The Golf Ball Rollback: Four Common Sense Alternatives
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The Golf Ball Rollback: Four Common Sense Alternatives

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The Golf Ball Rollback: Four Common Sense Alternatives

The uproar over the golf ball rollback sure has died down, hasn’t it?

That’s the way it is with uproars. They’re largely unsustainable for one simple reason: new uproars come along and take their place. There’s only so much rage to go around.

And here’s the crazy thing. The golf ball rollback was announced barely over two months ago, and it may already be old news.

Consider the following:

Seriously, who has had the time to think about a rolled-back golf ball?

But two months have passed since the golf ball rollback was announced. And “two months” is the new definition of “eternity” in today’s world. So we figured, “What the hell. Let’s take one last look at what the USGA and R&A are doing and why they’re doing it. And, because it’s a prerequisite for adult thinking, let’s also take one last stab at offering alternatives.”

The USGA golf ball rollback

The Golf Ball Rollback: What Is It?

Make no mistake: Unless something drastic like a major lawsuit happens, the golf ball rollback is going to happen. To bring it all back to your frontal lobe, here are the new distance rules:

  • 317 yards (+/- 3 yards) at 125 mph swing speed
  • 11-degree launch angle, 2,200 RPM spin

For the record, the old standard we’ve been living with since the early 2000s was identical except at a 120-mph swing speed.

The new regulations go into effect in January 2028 for elite competitions and in January 2030 for the likes of you and me. Any new model golf balls submitted for conformance testing will have to meet these new standards by October 2027. We can only assume that any “new” balls introduced to the market as of 2028 will comply with the rollback. Recreational players can play the “old” ball until January 2030, but we’ll have to stock up.

USGA golf ball rollback

According to the USGA/R&A, approximately one-third of the golf balls currently on the conforming list will comply with the new rules. Those are primarily two- and three-piece ionomer-covered balls.

Again according to the USGA/R&A, PGA/DP World Tour/LIV players would see an 11-yard average driving distance loss. LPGA/LET players might lose up to seven yards, while we everyday types might lose five yards or less. As swing speed goes down, so does the yardage loss.

We did check with a few OEMs and, based on their calculations and testing, a 4.5 to five percent distance loss can be expected with swing speeds between 100 and 115 mph. That distance loss will also depend on whether OEMs reach the new rules by lowering the velocity or by some sort of dimple pattern alteration.

USGA golf ball rollback

Why Are The USGA/R&A Doing This?

Every ball technology shift, from gutta percha to Haskell to wound balata to solid core, has caused governing bodies to flip out over distance. In 2002, not long after solid-core balls became the rule, the USGA and R&A issued a joint statement on equipment regulations. Their focus would be “to protect golf’s best traditions and to ensure skill is the dominant element of success throughout the game.”

And since 2002, increases in driving distance have slowed. In 1980, with persimmons, balatas, and guys who looked like Craig Stadler, the average Tour driving distance was 256 yards. By 2003, with solid-core balls, metalwoods and guys who looked like Tiger Woods, driving distance jumped to 286 yards.

Tiger Woods.

But by 2023, the average driving distance was just a tick less than 300 yards. That’s an increase of just under 14 yards over the past 20 years. Coincidentally, the single biggest increase came in 2017, the year NIKE left the golf equipment business.

The governing bodies’ concern is twofold. Altruistically, they want to protect the integrity of the game and preserve it from being a “bomb and gouge” display. On the practical side, they admit driving distance limits the number of venues that can offer stern enough tests for elite players.

Legacy courses may not be able, or even willing, to get longer to host elite events. But that’s their problem. Most of the courses we regular people play aren’t going to host those events and aren’t any longer today than they were in 1985.

The Golf Ball Rollback: What About Us Regular People?

The USGA/R&A say recreational golfers will “only” lose five yards worth of driver distance. That’s 15 feet and I think we can agree that’s imperceptible.  What’s more, the USGA/R&A assert that once you get to the 5-iron, even elite players won’t see much, if any, distance loss. At lower swing speeds, driver distance loss is even less off the tee and non-existent off the turf.

However, USGA CEO Michael Whan said it himself: “We don’t see recreational golfers obsoleting golf courses any time soon.”

So why the universal change? Because everyone balked at a bifurcation.

Last March the USGA and R&A offered up a model local rule that would allow tournaments the option of using an even more rolled-back ball. That ball limited distance to 317 yards at a 127-mph swing speed. They would have what they wanted and the rest of us would have been left alone.

That model local rule, however, proved to be impractical for many reasons. For one, those balls would have no commercial value. OEMs would still have to research, develop and manufacture a rolled-back ball that no one would buy. And three guess who would wind up picking up that tab at retail?

(Any answer other than “you and me, bub,” doesn’t count.)

Testing The Best Golfs of 2023

Again, a cynic might say the USGA/R&A knew all that going in. But they offered bifurcation anyway. When the negative feedback from stakeholders came in, they said, basically, “Hold my beer.”

There are alternatives to the rollback. We’re sure the USGA and R&A looked at what we’re going to share. But the one thing to remember about the rollback is this: the ball is one thing the game’s governing body can regulate.

Alternative One: Grow The Grass, Soften The Fairway

This one is easy to say, but it’s impractical from the USGA/R&A perspective because they can’t regulate the length of grass. However, a USGA study says longer grass and softer fairways do reduce distance.

Watch any pro event (except the rain-soaked ones we’ve been watching this year) and you’ll see the ball bouncing down the fairway like it was on the Interstate. But the USGA/R&A say softening the fairways could reduce distance anywhere from 4.5 to 10 yards. And growing the grass two-tenths of an inch over normal mowing heights could reduce driving distance by up to four yards.

The USGA, however, should be lauded for its water conservation efforts. And softening the fairways does use more water, so that’s counter to a key USGA pillar. But there’s no reason not to raise the mower blades a hair.

Additionally, letting the rough grow puts more emphasis on finding the fairway.

“If the Tour shaped fairways a bit differently at 300 yards out and with thicker rough, accuracy becomes more important,” says golf ball designer and manufacturer Dean Snell.

Alternative Two: Regulate/Bifurcate Equipment

This is something the USGA and R&A can do. Make no mistake: changes are in the works.

As part of the ball rollback rule, both governing bodies said they’re going to take a closer look at “CT Creep.” CT, “Characteristic Time”, measures how long (in microseconds) the ball stays on the clubface at impact. In effect, it measures how “hot” the club is. After repeated use, however, driver CT can creep beyond tolerance limits and be too hot. The USGA is putting new testing guidelines into place to flag drivers that are too close to the limit.

The USGA/R&A are also putting driver MOI limits on the table. They’re continuing research on driver forgiveness at the elite level and could consider reducing MOI limits and driver head size. That could lead to bifurcation, meaning the pros and elite amateurs play smaller, less forgiving drivers than we do. But again, guess who’s going to pay that freight?

Other equipment ideas have merit. It’s possible to limit the number of clubs a pro or elite amateur can carry in competition. The game would certainly be different with nine or 10 clubs instead of 14. And could there be a model local rule mandating so-called “mini-drivers” at certain events?

Another idea from Dean Snell: mandate shorter tees.

“A half-inch shorter tee would reduce distance by 10 to 15 yards,” he says. “That’s based on how much lower they’d have to tee it, how much spin that adds and how much it reduces loft at impact. They can’t hit the ball as high and it spins more.”

The golf ball rollback

Alternative Three: Do Nothing and Cope

There’s a working theory that the 2022 Open Championship at St Andrews was the breaking point for the R&A and, by extension, the USGA. The Old Course, in all its glory, was a relative lamb with Cam Smith shooting a record 20 under par.

Without wind and rain, the Old Course was a birdie festival, but the fact remains the guy who won was the guy who sank putts. And don’t forget, Jack was driving the 18th green back in the day.

St Andrews

Professional golf is entertainment. Are you not entertained when Rory cracks one 340 yards? And love him or hate him, Bryson was must-see TV the year he looked like a lumberjack. Yes, bombing makes it a different game. But it also makes it an entertaining one.

I don’t get the notion that distance takes skill out of the game. Distance, after all, is a skill. Equipment is certainly part of it but if were the only part, why isn’t everyone hitting it as far as Rory? And if Rory is the longest, why doesn’t he win all the time? Distance is a skill but other skills are just as important. Modern equipment, extraordinary physical conditioning and near-perfect technique allow Rory to hit it 340, but you still need to hit irons accurately, chip and pitch deftly and, as always, putt lights out to win.

Last I checked, all those are skills, too.

So it’s fair to ask, why does 20 under par offend you? These guys are good,

Alternative Four: Make Championship Courses Shorter

Yep, we said shorter.

If the 2022 Open is a point in favor of a rollback, the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion is the counterpoint. Merion played as a par-70 that year at 6,996 yards, a veritable pitch ‘n’ putt for today’s big hitters, no?

No.

Justin Rose won that year with a score of – wait for it – one over par. The cut line that year was +8.

If you want to minimize distance as a weapon, shortening the distance you have to hit it makes remarkably good sense. The 72nd hole proved to be the perfect example. Rose was careful off the tee and hit the fairway. He then hit a 4-iron (yes, a 4-iron) into the green to secure par. Phil Mickelson, playing in the final group, needed a birdie to tie but blocked his tee shot into the rough and couldn’t hit the green in two. He needed to hole his pitch for birdie but couldn’t, giving Rose the win.

“On a shorter course, if a guy is hitting pitching wedge into the green and the other guy is hitting an 8-iron, the player hitting 8-iron can still win,” says Snell. “But if the comparison becomes hitting a 7- or 8-iron versus hitting a 4- or 5-iron, that’s a big difference on approach shots to firm, fast greens.”

The Golf Ball Rollback: Thoughts Two Months Later

Wisdom, friends, is a function of time and experience. Over the past two months, we haven’t seen any lawsuits, golf courses aren’t closing and golfers aren’t leaving the game in droves.

The sky, it seems, isn’t falling. But then again, it isn’t 2028 yet, either.

Psychologist Carl Jung famously said, “Thinking is difficult. Therefore, let the herd pronounce judgment.” Said another way, thinking is hard so we reduce ourselves to regurgitated snap judgments and “hot takes.” Even though we believe any of these alternatives to the golf ball rollback are perfectly viable, it’s important to understand the compelling rationales behind the rollback. You can argue it’s a solution in search of a problem, but it’s not something the USGA and R&A did lightly and for no reason.

The golf ball rollback.

Simply stated, the USGA and R&A believe they are preserving the game’s future by rolling back the golf ball. Specifically, they freely admit they want to preserve venues for their elite championships, so the big hitters face some kind of challenge.  It’s interesting and instructive to listen to what rollback supporters have to say (The Fried Egg podcast, in particular, shares this point of view very well). That’s not to say we agree with everything, but listening and understanding certainly take emotion out of the equation.

Supporters will say a ball rollback will bring shotmaking and 5-irons back to the pro game. So, ironically, will shorter courses, longer grass, narrower fairways and scarier rough. Supporters also say we “regular” people won’t notice a five- to 10-yard difference. And if those 15 to 30 feet matter, move up a tee box.

But if moving up a tee box restores those 15 to 30 feet then what, pray tell, is the point of it all?

Will Bifurcation Be Back On The Table?

They say that when the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to treat every problem like a nail. When stakeholders rejected the model local rule and, by extension, bifurcation, that left the governing bodies with only a hammer. And they used it.

Unless something drastic happens, the golf ball rollback is rolling forward. But it’s also clear the USGA and R&A aren’t stopping there. Golf’s governing bodies have been equipment regulation gun-shy ever since dueling with Karsten Solheim over the PING Eye 2 irons in the late ‘80s But they’ve now thrown down the gauntlet. They’re watching CT creep and are looking at driver head size and MOI for elite golfers.

The golf ball rollback

And if either of those happens, bifurcation will be an option again.

The only question is whether the PGA Tour and/or LIV or whatever pro game is left standing will agree to it all.

Remember the USGA and R&A are golf’s governing bodies only with the consent of the governed.  

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John Barba

John Barba

John Barba

John is an aging, yet avid golfer, writer, 6-point-something handicapper living back home in New England after a 22-year exile in Minnesota. He loves telling stories, writing about golf and golf travel, and enjoys classic golf equipment. “The only thing a golfer needs is more daylight.” - BenHogan

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      Yaaqob

      2 months ago

      Who cares. The number of people here shooting 110 and can’t hit the fairway complaining because their ball won’t go 5 yards further won’t even notice the change because they are still going to lose 4 balls a round which costs them far more to their score than a loss of 5 yards off the tee with a driver. Plus, you aren’t playing for anything and your 6 hour round of whack fuck isn’t being judged by USGA officials, so just play illegal balls that will continue to exist even after this because there is a market for whiny babies who hate change.

      Reply

      Square

      2 months ago

      All they have to do is limit the tee height and driver length for the professional and elite amateur events and the problem is over. Regular players could still enjoy the game at the current level and entice others to play this great game. The USGA is not growing the game by changing the golf ball. So stupid.

      Reply

      Eric

      2 months ago

      EXACTLY…But there is no common sense when it comes to the R&A and USGA. They work in their own bubble and don’t take input from anyone outside their organization.

      Reply

      Dave

      2 months ago

      So let’s penalize the entire golfing world because some guys are talking training and fitness seriously and can hit the ball farther than others??? Well maybe we need to change the putter because the same guys are the best year after year!! Maybe we should go explain to a senior at the local club who need driver on a 180yd par 3 that we need to take five yards from him because a few guys in the world are hitting the ball too far?? This is the most asinine bunch of garbage ever!!! PGA needs to be better than this!! Set up the course to suit what you want to see but leave recreational golfers alone!! You just need to think of why you want to do this and adjust there not everywhere

      Reply

      Dave

      2 months ago

      So let’s penalize the entire golfing world because some guys are talking training and fitness seriously and can hit the ball farther than others??? Well maybe we need to change the putter because the same guys are the best year after year!! Maybe we should go explain to a senior at the local club who need driver on a 180yd par 3 that we need to take five yards from him because a few guys in the world are hitting the ball too far?? This is the most asinine bunch of garbage ever!!! PGA needs to be better than this!! Set up the course to suit what you want to see but leave recreational golfers alone!!

      Reply

      JBR

      2 months ago

      Put aside the focus on the driver. Pros hitting PW 180 yards tells me the game needs to be re-examined. And from what the article says, sounds like things aren’t going to change at that end of the bag.
      As for us mere mortals, if you hit drives all season with a max front to back dispersion of 5 yards (which is the impact we’re talking about) you’re delusional.
      When the change comes put your ball on a tee and go play because you’re not going to be able to tell the difference.
      And by the way bifurcation would not be new. USGA and R&A used to have different rules on the size of the golf ball until the US pros cried about having to play the smaller ball R&A ball in the Open.

      Reply

      Matts

      2 months ago

      The game of golf has changed over the years because of increased hitting distances, and not necessarily for the better for the long hitters. The game of golf used to require skills that have fallen by the wayside for these long hitters. For example, pro golfers needed to hit fairway wood into the par fives and run the ball onto the green between the left and right bunkers, so they had a gap of about fifteen metres to aim for. These days, par fives are a drive and mid or short iron to the green, so the front bunkers are pretty much out of play as regards carry. Par fours are drive and wedge or half wedges these days, so less skill is required in the modern game. Sad

      Reply

      Erik Carlson

      2 months ago

      I really dislike the argument that distance is making courses obsolete. No course is”obsolete” because the best players in the world play on it once a year and can shoot under par. Not even if that number is 20 under par. If anything, getting to see them do that while the rest of us struggle to break 100 on that course only magnifies out are over what they are capable of doing.

      I also am frustrated about constantly watching balls bouncing 40+ yards down the fairway only to then hear about how distance is killing the game. The truth is the people setting up the courses deliberately made them harder and faster to try and cause long hitters balls to bound through the fairway and into the rough and now they can’t accept that a huge portion of the distance problem is their own creation.

      If you think 5 yards doesn’t make a difference you are kidding yourself. Go out to a retirement community course one day and watch to see how many of those players are hitting driver into part 3s, or driver 3wood into part 4s. Those players may not be able to reach the fairways in some cases, or the corners on doglegs; and before you say “move up a teebox”, many of them already have. Why make the game harder on them because you are frightened by what the very best in the world do at the old course once every five years.

      If you that are concerned about distance grow the grass and make the fairways narrower in professional competition, but don’t punish 66 million plus players because of what the to 100 players in the world are capable of. Quit trying to make it sound like the sky is falling when the pga leader in driving distance has only been able to notch official wins in 10 of the last 44 years.

      Reply

      Dave

      2 months ago

      THIS!!!! WELL PUT MY FRIEND!!

      Reply

      storm319

      2 months ago

      @JohnBarba

      Correction above, the pending revision for the ODS calibration test conditions also changes the target launch angle and spin rate in addition to the club head speed (only the distance limit is remaining unchanged).

      Current Calibration Conditions: 120 MPH CHS / 10* LA / 2520 RPM Spin
      Pending Revision: 125 MPH CHS / 11* LA / 2200 RPM Spin

      Reply

      Griffin

      2 months ago

      If they truly want to cut back distance for the longest guys and make it less of an advantage, they need to come out with a standard graphite shaft that they require all pro’s to use in any driver or fairway wood. Make it a 60 gram mid launch/mid spin stiff or x-flex shaft. The fastest guys on tour will have to dial it back to keep it in play with their longer clubs because of the added launch and spin. It won’t have an impact on slower guys as it will be similar to the current setups. It would put more long irons in players hands and make it to where absolutely turning loose on a ball required much more skill.

      Reply

      PHDrunkards

      2 months ago

      That shaft would help a lot of them maintain the same speed lol and for some, once they have adjusted, MORE distance lol
      And, the game of golf is not like other sports, where people just pick up whatever gear they find at their local shops and just go whack it around, golf lives on the premise that anybody can buy and play the same gear as the Tour Pros and go play it.
      The whole golf industry lives on selling equipment. Without that, the industry would be bankrupt and there would be no innovation.

      The easiest solution would be to mandate a standard width of fairways, added with softer conditions, and a set standard height of 3 inch rough for the Tour Pros at every venue.

      Reply

      Kirk Bailey

      2 months ago

      Bifurcating golf balls. One for Pros. One for the rest of us. Truly a dumb idea. In my personal view as a guy who has been playing golf for 60 years in the USA and Canada. A potential solution to the bifurcating the balls is to simply make GREENS SMALLER. Also I have visited a number of Scottish Golf Courses, in particular Royal Troon, and St. Andrews and some of the greens look like the bottom of an upturned punch bowl. If you miss your putt the ball may roll by a very long way. So, in my personal and humble opinion: Leave the ball alone and make the golf greens SMALLER and much more difficult. Approach shots and putting show the true skill of a golfer. So many PGA Pros are averaging around 329 yards on their drives. So let them. Smaller and trickier greens will even things out. Leave the ball alone. I want to play the ball I want to play. It reminds me of Sears a number of years golf ago who marketed a Mike Weir (Masters Champion from Canada) apparel line with all items bearing a tag saying AMATEUR. The rest of us are not pros but we sure don’t want a tag saying AMATEUR. Same poor logic as the bifurcated golf ball. Dumb ideas both

      Reply

      Andy

      2 months ago

      Thank you for bringing this back up. I really don’t want this conversation to go away quietly, and I love the points being made here.

      I appreciate the concerns the USGA and R&A have. And I understand that the distance losses for amateurs will not be massive. But it is misleading to say that this is a small change. This assertion ignores the fact that most players will have to find new balls. I may not notice a loss of 15 feet on my drives, but I will notice when the balls I spent time and money getting fit for and testing are no longer available. And this is clearly not the simplest or most invisible rule change available to the ruling bodies.

      I don’t see a good reason why the USGA and R&A couldn’t roll out a step-wise approach, starting with the least consequential rules changes and implementing more severe changes if the first attempts to not achieve their intended goals. I strongly suspect a combination of small changes would achieve the desired outcomes without forcing the majority of players to look for new equipment. E.g. (totally open to changing the order of course),
      1) shorten the tee starting in 2025
      2) if problem isn’t solved, publish guidance on lengthening fairway grass slightly for 2027. If courses don’t want to conform, that’s up to them! The majors can be held at courses that will comply.
      3) if problem still isn’t solved, publish guidance on widening the rough at distances greater than X yards for 2029.
      4) if problem still isn’t solved, roll back the ball a *little* in 2031. (And preferably focus on input variables–angle of attack, club speed, loft, etc.–not output–ball speed, spin, etc.–when measuring conformity.)

      This could continue on and on until all equipment is changed and bifurcation is implemented. But I would be shocked if the problems seriously persisted after a few minor changes were implemented. Shortening tees and publishing guidance on course setup would likely not affect amateurs *at all*. Why not start there?

      Reply

      Jimmy

      2 months ago

      USGA/R&A have both made it pretty clear that they are not in the business of regulating course setups and agronomy, nor should they be. They also don’t regulate tee height. Instead of introducing new rules and expanding their reach, they chose to change the testing parameters for an existing rule.

      The ball fitting stuff seems like a really minor problem. What percentage of non-pros actually get fit for their golf ball? I’d guess it’s in the low single digits.

      I think bifurcation is the best option, but the pros and OEMs balked at that, hence the universal rollback. I’m in the swing speed category that would be most impacted by the change, and I will be just fine. Golf is awesome and my drives going 10-15 yards shorter isn’t going to change that one bit.

      Reply

      League Golfer

      2 months ago

      The USGA and R&A do regulate tee length to a 4” maximum in length, so the do regulate the maximum height you can possibly tee the ball. They could easily change the maximum length of the tee to a shorter length and therefore impact the “attack angle” of the club into the ball. And a new regulation on maximum tee length would be easy to write and understand and enforce. We have had rulers for measuring things for centuries!

      Sam

      2 months ago

      New balls come out nearly every year. This change isn’t happening for ams until 2030. Whatever ball you were fit into in 2023 will be completely irrelevant by then. This is one of the sillier reasons for opposing the rollback I have heard

      Reply

      Harry

      2 months ago

      If one-third of the golf balls currently on the conforming list will comply with the new rules and some are 3 piece urethane, why not just require the use of those balls for tournaments?

      Reply

      John Borjeson

      2 months ago

      I’m over 70 years old, a good drive barely goes 225 yards. I’m not playing the same game as Rory. It’s time to face reality bifurcation is long overdue. But changing the ball is the wrong approach. Today’s clubs are not only longer they’ve made it harder for superior ball strikers to stand out. We can deal with both issues without engineering new golf clubs.

      For the highest levels of competition they should do the following

      ** Require muscle back irons, no forgiving cavity back or hollow body irons. Most manufacturers already make these.

      ** Set a maximum shaft length of about 42 inches.

      ** Set a maximum club head size around 300 cc like Taylormade’s mini driver. The longest players can hit their three woods 300 yards.

      Reply

      JLS

      2 months ago

      For starters I don’t understand the outrage about the proposed “roll back”. Of course we don’t have golf ball prototypes yet but everything I’ve heard is that the reduction in distance will not be linear. For some with exceptionally high swing speeds >120mph they may see a 6-8 percent reduction in distance while someone with only a 100mph swing speed will see a 2-4 percent decrease in distance. So, for the vast majority of the golfing public that averages 230 off the tee will now hit the ball 225. This is a difference that the average golfer will never actually realize. To further emphasize this point there are balls currently on the market that will conform to the new standards. Additionally, many golfers ball of choice is a ball they found in the woods and there’s ample evidence that in general these balls are inferior, which means these golfers have already imposed a roll back on themselves. At the elite level this is a positive change as it will now allow the best players in the world who are premier ball strikers to more easily differentiate themselves from competitors who are more reliant on technology and equipment to compensate for their off-center strikes. The article mentions Jack Nickalus and his prodigious length. Yes, he was amazing but what made him amazing was that he was unique relative to his peers and in that era there was a severe consequence for an off-center strike. It was a risk for Jack to swing as aggressively as he did at the ball. In this day and age everyone is long off the tee and there’s no incentive to not swing as hard as possible because the drivers and the ball will never go that far off-line. I believe addressing the ball in the way the governing bodies propose is a fine first step, but ultimately the drivers need to be regulated to make them more difficult to hit and reintroduce the consequences of poor ball striking.

      Reply

      Will

      2 months ago

      For someone working their ass off for a 2-4% increase in distance, an equivalent decrease by unilateral decree of some out of touch imbeciles in an ivory tower somewhere is completely unacceptable.

      Not to mention the fact that there’s no real problem being solved by it. Their concerns about how far the pros hit the ball are baseless. It doesn’t matter if the old courses they hold their precious tournaments on are “too easy.” At all. Not one bit.

      Reply

      Sam

      2 months ago

      Your hard work will still be relevant with a “shorter” ball. No one is taking your gainz away, bud. Distance is relative. If you are hitting it past your friends now, you will still hit it past your friends.

      JLS

      2 months ago

      Their concerns are not “baseless”. It’s a matter of preserving the game and ensuring that a multitude of skills are being tested.

      Mr Ed

      2 months ago

      Could not agree more. They fixing the unbroken. Such a common theme lately.

      Scott

      2 months ago

      I think equipment bifurcation is the way to go. Limit the size and materials of their woods. Reduce the head cc’s and make them use persimmon. The materials cost has to be smaller but it also would theoretically decrease MOI and forgiveness forcing them to concentrate on hitting fairways and greens above length. This also isn’t a new challenge for professional sports – MLB has standards for using wood bats instead of metal or composite, length limits, weight limits, weight/length ratio limits, barrel diameter, etc.

      MLB also controls their ball. What if the tour adopted one ball that all players use? That actually would help consumers because we wouldn’t be bankrolling their sponsorships and tour player customization efforts.

      I’m also okay with just ignoring the “problem.” Sure, watching guys shoot -20 over 4 days isn’t exciting. But watching Bryson go for the green on #6 at Bay Hill was exciting. Watching guys knock it within gimme distance off pine straw, over grandstands, or bending around treed corners is exciting. That’s what we watch for. Great shots we know we never see when we play is worth it. Perfect games and no-hitters in baseball tend to be boring games. Watching guys shoot 59 on Friday is boring. Give us excitement or we’ll just keep shifting to YouTube golf.

      Reply

      Sam

      2 months ago

      Limiting driver size (or even all woods) only impacts those clubs. Adjusting existing limits on the ball impacts all shots.

      Drivers are replaced every 5+ years for most amateurs and cost $600+. Balls are replaced every few rounds for most amateurs and cost under $100 (and under $30 for most).

      A cheaper, easier, more universal adjustment makes SOOOOOO much more sense than forcing everyone to replace their super expensive drivers.

      I 100% agree whatever change is made should be for elite play only, but the OEMs and pros made sure that wasn’t going to happen. You can thank Titleist and the guys they pay

      Reply

      ericsokp

      2 months ago

      I’ve been a fan of fewer clubs for a long time, but it doesn’t have to be as severe as only 9 or 10, but perhaps 12. My theory is that the pro’s won’t want to eliminate their scoring clubs (as most of them now carry 4 wedges), but instead they will eliminate the longer clubs like drivers and/or driving irons, especially since most of them are plenty long with 3 & 5 woods.

      Reply

      Airwave1

      2 months ago

      No chance they’re removing their driver!

      Reply

      Leon

      2 months ago

      I let my USGA membership expire when they did their crazy groove rule, another solution in search of a problem. If enough people get to that level of fed up with governing bodies decreeing stuff to reign in the pro’s at the expense of the regular folks, USGA would be unable to finance the tv ads and maybe even the salaries of their suits who spend more time in offices than bunkers and 19th holes, perhaps even the US Open and their other big events. When all else fails hit them in their wallets, if that doesn’t work, adjust to the center of the Grand Gluteus Canyon and make them taste your shoe polish !

      Reply

      PHDrunkards

      2 months ago

      Well lets remember the times before the 90s when the courses were shorter, but the fairways were narrower and the rough was actually ROUGH, at least 2 inches, even at most Munis.
      Want to go back to that? I wouldn’t mind, it hasn’t changed my game since, the courses are longer, but so do the equipment fly longer, and the rough is basically unheard of nowadays, take a look at most Tour events, there is no rough like they used to be in the old days

      Reply

      Mark A.

      2 months ago

      For what my thoughts are worth:

      1.) Golf should follow baseball. Metal woods are fine up to a certain level of competition, but at the highest levels of competition the elite players would have to use woods made of persimmon. The best golfers would then have to make the transition the same way baseball players do when they switch from metal bats to wood. We’d then get to see whether Rory with a wooden driver could hit the ball as far as Jack did at his peak.

      2.) Toughen up the par 3’s. Smaller greens, longer tee shots (where practical), longer rough and more difficult bunkers would place a premium on accuracy. Many of those adjustments can be made without having to lengthen the course.

      Reply

      PHDrunkards

      2 months ago

      1) but for that, how will equipment manufacturers make any money? lol
      2) just toughening up Par 3s for the sake of, wouldn’t fly with the designers of them, because they would want to put their touches to each thing.
      And what would you do with Par 5s that are being hit in 2 with 8, 7, 6 irons nowadays???? Extend them 50 yards more, but that would assume the courses have that much land to do so and many don’t, as the Tour courses also need to have space for grandstands and concessions etc

      Reply

      Mark

      2 months ago

      1.) they’d make their money the same way the bat companies did. The majority of the players would still use metal. But the pros and anyone aspiring to be one would use wood. It would decrease the need to lengthen the courses in general
      2.) most courses don’t have the room to expand par 5’s. My thought process is that by lengthening the par 3’s, it would require a more accurate shot with a longer club, which decreases the likelihood of hitting the ball straight. When you think about it, it would require the same type of shot on par 3’s that is needed to hit the par 5’s in two—accuracy with a longer club

      PHDrunkards

      2 months ago

      Bryson wasn’t around for Merion in 2013, yet.
      If they went to a place like Merion, he’d try to drive half the greens and your argument will go out the window, they’ll all be SCREAMING for the ball to be cut in half

      Reply

      David B

      2 months ago

      I don’t see a problem why does anything have to change? Lowest score wins period. Don’t want to length the course then stop lengthening the courses. What is the problem?

      Reply

      Will

      2 months ago

      Alternative 3 is the only valid one. Sprinkle in a little “tell the worthless governing bodies to take a flying leap” for good measure.

      Reply

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