Is The Ball Going Too Far?

The USGA and R&A have issued another report entitled Distance Insights.

This is a very comprehensive report and I commend the effort. However, I need some more reading time before I can make any constructive comments.

“To measure is to know”  but lets make sure we are making the right measurements which will help clearly define the problem, at which time we can develop solutions.

The very vociferous concern about distance started after the introduction of the Haskell ball – invented in 1898.

Fortunately, the laws of nature are playing an important part in governing the distance the ball will travel, while the athleticism of the elite golfers – about 0.1% of the golfing population– has changed, as it has in all other sports. Unfortunately — for most of us – this has not been as significant a change.

To help in better defining the extent of the problem, we would like to get some input from our Frankly Friends.

Please let us know if you think the ball is going too far, and also, what length golf course you would prefer to play? Simply reply below to share your thoughts with us and other Frankly Friends.

Most of all, “Putt Well” and enjoy this wonderful game of golf.



26 thoughts on “Is The Ball Going Too Far?

  1. The ball should be engineered to fly less far, for the good of the game. But also for safety…too many try to hit a long shot and often stray the ball. Problem is acute on legacy courses.

  2. I agree with most of the comments here. Specifically that distance is not a problem at the amateur level but it is a problem for courses that elite professionals play. The powers that be should invoke a local rule for the pros at tournaments to play a tournament ball , clubs or a combination of both. I too think that turning a 480 yard par 4 into a driver wedge is does not make for good golf. The skill required to hit a 3 iron from 210 yard out is much greater than a wedge from 140

  3. At 72, I am trying to find shorter courses and longer equipment. I find it the height of hypocrisy that Jack Nicklaus wants to shorten the ball when he was driving it over 300 yards when he came on tour. He never complained then that the courses were too short or that he was hitting it too long. I feel it is entertaining to see the pros hit long drives and make lots of birdies. Life is lived in the future, not in the past…better equipment and stronger athletes are propelling the game into the future. Jack needs to quit being a cranky old man and accept things for the way they are.

  4. Frank,

    I’ve done a lot of testing of golf balls recently, and there is a clear advantage of matching the ball, the equipment and the golfer. I found 35 yards off the tee by finding the right fit of the three. I needed that extra 35 to make the game more fun. Obviously the tour pro has access to launch monitors that most of us don’t have access to, so they have taken advantage of the technology to find the best ball for them. All they have done, and all I have done, is optimize. At the amateur level, the ball is not going too far in my opinion. If the governing body wants to affect the scoring for the pros, limit them to 12 clubs and see how that affects the scoring averages… and shorten their drivers fer Pete’s sake! That would not affect the manufacturers at all. Water the fairways and let the grass grow longer at the same time so they get less roll out, then let those greens bake.
    My preferred course length is about 6400 yards. I pick the tee box appropriate for that yardage and have the most fun in that course length. At 66, no one is more excited, or surprised, about finding 35 more yards than I am.

  5. frank for us seniors we need all the help we can get. when i joined my course it had 4 par 5’s , now it seems there are 14 . the clubs and balls help us have fun.

  6. Personally I prefer golf courses, where I can use All my clubs in the bag.
    I spent the Saturday at the French Open with my juniors, several parents and the clubs physical coach. The opinion of all the adults was no1 Athlete No2 Golfer.
    The solution is simple, play off the tees which
    suit your age and your game. Let the pros do their thing. Keep your ego in your pocket. ENJOY.

  7. I am an old guy also, but still hit it pretty far (for an old guy), about 240. I can play at 6400 yards. Is the ball going to far….yes for the tour pros and top amateurs. I hate seeing them hitting driver and wedge to 440 yard holes. They can almost all play 600 yards in two shots. Bifurcation is needed, slow down their ball.

  8. Frank,

    Thanks for the question.

    For the 99.9% of us who are not elite golfers, the ball does not go too far. I believe the powers that be are seeking a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

    Accepting that the “new” ball is longer (not a given: the old Top Flites and Pinnacles of the late 1980s into the mid 2000s went virtually as far, they just didn’t stop as fast) I would be quite unhappy playing golf if I couldn’t hit the ball far enough to get to a fairway on a par 4 or 5 or if I had to hit a 3 wood to reach a 175 yard par 3. I might find fishing a more attractive option.

    It is my opinion (which with $2 at McDonalds will get me a cup of coffee) that the governing bodies are looking to solve a problem that affects an extremely small slice of our golfing population to the extent that no, it is not a problem.

    Is it a problem for the USGA and the tours? Obviously it is for the USGA and men’s tours. I doubt it is a significant issue for the LPGA because they don’t need 7000+ yard courses.

    Since the problem exists only at that elite level, it seems to me the logical solution is one at their level. Although the R & A and USGA “Fathers” are clinging to the one set of rules concept, they would punish the rest of us rather than making the decision to bifurcate the rules. (The nasty “B” word.) If the problem is as they aver, the simple solution is to make a new (or local) rule that affects equipment only.

    Golf is the only sport I can think of where there is only one set of rules for all levels of competitors. Baseball, football, basketball, tennis all have slightly different rules at different levels. As one moves up the skill ladder, the rules may change, but in all sports those who compete at the highest levels are few and they do it mostly for money, not solely for simple enjoyment as we do.

    Perhaps the problem is money. I doubt the manufacturers want a “tour ball” because they can’t effectively market that to the rest of us. We wouldn’t buy it. Still, amateur athletes buy aluminum or composite baseball/softball bats, kids play basketball with an 8′ basket and smaller ball and manufacturers still put some pros name on the bat or ball as an endorsement. Nonetheless, any golf purists out there are certainly welcome to use a rolled back (or “controlled”) ball or other equipment.

    As for golf clubs, I’d like to think better training/fitness and materials have contributed to the additional distance we see other than from the ball. Certainly the graphite shaft in metal woods (THANK YOU FRANK!) has been a boon to distance. Irons? Not so much in my opinion. Yes, technology has allowed manufacturers to make them fly higher and straighter. Longer, not really. I recall looking at the specs on some 2020 irons. The company’s 7 iron was 28 degrees of loft. I carried such a club back in the 1960s but I called it a 4 or 5 iron.

    My conclusion is obvious: the problem is not with us, only the elite. The solution is with them, and bifurcation seems to be the logical answer.

  9. Jack Nicklaus had his finger on the pulse of the distance issue many years ago and suggested doing something about the ball. It’s not going too far for me (I’m 82) but it is for the tour golfer. I can compensate by selecting a tee that makes up for some of the distance. Courses played on the tour should rely more on accuracy and not reward length to the extent they do at present.

  10. I’m Ok with playing about any length but at the tender age of 61 I know that my days of scoring well from the tips are over. 6400-6800 is my comfort zone right about now.

    My worry about what the R&A and USGA might be up to is that in the zeal to cut back on the insane distances that top tour pros hit everything they might be willing to take enough distance away from the rest of us that the game becomes too difficult to play as we age. If taking 50 yards off of Tiger or Dustin means that I can’t get to 200 yards anymore off the tee I’ll tip my cap and sign my last scorecard.

  11. At 70 years of age, I’m happy to play courses of approximately 6,000 yards. Anything above 6800 is too long, even in Colorado! Apart from the difficulty of play, I always walk and carry my clubs. A 6,000 yard course equates to between 10,000 and 11,000 steps depending on how straight I’m hitting them that day. 🙂

  12. Enjoy playing 5500 to 6200 courses and tees. I feel that the ball is not traveling too far at all and have been playing the “softer” balls with quite a bit of success.

  13. For Tour pros, it seems their prodigious length is obsoleting a lot of classic courses that could potentially host big events. Lengthening the rough and narrowing the fairway can help this out. Seems like lots of the big hitters on Tour don’t need to use all their clubs, so I can see the argument that some of the skill has been removed from the game if they just power over the trouble spots. But…how can the ball and clubs be “rolled back”? If that happened, the shorter hitters would be punished more and would still be at a disadvantage, wouldn’t they? Certainly for amateurs, just playing the proper tees will make the game more enjoyable and less frustrating.

    • My feelings exactly. I don’t like playing on those type courses. The shorter – slower Old type courses cause me enough pain and suffering.

    • I am 80 and my ball doesn’t go far enough. I think a lot of the distance the pros get is that they are in great shape and they work very hard. How much lower are the scores now than in past era’s. Besides it fun to watch this balls flying out ther

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