Does the Golf Ball Have a Distance Problem? We asked the Experts.
Golf Balls

Does the Golf Ball Have a Distance Problem? We asked the Experts.

Does the Golf Ball Have a Distance Problem? We asked the Experts.

Sound the alarms. Storied golf courses are being rendered obsolete, and the chief culprit is a golf ball which has been over-engineered and now flies too far. Golf has a distance problem, and it’s ruining the game.

That’s one narrative, but as with any good debate, it’s not without opposition.

The other side of the conversation postulates that if there is a distance problem, it’s far more complex than the arguments being presented would suggest. Is it really the golf ball, or is the USGA, once again, looking to solve a problem that doesn’t exist – at least not at the level at which most of us play?

According to USGA Executive Director, Mike Davis, “The reality is this (ball distance) is affecting all golfers and affecting them in a bad way. These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand. All it’s doing is increasing the cost of the game. The impact it has had has been horrible.”

TitleistBall-1

Tiger Woods, who had celebrated the 6 yards he gained when he signed a multi-year deal in 2016 to exclusively play Bridgestone balls has changed his tune and recently echoed Davis’ sentiments, saying “We need to do something about the ball…I just think it’s (the ball) going too far.”

It makes one wonder if either man has any concept of the game beyond the narrow confines of the PGA Tour.

Given the divide in the debate thus far, the most surprising individual to take the “ball is out of control position” is Bridgestone Golf CEO, Angel Ilagan. Ilagan has asserted that “As it relates to the Tour…there needs to be something to standardize [the ball] because the guys are hitting it way too long.”

Not everyone in the ball business agrees.

Titleist’s VP of Golf Ball Marketing, Michael Mahoney, says there’s “no empirical evidence distance is hurting the game and golfer’s experience of the game.” Mahoney continues, “The dialog is focused around the ball, but it’s not that black and white. There’s a lot of nuance, and broadly speaking our position is the rollback of the golf ball for all golfers is not a good idea.”

Implicit in this statement is the fact that historically the USGA and R&A have vehemently opposed bifurcation (in this case, that would mean differing rulebooks to govern the professional and amateur game). Given their steadfast positions on the subject in the past, it’s reasonable to think should the ruling bodies move forward with a more restrictive ball standard, that standard wouldn’t allow for any distinction between professionals and the rest of us.

Here in the real world where the rest of us play our golf, OEMs sell distance, and the majority consumer is happy to buy. Habitually tapping into the male ego is the golf marketing department’s lowest common denominator. As if you needed evidence of this, I submit Rocketballz, Rocketballz-IER, Epic along with technologies like SpeedFoam and Power Holes as but a few of many examples. While Glavine and Maddux were unquestionably on to something, it’s not just chicks who dig the long ball.

Thanks to modern technology, golfers are hitting the ball farther than ever before, but to give the totality of credit, and by extension, the blame, to the golf ball requires us to ignore the unquestionable role golf clubs, course conditions, and fitness play in the greater conversation.

Is the gear that equipment companies produce threatening the entire golf ecosystem to the degree that they need to roll it back? Titleist’s Mahoney asserts, “We’ve yet to see any data or analysis that we do.”

Here’s some food for thought which would seem to support Titleist’s position. In 2003, PGA Tour average driving distance was 285.9 yards. In 2016, it was 290 yards. That’s an increase of a whopping (and entirely statistically insignificant 1.5%. That said, the number of players averaging 300+ yards off the tee has tripled since 2003, which suggests while the overall average is more or less static, the tour is heavy on players who can bomb it off the tee.

golf-ball-rollback-pga-1

Professionals have access to the same balls, but only a select few are gaining appreciable distance. Maybe it’s not the ball, but rather the guy hitting it.

If the USGA were to implement a rollback, it could have a significant impact on ball manufactures, so we reached out to of the largest ball producers to get a sense of each’s position. Callaway declined to comment, while emails sent to TaylorMade’s PR Manager were not returned.

Srixon was more open to a conversation about a rollback than most but wasn’t able to provide specific details about the performance implications of a rollback.

“There are many ways to limit distance in a golf ball”, says Mike Powell, Srixon’s President of Sales and Marketing. “To speak about how any possible limit would affect overall distance or performance from tee to green is quite difficult without knowing precisely what the proposed limits would be. For example, if the USGA limits initial velocity, you would expect to see a more significant effect on longer shots compared to those hit from say 125 yards and in. If there are limits on aerodynamic properties, then the effects could be of a different nature and affect golfers differently depending on their spin tendencies. Basically, it’s impossible to speak technically about something that isn’t specific.”

Because finite percentages haven’t been declared (Mike Davis has, however, often referenced a 20% reduction) and the USGA and R&A are resolute in the belief one set of rules is foundational to golf’s very existence, we have to believe whatever decisions are made will impact all golfers, regardless of status.

With that, 99% of the golfing population would come to experience something quite different than the game played now. Consider the average male drive travels 220 yards (3 wood is 187, 7 -iron is 134 and pitching-wedge is 74). Assuming a 20% reduction on all shots, those distances would be 176, 150, 107 and 59 yards respectively. Should a reduction prove uniform, golfers would likely see the gaps between clubs compressed, thereby limiting the necessity of carrying 14 clubs. At some point, pragmatic golfers won’t want to purchase 14 clubs, which puts the OEMs in the unenviable position of selling fewer clubs.

At the pro level, long hitters would lose more in terms of actual yardage than shorter hitters, meaning that a rollback could benefit shorter hitters by narrowing the gap between Zach Johnson and Dustin Johnson.

Suppose a uniform ball could be engineered with gradual limitations. For example, shots with an initial velocity of greater than 175 mph would be reduced by a full 20% and those will less initial velocity would be reduced by smaller percentages, say down to 10%. At face value, this would restrict players like Dustin Johnson and JB Holmes more than Zach Johnson and Brian Gay, and it could place a soft “cap” on driver distances. But the reality is it would still disproportionately impact amateur golfers once again (see: groove rule, anchoring ban), in an attempt to regulate the professional game.

Srixon isn’t against a roll-back for professionals but believes it works against best interests of amateur players.

“Regarding the impact on golf, we feel that limiting ball performance for amateurs would have a negative impact on interest in the game. Unlike professionals, the majority of amateurs are not obsoleting courses with excessive distances. In fact, they continually strive for distance gains, which is why we believe amateurs should not be subject to any new distance-reducing regulations. ” – Mike Powell, President of Sales and Marketing

That said, Powell did open the door to regulatory changes on equipment.

“We do not think that it is unreasonable to propose different regulations on equipment for elite amateur and professional players, however, if such changes were proposed these should not be confined to balls only.”

Dean Snell has a unique perspective that comes from decades of experience inside the big OEMs (Titleist/Acushnet and TaylorMade) as well as more recent experience as the owner of a direct to consumer ball company (Snell Golf). He’s been both in the balcony and on the dance floor, and because of his industry aptitude and experience, he’s seen enough to understand that complex problems often have multiple causes. When it comes to the ball issue, Snell contends, “it’s a multifaceted problem, but we’re focusing on a single solution.”

It’s easy to make the ball the scapegoat, but, says Snell, “the ball has always been fast,” and the evidence suggests other factors (equipment, agronomy, and athletic training) share the responsibility for the distance gains.

Rolling back the ball is simple in principle, but Snell believes it’s littered with consequences and disincentives, or what economists like to call negative externalities. According to Snell, “manufacturers have to spend tons of money to create a ball with absolutely no retail value…and companies aren’t going to pay tour players to promote a ball people don’t want to buy at retail…it kills the entire conversation.”

Secondly, any rollback may prove to benefit longer players, presumably those most “at fault” for the current situation. As a rough example, Dustin Johnson might go from playing a par 4 with driver-wedge to driver-7 iron. A shorter player can reach the green with an 8-iron, but after the rollback would need to pull a 5-iron. Even if the gap off the tee is narrowed, is the shorter hitter in a better competitive situation with the 8-iron vs. DJ’s wedge or the 5-iron vs. DJ’s 7-iron?

And what if the USGA did force this Pandora’s box on all golfers? Snell says, “They would absolutely ruin the game.”

If the sole issue is distance off the tee, Snell asks, “Why not look at limiting COR or club length?” To focus on the ball while ignoring the role other equipment advancements over the past 20+ years have played 5is entirely disingenuous. Should the USGA look beyond the ball, there’d still be a disincentive for OEMs to produce equipment for which there’s no retail market, and amateurs would be far from keen on having their gear distance-limited.

Perhaps the answer lies elsewhere.

The typical vanilla PGA Tour course set-ups favor the long hitters. Minimal rough, firm fairways and greens stimping at 12+ do little to dissuade players like Tony Finau (124 MPH driver swing speed) from gripping and ripping. Snell and others advocate for a more balanced approach to course setup. Every week doesn’t need to be the Career Builder Challenge birdie-fest, but it doesn’t need to be Oakmont or Torrey Pines South either. Snell believes the solution could be as simple as “grow the rough, leave the fairways a bit longer and softer. Narrow the fairways or add hazards in the 280-320 landing areas.”

golf-ball-rollback-pga-2

In 1980, the average tour swing speed was 104 mph. It’s currently around 113 mph. The ball has played no role in that. What the governing bodies seem reticent to admit is that athletes have evolved. Today’s professional golfers have extensive training and nutritional programs derived from a body of information which simply didn’t exist a generation ago. Moreover, the advent of the launch monitor has given players access to information which has created a better understanding of the physics behind hitting the ball farther. Technology, not the golf ball, is the principle reason why, since 2007, PGA Tour average driver launch angle has increased by 1.5°-2°, while backspin has decreased by 500 RPM.

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For now, Bridgestone is the only manufacturer to publicly advocate for a reduced distance ball. In recent weeks, both its CEO (Angel Ilagan) and its biggest needle-mover, Tiger Woods, have suggested a rollback might be warranted. While it could be coincidence, the timing suggests a measure of coordination.

Some inside the industry have suggested Bridgestone may already be several exits down the road in a rumored partnership with the USGA that could position Bridgestone as the sole manufacturer of the reduced distance balls used for USGA testing.

Titleist CEO, Wally Uihlein’s comments on the subject leave little room for interpretation.

“Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making a case for a reduced distance golf ball,” Uihlein wrote in a letter to the Wall Street Journal in response to comments made by Mike Davis.

Is Bridgestone, as Uihlein seems to suggest, using the prospect of a ball rollback to make a money and market share play, potentially to the detriment of the recreational golfer?

When reached for comment, Bridgestone’s response from Adam Rehberg, Bridgestone’s Marketing Coordinator for Golf Balls, declined to provide any details.

“Although we would like to, unfortunately, we are not at a place where we would be able to comment on the matter,” said Rehberg, who also declined to comment on Mr. Uhlien’s statements. Rehberg did reiterate that “We [Bridgestone] do maintain that we make golf balls for all players and the tour is not our sole focus. All players are our focus. We design specifications for all players that seek all types of different performances.”

The between the lines read is a suggestion that at least some of Bridgestone’s competitors may be too focused on the tour. While Rehberg didn’t mention any of those competitors by name, I’m not sure he has to.

Without the declarations of Ilagan and Woods, Bridgestone’s unwillingness to speak in specifics might be construed as Thanks, but no thanks, but given the previous on the record statements the response does little to combat Uihlein’s suggestion that Bridgestone might be cozying up with the USGA, not because of an altruistic desire to benefit the game, but rather to advance its own economic prospects.

It’s a precarious position which, for now, would seem to isolate Bridgestone from the rest of the industry. Depending on how this all unfolds, particularly from the perspective of the recreational golfer, the company could find itself in an unfavorable position. Should some sort of reduced distance ball make its way into professional events, however, Bridgestone could find itself with an early foothold and by extension, a market advantage.

The USGA states on its webpage a core value of service, rooted in engaging the “diverse perspectives from the golf community” which allow us all to “collaborate and encourage healthy debate.”

Technology and tradition have long been opposing and dynamic forces. Their dance has shaped golf’s storied past, and in time we’ll come to see this debate as another anecdote and possibly, a watershed moment.

Game on.

What do you think? Does golf have a distance problem? If so, who or what is the culprit?

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Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris is a self-diagnosed equipment and golf junkie with a penchant for top-shelf ice cream. When he's not coaching the local high school team, he's probably on the range or trying to keep up with his wife and seven beautiful daughters. Chris is based out of Fort Collins, CO and his neighbors believe long brown boxes are simply part of his porch decor. "Isn't it funny? The truth just sounds different."

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

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Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel





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      Pkc

      6 years ago

      I was a D1 and Nike tour player years ago, but I was lucky enough to get to play in Hawaii this week right after the tour did last week. Now a days tour courses are cut way too short, fairways and rough. There’s no real penalty and the ball rolls forever. Back home I drive about 275-280 yards, here every drive was well over 300 and some over 350 with essentially hardpan smooth downhill fairways. Also for not being able to play in the last month with local weather I had my lowest score of the year. I see much more of an issue with how perfect these courses are set up to score, the rough is essentially public course fairway length and the fairways are like driving range mats. The greens are perfect, quick but imperfections. Courses are in much easier and better conditions than the 90’s and early 2000’s. Mowers back than to cut fairways this short would have been green mowers, rough was 6” long not 2”. Also noticed sand traps no longer have hard surface faces but are now all sand, so being near the front lip isn’t such a penalty specially with the now uphill lie. I think courses have redesigned to speed up play instead of making it more challenging.

      Reply

      Aa88

      6 years ago

      I agree 100%. I love this game and in the last few years with some lessons, I have made nice improvements going from a 23 HC to a 16. I’m sure after this season I will see more improvement. I play a cow pasture. It’s fun but imo tough. There is no fairway, greens are beat and it’s the old shot maker type with dime sized greens and dog legs. Point is, when my buddy and I go play the “nice” courses I always shoot better. Every time. I couldn’t fathom if I played a tour type course!

      Reply

      JB

      6 years ago

      This is an interesting and well written article. It explores the most variables and looks at the bigger picture in a way other “ball roll-back” articles do not.

      There is clearly more to it than the ball, and more to it than just clubs. In a conversation with my grandpa I learned his driver is still 43″ and has a head that is 300cc with a steel shaft. His 4 iron is also 37.5″ long and sits at a typical 24 degrees. Clearly his clubs are older, and he has told me numerous times that the new ball with his old clubs makes a huge difference. He hits the ball further than he did when playing the older ball.

      At the same time technology plays a significant role. Drivers are bigger, and every club is longer. As MGS has shown in old vs new battles, newer drivers that are longer in length typically out perform their older generation by as much as 10 yards or more. Is it the length, or size difference? Accuracy clearly drops in these same comparisions.

      An interesting article I read followed a game where a guy played an older set of clubs vs a newer set of clubs, even down to the ball. The differences were amazing. The driving distance was significantly more, 25+ yards on average with a new ball/driver tech vs older ball/driver.

      In the end it seems to be a combination of both. A newer ball with old tech is better than old tech with an older ball. However; I also echo some of the comments, that state the data doesn’t go back far enough. Like pre-2000 data to see how big of a difference it makes.

      In reality, the other way to look at the issue is the USGA to set a cap on course distance, and then leave it up to courses to make it challenging. Does every par 4 need to favor a driver off the tee? Why can’t it get mixed up like par 3s, where some favor a driver, others a 3w, and others maybe even a 5w or hybrid?

      Reply

      JG

      6 years ago

      Interesting to note the justification for the ball not flying too far only goes back to 2003. Pro V1 was introduced in 2000. Look at the jump from wound balls to Pro V1 from say 1993-2001. The ball has indeed made a difference. That being said, it’s not all the ball. Lighter shafts, higher COR on drivers, stronger lofted irons, using computers to strategically move weight in all clubs, etc, have all contributed. If the distance is to be reigned in, then don’t allow anything more than about .78 COR (wood equivalent), don’t allow head sizes in woods or irons to be so massive and thereby more forgiving, limit shaft lengths and weight, limit head weight in all clubs and the list goes on. All those things combined would limit distance but for the amateur it will make the game harder. For the pro, he will adjust. In my view, at some point, bifurcation will occur simply because the golf pros play versus the golf amateurs play is already entirely different.

      Reply

      Jon Glendye

      6 years ago

      I see two distinct issues here:
      1. Bifurcation of the rules of golf…The USGA and R&A won’t have it anytime soon. They’ve said as much consistently over the past 100 or so years. I’m not holding my breath, though they have been working to “modernize” the rules in many ways that make sense to me. In my mind, the rule that has the greatest negative impact on the weekend amateur is stroke and distance for OB. It’s frustrating and slows the game to a crawl, but, the USGA and R&A refuse to listen to any proposal, such as a simple appendix to address casual amateur-play, if not formal competition. Most weekend golfers address this in their own way, usually, as I’ve observed, by simply agreeing to waive rules which suck the fun out of our recreation (insert uptight “then their not playing golf” response here.)
      2. The ball (and all other equipment): There is a quick and easy way of limiting distance ( which I believe will hurt the spectators’ experience, and will bankrupt ball manufacturers)…return to wound balata as the standard. Sure, they’re inconsistent due to the inherently inconsistent nature of natural rubber, and don’t last as long as they’re prone to cuts and can be knocked into something not quite a perfect sphere, and the winding break down…BUT, everyone will lose 15-20 yards off the tee. If that doesn’t work, one word…feathery…Another sure-fire distance loser would be the elimination of graphite shafts (the return to hickory would really do the trick)…Oooh, and a return to persimmon (you have to admit, the sound of a well struck drive with a persimmon driver can’t be beat)…
      We could also insist that the pros return to smoking, drinking, and eating red meat instead of this current craze of fitness and health…

      The Ball isn’t ruining the game…I’d wager that any poll of typical amatrut golfers, or any age, would result in the conclusion that golf has gotten too damn expensive for 95% of us to play as often a s we’d like…And the cost of the ball is largely to blame…If the ball manufacturers want to truly help the game played by most of us, they’d lower their prices. I really want to know…Does a $50/ doz. ball really cost $25 more to produce than a $25 /doz. ball? The direct to consumer folks sure don’t think so…

      Reply

      Steve S

      6 years ago

      I’m not sure why folks are against bifurcation. All the major sports have it. Youth, high school and college baseball all have different rules and equipment than the pros. Doesn’t seem to affect the development of young players. Youth soccer uses different rules, balls and field size to match the ability of the kids. Doesn’t seem to affect the fastest growing sport in the US. My grandsons basketball program uses a smaller ball and the net is at 8 feet. I could go on but you get the point….

      Reply

      DRMock1

      6 years ago

      Not sure why you would need bifurcation. When the vast majority of recreational golfer already play by a slightly different set of agreed upon rules in their normal groups. IE…OB as red stakes, mulligans, and playing the ball up. Why do you feel the need for some governing body to write a set of rules that will be altered by recreational golfers to meet their individual needs to enjoy the game of golf. There is a wide selection of golf equipment on the market that can provide help with your ball striking for those that need it and you can play from several different tees to help with any distance concerns. We even have a handicap system in place to help even the score, but not used much by recreational golfers. So all you need is one set of rules for tournament players from club championships to the pro tours. Then when you have golfers competing in various events at differing levels the rules are always the same. Easy peasy!

      Reply

      Steve S

      6 years ago

      Why? Because most recreational golfers still play with “conforming” equipment. If the rules change the equipment we will eventually have to follow. The ball problem won’t affect us if it is changed until all the used, recycled balls are used up. However, I don’t use used/recycled balls. I like buying new ones. It’s one of things I get new every year.

      DRMock1

      6 years ago

      Here is why golf is different and needs one set of rules. In what other sport can an amateur play in their sport’s Major Championship? Super Bowl, NBA Championship, World Cup, or the World Series, nope none of them. But every year there are amateurs that play in the Masters, The Open, and The US Open along with playing many other levels of tournaments along the way. And as for our youth there are accommodations made to the rules and to the course set up with shorter tees and easier pin placements. The equipment changes would be equivalent to the groove change and every change takes a couple of years to implement. There is now way they can roll back the ball by 20% Not even on the PGA Tour. Maybe 7% to 8% would be 1995 distances.

      Skip

      6 years ago

      “In what other sport can an amateur play in their sport’s Major Championship? ”

      Bowling.

      Steve S

      6 years ago

      When was the last time a “real” amateur qualified for the US Open, Masters, etc.? By true amateur, I mean a 35 yr old club champ that made it? Not some 19 yr old college kid who was a “pro-in-training”? Look at the last 15 winners of the US Amateur(qualifies them for the Masters). They all are(will be) or were pro golfers.

      Nick Aquilino

      6 years ago

      Regarding a real amateur playing in a major tournament, it has been a while I suspect. Back in 1973 we had four qualifiers for the US amateur, all from the same club in Maryland, go to Inverness to play, myself included. One of our players played in the Masters twice. None of us turned pro. However, this issue of college players gave rise to the Mid-Amateur golf tournament. Not sure you could ever say to a player you can’t qualify because you “intend” to be a pro some day. There are no guarantees………

      DRMock1

      6 years ago

      Sammy Schmitz played in the 2016 Masters. Schmitz, 35, earned an invitation to play in the Masters by winning the U.S. Mid-Amateur and works for a health care company. (Not a Pro Golfer)

      Art

      6 years ago

      Dr., wouldn’t it make sense for someone like Sammy Schmitz to practice and play with the “pro” ball, if the difference existed? I know if I were an aspiring am-pro, I’d play with the mandated professional ball. Seems pretty simple.

      DRMock1

      6 years ago

      Art, in golf we have a uniqueness where a guy like Sammy can play as an amateur in a golf major and most of the time is playing in amateur events. So, are you suggesting he play only the pro golf ball even though he plays primarily in amateur events and then would be at a disadvantage against other amateur playing a recreational golf ball? Or he should try and learn two golf balls then try to play one against the Pros and another in amateur events? Or maybe you are saying all amateur events should play the pro ball but then you would have some amateurs that primarily play recreational golf and in their club championship. Maybe only they would have two learn the flight and distances of two golf balls. Yep, seems pretty simple.

      Only one ball and one set of rules for all. Recreational golfers can and should continue to modify the rules that fits their group or league to get the most enjoyment out of the game.

      Art

      6 years ago

      Dr., the uniqueness where a guy like Sammy can play as an amateur in a golf major isn’t important. He’s a 1-10,000,000 shot, and doesn’t warrant consideration when making a decision on the “betterment” of the game. So yes, I do suggest he would have to figure out two golf balls. And it wouldn’t be that difficult. I don’t see how it would be any different than playing golf at a significant altitude vs sea level.

      But ok, let’s say the uniqueness is important, we want to maintain the tradition of that lotto ticket for the wishful amateur, and we don’t want to make it any harder than it already is for aspirational. Bifurcate the sport into recreational and competitive golfers. If you want to compete (pro or am), play the reduced distance ball. If you want to recreate, play whatever the heck you want. Yes, simple.

      DRMock1

      6 years ago

      Art, here is where we agree, recreational golfer should play whatever the heck they want and by whatever rules they want. Done, very simple.

      It is my belief that recreational golfers already have bifurcate the sport. I play some local tournaments where we play by the rules as written and I enjoy that format. I also play in a league with golfers of differing handicap levels. Since we have some high handicappers we play O.B and lost balls as drop nearest the spot it went out with a one stroke penalty and we can improve our lie anywhere on the course. I enjoy that format as well. We don’t need the USGA to write a set of rules for recreational golfers because every group and league will modify the new recreational rules to fit their group and league’s needs. As far as equipment in our league nobody cares if someone is playing old grooves or still anchoring their putter or a juiced ball, the handicap system will even that out over the season.

      Leif Mattsson

      6 years ago

      This is not a ball problem! We have lots of different balls, we use different tees and other means to differentiate. The hcp system is working relatively fine. The drivers have limitations which is good but to make a ball with “perfect” fairness is probably not possible. And why not let different golfers benefit from different types of balls. All elite players, as all athletes are getting better and the only way to meet this is perhaps to make the course layouts more challenging for the far distance hitters. Probably small means will have big impact. Old golf courses does not need totally new designs, probably just small adjustments. Formula 1 cars perform better now than some years ago, but they can still (except for increased security arrangements) use old race tracks. All professionals strive to become better, stronger, more accurate and (very important) mentally.
      Development will continue, what will be the consequence is not easy to predict, but as in all sports, professionals are much better than amateurs and I can’t see any reason to make limitation of shoe performance because the best sprinters cover 100 m in 9 seconds compared to amateurs 11-15. If DJ or his successors will be able to make hole in one on a normal par 4, it is very OK and just shows how good they are.
      We other have hcp which gives us 1 or 2 mores shots to reach so what? Welcome development and accept that elite is elite and don’t blame the balls.

      Reply

      Paul bryon

      6 years ago

      Not the golf ball.it.down to fitter and more athletically stronger players!and more technically advanced clubs with stronger lofts.set up golf courses to challenge the pros.making them longer!before you price the amateur out of the game.

      Pros don’t need appearance money or crazy sponsorship deals.thats making it more expensive for the mere mortal

      Reply

      David Bassett

      6 years ago

      I’m not a bifurcation advocate. Far from it. I think short-ball advocates are chasing a problem that probably doesn’t exist.

      On Feb. 15, 2017, the USGA seemed certain that a distance problem did not exist. Its annual survey of driving distances concluded the following (verbatim):

      • Between 2003 and the end of the 2016 season, average driving distance on five of the seven tours has increased by approximately 1.2%, around 0.2 yards per year.
      • For the same time period, average driving distance on the other two tours studied decreased by approximately 1.5%.
      • Looking at all of the players who are ranked for distance on the PGA TOUR and PGA European Tour, the amount by which players are “long” or “short” has not changed – for instance, since 2003 the 10 shortest players in that group are about 6% shorter than average, while the 10 longest players in the group are about 7% longer than average. The statistics are not skewed toward either longer or shorter players.
      • The average launch conditions on the PGA TOUR – clubhead speed, launch angle, ball speed and ball backspin – have been relatively stable since 2007. The 90th-percentile clubhead speed coupled with the average launch angle and spin rate are very close to the conditions that The R&A and the USGA, golf’s governing bodies, use to test golf balls under the Overall Distance Standard.

      But then, nine months later, Mike Davis tells the Wall St. Journal, “I don’t care how far Tiger Woods hits it,” Davis told the Journal. “The reality is this is affecting all golfers and affecting them in a bad way. These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand. All it’s doing is increasing the cost of the game. The impact it has had has been horrible.”

      What are you smoking, Mike? “This is affecting all golfers and affecting them in a bad way.” WTF?

      My premise that bifurcation could easily occur if the ball’s distance is rolled back has to do with the law of unintended consequences. Mr. Davis apparently thinks that the USGA can dictate what the marketplace and/or courts do; I believe he is seriously misguided.

      If Karsten Solheim were still alive, I’m sure he would agree. The USGA, PGA Tour, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer (both of whom owned club companies that Ping was kicking the shit out of) thought they could rein in Ping by outlawing square grooves. After protracted legal battles, Karsten and the courts showed them they could not.

      I sincerely hope that the USGA stops looking for problems that don’t exist and instead focuses its vast resources on making the game more inclusive, environmentally sustainable, enjoyable and financially accessible.

      Reply

      DRMock1

      6 years ago

      I am in the camp of rolling back the ball and/or equipment for all or do nothing at all. I think there is a distance problem and it’s a combination of everything, better ball, better equipment, and more athletic golfers at the pro level. At this point you can’t fully put the genie back in the bottle. As everyone is well aware our equipment has limits on it already, so adjusting those limits would work. The easiest solution would seem to be the ball due to the cost to the golfers. If it’s a 20% roll back, let’s let go of your egos and move up to a new set of tees. It would be much cheaper for me to buy new golf balls than new clubs. Ball and equipment manufactures will make adjustments just like with the groove rule and there will be a new normal for distance. OEMs will make claims and arguments to scare golfers, out of fear for what it will mean to their business and not necessarily to the game of golf. If you really want to screw up this game, Bifurcation is the way. Make two sets of balls, rules, and/or equipment and we will have a real mess on our hands. With Bifurcation there would be no real issues for the everyday recreational golfer for most of them already play by a slightly different set of agreed upon rules. IE…OB as red stakes, mulligans, and playing the ball up. But for everyone else it would be a mess! If we start changing the ball, rules, and equipment for recreational golfers apart from the Pros, how will the young upcoming golfers that learn to play golf with their dads and his friends make the adjustments to college or pro rules and equipment? You will split golfers into two groups that will not be able to cross over and play casual round together. How would a good amateur navigate between tournaments and competitive rounds with buddies at their course. You would have to change the handicap system to allow for the two sets of balls, rules, and equipment for those who play the pro rules and equipment and for those who play the amateur balls, rules, and equipment. WOW what a mess.

      Reply

      Uhit

      6 years ago

      And where will be the new ladies, and the new senior tees?
      And who has to pay the shortening of most of the golf courses?

      On the LET tour they LOST according the USGA statistics, 13 yards within the last 10 years – why is that?
      What shall the players on the LET tour do?

      http://www.golfwrx.com/forums/index.php?app=core&module=attach&section=attach&attach_rel_module=post&attach_id=4239704

      What to do with billions of balls that become illegal?
      How to sell new shorter balls?

      What about all the people, that started to play golf within the last 15 years, where there were no distance gains, due to regulation?

      Who has to pay the development of the new balls?
      How could they advertise them, if they are only played on tour,
      and the tour pros hit it shorter, than your local long hitters?

      …and there are even more reasons, why a dial back of the ball would harm the game golf in a way, that was never seen before.

      Reply

      DRMock1

      6 years ago

      First let’s start with a possible roll back, I personally don’t think it would be anywhere near 20% and I am not sure where that would take us. I would like to see something around 7% to 8% roll back that would put us somewhere around 1995 yardages where the distances started to jump dramatically and very few courses had to be redesigned due to length. I quickly normalized and average all the tours yardages except for the LET Tour which I drop out due to the unexplained trend. Weird! Using GolfWRX yardage graph. http://wpmediars.golfwrx.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/USGAdistancereport.png
      I believe if the USGA, R&A and PGA were to make any changes it would include an in-depth study. As for your questions.
      And where will be the new ladies, and the new senior tees?
      Ø From the tees the ladies and seniors hit from in 1995. Most courses have add several tees over the years.
      And who has to pay the shortening of most of the golf courses?
      Ø Most golf course would be just fine and only need to adjust a few tee boxes and bunkers.
      On the LET tour they LOST according the USGA statistics, 13 yards within the last 10 years – why is that?
      Ø Why is that? LPGA and all the other tours have increased.
      What shall the players on the LET tour do?
      Ø They can set up their tournaments that best suits their needs.
      What to do with billions of balls that become illegal?
      Ø Just like with any change there is always a large time period before any changes would take place. So with millions of golfers, we will have time to lose billions of balls before the changes would take place.
      How to sell new shorter balls?
      Ø Just like they do now with current limits. Distance, Spin, Soft, and Value. Just like the groove change and all the new wedges OEMs marketing. Best performing ball. Conforms to the rules of golf.
      What about all the people, that started to play golf within the last 15 years, where there were no distance gains, due to regulation?
      Ø Yeah tough one! I am older (55) and hit the ball 25 to 30 yards past my playing partners. Hopefully this impact would be included in any in-depth studies conducted.
      Who has to pay the development of the new balls?
      Ø Again not an easy answer, but guessing the cost would fall on the ball manufactures.
      How could they advertise them, if they are only played on tour, and the tour pros hit it shorter, than your local long hitters?
      Ø I am not for Bifurcation at all. Same ball rule for all or do nothing at all.
      …and there are even more reasons, why a dial back of the ball would harm the game golf in a way, that was never seen before.
      Just for the record I am fine with no distance changes but feel we need to put a hard cap on the distances we are at currently. I would be okay with a small roll back 7% to 8% also, but change is hard and it effects everyone in different ways. I really enjoy the conversation and debate. I feel as long as we all have the same rules and equipment we all can play this great game together.

      David Bassett

      6 years ago

      Relax, guys.

      If the stuffed shirts of the USGA, R&A and PGA Tour insist on “rolling back the ball,” I predict bifurcation – either de facto or de jure – is a virtual certainty.

      After Congress enacted the 18th Amendment in 1919, outlawing the production and sale of alcoholic beverages, there arose a huge new industry known as “bootlegging.” It took 14 years, but in 1933 Washington realized its stupidity and repealed the 18th Amendment.

      Something similar inevitably will happen in golf. Anyone who wants to play in a USGA, R&A or PGA Tour event will have to use an “80%” ball, or whatever the ass-hats decide to call it. The rest of us will continue to play “regular” balls; whether these are made and sold by Titleist, Callaway etc., or “bootlegged” from China or Korea will be decided by the marketplace or in the courts, not by the male, pale and stale boys in blue blazers in Ponte Vedra and Far Hills NJ.

      Messrs. Davis, Monahan etc. are delusional if they think they can make Joe Sixpack and I play a ball that is 20% shorter than what we’re hitting today. I hit from the whites for a reason; believe me, the only courses I’m making obsolete have clown noses and pirate ships.

      Reply

      DRMock1

      6 years ago

      I am guessing you are playing a golf ball the conforms to the rules of golf currently and not some juiced ball. I am betting you will continue to play a ball the conforms to the rules of golf. Or where would you draw the line? A Jacked Driver? Juiced Ball? Nobody makes you play with conforming equipment, ball or to the rules now. If you and your normal group all agree to play by the same set of rules and equipment and it makes the game more enjoyable for you, have at it! It’s really about having a good time and enjoying the game. That’s your own Bifurcation and you don’t need the USGA, R&A and PGA to write these rules for you. But if you like to play a competitive round outside your group on occasion it works best with one set of rules for all.

      Reply

      Steve S

      6 years ago

      I’ve read over 100 of these comments (it’s cold as heck here, can’t golf and my snot freezes after 5 minutes outside) and I think I have the answer.

      The millions of recreational golfers need to dump the USGA and R&A and start the RGA. The Recreational Golfers Association. We will simplify the rules (no white stakes, OB is a drop at point of exit and 1 stroke, crappy trap conditions; a free drop but you have to hit over the trap, free drop from divots, etc) and the equipment rules will revert back to the long putters, anchoring and the old groove rule. We will also allow 50 inch drivers. In addition drivers will be allowed be 500CC and a COR of .92 for a 90mph and lower club head speed(+/- 2mph tolerance). If you swing faster than that the clubhead will start to collapse(dent). That will keep cheaters at bay and keep old guys in the game playing from the “whites” longer. I could go on but that’s a good start.

      Reply

      Pete71

      6 years ago

      I was told by a friend about 35 years ago that no one is driving the ball 300 yards, but actually they fly the ball 230 yards. I not sure if that is true. But today golf has changed with the drivers, all the shafts are high tech graphite/fiberglass and the heads are metal of some kind. Some golfers are very strong others are average strength. I swear I saw J.C. Sneed hit a driver and a wedge on a par five hole back in 1969. But if all the USGA tests say the ball is hotter I believe it, but why complain we all like distance. I also think driver accuracy has decreased with the graphite shafts, the old ribbed steel shafts were very accurate.

      Reply

      Birdieputt13

      6 years ago

      In my view, changing the ball would have a disastrous effect on the game. In fact, it could help kill the game as we know it.

      Since driving distance on the PGA Tour has only increased .014% in 13 years, the “issues” isn’t with the ball at all. As Mr. Snell says, it a multifaceted problem. Tour players are more athletic, have a tremendous amount of technology to assist in equipment selection and enjoy courses set up to promote low scoring. If ANY changes are made, they should be with course set up for the average tour stop. Longer rough, narrower fairways and additional bunkering are all relatively easy fixes and might help lower the scoring if indeed that is the objective.

      Changing the ball characteristics will only eventually drive more amateurs out of the game. Just think, a new “regulated” ball can only be driven a 20% shorter distance if Mike Davis has his way. What’s that going to do to our games ? Probably help us find another pastime.

      Limiting the COR value of equipment is a possible “fix” that solves one portion of the equation and yet has a nil effect on the amateur game. That can be addressed but leave the ball out of the discussion.

      Reply

      Peter

      6 years ago

      That the average swing speed has increased by 8mph should not be a surprise. Drivers are on average 2″ longer – in the ’80’s 43″ was standard, now it’s 45″. Shafts are lighter and more cleverly engineered which is an obvious bonus for all the long hitters who will have shafts designed/built specifically for them. Shaft choice is enormous compared to 30 years ago when there was Aldila and ???

      Add to that adjustability and you have the answer. I doubt any pro worth his salt messes about with a wrench to adjust his driver – why would he when there are technicians who set it up for him and tell him to “knock hell out of the ball”?

      Best evidence of this is Mickelson taking two drivers to Augusta – 1 to fade and 1 to draw.

      I’m all in favour of tightening up the course by using deep bunkers – grass will do – that require thought from the tee but this won’t affect the strong, long guys who are accurate with long irons and who may then have to hit an 8 iron rather than a wedge for their seconds.

      One of the best holes in golf is the Road hole at St Andrews which is not frighteningly long for the pros but the road bunker, the road and the wall make it the classic that it is. Follow this up with the 18th that nearly all of them can drive but where many make 5 and you have the elements of strategic design that place real value on the use of the 15th club. The one between the ears.

      Reply

      Forrest McMillan

      6 years ago

      Now look at 1996 vs 2016 data. The Pro V1 came to market in 2000.

      Reply

      Mike Eovino

      6 years ago

      According to USGA Executive Director, Mike Davis, “The reality is this (ball distance) is affecting all golfers and affecting them in a bad way. These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand. All it’s doing is increasing the cost of the game. The impact it has had has been horrible.”

      Which courses are “these courses?” According to my handicap card, I’ve played 39 rounds so far this year. To the best of my knowledge, none of the courses I’ve played this year have, or are planning to expand. None of the courses my daughters have played tournaments on have, or are planning to expand. Now, none of these courses are planning on hosting majors, PGA tour events, or elite amateur events.

      So is that the problem? Courses that want to host USGA events feel the need to get longer? Does that really impact the average golfer? If so, then give us some proof. There are plenty of things the USGA could do to IMPROVE the game. Show me how rolling back the ball is going to make the game better for the average golfer.

      Reply

      Birdieputt13

      6 years ago

      I agree Mike. I used to work at an Arnold Palmer Signature course where many collegiate and mini-tour tournaments are played. From the tips, it can play 7,600 yards. Do most amateurs play from the tips ? Of course not. In fact, the course recently offered several hybrid sets of tees that make it from 5,900 yards to around 6,450, which suits almost everyone.
      At times, I think Mike Davis is completely out of touch with reality as evidenced by several USGA decisions.

      Reply

      Alan

      6 years ago

      So lets go back to using wooden clubs with hickory shafts. The obvious answer is tighten up the courses, grow in the rough and make the game more strategic than drive and putt. Watching pro golf is becoming boring when players can bomb the drive 350 yards without any fear every time.

      Reply

      Rekklss

      6 years ago

      Agreed. Grow the rough to 6″. Grow the 1st cut to 2″. Narrow the landing areas at 300 yards to 350 yards. The pros will whine … but they have to play so they will just have to suck it up like we do. No need to change anything but the course conditions.

      Reply

      Peter Douglas

      6 years ago

      You guys are on the wrong track. Longer rough and softer conditions make golf less strategic! Firm conditions and short grass mean how the ball reacts after it lands and is harder to control. This allows shot makers the opportunity to shape shots and use the ground game both off the fairway and around the green. Bomb and gouge at pro level kills the game. The Open championship…and the Masters are the most interesting to watch because the bounce of the ball (rather than the plug) come into the mix.

      Jess Robinson

      6 years ago

      Best kept secret in Golf.
      No. Tempting, but no value in it for any one making a living.

      Reply

      Anderson Dave

      6 years ago

      Wouldn’t the golfer be the experts?

      Reply

      Christopher

      6 years ago

      I don’t think there’s any real need to mess around with the golf ball. But it wouldn’t hurt that they thought about limiting head sizes on drivers (they could go down to 200cc) and put a limited on shaft weights (lighter shafts have got better and better each year, before they weren’t as robust).

      But the courses (and their set-ups) with the drivers that are the problem, there’s no incentive to hit the fairway, the big hitters just bomb it anywhere within a reasonable margin and know they can hit on or around the green (and they have drivers that allow them to do so). Make the heads smaller, the shafts heavier and those off-centre hits won’t be 10 yards into the (light) rough anymore, they’ll be in trouble.

      That way us lot can still play the same equipment if we choose to do so (I doubt OEMs could market a go less distance golf ball).

      Reply

      David Felker

      6 years ago

      Please present statistics for driving distance the average golfer vs the tour player. Roll back ball distance and more golfers will quit. The distance problem is with the Pros, not 99.9% of golfers… so the USGA and PGA Tour need to setup the courses differently for their tournaments.
      To increase golf popularity, make the ball hotter for recreational golfers and move the tees forward – most would have more fun. Put a 2nd tee box 300 yds out from normal on par 5’s so slower golfers have the option to play a par 5 as a par 3 and golf rounds would speed up and people would have more fun and golf participation would rise! But don’t scale back the ball.

      Reply

      David Restall

      6 years ago

      Try taking the average from 4 years earlier. The jump started with the ProVI.

      Reply

      Scoot24

      6 years ago

      I take it you are a Pro V1 gamer. Do you really think that it is the reason for the distance gain? Every company makes a ball comparable to it. Give DJ a Bridgestone, Calloway or any other ball and he won’t lose distance. It’s like Ford or Chevy; it’s all personal preference. Titleists’ arrogant responses in this article are exactly why I don’t use it’s products…..that and you can get as good a ball for much less $.

      Reply

      gorden

      6 years ago

      I do not see any need to scale back ball, but I wish the guys that now hit it 100 yards farther then us older guys would stop hitting into us…sorry kids we need at least two shots to get out of your range out there…maybe three on the over 400 yard par 4’s.

      David Restall

      6 years ago

      The distance gains in pro golf started when the ProVI was produced. In 2017, the average drive of the top 50 on the US tour was 304 yards with 43 players averaging over 300. In 1998, before the ProVI was produced, the average was 280 yards with no-one averaging over 300.

      The ProVI started the distance gains with their new technology and everyone has followed suit.

      People won’t quit the game if the rules change and we hit the ball shorter, they are quitting because the game has become too expensive and takes too long.

      Walking back 100 yards to the “new” back tees adds an extra 200 yards. Do this on 10 holes and you’ve added 2000 yards. Add the additional costs of irrigation, fertilizer, maintenance etc, no wonder part time golfers are dropping like flies.

      Personally, I would like to see the ball rolled back (As they did in the 70’s, and golf participation did not drop…….), restrict the driver head size, maybe to 300cc, reduce shaft length to 44″, and reduce the number of clubs to 12.

      Pkc

      6 years ago

      The everyone under 300 yards in 1998 was incorrect, John Daly set the record of first average over 300 yards in 1997. Clubs were smaller with smaller sweat spots which meant drives varied more in distance so an average over 300 was difficult but hitting the occasional 320-330 yard drive was not. I played d1 golf in 1996-2000, my driving average was 291 in 1996 but 283 in 1998, than 291 in 1999, than 289 in 2000. Than I played Nike/by.com and my driving average was still around the same. Today my driving average remains there but I don’t need to hit the ball as solid to remain there thanks to easier to hit drivers. Drivers have drastically lower spin rates with much larger sweat spots, longer shafts, lighter shafts, different kick points with less torque. I’d understand USGA going after driver regulations but besides, being more durable and consistent I’m not convinced a titleist professional or tour balata would give you much less distance, I don’t remember much of a distance advantage when I switched. Mostly much more consistent with spin, control and much less likely to go out of round or loss of compression. There was much better consistency between shots and changing balls. And clubs becoming much easier to hit with drastic adjustments allowing pga players as well as average golfers to correct ailments in their swing with adjustments instead of correcting their swing. Being able to pull all the weight away from the face for better launch or pushing it against the face to cut spin, windy day move the weight forward a bit more than usual. Or you can move it left or right making it easy to set up a driver for a particular course that day if you know there’s more trouble left, now you’re fade bais, etc. These are great for the average golfer but should probably be illegal for tour play.

      Pkc

      6 years ago

      You also have to remember the first titanium drive Callaway big Bertha came out in 1996-1997, wasn’t popular until 1999-2000 and around 2000 most other manufacturers came out with large head titanium drivers. Also around than graphite shafts went from 80 grams to 60 grams.

      Uhit

      6 years ago

      The jump started 1994 around that time, where titanium head drivers were introduced, and ended 2003, after the regulation took place.

      At least this is what the graphics to the theme, published by the USGA, shows:

      http://www.golfwrx.com/380190/usga-and-ra-publish-research-on-driving-distance-gains-on-pga-tour/

      The ProV1 was only introduced within the end of that period of time – nothing else,

      Because it was also the Tiger time, with increased public interest in golf, the courses were setup differently, to cater the bigger masses of the viewing public, on the course, and behind the TV.

      Besides, that more people started to play golf – thus more younger, talented, and athletic people came to the game.

      Better training aids, lighter shafts etc, became available.

      …to solely focus on the ball seems in regard of the whole picture pretty short sighted.

      Reply

      NH Golfer

      6 years ago

      Correct. In 1996 Strata Tour Professional was introduced and it turned around Marc OMera’s career and turned the PGA Tour on its ear. The Pro V was merely a response to this ball. Tour players wanted to play multi layer balls, not wound balls. It took them almost 4 years to retool.

      Julian

      6 years ago

      A number of years ago, I had the good fortune in playing a course which had been set up for a Pro tour event. I believe that if a I played on course conditions like that every time,my handicap would drop 4 without any other change in my game. Do you notice that “Opens” narrow the fairways, let the rough grow, quicken the greens etc for the purpose of increasing the scores. They become just like the courses I play every day. I don’t have marshals looking for my ball, I don’t have maps of the greens, I’m happy when the color of the flag is correct. I love long hitters, they always leave a supply of expensive balls in the deep rough and bush for us . Until the day arrives when the USGA starts paying my green fees, they can go forth and reproduce themselves, I and every other recreational golfer will buy and play what we choose, and don’t forget, we can choose another activity. I suggest they be careful, and not bite the hand that feeds them.

      Reply

      Jim

      6 years ago

      Great response — still laughing and so true

      Reply

      Hack62tpi

      6 years ago

      Change the ball will be just like changing the grooves on the wedge. At the pro level there will be little that changes.It is not a single variable issue.

      Reply

      Dan Malloy

      6 years ago

      Sure the ball is longer. The biggest change has been with the equipment IMO. Mainly the drivers & fw. As an example, baseball allows aluminum bats all the way to MLB. If Major League ballplayers used aluminum bats, every stadium in existence would be obsolete overnight. I propose following their lead & mandate steel shafts and persimmon heads for tour players, and allow recreational players to continue using metal woods and graphite shafts.

      Reply

      Pkc

      6 years ago

      I hope the USGA does t truely believe the small distance gain is only the golf ball. Golf balls have become better lasting and more consistent but I don’t believe they are really the big distance gainers. I played D1 golf and a little on the Nike/by.com, the biggest change I’ve seen is equipment fitting. There now is no longer just trial and error until you find what works, everything is measured and made to order. Equipment is so tweaked to the player that a golfer with a slice can now hit the ball straight forget about correcting their swing. I’ve recently played with some golfers that have swings that should produce poor results wind up playing well. Which I think is great for the average golfer but maybe that technology should be illegal on tour.
      If the USGA creates strange rules, I hope the pga tour comes up with their own and further divides away from the USGA leaving them with only the opens and history. There’s no reason for the pga tour or any tour to continue listening to the USGA if they are not going to look at every factor. Swing speeds are much faster verse overall distance gains which doesn’t give any evidence that balls are really longer. Just that golfers can now swing faster wether it’s clubs or fitness or a combo. There is no evidence it’s golf balls. If you say balls perform better, better accuracy, spin and consistency I’d agree with that. There are many shorter courses out there that tour golfers struggle to score well on, adding hazards to 280-300 yards is a better way to handle distance control. Than tour players won’t go after longer clubs but more accurate ones. On most older courses risks are lower when you can drive over the hazards so they just need to be moved back into play. Older course have sand traps at 230-250 yards instead of 270-300. Yes technology has changed a lot from hickory shafts and wood heads so courses need to adjust as well. I know my home course has redesigned a few areas to modernize instead of adding distance. Any good golfer knows distance is not always the answer, the USGA should wake up and understand that as well.

      Reply

      Gordon

      6 years ago

      Nicely written and I agree with everything you stated here PKC.
      I would also add, the tightly mown, rock hard, sometimes burned out fairways is another factor on “increased distance”. It isn’t just all carry.
      In attending a few professional events over the years, that is one reason anyone with a draw will get so much roll off the tee.

      Reply

      Anderson Dave

      6 years ago

      They have bunkers at 300 yards on every pga course. The pro and many amateurs hit it over with no problem. It clearly is not just the ball, but many believe that would be the easiest to limit. Why does seem everyone is behind the equipment seller rather then the game. My brothers and I play about a third the golf we would like to play because of price. Something needs to be done to make Golf more affordable. 7500 yard course are expensive. And the smaller muni courses are going away.

      Richard Munding

      6 years ago

      What we need is a tour standard ball that flies only 250 with an average of 110 swing speed and problem solved

      Reply

      M.B.

      6 years ago

      Good article. Mr. Davies needs to change USGA’s focus away from equipment and reform how the courses on PGA-Tour is set up for competition at the highest level. Make permanent changes to the courses used for tournament play by PGA-Tour and Web.com-tour. If changes are made to favour precision instead of benefitting length off the Tee, it won’t harm the rec. golfer and amateur as they won’t reach these areas off the Tee. Make the risk higher for the guyes who can bomb it off the Tee, as courses are set up these days bombing it is way too rewarding. Changing course set up in this way, will also be a benefit for all OEM’s who has now reached a “Blind Alley” in terms of “Longer Distance” for the rec. golfer and amateurs. It would be of great benefit for them if they get a relief from the focus on distance and can shift their focus to precision. The approach to the professional game of golf has changed dramatically over the past three decades, the athletisism, access to new technoligy and tools to optimise preformance is reaching it’s limits, with the excisting rules of the ball and the Equipment. But courses havn’t followed the development of modern Pro golf. If it means that more guys on tour will use 3-woods, 2-irons and Hybrids off the Tee, who cares? Course management and skills to avoid detremental hazards along with great short game and putting will succeed over bombing, eventually the discussion about distance will fade away. Average SS is not likely to increase to 123 + mph on tour in the coming 20 years as it will hurt the longevity of a Pro career. Look at Tiger, McIlroy among others who are facing injury problems related to the extraordinary physical strains they put on their bodies swinging their clubs +120 mph week in and week out. If it continues the age level of Champions Tour has to be regulated to 40 instead of 50. How come Tiger is focusing on the distance he hits the ball today? Cause it’s too rewarding, the way Tournament courses are set up these days. Mr. Davis, give him a new challenge, without changing the regulation of Equipment. Make sure Pro’s play with Equipment that consists with the excisting regulation. Tests could be performed at any time during a tournament, even directly after the final round. If any of the equipment fails!? Player is automatically disqualified and the Equipment manufacturer is being fined for supplying their Staff-players with non conforming equipment. Problems solved and the game of golf has a fair chance of continuing to grow.

      Reply

      Nick McDonald

      6 years ago

      I don’t know why ‘Tour Average’ is touted as this correct measure of maximum driving distance. This includes 3 woods hit on par 4 and 5s when it should only be full drives from winning players. That said, I don’t think the ball or the clubs are to blame, there’s been natural increase through engineering, huge increase through strength and fitness (ball speed) and the golf courses have barely changed at all. Courses need to make it pointless to pick out the driver and use doglegs or massive danger to make players lay up

      Reply

      KM

      6 years ago

      The ball isnt the issue on tour, the fact that at least 50% of the guys on tour are using high COR illegal heads is the bigger can of worms that will meed to be addressed soon.

      Reply

      Vince Schiavo

      6 years ago

      That’s very intriguing, KM. Can you substantiate that claim? I’d be very interested to hear about your evidence.

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      6 years ago

      Let me get this straight. You’re saying in a 144 player field, something like 72 guys are knowingly using illegal/non-conforming equipment. And yet, the major OEM’s who produce all of the equipment are totally willing to take that risk for what would likely amount to a couple extra yards? That’s a preposterous hypothesis.

      Reply

      Dan

      6 years ago

      Totally not true. Every tour players equipment is tested multiple times a year randomly. The tour players heads are exactly the same tech as of the rack clubs it’s just they have a wider range of spec options(cg, loft, lie, weight color,and shaft) it’s a myth that their clubs are superior. Their fit is better too. But really they are just better than you think. I’m a +2 hdcp and they would kick the shit out of me in a match.

      Reply

      Snell Golf Australia

      6 years ago

      Have a look since they changed the groove rules and club length/volume. It’s pretty stable since then.

      Reply

      Chris Burns

      6 years ago

      Better question…. is club technology really that much better?

      Reply

      Brad

      6 years ago

      This line of thought with the whole “the ball goes too far” argument is just idiotic. It’s equivalent to Steph Curry saying “I just hit way too many 3 pointers these days with the modern basketball.” Maybe the NBA should make the basketball heavier and larger so as to make it more difficult to shoot 3 pointers and make the game look more like it was back in the 80s.

      If the USGA made such a ludicrous decision, then I think that I would purchase as huge a stockpile of “illegal” balls as I could afford and play them for as many years as possible until they ran out.

      At the point when those balls ran out, I would then and only then go purchase new clubs likely with extremely jacked lofts (I expect a 26° 7 iron may become the new “norm” for amateurs by then) and MUCH fewer clubs. I would expect most amateurs would only need the following clubs at most if we were all forced to use what were essentially “range” balls to play golf:

      – Driver
      – Strong Hybrid (3 wood now obsolete as it goes no further than the driver)
      – 4 iron
      – 6 iron
      – 8 iron
      – Pitching Wedge
      – Sand Wedge (no need for gap wedges anymore either)
      – Putter

      So, in the end us amateur golfers will save loads of money as we will only need 7-8 clubs at most with 8-10° loft gaps so as to get the proper club gapping and we will all play off the front tees, saving golf clubs money as no need to build titanic sized golf courses and….

      No, what would actually happen is that golf as a sport would likely split and a new organisation with the best interests of MOST golfers would rise up. Amateurs would likely no longer give a stuff about the USGA or the R&A or where they want to steer the game (who would want 180 yards to be the average driver distance). Suddenly, we might have drivers that really DO add 30 yards to your game if the R&A handcuffs were taken off, and the average amateur would find the titanic courses more playable and more fun (and they would no longer have to lie about hitting 300 yard drives – LOL). Perhaps that wouldn’t be such a bad outcome. It’s time for the USGA and R&A to lose their stranglehold on golf.

      Reply

      Rodney Winken

      6 years ago

      Ha! Titleist would love nothing more than the ball being wound back. They are losing share to Callaway, Srixon and TaylorMade due to not being able to innovate and relying too heavily on reputation. Bringing all balls back to the same level, would help them claw back the share they have lost.

      Reply

      Al McQueen

      6 years ago

      Comments are directed either to the pros or the amateurs. Why not just make the pros play a ball that doesn’t go as far. Each manufacturer would have to make this ball with a varied amount of spin rates. Moneys to lengthen a course would no longer be necessary and pro would not longer need to be paid to say how much they love the ball that the manufacturer is already paying them to play.
      The rest of us getting older can still appreciate technology advancements in the clubs, balls, training aids etc. to keep us still interested in the game.

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      6 years ago

      At face value, it seems like an honest and simple idea. But you immediately get into problems with production – and this assumes the USGA would do something they’ve NEVER done – which is advocate for systemic bifurcation. OEM’s have to drop a decent amount of capital to produce a ball with zero retail value and assumably, won’t pay players to sponsor a particular ball, which is a loss for players. Not saying it can’t /won’t happen, but there’d be some serious fallout.

      Reply

      Phillip Barrett

      6 years ago

      The players are much more “athletes” than in the past and the ball and equipment has improved dramatically in the last decade. It’s too late to wind back the equipment so we need to alter the courses instead. Soften up the fairways and leave the grass a bit longer, narrow them up and have the secondary rough longer. Place a bit more premium on accuracy. And if anything slow down the greens so they need more thought. Ban caddies from any stroke lineup process especially in the womans game. Introduce a 40 second rule when it is your turn to play and enforce it!

      Reply

      Scott Macleod

      6 years ago

      Shoot you down in flames here mate, politely. Athletic young men playing golf doesn’t add up. I’m over 50 and hit the ball 300 to 350 yards regularly. The science behind the equipment has made the ball travel farther, better launch of the ball, the ball spins better in the air. These young guns who bomb it every day don’t care abut the rough. If you put the ball within 100 yards of the green you only need to be a really good wedge player. So these guys just work on their wedges and play the percentages that they will hit 10 out of 14 fairways each round. Slowing down greens? Are you serious? The PGA doesn’t allow greens faster than 11 for tournaments, the PGA ships sand into each course to keep consistency. These players have it too good and need something to shake them up. A ball for the pro’s that they all MUST play that travels a little less might be a way to get something of a better outcome for spectators, the game and an equal playing field that doesn’t just favour the big hitting muscle heads.

      Reply

      Rob

      6 years ago

      The average golf score still hovers around 100, to take distance away from the average golfer is ridiculous. Participation has steadily fallen over the last ten years, why would penalize the majority of players? If you average 300-350 yards off the tee, you should have a career in golf and thank your lucky stars that the balls fly that far. As for the rest of us a loss in distance may cause us to give up the game. I average 250-275 off the tee, if I drop to 200-225 I may quit or at the very least, play less often, and I’m sure that the USGA is not looking for that result!

      Phillip Barrett

      6 years ago

      I’m not advocating that the rough be “cabbage” thick, just don’t water it very much if at all before a tournament. Let it dry out and get uneven and hard not guaranting a good lie they can just flick a wedge off. We can’t reel back the distance just make it more difficult if they are off the cut stuff. Is there any other major sport that has different equipment for pro’s and amateurs?

      Reply

      Scott Macleod

      6 years ago

      Phillip Barrett is there any other sport where the ball is stationary and you get to hit it however you like? (snooker ok )

      Reply

      Phillip Barrett

      6 years ago

      Scott Macleod Archery and shooting are “stationary” starting sports where you have to factor in equipment and the elements but there is nothing baring anybody from buying the best equipment. But we digress, should the pro’s play with what we play with? I can go to the shop and buy the ball, clubs and shafts they play with bar the “prototype” stuff but that gets to the market eventually. The equipment manufacturers don’t want us all to play the same stuff and the R&A and PGA have no hope of forcing on them. That horse bolted years ago under the threat of lawsuits. Which brings us back to somehow reinforcing the courses. The rough, fairways and green ideas I suggested was my thoughts on how to do this. Cheers Phillip Barrett.

      Reply

      Javier

      6 years ago

      Here’s the thing, manufacturers have a choice to conform or not to conform, and yes it is a choice, just like we have a choice to observe the rules of golf as proposed by the USGA & RNA. The thing is they seem to only be talking to the pro’s and the manufacturers not the eveyday rec golfer, whom are their main demographic. I believe the ruling bodies will, at some point, if they haven’t already, alienate all of the rec golfers that actually support these organizations and will loose the dollars coming from the average joe. That would be the only way to grab their attention, if we all choose not to subscribe to what they are selling. How many of us actually follow every rule in the book? How many rules do we choose to ignore, because they are rediculous or don’t really pertain to us? So I ask what is the real answer here, the golf ball? The equipment? Or the governing body that enforces rules and hasn’t a clue that they keep screwing up things for the rec golfer? You choose.

      Reply

      John Willson

      6 years ago

      It’s the only game in the world that allows a ball to “evolve.” It’s nonsense, and there can be no downside to a standard ball except for the number of Chinese workers who would have to find other jobs. Just do what Jack Nicklaus has been saying for years.

      Reply

      Uhit

      6 years ago

      Wrong, the ball is already restricted since about 15 years.
      15 years of stability, where a lot of people started to play golf.

      A standard ball would suit a certain player type (swing speed, swing characteristic – spin, feel – putting) the best.

      All others, that would need a ball with different spin, feel, compression etc. would become fools.

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      6 years ago

      If you go the “standard” ball route, there’s plenty of potential downside. First, you have to find a company to make a ball (and invest in all of the required infrastructure) for which there’s zero retail demand. Then, you have to take away whatever money players make from playing a particular ball (won’t be at all popular with players) and this all assumes that changing the ball is going to make a difference to the players who are currently “shorter” – And that’s a huge “if” –

      Reply

      FTWPhil

      6 years ago

      Restrict technology for what?

      Reply

      Dave R.

      6 years ago

      This is another stupid discussion that only effects pro golfers. The rest of us would love to have golf balls that fly farther. I’d like a ball that would go 350 yards at an 80 mph swing speed.

      Reply

      Mark

      6 years ago

      This will sound a bit melodramatic but I might just keep playing as long as I had non conforming balls, the just stop. Figure out how to solve the ACTUAL problem.

      Reply

      Mack

      6 years ago

      Don’t compare driving stats from 2003 to 2016, technology had already made its big strides.
      Fred Couples driving stats in 1982 was 268 yards (good back) . In 2009 was 297 yards (bad back) an increase of 29 yards and 27 years older.
      The modern ball started in 1996 with the Pro V, which started the golf ball revolution.
      This created the majority of the distance gains for players with swing speeds over 110 mph.
      Higher launch, lower spin and much straighter which allowed pros to swing faster and hit it longer and keeping it in the fairway.
      The old wound ball 1960’s dimple pattern, the faster the swing the more it spun (self limiting) and more off line it went. So the pros had to control their swing to keep it in the fairway .
      The golf ball manufacturers are going to protect their investments and patents and are not going to allow the USGA to change the ball without lawsuits. Won’t be long before we see 8000 yard golf course much to the demise of the game. IMO

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      6 years ago

      First, the Pro V1 was introduced in Oct. 2000, not 1996 as you claim. And in 1998 the USGA first introduced the .830 COR regulation, which no doubt started to limit what OEM’s could engineer. Even so, let’s assume the increase from roughly 260 yards in 1993 to 273-ish in 2000, was due mainly the result of club technology. From there, let’s continue to assume the next 14 yards or so was purely the result of a three-piece ball (this is categorically untrue, but for purposes of argument, let’s hold every other factor constant) – That’s still a whopping 4 or so yards per year. A ball traveling 14-16 yards further doesn’t alone render courses obsolete or necessitate 7500-8000 yard courses for touring pros – So to focus exclusively on the ball is entirely shortsighted, regardless of which dates of analysis one wants to use.

      In reality, we have to include factors like course conditions, continued improvements in shaft/head technology, and player fitness/training/ball flight information. I get people want simple answers to complex problems, but I firmly believe a ball rollback not only won’t accomplish what proponents want it to, it ignores all of the factors present (without actually addressing the primary question of whether or not we have a problem worth solving) –

      Reply

      Tvan

      6 years ago

      It would be interesting to see Titleist help their cause/argument. Do they have, tucked away in a warehouse somewhere, older generation balls? The solid balls don’t degrade that much, although I know the old wound balls lose capability with age. or someplace, maybe MyGolfSpy, through it’s members, could find some old balls still in their original packaging – Ebay, flea markets, I don’t know… Then test them against the new ProVs, Snells, Bridgestones and Callaways of the world. I believe you did that a while back with the old TM drivers – R7 or Superquad, I think. We know how much the driver has changed in 20 years, especially in the last 40 years. It would be interesting to see how much the balls have changed over that period of time.

      I think most ball gains in the last couple decades have been more about feel and spin and less about distance. Testing a Tour Prestige against a current ProV1 might help prove the critics correct, but I’m thinking it will show distance gainsare more about the clubheads, shafts and fitness levels.

      Finally, if we are unable to find any new Titleist Tour 100s, or a few boxes of Spaulding Dots, do they still have any of their old machinery capable of making new ones???

      Reply

      Bob Stubbs

      6 years ago

      I agree with Dean Snells assessment of this. The way to solve the problem at the PRO level is to change course set up. They need more rough and fairways that aren’t running 10 or 12 on the stemp. The USGA needs to stop regulating based on less then 1% of the golf population. I need the distance.

      Reply

      Nick Aquilino

      6 years ago

      When I started playing golf the top balls were the Titleist, Maxfli and Spalding Dot. These were all wound balls and little attention was given to how far a ball would go compared to the others.
      Somewhere in the mid or late 60s Spalding introduced the TopFlite, a solid ball and it went further than the wound ball. In fact the PGA tour pros started using the TopFlite on par 3s and a regular balata ball for the rest of the holes. That essentially was the reason the “one-ball” rule was instituted. Ever since then the solid ball has gone further, no doubt. We can’t expect the golf world to go back to a wound ball no more than you could have expected golfers to go back to the guttie so many years ago. The suggestions of making the courses more difficult for errant golf shots makes the most sense. The game is about scoring not how far the ball can be hit and there are ways to equalize the short and long hitters. The last thing anyone wants to do is make the game so hard we lose players. Too many are lost as it is and if an 80s shooter can’t break 90 he will be long gone from the game.

      Reply

      Isaac Nathaniel

      6 years ago

      I have been thinking the same thing. How about players are better and launch monitors are helping player squeeze out a couple extra yards.

      Reply

      David Bassett

      6 years ago

      Excellent, balanced, well-reasoned article. Here goes the USGA again, chasing a problem that doesn’t exist. Grow the game by making it harder/less fun for those of us who have to buy our own gear? I’m 69 years old, play 70+ rounds a year off a 9 from the whites because of a good short game, and I’m making courses obsolete? USGA, you are a bunch of out-of-touch elitists.

      Reply

      Pete71

      6 years ago

      As an average amateur, I believe we get the short end of the stick and are sold a reduced distance ball by the makers as some sort of experiment. Now I have used many different balls like most of us amateurs, we keep switching around. lately I have used the MG Senior ball which said to be too fast for the USGA regulations. But I really think it is only equal to what most pros use. From my point of view give us fast balls fro fun and don’t call them illegal.

      Reply

      WB

      6 years ago

      I believe that the discussion focusses to much on the ball. In the most pro events the fairways are dry and get cut with green equipmemt and have a stimp higher than the greens on our ‘normal’ courses. And then people complain about ball distances in these events.

      If we are worried about (and I’m not really) hitting the ball to far, we should look at course design. I personally do like the shorter more strategic courses as much as the long ones.

      Reply

      William Lillard

      6 years ago

      It’s all a sham I was in the golf business for over 20 years. That’s why I left my conscience won’t let me sell that story anymore

      Reply

      HOWARD THEISMAN

      6 years ago

      Simple – Just make the course tougher for the pros. They’ve got all the shots, make them use them! Narrow the fairways, grow the
      rough out, especially the fringe around the greens. Strength and fitness is why the ball is flying farther. Almost all of the pros can
      carry it 300+. Make accuracy important again!!

      Reply

      trevor cox

      6 years ago

      totally agree,the ball maybe better but what about the rest of the equipment , Unlike players of the past ,most of the tour players are athletes and train in gyms daily.

      Reply

      Charlie Han

      6 years ago

      The solution is simple. Find the current market’s cheapest shortest distance rock of a ball. Something like the Wilson Titanium or some other junk ball. Make that the “spec ball” for the PGA Tour. Problem solved.

      Reply

      TonyG

      6 years ago

      Course maintenance is my area of expertise. There is a lot of cost and inconvenience involved in narrowing courses and “putting things in the way” for tournaments. Golf courses simply won’t want to host a tournament.
      Distance isn’t the only issue with some of the great old courses not hosting tournaments anymore. Space for Corporate Tents, Media, Manufacturers, Practice Facilities and Galleries is probably a bigger factor.

      Reply

      Chuck

      6 years ago

      water the fairways like we do. Tour gets 60 yards of roll, we are lucky to get 25

      Reply

      Matt

      6 years ago

      lol

      Thomas

      6 years ago

      Next the goal posts need to be narrower. The football deflated above effect on football
      Basketball raise height. basket. Narrow rem. Etc etc
      It’s simpler to toughen up the course

      Reply

      Rob

      6 years ago

      I think the ball plays it’s part, but it’s one of many things that make the issue as hotly discussed as it is, I can assure you that no one averages over 300 yards on a wet November English course… the abject lack of rough in the PGA tour vs Euro tour is astonishing. The ball spotters.. let’s see them take on blind carries all the time without cameras and ball spotters and spectators to help them find it. Fairway bunkers that have smaller lips than a chicken and fairways so wide the risk reward factor simply doesn’t apply. The article states that many players average over 300 now and that’s the problem. When it was just a couple of bombers, the courses didn’t suit them, but now there’s a majority bomber approach, the courses are set up to allow for it. Ironed greens, perfect bunkers, removal of trees, following the sun, a choice of shafts rivalled only by Nike’s choice of shoes and green reading books that make the art of putting pretty much pointless.
      I think rolling the ball back hurts the amateur game more than the pro game, but I’d love to see them set the courses up differently. They don’t even have to trick them up, just turn it into a risk reward vs position element and stop giving them favourable drops.. I mean Dubuisson got a drop from 40 yards into the scrub trees in Africa, because a TV tower was in line of sight.. what’s that all about, you missed the fairway by 80 yards yet you get to drop back on it!

      I thought this was a really balanced article and no wonder Acushnet object to the ball argument. Set the courses up properly and if it’s still the same after a season of that, look at the ball….

      Reply

      John Rowe

      6 years ago

      I have about 20 yards to gain and I’m at the 2003 average!!

      Reply

      Roy Hostetter

      6 years ago

      Why doesn’t usga take a solution to the greater strength and skill of the top players: the top tour players use traditional wood divers and fairway woods while the rest of us use metal or composite “woods”. I think this approach would reduce the pro vs amateur difference. We would be able to test ourselves against the pro on more similar courses than is possible today. The traditional couses could still be used for the pro tours as well.

      Reply

      xjohnx

      6 years ago

      Chris, Is there statistics that make those graphics align a little better? Are there average swing speed numbers to match the same years in the distance comparison? I’m not suggesting any bias or tomfoolery like some others, just genuinely curious as it would more clearly outline the facts.

      Reply

      Chase Clelland

      6 years ago

      Its the swing speed thats affecting this not the ball. Avg SS in 1980 was 104 and in 2016 it was 113. That is 9mph which is roughly 2.7 yards per mph for the pro level or 24.3 yards. Add that to the average driving distance for the previous years of around 285 yards and you have a majority of guys hitting it 300 yards. Others that have higher speeds gain a lot more. This is a better athlete not a substantially better ball. I agree that its a multi pronged issue; however, I submit that course set up can curtail the birdie fest more than any other solution. Snell said it perfectly. If you narrow landing areas around the 300-320 mark and lengthen rough then it becomes harder to score. Can a guy do it…sure but there is much more risk and reward that comes into play. Think of Oakmont and the fits that course gave a lot of guys, especially for a relatively short course compared to other PGA events. Fast greens, slow fairways and long rough should be the standard the USGA and PGA use for tournament play not bifurcation.

      Reply

      ChrisK

      6 years ago

      There’s something up with the ball, especially on driver contact. I’ve been playing since about 1982 or 1983, i’ve got 3 handicap, and a local driving range i frequent has some good balls in the mix and some bad ones. I’ve taken plenty of old 30-35 year-old Titleist balata balls, and surprisingly to myself, i can hit them about the same distance 6-iron through wedge, but they’re pitiful on distance with bigger clubs that produce less-spinning shots.

      Just my two cents’ worth, but i’m a firm believer that the golf isn’t quite so good as it once was because of this (big hitters just bomb, and with them hitting wedges where others hit 7-iron of course they’re going to score better). But instead of changing the ball, do like other folks have said — rig the courses up so those 280-320 yard landing zones are problematic. That’ll solve everything.

      Reply

      Mark Jackson

      6 years ago

      Need to go back further than 2003. Go back to 1990 and 1977 see the gains from there. You’ll see a bigger distance gain and also a smaller shot dispersion pattern as the ball now spins less. By 2003 most performance balls had moved to solid multi piece cored technology. The difference from wound balls is a bigger step. Pro’s hit the center of the face more often than not. COR has just made there misses that more serviceable. It’s not how good the good ones are it’s how good your bad shots are. Hit a persimmon wood 1cm from centre it would most likely be an unplayable second shot. You can get away with that face hit dispersion on a modern driver and the ball will still travel a fair distance.

      Reply

      Chal

      6 years ago

      This is just such a bad conversation for the USGA and R&A to even begin. WIth all this crazy distance scoring averages are still basically the same. Tiger should shut up, Nicklaus, Davis, Bridgestone, etc… Golf needs players and stopping technological gains isn’t going to help grow the game. Leave the ball alone!

      Reply

      Callum Imrie

      6 years ago

      The distant on average further is 6 Yards between 2003 and 2016. 6 YARDS!!! I’m not sure what the argument is that the ball is going to far?

      After watching the US open and the players complaining about the fescue (rough in the UK) I think they should make championship courses slightly tighter, with more hazards and protected greens. So players plot their way around. Rather than wholesale changes to the game which is played and enjoyed by so many.

      I’m a member at a tight 9 hole course in Buckinghamshire where you get punished severely for misses left or right, all the greens are very quick, well protected and tiny! I carry 250-260 with my driver but i use my 3 wood on most holes as it usually leaves me with 150-100 in and is more accurate.

      The Dudes are way bigger swing harder and faster have more data analysis of course the ball is going to go further…….

      Reply

      Todd

      6 years ago

      Factors:

      1. Ball limits (initial velocity) have not changed by the USGA that I can remember going back 40 years
      2. Golf course maintenance in terms of grass length has changed significantly
      3. Teaching and swing techniques are far more efficient today. Launch monitors, personal trainers, etc. A PGA Tour player is a finely tuned, much like a race car.
      4. I would argue the Golf equipment has changed more than the golf ball.
      Persimmon Woods vs fully adjustable (CG for launch angle, spin rates, etc) titanium drivers and metal fairway woods
      Iron technology that allows for lower CG’s leading to stronger lofted irons that go further with similar ball flights
      Shafts and shaft weights are much changed. Consider the average shaft length/weight was 43” and 130 grams 30 years ago. Today it’s closer to 70 grams and 45” on a much more consistent and forgiving head.
      I agree, Tour players play under much different conditions with fast, tight fairways which does enhance their distances.
      When it is cold and wet, things change quite dramatically.

      Reply

      David Wrightsman

      6 years ago

      I have played golf for about 40 years now and frankly this entire discussion has little to do about nothing. why do people feel the need to change gear. So what if people can bomb their drives? in the end Who cares.

      Reply

      Mike Mason

      6 years ago

      That’s an average?

      Reply

      RayCar

      6 years ago

      I would argue that the biggest existential threat to golf are dinosaurs like Mike Davis, not equipment. At age 54 I’m hitting it longer than ever and consequently scoring better and having more fun. And yes improvements in ball and club tech have definitely helped but even more so has fitness. The myth that says speed is genetic has been shattered. Now just about anyone who is willing to put in the time can build speed through fitness and speed training protocols.

      Look, golf is hard enough as it is. I don’t need well meaning idiots like Davis making decisions on my behalf. Last I knew golf had a serious image/stagnation problem. The governing bodies should be focused on growing the game rather than running people like me off.

      Reply

      Joseph Gabriel

      6 years ago

      6 yards and people are flipping out??

      I’d like to see numbers with a 6i, 9i, or a SW.

      I bet those numbers barely moved.

      Reply

      Scott Macleod

      6 years ago

      9 iron 175 yard today. That’s not the normal of yesteryear

      Reply

      Walter

      6 years ago

      Ah, don’t forget that a lot of the new 9i’ are lofted like the old 7i’, thus the 175yd 9i.

      David Restall

      6 years ago

      Distance between 2017 and 1980, when the PGA started measuring, has increased 39 yards. 24 yards since 1998.

      Disappointed that MGS has “massaged” the statistics….. Why 2003?

      Reply

      Dr. Willie

      6 years ago

      Glad to see so many people have the day off. Unless we are all going to be restricted to playing the same tees, most courses have addressed this problem with multiple tees, and have dropped the gender identification on them. We may add a sixth. Our back tees include a 250 yard (partially downhill) Par 3, but the shortest 18 is only 4500. For the pros, I agree with several that noted the pro fairways are too hard, too wide, and that the hazards aren’t plentiful enough. For the > 1 % where too much distance may distort course length, then reduce the initial velocity (on “pro” balls only) to reduce the difference between Johnsons. BTW I agree with Joe Sixpack and Barry Moore that the statistics are poorly done in this article, which, thankfully, is rare for MGS. 1.5% is statistically significant if n = 10,000; but it may not be a “meaningful difference”; and the selection of some of the data points are too convenient e.g 2003 vs 2107? Why not a 20 year period, 1997 vs 2017?

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      6 years ago

      Maybe practical significance would have been a better word choice, and statistical significance is a function of the study being done – that is, confidence intervals can vary and context is important. Regardless of which hairs you want to split, I don’t think an increase of 1.5% during the period listed is significant. I also think you can select a variety of time periods (you suggest 1997-2007) and the end result is going to be largely the same – that is, you won’t find a drastic increase in distance, which warrants a finger pointed only at the ball (that is if you first ascribe to the notion we have a problem to solve) –

      Reply

      john faieta

      6 years ago

      It’s not the ball, it’s the swing speed and the athlete. The ball goes further because the athletes are bigger and stronger and have been training. Ever look at DJ standing next to Jack? Dude is like 2 feet taller. The game has evolved. Tiger brought the game to a new generation that saw his power and it made golf cool again. Let’s not screw it up.

      Reply

      krsace

      6 years ago

      maybe we should look for some real leaders at usga?

      Reply

      John Duval

      6 years ago

      Golf doesn’t have a distance problem. PROFESSIONAL golf has a distance problem. Changing the rules and adding length to golf courses in an effort to contain the pro game only hurts the other 99% of golfers

      Reply

      Terry Wittek

      6 years ago

      We shouldn’t be asking golf courses, which are already having financial difficulty, to change their set up to accommodate longer equipment. It’s the not the ball alone, but the ball is the best consumable product manufacturers have to generate revenue so it doesn’t really matter if they fly shorter because people always need to buy golf balls. And if you are in the camp of “narrow the fairways and lengthen the rough” why?…if there is no problem? All you’re doing is forcing the driver out of their hand and still making the game easier for pros. And you disrupt the natural flow of the game because the only rough that can stop these guys is the rough that requires more time to look and then hack out the ball. Stupid. You can play with “old” equipment. You can’t play without golf courses. The more you let the manufactures win, the more golf courses lose. Longer rough is also a great way to create more injuries. Awesome idea

      Reply

      John Hammersmith

      6 years ago

      Golf is dying, to many barriers to play unless your wealthy

      Reply

      Donald Brenda Stage

      6 years ago

      I agree, why do we want to see the pro shoot par. That is like saying the olympic sprinter should not run any faster than I do. If they shoot in the 50s so be it then I will quickly realize just how much better they are and I will not whine so much when asked to play a forward tee.

      Reply

      Michael Kett

      6 years ago

      Mine does it doesn’t go far enough

      Reply

      Mark

      6 years ago

      Byron Nelson was asked a question, with all the technology pertaining to golf and equipment, what is the greatest improvement to the game. His answer: “The Lawnmower” .

      Narrow the fairways, toughen the landing zones, lengthen the rough, adjust the course. The US Open is always the toughest round of the year. In the words of Robin Williams, “We’re going to put all kinds of stuff in the way”.

      Reply

      Thomas Noel

      6 years ago

      At age 63 my average drive is 240 no matter what I do. Many days gone by I hit it 290-300 which surprised many people cause I’m only 5’7″. If they shorten the ball flight and I can no longer have the option of flying a bunker or cutting the corner then there goes the fun! I play golf for Fun, no fun– no more golf for me!! I can putt for free! Wheee!

      Reply

      Uhit

      6 years ago

      If they take the fun – and the public interest – out of the game, the game – including the records from Jack, Tiger, etc, – become meaningless.

      Reply

      Paul Smith

      6 years ago

      Lets follow Wally Uihlein’s comment and pretend that Bridgestone is colluding with the USGA to make a ball that flies 20% shorter so that when the rule is put into effect pros will have to use the Bridgestone ball and thus the company with the ”paltry presence in professional golf” will have cornered the market until the other manufactures catch up, maybe a month or two. A market that is probably less than 1% of all golf balls sold. Plus these pros don’t pay for balls, ball mfg pay them to play their ball. Sounds like a great scheme. No wonder Uihlein is so upset.

      Or maybe there is another reason for resisting change. What ball is almost exclusively used now? Who is opposing this idea the loudest? Hmm.

      The rules governing balls have evolved many times as have the balls. If we there is a need at the professional level to limit distance, it doesn’t matter what caused the increase, it seems the simplest piece of equipment to change would be the ball, however I would guess they could mandate a driver that could not launch a ball beyond x mph. Doubt we can be Rory or Dustin to quit exercising and start smoking cigars.

      Given what manufactures have done with other aspects like feel, spin and trajectory, I would not think it insurmountable that a ball could be made that would travel about the same as now for average swing speeds but gain proportionally less distance when hit by a faster swing. However, I think a separate, distinct ball for the pros vs amateurs might be better as I know there are plenty out there that would proudly tee up with a “pro” ball even if they barely dribbled it past the front tees. Would be little different that requiring different tee placements

      Modifying courses have got to be expensive, but maybe we need to rethink the whole idea. If we are trying to cut down on under par scores, lets move the tournaments from the exclusive manicured venues and have the pros play on muni courses without caddies. We could all relate and really see what sets them apart.

      Reply

      Max Frericks

      6 years ago

      Let’s also look at the average size of golfer from 2003 to today. Also golf fitness from 2003 to today. I think both of those factors have a bigger influx than the golf ball.

      Reply

      Rob Handley

      6 years ago

      Ridiculous and disastrous proposal for golf as a whole. The answer’s in Mark Broadie’s book ‘the stats show long and crocked is better than short and straight.’ That’s because the courses are not set up to penalize an offline shot, if you only hit 50% fairways and still shoot 6 under it’s not the balls fault.
      What about Women’s golf a different ball for them or do they use the amateurs ball?
      Bottom line is, IMHO it would kill golf overnight. Any middle age upwards golfer who can now only hit the ball 180yds still leaving 200+ in on most par 4’s will quickly loose interest when they can’t even score on their good days which in general are few any way but it’s why they keep playing.
      If the ball change is restricted to the pro’s no one will go, people want to see DJ, JD, Rory, Tiger et al hit it miles. It adds excitement particularly when visiting live events. If they’re knocked back to sub 250yds where’s the excitement.
      Look at what’s been learnt about launch conditions, reduced spin and fitness in very recent golf history. The same as any other athletic sport better knowledge and training regimes equals improved performance and singles the pro’s out from the average Joe which is why we want to watch them period.

      Reply

      Dave Balmer

      6 years ago

      There is definitely a distance problem – all my friends hit it farther than me! Oh, and they are younger and in better shape – not fair!
      Go back to some of the old golf shows from the early sixties (Shells Wonderful World of Golf, for instance). Players like Snead and George Bayer were routinely hitting it 300+ but with a high percentage of roll in the equation. Fairways were very firm then, much as we see on the Tour.
      For the vast majority of players, increasing their smash factor by finding the center of the club face is the real answer to distance. That will work with any ball. After that it is a matter of feel.
      I agree with the theory that a ball should be selected by working from the green backward. Whatever ball gives the best performance around the green gets to be tested further. If ball “A” gains two strokes around the green relative to others, and only loses one stroke off the tee and with irons (some data here and some “feel”), then stay with ball “A.” As with all components of distance vs accuracy, it is all a trade off. Most golfers will gain the most scoring benefit with increased accuracy and better play around the green.

      Reply

      Kuzmich Carl

      6 years ago

      It’s the courses, not the ball. If the pros played on the courses we play: wet fairways, long grass, thick rough, horrible wet sad, they would see the scores go up and their distances drop. Make them play the courses that us weekend golfers play, don’t break what ain’t broken!!!!!

      Reply

      Walter

      6 years ago

      I remember way back when Lee Trevino and Gary Player came to town for the seniors tour(Canada). With each one their little talks to the crowd, they both commented on the fact that if they had to play the same muni courses that us weekend warriors had to play their scores would be a lot higher too.

      Reply

      M.Coz

      6 years ago

      The tour started a peeding up the courses in the 70s. Many of us can recall playing a course thru the year, furry and soft thus slow. Then a month before a PGA event they might pack sand on the fairways and roll it in creating a runway like effect. At tournament time we could get sround 20 more yds of roll even then. A few years ago I played three tournament courses at just a few days before the event or the following day after. My drives were never longer on those courses and frankly I shot very low scores that may have been my best scores there. (I usually prefer faster greens of tour setup). I have played many, many times with tour players and often at non tour conditions. It is a different game for them too. Slow down and narrow the courses from tee to green. Leave the green speed fast. Another thing is to not make every course play the same. They set up every course to the same standards throughout the country. In the past the players had to adapt more to each region and course. The differences were much greater. Tom Watson couldn’t win in Florida, John Huston could only win in Florida.

      Reply

      Bink Collins

      6 years ago

      I agree with Dean Snell…Changing the courses is the easiest fix and makes bombing the ball a risk reward situation. When they mowed back the roughs at Erin Hills this year to make bombing the ball easier it certainly handicapped the shorter more accurate golfers at the event.

      Reply

      Frank Drollinger

      6 years ago

      Golf have an injury and didactic problem.

      Reply

      Jack Conger

      6 years ago

      I am a PGA Golf Professional. I teach golf Year round in Syracuse, New York. Golf is at best am8 month season here. SU basketball is one way to get you through the winter until the Masters. Hitting the ball far, no matter what your handicap or age is Cool. Takeing the ball and shorting Distance is like taking away the 3 point line and no college player can Dunk again. Thoses 2 things in basketball are sexy and that is one reason why we watch. The topm10 plays on ESPN daily aren’t layups and foul shouts, sorry. Really the same players are going to win no matter what. Lasting when I work with someone on their golf game, they always want 2 things. 1. Please make me more Consistent 2. Distance. I never heard I want to hit it shorter. USGA give me a break. Again you have to feel significant on making a new rule desission. Just like the anchoring of the putter. I see that stopped Bernard Langer from winning!! Remember the game is suppose to Fun. Fun is hitting it Longer not Shorter.

      Reply

      Aubrey Theall

      6 years ago

      Stop lengthening the courses and just let the scores play out as they will. All this moaning about how far a few hundred guys hit the ball is nonsense. 99.9% of golf is played by amateurs and the game is hard as it is.

      Reply

      Barry Moore

      6 years ago

      This article is very poorly researched and cherry picks it’s numbers to make a point the author wanted, rather than looking at all the numbers and coming to a conclusion based on that. I’ll mention two things that are completely wrong. First of all there is the comparison between distances in 2003, and 2016, and how it’s only gone up 5 yards. That’s just plain false advertising….the modern golf ball we are talking about was introduced in 2000. Why compare the solid core 2003 ProV1 to a 2016 ProV1? They are essentially the same ball that is causing the problem. Why not compare driving distances from 1996, when a wound ball with a balata cover was used? Because it would show that the ball has added close to 20 yards, not 5. Also the statement that the ball has nothing to do with higher swing speeds from players is offensive in it’s dishonesty. Back in the day, pro golfers had to control their swing speeds because ball spin off the tee was much greater with balata, wound balls. A ten yard fade shot with today’s ball, becomes a 40 yard slice with a 1980 ball. If you don’t believe me, go check out the driver distances of guys like Fred Couple’s and Davis Love. They gained 20 yards in 20 years. It’s not like they were in better shape when they were 45 than when they were 25. Poorly researched column on a subject that could use some serious investigation, instead of bad propaganda.

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      6 years ago

      Barry – If you’re looking for propaganda, you’re not going to find it here. My personal assertion is that those willing to “blame” only the ball for whatever issues one feels exists, is far too myopic a stance.

      Thus far, I’m unaware of any evidence supporting a position which clearly shows course set up, athleticism, club technology, etc. have had no impact on the entirely modest increases in distance over the last several decades. You’re claiming it’s the “same ball” causing the problem. What problem? Even if we take your generic “20 yards in 20 years” figure, that’s an increase from 270 to 290 over two decades. That’s 7.4% over twenty years – which is more or less .4% per year. Not exactly strong empirical evidence.

      Did players have different swings in past generations? Certainly. But the entire game has changed – not just the ball. And that’s likely most important point. How players approached the game generations ago, is again, a more nuanced conversation than it appears you’re suggesting. It’s possible players were more restrained off the tee, but your positions assumes the characteristics of the ball is the only reason this may have occurred – if it did on any appreciable level. Again, if you have information to further the conversation, please post it.

      Reply

      Nick Solheim

      6 years ago

      The only thing that needs to happen is to put more emphasis on hitting the fairway. Cap ball technology and grow the rough.

      Reply

      Scott Macleod

      6 years ago

      don’t ‘grow’ the rough. Make it rough, nasty shit that is near impossible to get spin from or dry dusty & uneven, not this manicured pampered stuff that todays pro’s prepare for each time they know its coming.

      Reply

      cksurfdude

      6 years ago

      Really good, and balanced, reporting .. thx Chris and MGS!

      If the (perceived) “problem” is on the pro Tour, then – make adjustments THERE. I agree with the course setup suggestions.

      But I’d also put forward this whacko idea:

      For pro and high-level amateur comps (eg. college, PGA sectionals, regionals, etc) introduce a Condition of Competition on equipment such that…
      1. Max head volume = (say) 235 cc
      2. Max loft = (say) 15°

      …ie. take the modern “bomber” driver away.

      Leave rec/weekend players .. who may not competed but still want to observe the Rules .. alone…..

      Reply

      Andrew Han

      6 years ago

      To the majority of the sentiments here, and to Dean Snell, I think it is the player and launch monitor, not the ball that is driving up the distance. Who says distance is bad? Oh the slimy ball company and its aging legend who can’t compete with the new guns. The rumors of Bridgestone is alleged, but that is dirty and hurts the game for their benefits. Snell said exactly what I was saying reading it halfway. Design the course to punish the player for taking the risk. Create more hazards, narrow the fairway, let that fescue grow a yard. Don’t blame the ball. What’s next, make the ball off center so making a 40 footer putt impossible?! Too much ego and distance envy going on here.

      Reply

      BR

      6 years ago

      I liked the part of the article discussing golf course setup (i.e. grow rough, fairways softer, etc). I don’t understand why USGA/R&A won’t consider bifurcation with its sanctioned events? Would it really harm business model for amateur golf? Would love to see a poll from tour pro’s regarding that topic.

      Reply

      Rick Sanders

      6 years ago

      I play in USGA tournaments would I need to learn both balls? It doesn’t work when you allow amateur to play in Pro events.

      Reply

      BR

      6 years ago

      Understood. I think if you are PRO, you play approved ball and if you are an amateur you play balls approved for non pro events. IF an amateur status player plays a professional event, he/she plays the approved ball—period. Price you pay for playing at highest level. And if you are good enough to play (even with amateur status) a pro event, you should be able to adjust. Everybody survived the square groove debacles, they will adjust to any ball changes.

      DRMock1

      6 years ago

      Rick I agree. Its kind of funny, most of the ones calling for bifurcation don’t play tournaments, carry a handicap, or strictly adhere to the rules as they are written. They have their “bifurcation” and are already playing by a different set of rules agreed upon by their group.

      Dave

      6 years ago

      Leave the ball alone Ican only hit it so far and honestly it does not matter what ball I use. And I’m talking any ball the only difference is sound hard or soft they all go the same for me. Put these pros on my course and good luck if it flys 260 you get 258 these guys play on hard rock surfaces. Fairways shorter than the greens I put on if you compare these pros to 30 years ago and take into facts of playing conditions there would be little difference. Mr Davis is so far in the bush he has to come out to hunt. And now Tiger is carrying his gun for him.

      Reply

      emm

      6 years ago


      Here’s some food for thought which would seem to support Titleist’s position. In 2003, PGA Tour average driving distance was 285.9 yards. In 2016, it was 290 yards. That’s an increase of a whopping (and entirely statistically insignificant 1.5%. That said, the number of players averaging 300+ yards off the tee has tripled since 2003, which suggests while the overall average is more or less static, the tour is heavy on players who can bomb it off the tee.”

      This is the worst graph I’ve ever read on this site.

      Reply

      Joe sixpack

      6 years ago

      Totally agree.

      How many 3 woods are included in the 2003 figure vs. the 2016 figure?

      And for a site that is constantly using statistics, it shocks me how none of these writers seem to actually understand the concept of statistical significance. That 1.5% difference is based on thousands or tens of thousands of data points. It is very much statistically significant. You may argue that the 1.5% is not a meaningfully large difference, but it IS statistically significant.

      Reply

      john young

      6 years ago

      Hopefully the powers to be will consider all the reasons… technology in club design and the ball are probably the smallest contributors… Club length, shaft technology, ball flight education, physical training/enhancements, fairway grass lengths and turf firmness, fairway widths, lack of hazard movement with distance changes, rough lengths all have made a difference. Trying to blame one or two of these seems to be short sighted… Since the tour is such a tiny percentage of golfers… maybe looking at the tour course setups, turf conditions, hazard placements would serve the golf world better than making balls and equipment that serve only a small fraction of what the problem is construed to be.

      Reply

      Vince Schiavo

      6 years ago

      Well-reasoned, and stated, argument, John!

      Reply

      Ed Bonney

      6 years ago

      Leave the golf ball alone. Make the golf courses harder for the pros. If you want more people to quit playing the game thats whats going to happen if the USGA&R& A keep trying to change things. Also who cares what Tiger Woods thinks.

      Reply

      Boyo

      6 years ago

      A lot more than what your opine is.

      Reply

      Austin Kreger

      6 years ago

      Before you look at the ball let’s see what the average swing speed is on tour every year too.

      Reply

      Preston Bonner

      6 years ago

      But the score has remained similar… Why the alarm?

      Reply

      tomhars

      6 years ago

      If the pros are concerned about distance, let them forego their great equipment, go back to a mashie and a niblick and let the rest of us play with the best equipment possible. The concept of length can well be addressed with tee stations. Let them play from the tips, I’ll move up.

      Reply

      Old Redtop

      6 years ago

      I like the idea of leaving the ball alone and managing it with course setup. Put deep rough/traps/hazards across fairways in the pro’s driver landing zone (280+). Narrow the fairways and make them soft so no more 30+ yard rollouts. Bring golf back to a game of shot-making and risk reward, not “bombs away”.

      Reply

      cksurfdude

      6 years ago

      Totally agree!!!

      Reply

      sparkee lacroix

      6 years ago

      As a 60 year old male who hits the ball 220 off the tee , I do not think the courses are too long . My bunch of weekend players has just moved up to the white tees and are once again hitting irons into greens instead of hybrids . Feels good to be playing golf again instead of hit as far as you can and hope it rolls onto the green . Like Mr Snell suggests make the bombers pay with accuracy and course conditions like the rest of us who are playing on less than pristine golf courses due to budgets restraints.

      Reply

      Tony Lopez

      6 years ago

      I concur. There are a combination of factors attributing to distance, and the ball is taking the blame. Pros today are fitter, courses are better manicured, and technology keeps progressing. Heck iron lofts are way different than they were a very years ago, and materials are now near space-age levels. I see this similar to Indy/F1 racing. Making changes to the front splitter of cars alters the overall speed by .5 secs, there by altering lap times. The splitter is usually blamed or tire type, but not the entire workings of the race car in collaboration with engine and body panels.
      Just my 2 cents. Happy Holidays.

      Reply

      Patrick Platt

      6 years ago

      With the advent of analytics in all major sports it’s clear that golf should not be any different. We know that increased launch angle, faster swing speed, lower spin , better shafts and better conditioned golfers not to mention a better ball all contribute.
      Golfers can now adjust their swings to the metrics on their launch monitors. There’s no guessing anymore the numbers don’t lie.
      There have always been outliers in golf first witnessed by Jack Nicklaus then John Daly. In today’s game there are just more of them.

      Reply

      George Johnson

      6 years ago

      it is not the ball ,i hit the ball 10 yards farther now then i did 4 years ago ,i went and got 4 lessons this year after having a heart attack,i use the same ball as i did 4 years ago ,

      Reply

      Jerry

      6 years ago

      Just make the tour fairways like public course fairways. Softer and not mowed to green like conditions. Make the rough deeper. Make driving accuracy a must and take away the longer hitters advantage.

      Reply

      Ike

      6 years ago

      Why should I care how far DJ, or JT, or Bubba hits the orb? There will still be only one winner per tournament. I, however, still want to hit it as far as possible on a long par four. Leave my balls alone!

      Reply

      Murray Krambeer

      6 years ago

      The greatest single golf invention in the past 20 years…….

      The spikeless shoe.

      Reply

      BenB

      6 years ago

      I have had the “privilege” of being a ranger and starter at a jam packed Bronx muni. The average male golfer drives the ball 180.
      220 is 1 guy per group tops.

      Reply

      Daniel Brent

      6 years ago

      Shorten courses, raise the fairway height (let the ball sit down a bit), wispy rough for the flier lie, more risk/reward

      Reply

      Brett Frimmer

      6 years ago

      As long as human beings get a satisfaction in hitting a ball as far as possible there will be a market for increased distance.

      Reply

      David Couvillon

      6 years ago

      For you amateurs who can’t compete with your buddy that hits driver/wedge-short iron on Par 4s, while you hit driver/3wood-long iron? Golf has the answer for you – handicap and tee box. Insist on your handicap and (tuck it in your jockeys) walk up the the next tee box, even if its the “old man” or “ladies” tee box. Tee. It. Forward.

      Reply

      Uhit

      6 years ago

      THIS!
      Simple, effective, and already possible.
      Forget the envy, and be a happy camper!

      Reply

      GilB

      6 years ago

      At my age,67, the ball can never fly too far.

      Reply

      William Johnson

      6 years ago

      All the golf ball manufacturers are aware of ways to limit golf’s most skilled players while the rest of us avoid these limitations.

      There is more to golf than professional golf and top flight amateur golf.

      Golf ball spin (not literal spin) is mostly marketing speak and it is holding golf back. This is multifaceted discussion and it sets the future of the game in many respects.

      Reply

      Doug Ash

      6 years ago

      I think that the fairway’s should be narrowed down and the course should be wetter. My friend just played
      TPC Scotsdale last week. He was told that they had to take a fore caddy because of the rough. Which was 3+ inches tall. And the course was nice and damp. So no rolling out on drive’s.
      He was told that 3 weeks before the Waste Management Open they were going to start turning off the water on the course to dry it out and start cutting back the rough.
      So the USGA has caused this distance problem on my opinion. Every event is like hitting balls down the freeway so when they land sometimes the ball will roll out 40 or 50 yards because of the hard as a rock fairway’s. Get the courses wetter like they used to be back in the 60’s and 70’s

      Reply

      Vince Schiavo

      6 years ago

      Let’s be fair, Doug – the USGA sets up courses for their own events (e.g. US Open, US Amateur, US Mid-Amateur, etc.). For the WMO, it’s the PGA Tour setting up the course.

      Reply

      John

      6 years ago

      Golf equipment will continue to evolve. Golf courses need to adjust to the faster swing speeds by setting up risk reward situations. This is not rocket science. Placing hazards strategically on the course, should require more course management skills.

      Reply

      Mark

      6 years ago

      Exactly. Placing more bunkers in the 280-330yd areas and narrowing the fairways in these areas are the simple, practical solutions.

      Reply

      David Ross

      6 years ago

      IMHO 99% of golfers need all the help they can get. Why not maximise CORs ala the old banned Cobra driver, make balls able to go further etc. I would pretty much guarantee it would bring more enjoyment to the amateur game. The professional game can go the other way. Smaller COR drivers. Smaller balls etc. Leave it up to the individual what equipment he wants to play depending on skill level and aspirations?

      Reply

      Kyle Kaylor

      6 years ago

      Yes, courses are getting longer and longer every year. The golf ball and golf clubs are falling behind as courses get bigger.

      Reply

      Tony

      6 years ago

      I concur. It’s a combination of improvements, making it appear so that the ball is the main culprit. Iron lofts vary between manufactures. Tiny adjustments in materials and quality control. Changes to the way courses are maintained as well as how the pro athletes regiment themselves physically. I see this similar to Indy/F1 racing; cars go .5 mph faster via front splitter changes, but not necessarily only the splitter making the car go. Just my two cents.

      Reply

      Gil Doplito

      6 years ago

      Just when you think the game of golf is getting bigger (in all sense) and in most cases a bit easier, someone always has to come (sore losers/libtards) and cry that it is not fair that they don’t have fair share of the market. I believe in regulatory constraints with regard to equipment but if it will the majority why even bring it up. It is upsetting that Bridgestone of all companies would bring this up. Oh could it be because they have the famous player backing. Listen, he’ brought a lot into the game and arguably the best to have played the game but he’s no longer in competitive mode and he should pave the way for new and upcoming talents. We are mostly golfers here, we all know that you can bomb it 270+ but if it is not on the fairway, it doesn’t matter. Add to that your long, mid, short iron game and the putter it really doesn’t matter what kind of ball you play. It all boils down to skill, mental prowess, and ability to get up and down.

      Reply

      Andrew

      6 years ago

      Libtards? Check that stuff at the door.

      Reply

      Peter C

      6 years ago

      Actually, as an high schooler who can put it out to 270, I can hit 5 woods and 4irons into most par 5s we play. I rarely hit more than a 9iron into greens on par 4s. Id rather be in the rough and 110-130 from the green than be in the fairway and be 150+ yards out. Im not in the trees but I do find the rough. I beat people because I hit it so far that I have a wedge left, which will have a much better proximity to the hole and less greens missed than the 5irons or more that some of my competitiors hit. So distance does play a factor but I do not believe the ball should be shortened.

      Reply

      Matthew Salzer

      6 years ago

      The driving distances have increased with the driver more than this number portrays. Guys are hitting 3 woods and driving irons more than ever which will bring this number down.

      Reply

      Rich McDonough

      6 years ago

      We did our own distance study at a local muni in Brooklyn NY as part of a pace of play study. Charted over 2000 men and average driving distance was 196 yards..

      Reply

      Scott Hayes

      6 years ago

      I’d say your study is on Point. i feel like average players don’t hit the golf ball as far as they think they do.

      Reply

      Louis Collins

      6 years ago

      With what a 7 wood? What is the average age of golfer at the course.

      Reply

      Charlie Han

      6 years ago

      We have guys routinely driving the green on 300+ yd par 4’s. It’s not everyone, but it’s more common than you’d think.

      Reply

      Rich McDonough

      6 years ago

      Ages ranged from young to old. Regular every day muni golfers. Almost all hit driver on a straight par 5.Over 7 years at the course and watched thousands of tee shots. There is no reason whatsoever to cut back on ball distance for the average guy.

      Reply

      Scott Hayes

      6 years ago

      Having guys routinely drive 300 yards is not common. The data will back that up. Rich is 100 percent correct. And Louis if you have people hitting 7 woods 200 yards they are an exception. Again, we are talking averages here. I play with a couple guys regularly that can drive the golf ball 300 yards. More often than not though I play with guys that don’t hit he ball 225.

      Reply

      Mark

      6 years ago

      Not sure if I missed it, but when they say tour average, is that the same tour average where they take 2 drivers per round, or is it the shot link data that we see on the tv presentations? Because I see far more 320-330 than I do 260-270 which would be needed to balance those huge bombs we see every week. I know the tour always used to use 2 drivers per round counting the average. Anyone know the answer?

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      6 years ago

      Mark – I think the salient point here is what viewers see on TV. Let’s say it’s a field size of 144 and TV coverage focuses on the people on the first page of the leaderboard and/or someone making a run/having a crazy good round. That leaves out the vast majority of the field.

      Point being, what we see on TV is but a small percentage of what actually contributes to any averages referenced.

      Reply

      Mark

      6 years ago

      Very true, but I still think that average that is being talked about is 2 drives on each side maybe, and some may hit 3 wood on such holes. I can tell you that shotlink data would show drivers hit a much bigger gain. LIke always numbers can be manipulated to make a point. So are you referencing the average that the tour measures or shot link data?

      Ryan

      6 years ago

      Does the driving distance take into account which club players are hitting? Are more players hitting long irons and 3 woods off the tee because the driver is bringing more trouble into play? I find it hard to believe that if the number of 300+ yard average guys has tripled, that the average distance with the driver has only increased 4 yards.

      Reply

      Jan

      6 years ago

      The 300+ argument has no meaning. If many players would hit 298 yards, then 4 yards plus makes the 300+ crowd much bigger. But measure who is 303+ and there would not be much of a change.

      Reply

      Tim Peterson

      6 years ago

      Maybe fitness has something to do with this as well.

      Reply

      robin

      6 years ago

      This man just won a chicken dinner, good job.

      Reply

      shortside

      6 years ago

      Ridiculous on all levels regarding the average enthusiast. Too much distance isn’t a problem for us based on every study ever done. EVER.

      As for the tour guys if they want to compete in long drive competitions have at it. Completely agree on the course set up. It’s refreshing to see the bombers knock themselves off the leader board after hitting it in woods or rough they can’t make the green from. If they’re striping it and splitting narrow fairways great. But spraying it all over the place with little to no fear of added strokes is nonsense.

      I’d guess we’re seeing more interest in the LPGA for the simple reason they hit distances a lot of avid players do. We can see ourselves hitting that shot with that club. Skirts don’t hurt either.

      Reply

      Simon Peter Smart

      6 years ago

      Is it that tour players have had maxed out drivers for longer aka tour stamped drivers not available to the paying public for a longer period. Conditioning is a massive factor the gym is now as big as practice

      Reply

      Brandon Wooley

      6 years ago

      I hit the ball farther in 2003 than I do now, so my answer is no.

      Reply

      Scott Macleod

      6 years ago

      if you have gone from 50 to 65 that’d be understandable.

      Reply

      Mark Follmer

      6 years ago

      The ball for the tour can be easily fixed. Make the dimples bigger and/or deeper. The ball will not be as easy to hit straight, and it will be harder to control

      Reply

      Joseph Kershaw Dreitler

      6 years ago

      agree. And by the way “averages” are just that. If you look at the top 20 drivers of the ball, it looks to me as though they are all well over 300 and Rory is 317. That is his “average” and Dustin, Finau, Bubba and others are very close. When you combine that with the fact that they can hit their 3 woods 295, and 5 irons 230, and wedges 145, it is pretty easy to see that almost all par 5’s are par 4’s and what used to b long par 4’s (450-470) are a driver and 8-9 iron. Pro golf is “entertainment” just like the NFL which tinkers with its rules every year for the fans mostly. They don’t care what amateurs (college and high school) do with their rules, If pro golf fans want to see what goes on now, then the ball with not change. If viewership/attendance goes down, they might look at making some adjustments for their game. Everyone has an opinion and mine is that I think it is a shame walking and watching Rory play Muirfield Village and only hit driver on 3 holes – and 3 woods on the rest. Just my opinion, you are entitled to yours.

      Reply

      Brian J Paulson

      6 years ago

      Or make them smaller so there isn’t as much lift, then there has to be a softer cover so the spin can create the lift. No matter what they would do, the manufacturers would never go for it unless forced to. The masses, whether a +4, or a 32 hdcp (well, some of them) want to play the same stuff as the guys on Tour do. Vanity and stayed ($$$) drive the game. If the tour guys got a different ball, then they would be forced to get diff equipment. That would not work with a different ball for the amateur/hacker ranks. The Amateur game might actually suffer due to their not being able to perform with that “new” equipment.
      I sometimes think two Rule sets is a good idea, and then other times I do not. If companies had to create two different sets of equipment for two different sets of players, the game might get even more expensive, and potentially have even fewer manufacturers in the game. (Maybe 4 or 5 tops.)
      IDK. It could open a major Pandora’s Box.

      Reply

      Austin Kreger

      6 years ago

      Lol there are balls already that have larger deeper dimples and smaller shallower dimples and even dual dimples. The BALL IS NOT AN ISSUE. Get over it

      Reply

      Nate Latowski

      6 years ago

      Just tighten the fairways, stop drying them out to make them launch pads in the landing areas, and grow the rough. Let the PGA Tour guys cry about it like they will and then after a year of it they’ll get used to it.

      Reply

      Mark Follmer

      6 years ago

      Austin Kreger An aerodynamic engineer can design a ball with larger and deeper dimples, which will be harder to hit dead straight, in about 2 hours. It’s not tough to do… a tour ball with this new dimple design can be made by every ball manufacturer very easily because they would all be using the same mold.

      Reply

      Brian J Paulson

      6 years ago

      Actually, the ball IS the issue. (No offense to anyone who thinks otherwise, but you are dillusional.) Jack says it, Tiger says it. 100% of the PGA Tour (and sub-tours say it. No one says it isn’t.
      In the end, however, we need to make golf CHEAPER (less expensive, not “cheap”) to grow this game. Today’s club designs, from drivers through the wedges (AND even putters) design clubs based on their performance on THE BALL!!!
      All that being said, regarding a “roll back’, I don’t know how it can be done any more. That ship may have sailed. Having everyone hitting it shorter won’t grow the game. However, making it easier potentially would.
      Regarding equipment… It’s not a chicken /egg thing. It’s truly rooted on the “egg”.
      I am almost 50 years old. I hit it farther today than I did when I was a college kid. I had a truly honest +3.5 GHIN Index in my prime, and held it for a while. I tried, yet unsuccessfully, to get out there to play back in the 1990’s. I am now a PGA Professional and can still hold my own, even with very minimal practice and not much working out today.
      It’s the ball. The ProV1, and all of the “copies” when they first came out totally changed the game of golf forever!! Today’s technology has made improvements to ball and club design in tandum advance at an astronomical rate compared to even 5 years ago, let alone 10-15 years ago!! The BALL changed golf to what we know of it today.
      If the ball doesn’t change, then LET the tour guys shoot nothing! Who really cares! The modern athlete golfers today are just BETTER. The next group in another 10-15 years will also again be better that this crop (somehow)!

      Reply

      Mark Follmer

      6 years ago

      Brian J Paulson dilly dilly! Yep it is the ball. As I’ve stated in my previous comments the ball can be tweaked to make it harder to hit straight. It could still go just as far but it would be a lot harder to hit dead straight. If players had to go back to curving the ball closer to what pros in the years prior to the 90s did, the game would be less about bombing it off the tee. You’re also correct about making the game less expensive to play…. all aspects of the game are too expensive to achieve any kind of growth. Clubs are off the charts expensive… balls cost $60/doz???…. putters over $300? Green fees at most courses are out of reach for many people because their expendable income has dropped significantly. Cart rental…for carts that are not very different than they were 20 years ago….is expensive also and adds a high cost to a round. The county run course I work at costs $62 to play seven days per week. It’s not a $60 golf course….but location allows them to charge $60. Golf has some problems….and ignoring them will cause more courses to close very soon

      Reply

      Austin Kreger

      6 years ago

      It isn’t the golf ball.

      Dustin Johnson driving distance:
      2017- 315
      2016- 313.6
      2015- 317.7 (1st on tour)
      2014- 311
      2013- 305.8
      2012- 310.2
      2011- 314.2
      2010- 308.5
      2008- 309.7

      Rory McIlroy driving distance:
      2017- 317.2 (1st on tour)
      2016- 306.8
      2015- 304
      2014- 310.5
      2013- 302.2
      2012- 310.1
      2011- 307.2
      2010- 300

      Bubba Watson driving distance:
      2017- 305.8
      2016- 310.6
      2015- 315.2
      2014- 314.3 (1st on tour)
      2013- 303.7
      2012- 315.5 (1st on tour)
      2011- 314.9
      2010- 309.8
      2007- 315.2 (1st on tour)

      J.B. Holmes driving distance:
      2017- 307.5
      2016- 314.5 (1st on tour)
      2015- 309.9
      2014- 308
      2013- 302.5
      2012- 309.7
      2011- 318.4 (1st on tour)
      2007- 312.6

      Jason Day driving distance:
      2017- 306.2
      2016- 304.2
      2015- 313.7
      2014- 294.4
      2013- 299.3
      2012- 308.6
      2011- 302.6
      2010- 298.2

      So, where is the dramatic distance increase over the past 10 years due to the golf ball? It isn’t there. This is all based on false claims and there is the data to prove it. If that isn’t enough, take a look at these guys that played through the wound ball into the solid ball… THEIR DRIVING DISTANCES REMAIN NEARY THE SAME WITH WITH EITHER BALL AND OUTDATED DRIVER TECHNOLOGY.

      Tiger Woods driving distance:
      2015- 300.2
      2013- 293.2
      2011- 298.4
      2009- 298.4
      2007- 302.4
      2005- 316.1
      2003- 299.5
      2001- 297.6
      1999- 293.1
      1997- 294.8
      *** Amazing! Tiger hasn’t gained any distance over the past 20 years. Can’t be the golf ball.

      Phil Mickelson driving distance:
      2016- 294.8
      2014- 292.4
      2012- 294.4
      2010- 299.1
      2008- 295.7
      2006- 300.7
      2004- 295.4
      2002- 288.8
      2000- 288.7
      1997- 284.1
      ** Whoa!! Phil has barely gained anything over the past 20 years. Can’t be the golf ball.

      John Daly driving distance:
      2014- 292.5
      2010- 305.7
      2004- 306.0
      1999- 305.6
      1997- 302.0
      1995- 289.0
      1993- 288.9
      1991- 288.9
      ** Unbelievable!! Long John Daly only had marginal gains since 25 years ago. The ball must have gone too far in 1991 too according to today’s claims. 1991 to 2014 Only averaged 3.5 yards more off the tee. Can’t be the golf ball. Let’s play with wiffle balls right?

      Reply

      Andrew Han

      6 years ago

      Where is the like button? Thanks for the stats, where did you get them? I can only get the current season’s.

      Sure people are hitting it longer, but that is attributed to a lot of variables, such as the club design & material, ball, player, and swing mechanics. They all have evolved, as they should.

      Distance doesn’t seem to be killing the game. As I said earlier before, seems like egos are being bruised here. Golf seems like the only sport where the governing board wants to turn back time and stats. Hurting rather than reward progress overall. Reward accuracy; make risk more consequential. That should be achieved through courses at the pro level. Golf is a sport against the course and not against each other.

      Bball isn’t raising the rim above 10 ft nor is it lowered at the collegiate level. Forget collegiate, the local park has it at 10 ft. Bball made it easier to score, football made it easier to score. It grew the game, golf board seem to be wanting it to stay within a certain confine. Of course this creates arguments of who the greatest due to differing rules of period in bball/football.

      I think the golf ball needs to continue to evolve. Its the only major sport that does not involve direct relationship to the hands and/or feet. Hockey is confined to a ring with a 3.66 m wide goal. Lacrosse isn’t a major sport and confined to a field.

      Anderson Dave

      6 years ago

      They are also 20 years older.

      Mark Follmer

      6 years ago

      Hey dumbass…. guys get older.

      Reply

      Austin Kreger

      6 years ago

      With the advancement of Trackman and other high quality launch monitors players can hone their swings to hit the ball straight regardless of ball dimple design. It’s a proven fact that graphite shafts have more to do with distance gain than the ball. Graphite is also the reason fairway hit percentages are lower than decades past. PGA tour players are athletes now and swing the club faster than ever. The only way to hit a ball further is to hit it harder, the ball doesn’t just jump off the face of a driver an extra 20 yards at the same swing speed with all the other equipment limits set.

      Look at Luke Donald’s driving distance stats. They have been consistent almost his entire career so why isn’t this “superball” flying another 20 yards for him?

      Reply

      Ric

      6 years ago

      I don’t see that the ball is the problem.I believe the course has to be modified ,I mean the course set up should be more like the British and U.S. Open with more and deeper rough,more water, faster greens,narrower fairways more traps and trees…. Making the course longer is not always the answer. Drives today they are long but not always straight so buff up the course….

      Reply

      Rich

      6 years ago

      To add , Players are more fit even to a point they are too muscled up which can IMPROVE PERFORMANCE at the risk of injury,ie Rory,Tiger,etc.

      Reply

      Marc Anderson

      6 years ago

      4 yards in 13 years is about 11 inches a year , probably a combination of shaft, ball and player conditioning .

      Reply

      Spitfisher

      6 years ago

      My exact thought Marc Anderson, conditioning of the player as well as fairways. Higher launch angles too.

      Reply

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