Consider the following two quotes:
“Our longest holes are little more than a drive and a putt. My feeling is that if the game continues to improve in the matter of its length and we get just a little more resiliency in the ball and a little better clubs than we have now, the game in [the] future will be relegated to the only place where it can be played, and that is on the great prairies of our Western country.”
“If the carrying power of the ball is to be still further increased, all our golf courses will be irretrievably ruined as a test of the game.”
These very modern sentiments were actually expressed in 1902 by USGA President R.H. Robertson and in 1910 by Golf Illustrated, respectively. The battle between rules makers and distance in golf has been going on for as long as there have been rules makers. (As written in our book “From Sticks and Stones: The Evolution of Golf Equipment Rules”).
I spent many years of my life ensuring that golf ball distance was controlled with the appropriate testing and standards in place to monitor progress. A major objective was to make certain that golf ball technology did not substitute for the skill required to play the game.
We often hear rumblings from the governing bodies with regards to testing a shorter ball and some golfers believe that the golf ball should be rolled back.
However, the question is why? As I have pointed out in articles previously, there is something contradictory about the idea of rolling the golf ball back and encouraging recreational amateur golfers to play from forward tees. Additionally if we consider the data from the PGA Tour we find that over the last seven years with all the modern technology available to the pros, the average driving distance on the Tour has decreased and not increased. This is as I predicted 15 years ago.
Please share your thoughts on this topic below. Do you think that the ball is going too far and should be rolled back?
Frank Thomas was Technical Director of the USGA for 26 years, invented the graphite shaft and redesigned and introduced the Stimpmeter to the game of golf. He has spent the last 12 years researching putting and operates the state of the art Frankly Putting PAD at Reunion Resort in Orlando, FL, helping golfers improve their putting.
For more about Frank, click here.