Dean Snell On USGA & R&A the Proposed Golf Ball Rollback
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Dean Snell On USGA & R&A the Proposed Golf Ball Rollback

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Dean Snell On USGA & R&A the Proposed Golf Ball Rollback

Dean Snell is pretty well qualified to weigh in on last week’s USGA and R&A proposed Model Local Rule. Especially on a new Overall Distance Standard (ODS) test and how golf ball manufacturers will be affected, it’s fair to call him a certified expert.

Evidence shows up in the 40+ golf ball patents he holds (and ones pending) from his time with Titleist, TaylorMade and most recently, Snell Golf, the direct-to-consumer ball company he founded in March 2015.

More proof comes with this little nugget of trivia: Snell appeared as an expert witness for the prosecution AND the defense in the 2008 Titleist versus Callaway golf ball patent litigation.

“Still makes me laugh,” says Snell, who graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a degree in plastics engineering.

Titleist and TaylorMade Tenures

TaylorMade’s Vice-President of Research and Development for 18 years his fingerprints are all over the TP Red and Black, Penta (golf’s first five-layer ball), Lethal, TOUR Preferred, Noodle, RocketBallz and Project (a).

Before that, Snell spent seven years in Fairhaven, Mass., co-inventing the original Titleist Pro V1 and Professional. He’s also listed as a co-designer of Tour Prestige, HP2 and HP2 Distance.

Snell Golf’s Focus

Today, his approach with Snell Golf is, “No Tour Contracts, No Extra Costs, No B.S..”

Being an e-commerce, direct-to-consumer business model, he’s distanced himself (pun intended) from an ongoing soap opera with enough story angles, twists and bad blood it could main event, Wrestlemania 39 next month.

Watching this Battle Royal play itself out from a seat in the stands suits Snell.

Ask him what he thinks about it all; he’s happy to oblige.

On the Modern Ball for Recreational Players

When you’re the co-inventor of Titleist Pro V1, no surprise Snell is an advocate of the modern golf ball.

Wound-core and solid-core construction brought together produced a performance confluence of tour-level spin control AND distance capability.

For recreational playing consumers, the modern ball has been a revelation.

“Golf is a hard, hard sport to play. I don’t know if that gets mentioned enough in this debate,” he says. “Taking spin out of the ball, in my opinion has brought more people to the game, and its kept more people in the game. Look at young kids playing now and how good they are at such a young age. Look how much longer people play because they still hit it a comfortable distance. That keeps it fun for them. If you gave a 15-20 handicap golfer today a Tour Balata of yesterday, I don’t believe they would enjoy the game as much.”

What About the Pro Game?

Snell would never deny that multi-layer, solid-core golf balls have been a game changer for touring professionals. Pro V1 was built to be more consistent, durable, straighter and, yes, longer AND have a Tour Balata level of spin control.

Is the modern ball the root cause of this debate on distance? Snell contends that it’s one of four equal factors that have contributed to escalation at the game’s top level (more on that in a second)

As a television product, he thinks professional golf has advanced way beyond the Big Three era of Palmer, Nicklaus and Player and even surpassed the late 90s and early 2000s viewing when Tiger and Phil dominated.

On weekends he watches PGA Tour coverage religiously.

“It’s gone from stagnant and a little bland to a lot more interesting,” he says. “The same guys don’t win every week. One week it’s an athletic guy who wins with his distance, the next week, it’s a guy with his putting and wedge play. Doesn’t change our game when we go out and play, but for me, it’s entertaining and more fun to watch.”

Is the USGA and R&A Model Local Rule a setback for the television product if codified?

“It could be,” Snell shrugs. “I appreciate architectural people saying a shorter ball brings back angles and maybe how a designer intended a course to play, but that doesn’t show well on television. Players are the product; courses are the arenas.”

Bifurcation by Any Other Name

One of his main takeaways from last week’s rollback announcement was the governing bodies’ admission that distance is now officially on the clock as an issue that concerns golf’s less than 1% of tour pros and elite amateurs while allowing recreational golf equipment to go forward unimpeded.

Snell is pleased the USGA and R&A finally stated that for the record.

That said, he still considers the MLR “bifurcation” even if thinly disguised as a choice rather than a mandate.

“I’ll always believe one set of rules is best for the game,” he says.

Tackling the Model Local Rule

In 2004 the USGA and R&A implemented its current Overall Distance Standard (ODS) for golf ball testing. Thresholds were a maximum of 317 yards (+ a 3-yard tolerance), and launch conditions set at 120 mph, 2,520 rpm, and a launch angle of 10-degrees.

What the governing bodies have proposed is an updated testing procedure that maintains 317 yards (+ 3-yard tolerance) but moves launch parameters to 127 mph, 2,250 rpm and 11-deg launch.

No current golf ball used on Tour will conform under these updated guidelines. That means golf ball manufacturers will have no choice but to re-tool every aspect of their franchise products to satisfy player expectations and USGA and R&A requirements.

“Sounds simple to say, hey, let’s go make balls 15-20 yards shorter, but it’s not,” Snell says. “There’s a trickle-down of build problems that require step-by-step, layer-by-layer solutions for R&D. All of the things you put into the design of a golf ball don’t only relate to the driver. They relate to total performance tee to green. Every aspect of the game changes.”

Offense to Defence

When Snell started at Titleist, Tour Balata had 4,000 rpm of spin. The ODS proposal calls for spin to be set for 2,200 rpm. There’s not much question that bringing back Tour Balata spin levels at 1,800 mph more spin would shorten up golf balls.

But does it fundamentally change the game at the Tour level from offense to defense?

“Players will try and control the driver with a lower trajectory, and the ball isn’t going as far, so distance will come down,” Snell says. “At the same time, iron spin will rise, and for wedges, it goes up a lot – to about 10,000 rpm. That becomes a problem in windy conditions and for holding greens and pulling balls back. Definitely, it impacts a player’s ability to control shots.”

How Will Manufacturers Tackle a New World Order?

When a golf ball manufacturer like Snell Golf submits prototypes to the USGA and R&A for testing, they do everything possible to maximize speed, spin rate and aerodynamics to keep product just below legal.

That’s the competitive nature of the category.

“If you get things where you’re supposed to, you’ve pushed the speed limit on velocity and distance because everyone plays there,” Snell says.

Swing speed being effectively two-thirds of ball speed, seven more miles-per-hour at impact pushes current balls way past the conforming thresholds.

Snell says designing compliant products through CAD (computer-aided design) is one thing, producing them is another.

“Every company will have to look at different core designs, changing mantle layers, different covers that create more spin or designing to solve the problem with dimple pattern. Doing this strictly on an aerodynamic basis would be tough. You’d have to design some crazy dimples to get to the speed and spin rate they want to test at,” he adds.

How Snell Would Do It

Happily, he doesn’t have to but if Snell had a vested interest in the Tour to satisfy a new ODS, his first order of business would be to assess the proposed USGA and R&A test conditions with current product.

Once complete, he’d move to a discovery phase of whether an aerodynamic design keeping the same spin is the best way forward or if a combination of aerodynamics and spin is the more practical approach.

“You’d do the evaluations and it could work out to be both,” he says. “By adding some spin, not too much, adding some drag, not too much, your goal is to create a ball that would be under but still close to 320 yards (+3 yard) at 127 mph.”

Strictly as an aerodynamics modification, Snell would look at patterning changes for dimple design as soon as possible.

“Every product is different. Every aerodynamic out there is different. When you go on a launch monitor or play in simulators, there’s a programmed model in there that gives you spin, launch, speed, and it uses a model to calculate distance. Works great, but it’s not real life when it comes to golf ball specifics. There’s different lift and drag forces on every dimple pattern. Some of them are designed for faster speeds, to keep the ball in the air longer, and for some companies it’s that second stage flight that assists with carry.”

And if he identified spin as the best means for achieving a rolled-back tour product?

“As I said before, spin impacts every shot in the bag. You’d do your due diligence with tour data and work from there,” he answered, “Especially on shots from 125-130 yards into the green where it really counts out there.”

Who’s Picking Up the Tab?

Everything involved with a distance rollback comes with a significant cost factor. Snell cites re-tooling to create a new set of deeper dimples to slow a Urethane cover ball down as “an extremely expensive undertaking.”

Not insignificant is the re-engineering and R&D investment required in multiple areas for prototyping, in-house testing and tour testing.

“When you go out on Tour and give this shorter ball to Rory (McIlroy) if you’re TaylorMade or to Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth if you’re Titleist, no one is buying that ball. The pros don’t buy it, and consumers won’t buy it because it’s 15-20 yards shorter. In the end, the manufacturers will want their money back from this. If you’re already trying to protect recreational consumers and keep the balls people are actually buying in a controlled price range, you’re potentially adding millions of dollars in R&D, manufacturing retooling costs, and tour support for a product for less than 1% of golfers. Someone is paying for that, and it shouldn’t be the consumer,” Snell says.

Wait…How Many Pro V1s???

Titleist has multiple golf ball models in use on the PGA Tour. Some are older Pro V1 or Pro V1x models players won’t change out of. Others have specific performance characteristics like Left Dash and Left Dot.

Snell hasn’t had to look at a weekly Darrell Survey golf ball count for seven years, but he has a pretty good idea what Titleist, for example, would be dealing with.

“They probably have 12-15 balls they’d have to look at,” he says. “And I can guarantee Titleist will not make 15 new models. They’ll probably make one or two of each and the players will have to learn to play with them. That means different levels of feel if you change spin and different levels of feel for changes to aerodynamics.”

Shit Show Scenario

The USGA and R&A have initiated another six-month Notice and Comment Period on the MLR through August 14.

Equipment manufacturers, tour administrators, players and individuals running elite amateur competitions will be able to provide feedback as they have with the Distance Insights project.

Social media is already buzzing with ‘What If’ scenarios.

The U.S. Open and Open Championship are obvious locks to implement the MLR. Voicing distance concerns for quite some time, The Masters will as well. After that? The PGA of America doesn’t seem enthused, and the PGA Tour and other tours worldwide are assessing what a rollback will mean to their product. Both organizations, of course, are more tightly aligned with golf ball manufacturers.

Reasonable the NCAA, regional and independent tour associations, including junior tours, would fall in line with whatever the Tour decides since they’re part of professional golf’s development ramp.

So, if the PGA Tour turns thumbs down? A veritable shit-show awaits in prospect.

“I don’t think it will come to that, but if it did ‘shit-show’ is a good way to describe it,” Snell says. “The players would absolutely hate it, and it wouldn’t be good for fans. To go from the Valero Texas Open with the current ball then have to switch into a shorter ball at The Masters that has 4,000 more rpm’s of spin with a wedge would be the worst thing that could happen out of this. No doubt it would cause chaos.”

Snell’s Four-Point Distance Issue Philosophy

Three + decades of experience with golf ball performance, his personal philosophy hasn’t changed much in the past 20 years. He puts any distance issue in four equal silos:

  • 25% golf balls with lower spin rates (not faster speeds meaning players
    hit it higher)
  • 25% drivers with faster COR and expanded sweet spots
  • 25% agronomy from firmer, shorter-cut fairways
  • 25% player biomechanics, strength and fitness level

“The golf ball hasn’t gotten faster,” he contends. “Back in 1990, 160 mph was tour ball speed with Tour Balata. Now it’s 185 -190 mph. Some guys can get it to 200. Any distance issue is a combination of player, driver, shorter, harder fairways, and ball flight being higher. That’s the reality.”

Over a two-year period during the Mercedes Championship at LaCosta Resort a few years back, Snell tested out his agronomy theory.

“I did a comparison of top ten players for driving distance – the first year where it rained pretty good and the next year when conditions were dry – and the difference was 22-23 yards,” he says. “Making fairways softer on tour would slow roll and distance down. Since the players hit it high, it wouldn’t roll out nearly as much. If the Tour shaped fairways a bit different out at 300 yards, if they’re a bit softer, if rough is thicker, accuracy becomes more important.”

Bifurcating the Tee

Snell is a big proponent of another alternative: A shorter tee.

No, he’s not crazy describing it as bifurcation but legislating a half-inch shorter tee for Tour players and elite amateurs would be a cheaper fix than the OEMs spending millions to produce new golf balls.

“A half-inch shorter tee would reduce distance by 10-15 yards based on how much lower they’d have to tee it, how much spin that adds to the golf ball and how much it reduces loft at impact. They can’t hit the ball as high, and there’s added spin, so it goes shorter. I’ve been saying the same thing from the time I was doing the Professional to Pro V1. That’s when driver spin rates got much lower and drivers themselves started to get bigger heads and longer shafts.”

The Only Thing Certain is the Uncertainty

On one hand, Snell thinks bigger, stronger, more flexible athletes are kind of being punished for their length with this proposed MLR.

On the other, he knows the longest hitters are sure to gain a competitive advantage if it goes ahead.

“If a guy is hitting a pitching-wedge into a green and the other guy is hitting an 8-iron the player hitting 8-iron can still win,” he says, “but as you go further back, if that same comparison becomes a 7-8 iron versus a 4-5 iron that’s a big difference over 72 holes on approach shots to firm, fast greens.”

Snell is like a lot of people. He enjoys tour players hitting it long but gets caught up in the moment when a shorter hitter wins with his driving accuracy and short-game ability.

“When Mark McGwire played baseball at Fenway Park, they didn’t make him hit from behind the backstop. He got to hit from the plate, same as everyone else, with that short wall in Left Field,” Snell says, “but Ichiro could still beat the Red Sox with singles and doubles. To me, it’s pretty cool if you don’t have to hit home runs to still win the game.”

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Rick Young

Rick Young

Rick Young

MyGolfSpy contributor Rick Young believes golf has far more interesting stories outside the ropes than inside; that a beautiful set of forged irons is good for the golfing soul (even if they're hard to hit) and that the World Golf Hall of Fame is missing a dozen worthy golf industry icons who deserve an honored place in St. Augustine, FLA. Born and raised in Woodstock, Ontario, Young is currently President of the Golf Journalists Association of Canada....and trying hard not to be impeached.

Rick Young

Rick Young

Rick Young

Rick Young

Rick Young

Rick Young





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      Mark

      1 year ago

      Cut fairways .1 higher, maybe .2. Reshape PGA tour fairways3-5 yds narrower, eliminate straight. Create even ever so slight doglegs. That’s 3 factors, 4th, make primary rough minimum 1.75 inches.

      Reply

      Marty

      1 year ago

      I really enjoyed Mr. Snell’s insightful perspective. Obviously, a blanket change would affect play. The one aspect that hasn’t been addressed is how changes to the golf ball will affect the handicap index, if a change is made for all golfers. I wonder if it would effect disproportionally one set of golfers vs another… I.e., higher vs lower handicappers.

      Reply

      Charlie Albacore

      1 year ago

      Its not that hard. Move the tees back to where they were 30 years ago & play the restricted ball. Or make a local rule for pros that they cant use a tee peg for their first stroke..Almost nobody can get past 300 yds off the turf…& We wannabe golfers can play the same ball as the TV Stars

      Reply

      Mike in Pittsburgh

      1 year ago

      So there may be an SGBL in our future – the Shitty Golf Ball League. Great, I plan to tune out. The demand for this change is minuscule yet the impacts of a ball rollback would be significant. Not only would nobody who wasn’t forced to play the SGB (even the SGB Pro V1), but since it seems to be an option that could be on for one tournament and off for the next – think about whether the pros would just skip the SGB event rather than trying to rework their game for one lousy (pardon me, SGB) tournament.

      Reply

      Da Slammer

      1 year ago

      Damn, the old website was way better. At least you had a button for Comments at the top so you can jump to that, now you have to scroll all the way down manually sheesh

      Reply

      Brad Ransom

      1 year ago

      Great article MGS! This is a golf course issue look at bolls as the fix. Here is an idea: keep the solution with the problem: Alter the courses you’re trying to save and forget the ball/equipment. I know the purists in golf architects wouldn’t like it one bit- that is- putting rough traps and water into some holes that would force Rory to think twice and maybe take the 3 wood out where the 60- 80 percent of tour players would still hit the driver. Don’t do this on all holes. Only the few that is in obvious jeopardy where you can’t lengthen the tee box. This is the conversation that clubs need to have anyway. Reward the long hitter on some of the holes but not all the holes. It could be that more rough and fairway bunkers are not enough. Water or “weeds” and need to be considered. But to just force a different ball on only the tour and for a few events to fix a course issue- I’m with JT- it’s stupid.

      Reply

      Jason S

      1 year ago

      Dean is a smart dude and knows his stuff. I agree with his breakdown of the 4 main items that have contributed to this USGA/R&A made up issue. I’ve been saying for a while that course conditions and the players themselves are the two main components to this. I’d like to add a 5th to consider (it relates to the player’s portion) – information. With the modern launch monitors, data gathering tools like Arccos, and immense testing and data gathering by the manufacturers, information has really changed how the players play the game. They’ve found things like hitting it closer and not laying up, even if hitting it in the rough is better than hitting short and staying in the fairways. They’ve also found their perfect hitting specs when dialing in each club – launch angle, spin rate, swing speed, landing angle, etc, etc. Even 10 years ago this level of detail wasn’t nearly as available and utilized by players to really perfect each and every swing and perfecting their swings for each and every course and condition. Add this to course conditions like concrete fairways, little to no real rough in places and the constant removal of bunkers and trees and it’s no wonder players are going longer and longer. Greens like we see every week on tour don’t exist anywhere else in the world, running at 12+ on the stint meter. Fairways on tour are shorter than the greens I play on public courses. Hell, I’ve driven on roads that were softer and “slower” than their fairways.
      The USGA/R&A need to look into making real changes to course setups (grow the frakkin’ grass!) before costing tens of millions of the consumer’s dollars to make them feel like they’re “in control” of golf.

      Reply

      League Golfer

      1 year ago

      I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for saving me the time typing all the same stuff.

      Reply

      Geno

      1 year ago

      Being that all the manufacturers of balls used on tour also make golf clubs wouldn’t it be so much easier to just roll back the rules on the CT/COR of the driver faces? I’m pretty sure that most, if not all, manufacturers of drivers still have the older tooling sitting in a warehouse somewhere. Take the CT/COR in use 10 years ago (or thereabouts) and make that the “Tour Standard” in driver faces. Maybe take an additional 1″ or 1 1/2″ off the maximum length of the driver. Seems to me it would be very much easier to do that than re-tool for 2 or 3 different models of balls that they give away for free to professional golfers and make us pay for that R&D, tooling. testing etc…Throw in some changes to the agronomy and maybe the tee as well and you wouldn’t have to mess with any more changes to the rules for decades. Just my $.02…..
      Peace

      Reply

      Gary B

      1 year ago

      Excellent, insightful article. I really enjoyed hearing Dean’s comments and insight.
      As someone mentioned before me… shorter tees and longer fairway grass. That’s an economical, way to begin addressing the situation. Re-designing the ball is crazy and that expense is going to be put, eventually, right on the everyday golfer, which is us. Make the tees a half inch shorter, the grass a half inch longer and see what that does for starters.
      Ok, I gotta try some of Dean’s golf balls now. Man, super impressed with that guy.
      Thanks for the great article!

      Reply

      Mark

      1 year ago

      I agree with everything Mr. Snell said. It would certainly be sensible to start with tee height and the condition of the fairway in the landing zone, simple economical steps that would be more widely accepted.
      I can’t see where changing the ball will make professional golf viewing any better in fact just the opposite..
      Another option may be to limit certain holes to no more than 3 wood or some higher lofted club,

      Reply

      Da Slammer

      1 year ago

      So much easier to just grow the grass. Only takes a month of not cutting and watering, if there is already a good base. If it’s a seasonal thing for over-seed then it needs a couple months but still, that’s better than worrying about the equipment. Course doesn’t have to be “moist” it just needs a solid base for a soft fairway that can hold good grass.
      And then the requisite higher rough, and tightening of the landing zones.
      And “traps” need to be exactly that, at every course – don’t make them so easy to get out of, no matter what they say about “that’s the design, it’s to just catch errant shots but not hard to escape” BS with the perfect sand and perfect raking. Make them true traps.
      But, to help them still be able to score a bit, make the greens smooth but never more than 10 on the stimp. Some of these US Open type jokes like we had at Chambers Bay are exactly that – a joke. Let everybody be able to putt. They used to, back in the day. They were never running like glass tops. After the lesson they learned at Chambers Bay they made sure they had some water on the greens the next year, so why can’t they do that to the fairways and grow them out.
      Leave the equipment alone. The standard rules set for speed and spin are fine. Just leave it as is, call it that the CT and COR can never be changed from here, ever again. Let the athletes be athletes.

      Reply

      Jon

      1 year ago

      I couldn’t agree more, but this makes too much sense and it doesn’t fit Jack’s narrative. The 40+ yards of rollout in the fairways is just ridiculous. Most of the fairways the pros play stimp out faster than most of the greens I play in the public world.

      Reply

      Tim

      1 year ago

      Years ago as the USA first sent men into space, millions was spent trying to get a pen to write in weightless conditions. Finally, the USA asked Russian if they had figured out how to fix this problem. The Russians said yes, we use a pencil.

      The USGA and the R&A need to ask for a pencil.

      Reply

      Calvin Peete

      1 year ago

      If they want to take the driver out of their hands, then actually take away tee usage and require that they must have at least 14º of loft and no more than 43″ length on non-putters.

      Otherwise, if they want to change the ball, change the ball for everyone. Bifurcation-by-stealth is a terrible plan.

      The pro game wants nothing to do with this. They are being singled out. If you want to make a meaningful change, limit ball compression for everyone in 2026 to an 86-compression max. That’s a Pro V1 today. Or close to that. Make it 80. Whatever. That will be meaningful without interfering with amateurs.

      Reply

      Will

      1 year ago

      Great article, Its apparent the DS lays it on the line, no holds barred. These “supposed protectors of the game” are not interested in how to legislate the game by catagories (pro, amatuer), rather making a square peg fit into a round hole. Protecting the game is important, but where are the common sense decisions; besides protecting, shouldn’t they be concerned with growing it? The majority of recreational players are just happy to be out there w/friends, to BS, tease/kid/brag – if they hit a few goods shots, can’t wait till next time out. Cutting distance of their ball would not be in their best interest. Being a low handicapper in my youth, when we ran a toutnaments at the club, we would make them all-inclusive, so everyone had a great time & maybe won a trinket or nice mention – there were no losers, luch after was always a winner. Now these Model T driving, hickory shafted purists are so far off the track — just make the courses tougher, let the grass grow higher (better for the planet anyway) & have these ..01% of pros play courses that require them to use their skills more, limiting how far they can jack up the lofts, etc; you want to be a pro, learn the shots. Maybe they would appreciate what the average player deals with.. As a man once said, “it ani’t rocket science”.or “the indian or the arrow”…

      Reply

      Odie

      1 year ago

      Golf courses know probably two years in advance they are hosting a tour event. It takes at most 6 months to plant – if overseeded fairways – water, and establish mowing patterns to slow fairways down and grow rough out. Or you can keep fairways fast and grow the rough to 6” penalizing inaccuracy, that way “shorter” but accurate tour players still have a chance. Forget having different balls.

      Reply

      David Maus

      1 year ago

      I played a course that had hosted a US Open qualifying event. I couldn’t get over how much firmer the fairways were. Drives I hit (that actually hit the fairway) bounced like I had hit cart path. I have 106-110 mph driver speed and I reached two par 5’s in two with a driver and a 4 iron. Seems to me the simpler solution would me to soften the fairways, let the grass grow a little taller, and narrow up the fairways.

      Reply

      Rick Young

      1 year ago

      I’m a fan of Dean Snell, his opinions, suggestions, and his golf balls.
      Great article – great name :~`)

      Reply

      Mark

      1 year ago

      Formula One stopped the “tyre wars” years ago and went to a control tyre (as have a number of other motorsport categories), as a result everyone has “gone to sleep” on the tyre front. No interest. Also no improvement, no gains, and no benefit to the wider tyre-buying public.

      As it stands the beauty of Golf is you can play very close to the items played by the professionals… noting they will play prototype products several seasons before it becomes a consumer product… then we all go to the course and play by the same rules! That’s a beautifully uniting set-up. Pros, elite amateurs, and the rest of us all benefit from R&D, prototypes, and materials advances applied to the same courses, and the same rules. That’s priceless!

      I love Snell’s suggestion of a shorter tee. A very simple fix, that costs next to nothing, and can be either embraced by the rest of us, or ignored as we see fit, unless we play in any advanced level of competition, whereby you simply apply it to one and all, including the ladies, but possibly not juniors.

      This really is a solution looking for a problem. Silly idea. Hope they find a way to quietly kill it off.

      Reply

      Alex

      1 year ago

      I’ve long been a proponent of taller fairways. PGA events cut the fairways so short nowadays which justs let the ball roll out so much. If you compare the fairways of today vs fairways of the past, it’s such a noticeable difference. Couple that with shorter tees and I think it’s a much more simple and easier solution off the tee box.

      Reply

      Trey

      1 year ago

      That’s what Arnold said back 20’ish yrs ago. That the best technological advantage from his time was the lawn mower.

      Reply

      Mike

      1 year ago

      Great article and knowledge sharing and the willingness of Snell golf to adapt to the changes

      Reply

      Emery

      1 year ago

      The 100% Effective Rollback. Tour Pro’s will just have to start drinking and smoking more while playing…like they use too!…unless you are John Daly.

      Reply

      Mike

      1 year ago

      For any pro tournaments make the fairways tighter and gro the rough to 3 inches it mite slow play but accuracy is the goal it will take the driver out of lots of guys hands

      Reply

      Steve B

      1 year ago

      Very good article and I like Snell’s approach. I would not have thought that a wet fairway made that much of a difference. I completely understand that the tours and courses want to see the course played as it was originally designed but forcing a ball to go shorter isn’t the way to do it.

      I like the idea of a softer fairway with longer grass, shorter tees and then make the fairways more narrow at the 300+ mark so there is a penalty if you miss. This also really adds in the risk/reward if you go for it with a driver. Reward accuracy and not necessarily distance.

      Reply

      Carolyn

      1 year ago

      Would cutting max driver length down to 42 inches take care of the distance thing without changing balls?

      Reply

      Chris

      1 year ago

      I think you’d be forcing players to play with equipment that didn’t fit them. Also, it would disproportionately affect taller players vs shorter players.

      Reply

      Jason

      1 year ago

      It is so refreshing to hear someone lay out the information so concisely and yet so fully. I remember an article a year or so ago that discussed the merits of growing the fairways taller not only to address the distance concern, but it also was pitched as more environmentally friendly. I appreciated Dean bringing in the agronomy component too! It’s interesting that growing the fairways up has not been seriously discussed; so we can produce more golf balls, but not consider a cheaper, more environmental-friendly option.

      Reply

      Kevin Fitzgerald

      1 year ago

      Mr. Snell makes a lot of sense. I think the USGA and R&N should take note.
      Great article.

      Reply

      Scott

      1 year ago

      I think the MLB/MiLB comparison is really hard to overcome. I guess they could require persimmon woods on tour?

      I also agree that courses can be more difficult. Longer rough, shorter greens, narrower fairways, tighter treelines. Augusta National is able to do this, other courses could consider it too.

      Are greens shorter than they used to be decades ago? I thought I read something somewhere that talked about the difference in greens from Jack to Tiger.

      Reply

      Ken Beaumont

      1 year ago

      Everyone has an opinion and most have personal bias. Manufacturers want to make more profit – so forcing them to change their manufacturing process is probably going to eat into that profit – so of course they will be against this change…but how many golf balls do they sell to the 1% that need modified golf balls vs golf balls as they are to 99% of the golfers out there?

      And it is the 99% of the golfers out there that finance all the golf courses, not the 1% tour pros and an event for 1 week a year. As I low single figure handicapper, I have no interest is playing +7000 yard golf courses and, as a member of a golf course, I have no interest in my fees going up to maintain an extra 10% of golf course real estate so each hole has ‘pro’ tees set back that may only get used 1 week a year at best..

      Reply

      "Mr. 72"

      1 year ago

      If the answer is a shorter tee, would a driver with a shallower face be able to make up for the lost distance? Granted, that driver would be less forgiving.

      Reply

      Patrick

      1 year ago

      Golf is the one sport where everyone gets to use their own ball and golf equipment. Better yet, their balls are custom designed. I like the modern golfer; athletic, able to maximize their performance with the aid of technology ( Trackman/ Foresight) .
      I can’t see one golf ball manufacturer stepping up to create a ball that’s shorter , spins more and only legal for a handful of players and events. Who would actually buy this ball as a consumer? The USGA needs to get answers first.

      Reply

      Don T

      1 year ago

      The golf ball is definitely the culprit in the distance debate. Balata balls spun so much more, and therefore you could NOT swing as hard as you wanted like the Players today.
      You actually had to get the face square , which is a talent required to play competitive golf. I am sure Hogan and Nicklause could have swung harder, but wasn’t worth it as the harder swing could have resulted in a 30-40 yard miss. Today’s ball will not curve that much. 600 yard Par 5’s with a driver and and iron are common today and that’s just not right!

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      1 year ago

      On balance, I don’t think anyone could look at the last 25 years and considering the following four criteria, reasonably suggest that the ball is disproportionately to blame for any sort of distance “problem.”

      * Golf Ball (isn’t any faster now than in 2004)
      * Agronomy
      * Club design (CT/COR, MOI)
      * Athlete Optimization (training, launch monitors, etc)

      Reply

      Jim

      1 year ago

      Here’s an idea just make the par 5s and 4s that they think are problems and make them
      3s and 4s no change to anything and zero cost.

      Reply

      Steve S

      1 year ago

      Brilliant! Shorter tee and let the grass grow longer in the fairway. Boom, you got it. Easy, peasy. And the courses save a bit on mowing and watering(taller grass usually needs less watering)

      Of course, like the government, logical solutions rarely see the light of day.

      Reply

      Dave Brown

      1 year ago

      All golfers should use the distance limited balls. No special rules for pros. Simply move the tees up 10-25 yards. Also will high school and college players use the shorter balls. It’s not unusual for the better ones to hit a drive further than 300 yards.

      Reply

      sandwedge59

      1 year ago

      I am 66 y/o with multiple orthopaedic problems & joint replacements and there NO legitimate reason that i or any recreational golfer with similar age and orthopaedic problems should have to play a reduced distance ball , NONE not one, i asked multiple people at the course that i am a member and not one person that i asked would play i reduced distance golf ball , if you want to change have at it, i wonder if the ball issue goes to court ?

      Reply

      Mike

      1 year ago

      So you’re changing EVERYTHING about golf to accommodate <..000001% of the folks playing & 99.9% of courses that will NEVER have a pro or elite event??? Sounds back assward to me.

      Reply

      Guy

      1 year ago

      Funny that Mr. Snell mentions baseball in his last comment as it is the poster child for bifurcation betwen the pros and amateurs.

      Reply

      Mike

      1 year ago

      Even more than that, baseball has different levels in the quality of wood at A ball and the majors. They also use different balls in AAA and the Majors than the other minor league levels.

      Reply

      Mike

      1 year ago

      Incredibly insightful comments from a guy who knows his balls (that sounds funny but I had to say it!). You can’t tell guys not to work out but by his own analysis, fairways that run like greens are a noticeable factor in distance.

      Once again, the usga has proven they’re a bunch of amateur idiots. But again, I’m not surprised, that’s been their pattern over the years. At least they’re not screwing up. US Opens anymore.

      Reply

      joe moran

      1 year ago

      Has anyone considered lowering the COR on drivers for pro golfers, similar to baseball where pros must use wooden bats while amateurs use composite ones. I would think this would be a simpler and more economical fix.

      Reply

      Ed Nelson

      1 year ago

      Your humble volunteer editor here … I’d like to GET SUM 1800 mph golf balls. I might be able to step back to the white tees!

      Change “mph” to “rpm” “There’s not much question that bringing back Tour Balata spin levels at 1,800 mph more spin would shorten up golf balls..”

      Reply

      Jim

      1 year ago

      As always incredible insight provided by Dean Snell. His analysis and recommended options to limit excessive distance are far more on point that simply revising the ball design for the pros. Not only does he make terrifc golf balls but he really understands the issues. Maybe he should be advising the PGA Tour on how better to limit excessive distance?

      Reply

      Ed Nelson

      1 year ago

      Clear, concise analysis and explanation, with quicker, lower cost options for a roll back.. Perhaps Dean Snell should lead a “Just Say No!” campaign against this ill-advised idea.

      Reply

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