My Q&A several weeks ago addressed this issue and suggested that, the perception that there is a problem, is in itself a problem. This perception is once again taking hold and from what I read the governing bodies are strongly suggesting that something must be done – for various reasons — to reduce the distance the ball goes. Part of the justification for this concern is based on statistics gathered from Tour events in various countries.
Rolling the ball back has many downsides and few upsides when the problem is based on the performance of less than 0.01 % of the golfing population. If the solution is to roll the ball back for this group of players — bifurcation of the Rules of Golf — this is something the governing bodies, for many years, have been very reluctant to do as it violates one of the fundamental tenets of the game.
As important is the fact that bifurcation is difficult to implement, recognizing that the elite players come from the ranks of the golfing population and would need to change their equipment (ball) when competing in or trying to qualify for, major tour events. There are just too many awkward steps to get there to make it practical.
The solution may therefore be to roll the ball back for all golfers.
This is a fairly drastic move when we recognize that less than 0.01% may be causing the problem.
With the assumption that the governing bodies decide to roll the ball back – instead of modifying the course setup for Tour events to discourage the long hitters from hitting it as far as they can – they must be completely transparent every step of the way.
Using real scientifically analyzed data to justify each move or the reversal of a move is needed, as well as careful consideration of the consequences of any proposed move. Transparency is essential and must be afforded to the governed if their support of any proposal is expected. Without this support the governors lose their authority to govern.
Complete transparency and justification every step of the way is essential for a peaceful transition to any form of change.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts below.
There are approximately 15,000 golf courses in the US, and last I checked the PGA Tour plays around 40 events in the US every year. Add in the Champion’s Tour, Web.com Tour, LPGA, and a few other mini-tours, and we can assume that around 200 golf courses will host highly competitive, elite competition every year. That tells me that almost 99% of courses won’t be hosting any kind of elite event this year, and probably over 95% will NEVER host one.
My 6500 yard home course is plenty for me and the hundreds who play it every year, and I can guarantee that NONE of the people playing it (or the other 14,000+ non-venues) would want to lose 10-15% of their current distances to play the same courses.
The solution seems simple to me: cap things where they are now. For the overwhelming majority of courses and players, nothing needs to be done. We’re just fine, thanks. Make the longest driver/ball combo the “limit” based on the pros’ swing speeds.
If, however, you’re in that 1%-2% of courses that hopes to host a pro tour stop, do what you need to do to accommodate Dustin Johnson’s 439 yard bombs. Either buy property and make the course play 7500 yards, or set the course up to keep DJ’s driver in the bag. If money’s the issue, call the tour and ask them to help. If they can pay this week’s winner $1MM+, I’m sure they can scratch together some spare change for some additional property and grass seed.
Just be sure to return the course to a more “normal” setup when the pros leave, and give me a set of tees that will allow me to play a version of the course that’s under 7000 yards.
Spot on Stephen. We hosted a USGA amateur women event this year and they did just fine without changes to the course. Interesting that they played our par fives from the back tees so that they were 3 shot holes and they wouldn’t have to wait for the green to clear to play their second shot. No hole is long enough not to be reachable in two for the tour.
I’d like to know: which of these rule hawks is going to make a boat-load of money by pushing through ball changes? Because if everyone in a tournament, from 1st Tee to the Masters, is playing the same ball then who cares!?!? The field is even and level—now go shoot a score! If tournament directors don’t want DJ to bomb it 350, grow some meaningful rough! Isn’t that WAY SIMPLER than changing the ball?