The distance “problem” — if it is a real problem — has been a hot-topic and sometimes a very emotional one, for about one-hundred and twenty-five years. However, it resurfaces with some degree of regularity.
The furor eventually subsides, and for a short time, there is a wonderful sense of peace and calm, during which other real problems the game has are addressed. This calm, which is disturbed only by someone on the Tour, driving the ball an extraordinary distance, which is generally an anomaly and is not normally something to be too excited about until it becomes a regular occurrence. Unfortunately, this abnormal performance re-ignites a dormant and very volatile issue.
I know this, as I have been intimately involved in the topic for about one-third of its existence and have been documenting its characteristic cyclical nature.
The calm between the storms is predictable as any solution(s) to the “problem” seem to inevitably be more of a problem than the “problem” itself.
The good news is, that this time around there is a concerted effort to define the problem. Without a clear definition there is little chance of coming up with a solution.
I congratulate the USGA and R&A for their collective efforts to develop the Distance Report, and presenting this information to the real stake-holders – golfers who in many cases are deep thinkers as they really do care about the game.
From the beginning of time mankind has been in search of the better mouse trap, going to outer space, running the fastest, jumping the highest, breaking the sound barrier, the perfect golf swing, etc.
We have a small contingent of individuals, that are in rarefied air and are leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of us. Elements of most sports have been legislated (with exception to safety) to the point of being ridiculous. The truth of the matter is when a player seizes over a three-foot putt and losses a tournament who cares if the ball was hit 300 yards?
So, enjoy the science, the journey and the spectacle of achievement.
If the ball is reduced by 20 percent about 50 percent of golfers could not get to a 150 yard par 3 in one. Give us a break.
Bifurcation is the only logical answer!
The study should also include the average BMI and percentage of players who use the gym regularly.
The ball goes a little farther. I am glad. Using my new driver, I can hit it about as far at 60 as I could at 30. That is a good thing.
I appreciate that the USGA and R&A protect the game. Protecting the game though includes keeping it playable for all, and keeping it one game as opposed to bifurcation.
To me, it seems the tail is wagging the dog a bit. A few individuals are overly concerned about what a very few other individuals can do with a golf club, and suggesting changes that affect millions. The courses I play regularly are 6000-6300 from the tees I use (and I should probably go up one more) and they are certainly not too short for me.
Similar is the USGA’s obsession with par. I have always heard it loosely defined as
the score an expert would make allowing 2 putts. To me, an expert is someone with a handicap index of 0. Certainly most pros are beyond expert, and yet you have holes on routine tour courses playing above par. When a US Open is set up though, par fives are routinely changed to par fours; holes on which most 0 indexes would be hard pressed to make 5, much less 4.
I do appreciate the USGA, really. But this is much ado about nothing–a few of the best of the best have a half club less into a green. I hope calmer heads prevail and we revert to one of those eras of calm that you mentioned.
Just proves that the way to fix the distance question is to change course setups on tour. Maybe change courses to take straight fairways and dogleg or even 2 legs on one fairway. More bunkers in the right locations. The 99% of the rest of us can use all the help we can get.
Frank, in a future missive, please enumerate the arguments against bifurcation. I commend to you Jimmy Walker’s recent rant
It is disappointing that the USGA continues to make rules based on the elite golfers (less than one percent) at the expense of the rest of the golfing population – see long putter, square grooves in wedges and now maybe shortening the golf ball. I don’t believe there should be two sets of rules, but it may be coming to this.
I already break one rule consistently. I play early and often cannot find anyone to play with. But I continue to post my scores for handicap purposes when I play as a single. I want a real handicap based on my play – but clearly the USGA doesn’t trust me to post accurately despite playing a game based on honesty!