graphite alternatives have played in increasing the playability of irons at longer lengths. Once upon a time, the 130-gram shaft was standard. Now it’s just one of near countless options.

Again, this is all obvious enough. Things change.

The Benefit of Higher MOI

This chart depicts driver distance drop-off based on MOI and impact position. It’s a visual equipment companies love to use to illustrate the benefits of their designs but it’s telling that it’s included in the Distance Insights Report.

Not even the best players in the world hit the center of the face all the time and there’s little doubt that some portion of the increase in distance can be attributed to improved MOI.

It’s not explicitly stated in the report but the chart almost certainly compares drivers across several decades. You won’t find a 3400 MOI driver on the market today, let alone a 2300 or 1665. Club D at 5128 could be considered average by today’s standards. Keep in mind that the limit is 5900 and a few currently available designs are approaching that limit, while several others are above 5500.

The USGA’s data suggest that, on the extremes, you’ll lose between 10 and 25 yards on an extreme mishit with a higher MOI driver. With lower MOI designs of the past, it’s 30 to 40+ yards. Even for pros whose misses aren’t as big, there’s a handful of extra average yards that can be attributed to improved off-center performance.

Soft Is…

And finally … my favorite chart from the Distance Insights Report. Not to beat you all over the head with this but there are still plenty of you who think Soft is Slow is a myth. Hopefully, the USGA’s data will help clear things up once and for all.

The chart shows how the Coefficient of Restitution or COR (which correlates to ball speed) changes with impact speed. The impact speed portion of the data is measured in feet per second. Converted to miles per hour, the chart covers the equivalent of 68 to 109 MPH (swing speed).

As you can see, at 120 feet per second (just under 82 MPH), COR begins to drop off appreciably (and rapidly). Translation: beginning at about 82 MPH, a softer ball will see significantly less energy returned to it at impact than a firmer ball.

It’s slower.

It’s also worth noting that even at 100 feet per second (roughly 68 MPH), the soft ball is already slower than firmer alternatives.

At 140 feet per second (~96 MPH), the drop off is appreciable and gets exponentially worse as speed increases. As we’ve said, there are fitting considerations for which soft balls can work really well but that doesn’t change the fact that low-compression balls produce less ball speed off the driver.

Next Steps

The Distance Insights Report is ripe with plenty of other cool charts. But the takeaway is this: After an exhaustive study, the governing bodies have decided the most prudent course of action is to keep studying. While most of us don’t love it when things are left unresolved, the approach is responsible. The breadth of the reports suggests that while rolling back gear is certainly on the table, there appears to be an understanding that most of us don’t have a distance problem and there is a multitude of other factors that needs to be considered beyond equipment alone.

My feeling is that some sort of roll back is all but a given but, for the first time, there are indications that the USGA and R&A may be willing to draw lines between the amateur and pro games. They’re clearly still not comfortable with bifurcation but the governing bodies may be open to leveraging a loophole that allows them to do just that … even if they call it something else.

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Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony is the Editor of MyGolfSpy where his job is to bring fresh and innovative content to the site. In addition to his editorial responsibilities, he was instrumental in developing MyGolfSpy's data-driven testing methodologies and continues to sift through our data to find the insights that can help improve your game. Tony believes that golfers deserve to know what's real and what's not, and that means MyGolfSpy's equipment coverage must extend beyond the so-called facts as dictated by the same companies that created them. Most of all Tony believes in performance over hype and #PowerToThePlayer.

Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony Covey





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      paul hughes

      4 years ago

      The folks that make the rules could easily impose performance limits across the board that would in the real world only affect the very small number of players who are very good.. What I see now is people who cannot drive a ball (any ball) much over 200:yards (if that) in any direction playing very long courses with clubs that provide “forgiveness” of a magnitude that pales in comparison to the size of the slice.. The idea that these folks benefit from balls that can come off low spin off the driver and then spin a lot around the greens is risible because they just don’t hit their drivers or their wedges good enough to make any difference. Longer shafted de lofted clubs just mean ordinary golfers slices and pulls to (potentially) go longer so they miss the green to the left or right instead of just being short, which would of course be better for them. Has a big headed driver ever cured anyone’s slice?

      All the tech benefits golf as a spectator sport, which means golf as a tv show, which means golf as an advertising vehicle, which means the folks who sell the clubs.

      The club makers as sellers and advertisers of expensive stuff want no limits. Bifurcation is a way to try to placate them., a potential disaster. No limits would be worse as ordinary golfers continue to destroy what game they have in search of distance they will never have. “No limits” (i.e., ever longer courses) is changing golf from a pleasant pastime into an ordeal

      Reply

      Bob

      4 years ago

      Thanks much for the article. Reading that and the comments was thoroughly enlightening. It’ll be interesting to read follow-up and actions taken.

      Reply

      Claus Ingemann Moeller

      4 years ago

      One easy solution could be a ‘TOU INDEX’ for the courses meaning that some of´the par 5’s are now long par 4’s and some par 4’s are long par 3’s.. Instead af the pro’s playing par 70-73 courses, maybe they should be par 67-70 courses´. It’s still golf. -but now with a more modern index, that fits the tourplayers.

      Reply

      Elias Malakoff

      4 years ago

      par shouldn’t really matter though. Regardless of what “par” is, a 65 is a 65 or a 67 is a 67. Wouldn’t really change anything.

      Reply

      Alex

      4 years ago

      A lot of people are getting fired up here. I don’t think the USGA is going to implement a rule that brings average drives from 290 yards back to 250. At best it will be a minor tweak to stem the average from continuing to grow. At worst in might bring those distances back to 285, and after a few years the manufacturers will find a work-around to get most of that distance back. Additionally, any change costing the pro’s 7 yards of distance will have minimal effect of those driving the ball 200 yards. Especially compared to the distance gains those people are likely leaving on the table through proper club fitting, additional practice, and improvement in fitness and flexibility.

      Bottom line, a rule implementation will likely be so minimal it will have no effect on the amount of people watching professional tournaments, and will likely have unnoticed affects to the average golfer.

      Reply

      Jeremy

      4 years ago

      How about the researchers also compare and correlate Pro’s BMI, size, etc. with those distance numbers too. Swing speeds have not constantly progressed due to OEM’s aerodynamics. No amount of ‘fin’ or aerodynamic ultralight is going to jump a SS up 20MPH.

      Reply

      ShootingYourAge

      4 years ago

      I keep reading, here and elsewhere, “my foursome can’t reach the dogleg now, and you want to limit distance?” Here is a radical thought- move up a set of tees. Which is what would happen with EVERYone if the ball/equipment is scaled back- pros included. Pros didn’t play from 7400 yard tee boxes in the 1970s. They played from what would be the blue tees at most courses today. Everyone would just move back to where we all were in 1978. Courses would be easier to maintain not to mention faster to play. But to read the comments here, that is the worst thing that could ever happen in the history of golf. Play a distance that would allow the correct shots into the green, which is how every golf hole should be played anyway. I’ve yet to read one solid reason why playing a shorter course, while hitting the SAME–repeat, SAME– shots is a bad thing. A driver-seven iron into a par-4 is a driver-seven iron, whether the hole is 400 yards or 350 yards. Why is it all about distance and ego? I don’t give a damn if my 230 yard drive is scaled back to 210. So is yours. And Tiger’s 300 yard drive is now 270. Paint a frickin superball white and tee it up and hit it 450 yards. Not sure what that proves, but that seems to be the theme.

      Reply

      MIKE

      4 years ago

      So I have to buy new clubs? Balls ? Get my course to maintain another set of tees? Other than the men’s pro tours, exactly what is so wrong now? Have played thousands of rounds & no one has ever said a course was too “short” for them. Tinker with the setups for the pros if you’re that concerned about distance. Say, who were the morons that were supposed to monitor all this? Ooops, guess the usga screwed the pooch on that one also

      Reply

      uncle hank

      4 years ago

      I currently play an 8-9 year old Cobra Driver and have been thinking about a new one, but can’t bring myself to spend $450 on one club. Besides, none of the launch says any of the news ones go any farther; so, I’ve taken the money you’ve saved me and made a donation to the site and will start looking at 2-3 year old used clubs while working on increasing my swing speed. Thanks!

      Reply

      Matt Callison

      4 years ago

      Are the iron lengths and lofts for all retail models or only for Pro clubs in play?

      Reply

      Doc

      4 years ago

      There have always been golfers that could generate greater club head speeds. but when the ball curved a great deal, the faster you swung the more it curved. When the ball was wound and had a balata cover the science behind aerodynamics and dimple pattern design was not advanced enough to create a golf ball that flies straighter and the curves less .
      When I started playing you had to choose a curvature to play. It was almost impossible to hit a straight ball.You watch Shot Tracer on television and the balls rarely curve much because of spin decay. If shot curvature was brought back to the game it would bring back the great tight short courses. It really is a simple fix. As long as the ball curves more the harder you hit it, everyone would be accomadated.

      Reply

      MIKE

      4 years ago

      How does this ‘too much distance’ affect the everyday golfer? It absolutely doesn’t AT ALL I’ve yet to play w/ any non-scratch golfer who complains that they’re hitting the ball too far. For the pros, on certain holes, throw a pot bunker or two out there at 300 yards or so & force them to hit a 3W or gamble carrying them (a bad decision regarding that cost Adam Scott the Open Championship a few years ago).

      Bottom line, who cares if the pros win an event at -15 instead of -5? Only the fools at the usga & a few other “purists”.

      Reply

      Tricky Ricky

      4 years ago

      Fun Fact: Who has the lowest PGA tour round of all time? Yep. Jim “the bomber” Furyk.
      They want to make our equipment obsolete. Do you remember the grooves that were banned and everyone had to get new irons and wedges?
      Change the rules sell more clubs. Here we go again.

      Reply

      Alex

      4 years ago

      Not sure how long the groove rule was announced before it was implemented, but I believe it was announced years in advance. Most golfers don’t maintain an official handicap (and many who do don’t 100% play by the rules anyway). Therefore for the vast majority of the golfing public, rushing out to buy new compliant wedges just did not happen. For the few who played in competitive tournaments outside the PGA tour, I believe they still had years before having to switch over their wedges. Given that for most frequent golfers, wedge grooves are worn out in two seasons anyway, I don’t think the groove rule forced many golfers to go buy new wedges. Similarly, if new golf ball rules were implemented, I am sure there would be ample time to play through the old non-conforming balls, for the very few who care enough to immediately comply with the new rule.

      Hugh Leonard

      4 years ago

      Good article, thanks. A. couple of comments: 1) Based on amateur distance over time, I have been an idiot for buying the newest driver with the fitted high end shaft. A race to nowhere. 2). Bifurcate the game or just build longer and longer courses for the pros and build another set of tees at around 6800 yards for the ams to play. Maybe the proposed new professional league will take care of that anyway.

      Reply

      Mike

      4 years ago

      I work at a golf etc. In North Carolina. What I can tell you is speed equals distance on center strike shots period. Every aspect, equipment, ball and athletic condition all play a part in distance. So it’s easy to see why its hard to draw a clear conclusion. I see a lot of college kids come through our shop and many hit it farther than the tour guys. Young muscles and flexibility as well as a great technique tells the story. Thanks for allowing me to post.

      Reply

      Terry

      4 years ago

      So the results say only this… there is no distance problem except at the very highest levels of golfers. No course at 6,800 yards or less is at risk of being obsolete, just not suitable for top level pro tournaments. Golf is fine, golf courses are fine.

      Reply

      MIKE

      4 years ago

      AGREE! This distance “issue” has NO freaking effect on anyone except maybe the men’s pro tours. Doesn’t affect 99.9999% of all golfers. Once again, the usga is bumbling this topic up in order to make it seem as if they’re still relevant. Weren’t they the clowns who were supposed to be monitoring equipment (w/ all their ‘conforming standards’) ?

      Reply

      Jim Most

      4 years ago

      The solution here is so easy it just jumps off the page. Based upon the golf ball COR and its benefit to the longer hitters and not the shorter hitters, require all golf balls to be 90 compression or less. This only impacts long hitters. Additionally, take the MOI for woods/hybrids down to a max of 5000. That makes making a good swing and hitting the ball in the center of the face most important. Done, problem of too much distance solved for the tour without impact the everyday player. All rules apply to everyone, no bifurcation.

      Reply

      MIKE

      4 years ago

      So you’re saying, make woods/hybrids more difficult to hit & thus make the game harder for 99.99% of golfers (the everyday players) who are not on a pro tour?

      Reply

      T

      4 years ago

      Most of today’s most popular golf balls are lower than 90 compression… Make it 65 and that would make a bigger dent in distance.

      Reply

      Willie T

      4 years ago

      Tony – thanks for a very succinct and well written recap of the findings. As a pure amateur who is just getting in the game at age 60, I do wonder if the future of golf will be. Many local courses are struggling to stay open and even more so to stay playable to where the average Joe’s don’t mind forking out the green fees to do so. Make the tourney courses tougher with longer roughs, narrowed fairways, slower greens. In the end, it will not be equipment barriers that will change the game nor will it be changes in courses, it will be those who say and dare to take the risk to make a real commitment to keep the game playable at all levels with real challenges.

      Reply

      Justin M

      4 years ago

      If you have tour pro’s using the modified golf balls and equipment, where do you introduce that to the up and coming/ aspiring tour pros?? Even if the ball and equipment did get “rolled back” isn’t the “big” hitter still at an advantage anyway?

      I have always said course set=up will dictate the scores. See the Ryder Cup setup last time. For starters in tour events I would make bunkers more penal where balls bury more and the traps aren’t smooth and consistent. Too many pros aim at bunkers as a bail out, yet we still call them “hazards”. I will say this though distance doesn’t always win on tour. You still need to have a great short game, putter and iron play.

      Look at Finau last week, bombs it 366 on 18 and the guy 60 yards behind him still makes birdie to force a playoff and win. Where has Bryson been since his huge distance gain? I dont see DJ contending in anything for about a year now….

      Reply

      willie

      4 years ago

      So baseball juices their ball (allegedly) and lowers the mound, hockey makes the goalie pads smaller, NFL creates rules the help offense, NBA eliminates hand checking to create more offense, and GOLF decides hey lets find a way to make our dying sport slower and more difficult…genius! I live on a golf course and am an avid player, everyday I watch handicaps of all kind attempt to carry the dogleg on my par 5. I can say with certainty we can use all the help we can get.

      If golf wants any chance at increasing participation they have to appeal to the younger audience. Think about how information is consumed now. as a consumer I can show my face to my phone which is connected to my bank places an order on my phone and Amazon will bring it that day. Does golf really think people with that type of access will pickup a game that takes 4-5 hours to play and uses technology from 20 years ago? And with all the talk about slow play on the tour how the heck does making the course more difficult help that?!

      I also can’t help but laugh thinking about all the comments being posted by people using their high speed internet computers to post on media boards and reading articles online. where were you guys when the newspaper companies started closing because you didn’t want to wait for the morning paper? where were you guys when the post office’s profits plummeted because people aren’t waiting in line to buy stamps? So we are ok with. faster and better in every walk of life except golf…makes sense to me!

      Reply

      Chris

      4 years ago

      Spot on…
      Call it a “local rule”, but bifurcation is the simple answer. Also, need a new selling point. Stop with the idea we all play the same game because it just isn’t true. I don’t play the same game as the NBA at my local school yard pick up game either. It’s alright. Make the pros TRULY the special players they are. Celebrate their greatness.

      Reply

      Scott

      4 years ago

      The USGA is forgetting the weekend player.and the 50 and older group, who pay real money to play golf they can have all the rules they want for the pro’s but we are average Joe. Let them build a better mouse trap and we will buy it.

      Reply

      Ron

      4 years ago

      Lead, follow, or…..get out of the way. The can has been kicked for decades.

      Reply

      James Shepard

      4 years ago

      Think you are reading cor chart wrong. Soft ball will not deflect club face, deflection is in ball. Go bifurcation, bring back anchoring.

      Reply

      Deacon

      4 years ago

      The USGA as usual is out of touch with reality. The average age of recreational golfers is increasing.. You do not grow the game by making it more difficult. Since recreational driving distances have not increased substantially, why is there such a sudden rush to penalize these golfers? As Phil Stated, the PGA tour is the only professional sport governed by amateurs. The PGA needs to separate itself and the sooner the better. Bifurcation has worked in every other sport and it will work with golf.

      Reply

      MIKE

      4 years ago

      Great comments, you hit the nail on the head. None of my friends are saying, “golf isn’t fun anymore, I hit the ball too far now”!

      Reply

      Dave Tutelman

      4 years ago

      Thanks for a great summary, Tony. I really enjoyed it, and learned something. Here’s my takeaway.

      (1) Bifurcation would be a workable solution. I don’t understand the governing bodies’ reluctance.

      (2) If not bifurcation (by any name), then just LEAVE IT ALONE. Learn to love the new order of things. Note that the amateurs are not showing distance gains at all. No courses are being threatened by the amateur players. And we really don’t know if the PGA Tour is interested in “protecting par”. It is clear that the USGA equates protecting the game with protecting par, but the tour may feel otherwise. They may believe, and perhaps rightly so, that 300+ drives and 60- scores will fill seats and attract sponsors. If so, they — and the courses where they play — are not worried about being obsoleted. Hey, bring it on!

      In the final analysis, it is possible, even likely, that only the US Open (and the Open Championship in Europe) are the only tournaments where things might need to be “adjusted”. It would be a serious shame if the USGA and R&A ruined things for everybody else, you and me and the tour pros, just to protect par for their own tournaments.

      Let me go further. There are club and ball manufacturers already advertising non-conforming equipment. “Have more fun playing golf!” is the pitch. If the USGA insists on shortening everybody’s game, BIFURCATION WILL HAPPEN WITHOUT THEM. They will lose control of the game.

      Reply

      Dave K

      4 years ago

      Here’s my suggestion. Freeze today’s standards for balls and clubs. As far as the assertion that many of today’s great courses are dated because they are too short, I think that is ridiculous. Frankly, I don’t care if the elite pros win a tournament with a 4 day total of 240. Everybody will be playing the same course. Whoever plays best that week will win. Tougher course set-ups for tournaments will help. Remember, Par Is Just a Number.

      Reply

      Jamie

      4 years ago

      What I dont understand, is that course designers build and lengthen golf courses, but alot of the time pros dont use the back tees. Example was the 17th hole last week at the Waste management. Its just a waste of land and resources. They used the back tee once in four days. If eveyone is complaining about how far the pros are hitting the ball, make them play every hole to its full length regardless of pin position and weather conditions.
      Scores would definitely go up.

      Reply

      Greg

      4 years ago

      It is understandable no conclusion.
      Ti heads were amust as we were running out of persimmon.
      The wound golfball was to expensive and to out of balance and has definately skewed distance data from old days to modern days. The aerodynamiics was the biggest factor with dimple design and being in balance.
      The kornferry boys are younger and stronger but will it get longer I doubt it. We peak with our synoases at 24 yrs old at 30 yrs old it is all down hill.
      I am 70 I know,it is also good to see the young give the ball a ride that what makes the tv a must and keeps the money in the game. They usga and R&A have it right control the length and weight of a golf club . They all want to blme the ball it is at a good weight and aerodynamics are great to watch shot makers at work. The game is not all about length. It is for those that jack lofts down but you dont get something for nothing the merry go round will take something off you somwhere else. It is pretty good now and a lot of options for everyone that is why club manufactures are still i business to fit us all personally. Long may golf be the gane of our choice

      Reply

      Greg

      4 years ago

      Sorry that should read control the length and weight of clubs and golf ball

      Reply

      chuck harvey iv

      4 years ago

      I am 77 & for years the course for all is lost on length, make courses harder so that you have to fade , hook ,draw, low flight , high flight ,etc. as courses use to be so the real player comes out.

      Reply

      Mark

      4 years ago

      I guess the question for me is, if the usga took the rules off of club manufacturing as far as CT, MOI, all that stuff, how much further and straighter could the average am actually hit it.? The average golfer shoots 100, and we wonder why we have declining participation. Yes time is an issue although I wouldn’t recommend what Chamblee did and say lets make it 12 holes. I don’t mind spending 4-5 hours golfing, I love the game. If a guy who shoots 100 could hit it farther and straighter, even if he didn’t score that much better, would probably have a better time. Vast majority who come in my shop first thing they want to know is “how can i hit it farther’, not how do I score lower. Bifurcation doesn’t make sense if we can’t make clubs any better than we do now. Lets see what a club manufacturer could do if he had no limits.

      I have tried many times to put players in shorter shafts to help them hit it better, they never choose that, they always want the one they hit 10 yards further on that perfect swing.

      Reply

      scott

      4 years ago

      And them are the guys who I TAKE THERE MONEY EVERY TIME. . It’s funny to hear Billy Bob brag after hit a 260 yard drive just how far they hit it, passed me then take 5 more shot to put it in the hole.. Cha Ching

      Reply

      Mark

      4 years ago

      You are correct, but if the goal is to build the game, then if people want more distance give it to them. It is whatever makes it more fun and what you equate as fun is not the same as anyone else. I am a single digit golfer and I never play for money, my group of guys just play for bragging rights.

      doug fisher

      4 years ago

      I have played golf for awhile and am now approaching 80. So to enjoy the game more, I try to tee up at a distance that allows me to be on the green in regulation if I play well. My playing partners are OK with that. We don’t often play for money

      Reply

      Bandit Baker

      4 years ago

      Thank you for your analysis of the Report Tony, reading the comments so far I agree with most of them in regard to narrowing fairways and growing the rough. I also have two additional comments, firstly take the driver out of the bags of tour Pros. Secondly, decouple the design parameters for Pros and amateurs and allow manufacturers to produce drivers for amateurs that can increase ball speed and distance (particularly for the over 65’s.

      Reply

      robert pace

      4 years ago

      blah, blah, blah. big hitters will be big hitters and short knockers will be short. it all comes down to putting. i live in so cal and the problem is not distance……………….it is course closures. distance dont mean dick if theres no place to play.

      Reply

      Thomas Ross

      4 years ago

      And the courses are closing because of three things. 1) Golf is hard and requires time and practice to get better. Younger people don’t seem interested in doing that. 2) Golf takes too long. Living here in SoCal, you know 6 hour rounds are the norm. 3) Golf courses require too much in resources. the cost is passed on to the player resulting in higher green fees and a decrease in rounds played. Less profits mean it makes more financial sense to sell the course to a developer to build houses.

      So what can we do? The USGA and R&A could limit the equipment, such as rolling the ball back or putting length and loft restrictions on the clubs. Or we can make the golf courses shorter. I propose making the courses shorter so that we can address problems #2 and #3. Abandon the par 5 hole completely. Many courses in the late 19th and early 20th centuries had par 6’s and now those are so rare they are a novelty. With no par 5’s, golf courses should be either an even split of 9 par 4s and 9 par 3s, or some other combination of par 4’s and par 3’s where the 3’s outnumber the 4’s..

      I know that it sounds radical but land costs and natural resources are the issue here, and 7800 yard golf courses are going to take up much more of those than 5800 yard golf courses. I remember at the 2019 PGA Championship, DJ hit driver, wedge on 7 holes on the front 9. The only two where he hit anything else were the par 3’s. Tournament golf, especially major championship golf is supposed to test every club in a tour players bag, not just driver. With my 4 handicap game, I average 240 off the tee with a driver. In 2019, DJ averaged 312. I can’t play against him (obviously) if we have to hit driver before our approach. That being said, if the hole is 180 yards and he’s hitting 7 or 8 iron and I’m hitting my 27 degree hybrid, I’ve at least a fighting chance at keeping up with him. Sure, he’s a tour player, but I hit that club well way more often than not and I can putt a little bit so I like my chances.

      The equipment cat is out of the bag. The governing bodies can make sure that this is as far as the ball goes equipment wise, but athletes and equipment manufacturers will find a way somehow. If we make as much of that as we can irrelevant, then there will be real growth. Give those big boys and girls 6 to 9 holes to let the big dog eat, but make them hit those other clubs in the bag as well. Another thing, if you don’t think par 3’s aren’t entertaining or can’t decide a tournament, look at how many potential Masters champions had their hopes destroyed by #12. I’m sorry if this is long winded but it’s something I care about and I don’t believe the solution is difficult, just requires some outside of the box thinking. If you read all of this, thanks.

      Reply

      Jarrod

      4 years ago

      I would have to disagree with the par 5. To me, when your playing in a tournament and your on the tee of a reachable par 5, eagle is in play. If I were to hit a good drive, I’m thinking how to get an eagle. You look at East Lake and the Tour Champ. they literally changed their course set up for the tourney to make it end on a par 5 to hopefully create drama. Now let’s say you go play East Lake the next week and stand on the tee at 9, me personally, I’m thinking “it would be so cool if I could eagle a tour level par 5”. That’s just me personally, but I personally don’t think roll back will do anything if they shorten courses because the drive distance:hole distance ratio will still be the same. I don’t mind the distance because I think it’s more human nature and just evolution of people getting stronger. Yes equipment plays a role but I think it’s human evolution. I personally think the way to fix this is play courses at 7000 yards, make fairways 20-25 yards wide, and grow the fairways and rough higher so roll is less and missing those fairways is more punishable. But overall, I like where your head is!

      Jimmy R

      4 years ago

      If we’re envious, fearful or in awe of other’s distance; Show me a “fast twitch muscle fiber” (or whatever the new terminology is today) chart over the decades! Technology will always advance. But look at the sheer number and quality of athletes playing golf at high levels today. I’m sure there’s no way to qualify athletic prowess in a politically correct manner… but just think of the build of tour pros in the 50s-80s vs today. Bigger, faster stronger! And MANY more of these quality athletes. Not saying that there hasn’t been great athletes through the ages… not at all! Just saying that they are abundant and fine tuned to the Nth degree FOR GOLF today! Look at Vijay’s workout postings. That’s a “new-age Old-School” embracing the day’s norms to avoid becoming irrelevant. Now put 100 Vijay’s on a driving range together…. gives you the Korn Ferry on a daily basis! Until testosterone is banned on the Tours… “bigger and longer” will be a competitive mainstay!
      Inbee Park and Matt Kuchar are not Long by today’s standards… and they win often!. There’s plenty of golf left in Golf! So enjoy the show! Let the manufacturer’s sell their clubs, let technology help all our games and lift a weight or 2 if you’re worried about your buddy out-driving you! Rounds & Tourneys are still and always will be won on the greens!

      Reply

      Jooro

      4 years ago

      Sure they are longer and what does anyone expect. The Drivers have bounce faces to the limit, Graphite shafts make them light the the old days when an average Driver weighs 12 to 13 oz. The irons are stranger by a bunch and of course the Ball is much livelier and straighter on the whole. The players are bigger and stronger thanks to trainers and specific excersiizes related to Golf. It is owner they hit it farther.

      Now it is up to the USGA, the R&A, and the PGA Tour to decide what should done and my opinion is they won’t do a thing. It is those wonderful groups that caused this with the help of the mfgrs who of course want to sell there club with lies that everyone will gain 20 yds with their Driver, when the truth is maybe 1 or 2 yds at most. Just think if you gained 20 and bought the newest you/we would be hitting Drivers over 600 yards by now, and that is just an average Golfer. The whole thing is BS.

      Reply

      walter

      4 years ago

      Two balls is the obvious change, but if that happens then the balls we now buy in your local outlets/pro shops will be no better than junk balls. What manufacturer is going to put much effort into making top quality balls if the pros aren’t going to be playing them, it will be the “pro” only balls that get all the good ingredients/technology and QC checks..

      If they decide it’s the clubs that need changing, good luck on that one, who’s going to replace their whole bag of goodies because they deem them illegal. Of course the manufactures would be all in on that one, imagine how their bottom line would improve if that happened.

      I say change the course setups for the pros.

      Reply

      Mark M

      4 years ago

      Walter, I think you are right concerning the course setups.
      The other day after the report came out Brandel Chamblee pointed out the disparity in tour rankings for Driver accuracy vs. scoring average now as compared to 1980. He said “The golf ball can easily be constricted by raising the fairway heights, growing the rough and firming up the greens”

      Reply

      Stephen Pearcy

      4 years ago

      Great Story. It is e identical that a lot of effort has gone into studying this issue. The hard part is what, if anthing, should be done. I do think there’s some overreaction concerning the impact on the game – all that’s going to happen is that the scores might get a little lower – nobody except Kim Jong-un is going to shoot an 18. The fundamental nature of the game hasn’t changed one iota. As for dual equipment rules, part of admiration of pros is that they can hit it so much farther. Did they make the mile longer after the 4-minute barrier was broken?

      Reply

      Tom Wishon

      4 years ago

      Good article Tony, well done. It’s obvious the report is hinting at the direction the USGA/R&A will propose down the road – bifurcation in some form through a yet to be defined roll back in the ball or clubs likely only at the elite level.. I hope not because I feel that could harm the game more.

      This is likely to be a conflict between the USGA/R&A who care about keeping tournaments at the old venerable clubs while retaining the way shots used to be played on these courses >25 yrs ago, and the PGA Tour/other tours who need to keep sponsors that want fans enthralled to keep watching tournaments – with the equipment mfgs on the side of the tour, against anything that could affect the way they sell golf equipment by marketing distance.

      I tend to agree with Brandel Chamblee. The real problem is that lack of accuracy is not penalized enough and superior accuracy is not rewarded enough at the elite level of the game. The USGA totally blew it with the scoreline change ten years ago. Intended to stop “bomb and gouge” by making the grooves not spin the ball as well from rough, the changes in the scorelines had zero effect on penalizing errant long drives and did nothing to reward accuracy.

      I agree with Chamblee that the solution is to grow the rough, taper the width of the fairways, increase fairway grass length and firm up the greens. And stay away from equipment roll backs and bifurcation. Golf will suffer if bifurcated. In the other sports that bifurcate, none of us over 25 still play those sports seriously. But all of us in golf can play the same courses played by the pros. When we do, we can hit a shot or shots as good as or better than what the pros did for that same shot. With the same ball and even same club models. When we hit an iron stiff or hole a chip/putt, no tour pro could have done that better. Golf is the only game like that and if you bifurcate, you might make it less interesting to watch the tour events and you could leave a sour taste that it isn’t the same.

      Way back in 1900 when the rubber core ball replaced the gutta percha, the game immediately saw a >25%+ increase in distance. With it many of the old, venerable 5400 yard courses that hosted the elite competitions went by the wayside. They were replaced by the Wing Foots and other courses we now consider venerable tracks that are being “threatened”. If a course cannot remain competitive for the elite players, then go play somewhere else that is and accept that a new group of courses will become venerable for the next generations. Time marches on and the only constant is change.

      Stay away from bifurcation and instead, change the golf course set up to truly penalize inaccuracy while rewarding accuracy. Doing it with equipment roll backs is not the best way. (And I am not defending the equipment because I design golf clubs. The main reason the charts show a slow down in driver distance from 2016 onward is because all the distance increasing science of driver head design is known and has been used. We’re against the proverbial brick wall in driver head technology advances. So the little increases in distance on the tours from 2016 on are coming from players continually training to increase clubhead speed.

      That will continue. In ten years or so you will see more tour players over 125mph than under. But no matter if the tour avg gets to 130mph, courses with 6″ rough, tapered fwys to 15-20yds at 300+ out, longer watered fwy grass, and firm greens will control 125+mph of clubhead speed and better reward accuracy and do what the USGA/R&A want more effectively than bifurcation aimed at equipment. .

      Reply

      Jimmy R

      4 years ago

      Yes! Whole heartedly agree! I got longwinded to the same effect! Everyone needs to Relax! SO what if they’re longer and faster! Good for them! Golf is still tremendously skill oriented! Always will be!

      Reply

      Professor

      4 years ago

      Well said Tom! Completely agree!

      Reply

      Old Redtop

      4 years ago

      Totally agree , Tom. The course setups are the answer.

      Hope your retirement has been blessed with good health and long, straight drives.

      Reply

      mark

      4 years ago

      Well said, sir. On the effing money. Bifurcation is a very, very bad idea for the good of the game IMHO. NOBODY is worried about “too much distance” except… well, who are those people again? Are all the country club members who play all the time in tournaments all whizzed up about “too much distance?” Are all us auld guys with high handicaps? High school and college golf teams? How ’bout LPGA and Champion’s Tour players? Anybody? Crickets? Hmmmm….

      Reply

      Mark

      4 years ago

      Why limit clubs at all? If a design can make the average joe hit it further and straighter, won’t they have more fun. Forget for a moment that we are all golf junkies, the majority of players are not on message boards talking about this stuff, they play the local muni with buddies and a six pack. We need to make the game more fun and to me hitting it longer and further is more fun. I understand putting limits but why limit the majority of golfers who want more distance? If a manufacturer was allowed to do whatever they wanted, could they make a driver that i could hit 40 yards further and straigher? If they can’t then i agree no bifurcation, but if they can, then let them make it. why are we stuck in this old stodgy mentality?

      Reply

      Jeremy

      4 years ago

      Tony, can you explain how this data was collected in the era’s prior to ShotLink? Could there be enough error there to skew these comparisons?

      Reply

      Ron Walboom

      4 years ago

      I can’t see the “problem”…. At Torrey Pines the bunkers were moved up 50 yards and fairways tightened in the Pro’s landing zone. If the bombers want to take the risk, let them go for it, the public wants to see long hitters….. Architects need to get a smarter, you can make a 360 yard par 4 impossible to drive if you put a risky enough dogleg in it and harden up the greens……

      Reply

      mizuno29

      4 years ago

      Great job Tony!!! Always appreciate your insight and thoughts!!!!

      Reply

      Trip D

      4 years ago

      I think bifurcation is the only answer. Current ball design won’t affect the amateur/Saturday-Sunday golfer. Everyday golfers tend to greatly exaggerate the distance they actually hit the ball. My concern is for the course owners who would like to have a championship course, but are running out of land, environmental resources, and money to build them and maintain them at a level that is competitive for the tour level golfer.

      Reply

      john young

      4 years ago

      Great charts/explanations…. WELL DONE… makes it much easier to have you interpret rather than all of us trying to…. much appreciated…

      Reply

      Gary McDonald

      4 years ago

      In the summer of 2017 I was driving the ball further than any other time in Northern Ireland due to the fact the courses were bone dry and there was a lot off roll out. First time since I started playing golf there was a prolonged hosepipe ban. Our Index 1 hole is normally my best drive and 3or5 wood to reach in 2 shots that year I was able to hit it with a drive and 7iron.

      Reply

      Gary McDonald

      4 years ago

      That should have said 2018 not 2017

      Reply

      Garen Eggleston

      4 years ago

      Great review Toney , I’m of the group that thinks rolling back a pro ball but leaving amateur ball alone will make for better relating pro play and am play -heard Snell say there are the capability to roll back long pros but not hurt short hitting pros as much and I’m thinking that alone is worth a shot , where they might have to actually work a ball , I prefer art to darts

      Reply

      John Mackessack

      4 years ago

      Really good article! I was particularly interested in the iron loft chart. Modern clubs are essentially BS in their claims because of this trend for stronger lofts and longer shafts. I had my Srixons gapped on the weaker side and lo and behold, my 4 iron is playable again!

      But what strikes me is that the amateur game doesn’t really seem to have a problem with distance in my opinion. And it is we, millions of amateur players around the globe, to whom this game belongs. Not the gilded few who stride the various tours. So I think that any real changes should only affect our professional gods.

      Reply

      Mike

      4 years ago

      Great writeup. Thanks for your insights on the report.

      Reply

      Rick N

      4 years ago

      Great read. I agree that the grass on the course should be changed to kill the roll. What we saw at Kapalua Plantation course was awesome. Every hole the TV analysts would say… the ball used to roll here… The course was made relevant again for the Pros and didn’t hurt the average golfer.

      Reply

      Jimmy R

      4 years ago

      Completely agree! Was great seeing the separation between great approach shots and average approach shots because of this as well! on the 18th…? That was fun!

      Reply

      Sihawker

      4 years ago

      Any chance the USGA and R&A decide to make changes to equipment that the PGA or pro golf in general just moves on without these organizations? I mean (I’m really asking) does the PGA tour of European Tour need the USGA or R&A?

      Reply

      Tlgfla

      4 years ago

      That’s a good question. With the growing noise about the “premier league” it could be another reason for pros to look elsewhere.

      Reply

      Andrew

      4 years ago

      This biggest thing in this report is the idea of a local equipment rule being instituted. This seems tailor made for Augusta. Augusta is the one place that has the power to force distance limited equipment (probably a ball). If they’re successful I could see the USGA and RA start doing something similar for the Open and US Open. They could then approve two limits of balls and certain courses/tournaments could specify which is being used. I don’t think this would even hurt the ball makers bottom line. They just have another SKU to produce.

      Reply

      Dave P

      4 years ago

      Regarding the first chart, the recent surge in distance could have begun as far back as 2014, or maybe even 2013. That made me wonder if attitudes and strategy changes based on the Strokes Gained analyses have been a part of that trend. I believe Every Shot Counts was published in 2014.

      Reply

      Peter Moulder

      4 years ago

      I think that part of the issue here is that the people who are most concerned about distance increases are the powers that be at the USGA and R&A who come from those “elite” clubs that want to be known for hosting major tournaments.. They are finding that touring professionals can hitting the ball further and and overpowering their courses. I guarantee you that their amateur members are not overpowering the course and they are not doing it at most courses. If they want to lengthen their courses, fine, but don’t punish the average amateur golfer because better athletes who are in better condition are hitting the ball further. The distance increases affect a very small percentage of golfers. They are seeking a solution to a problem that really does not exist for most of us..

      Reply

      Dave Tutelman

      4 years ago

      Well said! The only tournament that the USGA really has skin in the game is the US Open.As for the rest, it’s either the PGA tour (whom I suspect would just as soon offer crowds bigger and bigger drives) or amateurs (whose distance is not increasing).

      Reply

      Peter Moulder

      4 years ago

      Dave: The tour does that today. That is part of my point. PGA Tour courses are set up to be fast and firm unless Mother Nature intervenes. When was the last time you saw people at your course get the kind of roll the pros are getting in their events. They don’t put much water on the course before the tournament and the fairways are as tight as they can be. The athletes are fitter and stronger than the Tour players of the past. Every sport is facing the same type of issues. The first sub four minute mile was run in 1954. Now the mile record is 3:43. What should the governing bodies of track & field do, lengthen the mile? Make the runners wear sub optimized shoes? Should tennis players have to use smaller rackets, play on a smaller court? All this angst and gnashing of teeth over something that affects a minuscule percentage of golfers is a waste of time.

      Handanlon

      4 years ago

      Seems like more creativity in course design could help.. Choke down the fairway for 300+ yard hitters to 20 yards or so wide with penalty rough, longer grass while allowing 240 yard hitters 80 yards. And lighter rough. For second shots on par 5’s do the same. I’m always amazed to see pro tournament drives roll forever on a 12 stimpmeter rock hard fairway.

      Reply

      steven

      4 years ago

      good logical answer, thanks I agree, proof is high rough and narrow works at Majors like Open.

      Reply

      Donn Rutkoff

      4 years ago

      Yep. Make the pros bomb away on 3 or 4 fewer holes in a tournament setup by hazarding the area between 280 and 300 or 320 yards. Fans like to watch long or middle irons to the green instead of a wedge onto a green that has been tricked around to make more 3 putts. Three putts are not what fans want to watch. Fairer greens yes, but make it harder to get there in regulation.

      Reply

      don

      4 years ago

      Interesting how as the gap between the pro players and even good golfers widens that the game has struggled with members. Vain people are not going to move up a tee, I think that has already been proven with the failed play it forward campaign. Golf courses are trying to keep up with the Jones trying to encourage more play so they will not stop lengthening the courses. The current slope/par rating system simply makes that impossible. Longer courses means it takes more time to play. Faster greens and taller rough? It simply takes longer to play. 20+ handicap searching for 3 min on every hole in 4″ deep rough means that person stops playing.

      Reply

      Chuck Dietz

      4 years ago

      Really gets to the basic issue……..the Pro game has moved way ahead of the recreational golfer, and even the really good club players / amateurs. Time for the Ruling Bodies and the Pro Tours to get on with the 2-ball solution, so that the game doesn’t keep shrinking…..and if I need a real challenge, I can always buy a couple of sleeves of the “PRO” balls..
      I remember playing the Otter Creek course near Columbus, IN back in 1984 as a 3 handicap, including playing in the evenings after the State Amateur finished for the day. We/they played from the 6800 yard blue tees…not the gold tees at 7200 (very few people could even find the gold tees, much less play from them)

      Reply

      JohnnyO'

      4 years ago

      I like the Baseball comment. I propose going back to Hickory Shafts.

      Reply

      Ted Sharpe

      4 years ago

      Just shorten the course and grow the rough. And, we amateurs get very little roll compared to the courses the pros play..

      If the powers to be are so concerned about the balls, just hand out a slow ball to each pro at every tournament…..including all the majors..

      Let the amateurs keep buying the ProV1 and the SNELL go.f balls to aid their slower swings. We need all the help we can get!

      Reply

      Bob Pegram

      4 years ago

      The first chart shows that driving distances for both the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour are almost flat for more than 15 years. There are a few people who are raising the average a little, but most hit the ball the same speed as it has been hit for years. This speaks to other solutions rather than reducing the length the ball will go. Letting the fairways grow slightly and bring in the edges of the rough and/or more fairway traps in the driving area for pros. Those would penalize all but the most accurate longest drivers. The potential penalties wouldn’t be worth the risks.

      Reply

      Jeff Eckhart

      4 years ago

      Thanks for the explanation on the charts, especially the ball speed chart, it was very helpful. Will be interesting to see what happens. I wonder how they will come up with answers that will not effect the amateur game. I always look forward to your articles and take on things.

      Reply

      TonyG

      4 years ago

      Having built and maintained golf courses, I can tell you the Agronomic impact is minimal. Generally, the added length is rough between the tee and fairway, which gets minimal water and pesticides. Labor is minimal as well since those areas are mowed with larger equipment. The shame is in the classic courses that have become obsolete because they lack the space to adapt. I worked at a classic course that had held various majors including US Opens. With some expensive land acquisitions, they managed to stretch the layout to 7,000 yards over the years. However, distance being a major factor, they will never be able to host a PGA major again.

      Reply

      DR

      4 years ago

      Lots of good info here, which is interesting for me and my buddies to debate on course. I’m hopeful that the “governing bodies” don’t use the information to “keep the game fair” according to what they believe the data shows.
      Pros are pros, good ams are good ams and so-so’s are … you get it. I am positive of one thing that has come out of all of this data gathering; I love the game of golf and will continue to play it. The ” governing body” declarations of this, that and the other things take a backseat when I’m focusing on dropping a 10 footer to take a 5 skin carryover.

      Reply

      Charles Bartholomew

      4 years ago

      Good explanation of the data Tony. Very interesting indeed.

      Reply

      Oweno2

      4 years ago

      Good analysis and review…… for ALL Amateurs, if your playing off tee’s that are 7000+ your playing off the wrong tees and causing slow play. Even on shorter courses it still takes 2 to get there and 2 to get in, and if you can’t shot par your on the wrong tee.

      Whoopi I’ fit into the AMATEUR DRIVING DISTANCE range

      Reply

      don

      4 years ago

      Tell that to golf leagues. You have to be 85 to move forward here. When is the last time anyone you play with ever agreed to play from the LADIES tees. And don’t bother trying to tell me they are not called that anymore, we both know better.

      Reply

      Berniez40

      4 years ago

      Again–great article–grerat data. I do remember at one point the USGA and the R&A were considering a One Ball Rule. They even tried it I believe on one of the mini-tour events. Volvik built “The One Ball” prototype that everyone was issued for play at this tournament.
      I am not sure of all the conclusions drawn on that one, but it sure would make for a fascinting set of data charts, as well as a very interesting “Play It -Cut It” if one could lay their hands upon one of those Prototypes. —I’m pretty sure Volvik –needing the publicity might even fire up the old design for a few dozen in exchange for the inherent publicity. Maybe somewhere the USGA collected the data and charted it.
      I do know that the main conclusion drawn was that, “…..Every player has a different game, and has developed a swing to compliment their game. Therefor, every player is entitled to a ball that complioments said swing.” Translation: “This one ball rule ain’t gonna work.”
      Even so, the data invoived would be pretty cool to look at., and would make for a great read.

      Reply

      Medic7769

      4 years ago

      So after reading this, the conclusion I can see coming down from the USGA and R&A would be to lower the compression rating of the golf balls on your. Making the ball slower. An example would be a Srixon Z Star XV with the compression rating of the Q star tour. 70 vs 100. but calling them the same name. (maybe saying “Tour” on the slower one if they decided to sell that model… which why would anyone buy it. hahaha

      Reply

      Joann

      4 years ago

      Shorten the courses in in the right direction, maybe making links style, get rid of green books, grow rough a bit more, if you miss the fairway then you should be penalized by being in the rough, make the bunkers harder like put some pot belly bunkers in or just more of them.

      Reply

      Chadd

      4 years ago

      Go back to shallower v grooves also.

      Reply

      Evan Loschiavo

      4 years ago

      We see similar issues in sports like Baseball, where advancements in bat and ball technology made the game too dangerous to play with an aluminum bat. Do you think this is the next step in golf? Have pros using drivers, irons and fairway metals that look like the consumer goods but have technology incorporated that further reduces ball speed?

      I agree most with your remarks on athleticism and the broad adoption of launch monitors among tour players. The science of the swing and optimizing for ball speed, both in tweaking of equipment and tweaking of conditioning and flexibility have greatly improved distance. I would argue it has made the largest difference.

      Thanks, and keep up the phenomenal work!

      Reply

      Brad

      4 years ago

      Thanks Tony. We see bifurcation in other sports (baseball players use aluminum bats, right up until they become pro, then it is wooden bats…3 pointers in college and high school basketball are much shorter than in the pros…the college football ball is much softer than the pros and receivers only need 1 foot inbounds instead of 2…etc) and nobody seems to have an issue unless it is golf, then they have a problem.

      There is another solution that is so simple. Don’t lengthen courses any more. Grow the rough to 4+ inches and narrow the fairways. If these monsters can hit 350 yards drives on firm fairways to a 20 yard wide fairway, then more power to them. All that takes is a different mowing pattern for a month or so before each tournament starts – doesn’t that seem much cheaper and way more controllable than making different golf balls or controlling equipment?

      Just a thought.

      Reply

      don

      4 years ago

      The argument that we currently play by the same rules is already bogus. The green speeds and rough height at pro tournaments is soo different its crazy. Not to mention that beautiful new sand they get to hit out of.

      Reply

      RT

      4 years ago

      I agree . There are too many wide open fairways ,short grass and less sand traps .The course should challenge skills other than power and length..The you must plot the course according to your shot where it’s not just a straight bomber shot. . Fades ,Draws where some skill is required.. More sand traps in fairways and around greens., tall grass and more water traps..

      Reply

      Michael Scales

      4 years ago

      I keep trying to figure out if it’s distance or the lack of accuracy that is actually the issue. I guess you really can’t split the two but being long and straight, in my opinion, should be rewarded while being crooked should have more penal stuff for the pros.

      Reply

      TLGFLA

      4 years ago

      Thank you for pulling out these points. There are so many variables it can be difficult to isolate them. One that I haven’t heard much about is the fact that more pros may be hitting less than driver (for accuracy) given the distance improvements all clubs are showing (Stenson and his prized 3 wood as an example). I’d be curious if this was true. If pros hit driver every hole, the distance gains would be greater (though they would miss more fairways). I’m interested in your thoughts.

      Reply

      Evan

      4 years ago

      So actually the opposite is true. As the ShotLink Era progresses, the data strongly suggests that using driver MORE often than what was the previous norm actually leads to lower scores in most events on most holes on the PGA tour. As always, there are some outliers, but as a whole, the tour is more apt to use driver today than they were 20 years ago. However, I’m not sure if those variables are included: I.E. if its a par 4 and the player elects to use 3 wood, is that club selection then removing the drive from the data? Not sure?

      Reply

      Tank

      4 years ago

      What an insight especially on the loft, length and ball type!!

      Reply

      Jurgen Flopp

      4 years ago

      Been saying for years that they should be shortening courses instead of lengthening them. If you shorten them and trick them up a bit you bring everyone into the equation and not just the sluggers.

      Reply

      Max Parris

      4 years ago

      Hi guys. I hope someone can help me to understand the following question. Deflection. If you hit the golfball that is soft as I understand it the golfball will deflect giving you some distance but if you hit a hard golf ball
      the face of the driver will deflect giving you some distance. so do you get more distance from the deflection of the ball or the deflection of the face of the driver?

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