“Ball go TOO far…ball go TOO far”
The USGA and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland, are going to be exploring golf balls that would be 15 and 25 yards short than current limits. Dick Rugge (USGA senior technical director) sent an email the ball manufactures requesting them to submit prototype balls that fit the shorter specs.
In the April 11th memo sent to ball manufacturers Rugge said, “We believe that it is now appropriate to give golf ball manufacturers an opportunity to participate in the research project and thereby become involved in the rule change process if that becomes necessary. We expect that testing balls made to conform to the reduced limits will enable an appropriate evaluation of how a reduced distance golf ball would affect playing of the game.”
I’ve been several online discussions regarding this “issue” and here is my opinion:
I think the ball is only a fraction of the issue with “distance.” The players these days (JD excluded) are working out. They eat healthy food. They don’t smoke. They get their swings checked on computerized systems that measure launch angles, club speed, ball speed etc. The fact that tour players are eating healthy food instead of cheeseburgers wouldn’t be changed by reducing the distance the ball travels.
They should make an equal value of length and ACCURACY. If they bomb it 320 and miss the fairway, then the rough should penalize them. There is no penalty for missing fairways 300 yards out, except at the US Open.
One thing I think they should give equal attention to with golf balls is SPIN. The balls go farther, yes. But how about bringing the “off the driver spin” levels BACK UP? Over the past several years balls have been developed with LESS spin off the driver, which makes them go straighter (and farther). If there is more driver spin, it would be harder to hit a ball straight and thus more penal for bad shots. That would put a premium on straighter driving. Then the Fred Funk, Chris DiMarco and Corey Pavin types would win more tournaments… Tiger, Vijay & Phil would win less.
I also think that bringing back more ball spin would bring back one of the great elements of the game that is not much of a factor these days: WORKING THE BALL. You always hear the announcers talking about players who have been left behind (Cory Pavin for instance) with the new technology. They should bring “shot making” back into the game more.
More ball/driver spin would suck for amateurs though. Slicers would be even worse.
But as statistics show, amateur scores have not changed in decades. With all this unfair technology that is ruining the game of golf, why are amateurs still averaging over 90? Does that mean that tour players should play with a different ball than amateurs? As an amateur, I have a great time comparing how I hit a shot with the same clubs and ball as the big boys.
So USGA and R&A here’s my opinion, if you care. Stop setting up courses with fairways that are as smooth and fast as the municipal greens I putt on. Change the cut of the rough so it is more penal. Make the fairways a little more narrow. All of these things will help to make courses more equal for the bombers and the sharp shooters. Stop just looking at THE BALL and realize there are many other factors contributing to this issue.
Take a look at the NFL. Today’s quarterbacks are the size and weight of linemen from 25 years ago. The linebackers can run 4.6 40’s. We have better athletes these days. You can’t regulate that by reducing a balls distance by 15 yards.
Theoretically the bombers will even have MORE of an advantage than the short hitters if they reduce the driver distance. In the Masters, Tiger was hitting 9 iron approach shots while DiMarco was hitting 4 iron. Reduce the ball length 25 yards and what do you get? Tiger hitting 7 iron and DiMarco hitting some kind of fairway wood. Advantage bombers.