An Additional Distance Boost?

Frank,

A senior tour pro opined to me some years ago about the introduction of the ProV1x. He said it increased his driving distance 5-8 yards, but it increased the distance for players with higher clubhead speeds by 25 or more yards. If this is true, the new balls disproportionately benefit those that need it least. Frank, could you please comment?

–Richard, VA

Richard,

Your senior tour pro was only partially correct. The introduction of the ProV1 certainly increased the average driving distance on the Tour by about 6 yards. The reason for this increase was because the Pro V1, a multilayered solid core ball – which I call a Super Pinnacle — had similar properties to the Pinnacle when struck with a driver but the high spin properties of the balata balls off the wedges giving it the control around the green that the Pinnacle never had. The Pro V1 thus became a very acceptable ball for the elite players.

Another advantage of the low spin off the driver, is that the elite player is able to attain optimum launch conditions for maximum distance – i.e. low spin with higher launch angles. This in combination with the spring-like-effect, provided the elite player with a distance increase of about 25-yards over a period of about 7 years – an unprecedented jump in distance, and without any measurable increase in skill level.

The increase in average driving distance on Tour due to the introduction of the titanium driver with spring-like effect in combination with the multilayered ball between 1995 and 2003 can be seen in the graph below.

DistanceGraph2

This combination of club and ball does not provide the touring pro with any extraordinary advantage. In fact, as the club head speed increases the efficiency of the collision decreases. However, as the pro is more efficient at hitting the center of the face of the club they seem to get an unfair additional distance boost.

The discussion about controlling distance will not go away as the USGA has been trying to protect against ANY increase in distance – never mind one of such magnitude – since the late 1890s after the introduction of the Haskell ball so there is no wonder we are being warned of the impeding dissolution of the game if distance is not harnessed.

The “Golfing Gods” must be looking down on us as the most recent message from the governing bodies is, that they have decided to take an honest look at distance and analyze all the facts, as best they can garner, not from anecdotal evidence resonating in echo-chambers but rather from the people who play and live golf.

This is one of the most encouraging moves recently made by the guardians of our wonderful game.  I believe that there are relatively simple and acceptable answers to be found but these will come from listening to and analyzing input from golfers.

I encourage all of our Frankly Friends, who simply by reading these columns on a regular basis are amongst the better informed golfers on this subject, to respond to the call for input and outline your thoughts in relation to distance by visiting the link below.

http://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/advancing-the-game/distance-insights.html

As long as we remain calm and carefully analyze our options seriously considering input from the game’s stakeholders in relation to distance, we will avoid making any rash moves – which we are a little guilty of doing when in a panic mode.

Hope this helps and please have your say either below or directly to the USGA which will get it, whatever route you take.

Frank            

One thought on “An Additional Distance Boost?

  1. Perhaps if the Pros played on fairways and greens of the 30’s,40’s and 50’s we would find out just how far the ball is going.!!..Perhaps a few tournaments with stymies in place..and no cleaning the ball until it is holed would be an eye opener.!!

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