Distance has apparently become a real problem. I know I have too much of it. Don’t you? Golf courses are too short now, and many have to spend millions to make a their holes more challenging for .00000000000003% of the golfers on the planet. Why? Most think this “problem” is just the golf ball. This ball distance talk has heated up this year, especially after Dustin Johnson nearly made an ace on a 400 yard par-4 in Kapalua. People got all amped up about the ball going too far with no mind what the conditions were (downwind, downhill, hard ground). I’ve hit a 430 yard drive, in the mountains, on hard ground, with a heavy tailwind. I hit about a 520 yard drive also. It hit the cart path about 20 times. Roll back cart paths!
The subject of bifurcation seems to be making a comeback this year. Bifurcation in golf is the splitting of the golf ball into two different models: a “tournament ball” which the PGA Tour players would use, and a regular ball that Joe golfer would use. The tournament ball would be limited more in its distance than the regular ball.
I’m not a fan of bifurcation, and surely the golf manufacturers aren’t. The reason that 300 yard drives are impressive is because it takes some skill and athleticism to make it happen more than just a rare lucky swing. When I get ahold of one and hit it as far as Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlory, or Tiger Woods, I get excited.
Hitting a big drive is fun. That’s one of the few things that can help me stay interested in golf. How can I compare myself to those great golfers if I’m playing a different ball? Aspiring to hit shots like those pros is part of the fun, and the challenge.
Roll Back The Ball
Instead of bifurcation, some think all golf balls should be “rolled back.” Haha nice pun. The golf ball should be put back to a maximum distance number that’s in some golf governing body members’ heads, a distance shorter than it goes now. What distance? What’s fair?
This theory REALLY takes the fun out of it, and all it will do is make golf harder for those who don’t hit it far, most amateurs and Corey Pavin.
Rolling the ball back certainly wouldn’t help the golf equipment industry. It would pretty much kill every golf ball advertising and PR campaign theme since the beginning of golf balls, “this ball is longer!” What would the companies advertise if the ball is rolled back? This ball is the longest best rolled back ever!
What Else Should Golf Roll Back?
The problem with distance, if one actually thinks it is a problem, isn’t just the ball. There are many, many other factors involved in how far the golf ball travels these days. PGA Tour golfers are no longer out-of-shape pot-bellied smokers who drink booze all night, don’t work out, don’t have extensive teams of trainers and coaches, and don’t practice. Well, other than John Daly. PGA Tour golfers work out like crazy, have incredible flexibility, and have some of the most amazing advances in technology behind their swings and their gear. I’m not talking about just the golf ball. Here’s list of a few of the things professional golf would have to roll back other than the ball, though I’m sure there are some I’m missing.
Fitness – First, we will have to roll back fitness. Pro golfers today are super-fit (usually). Roll them back from the gym.
Flexibility – We must find ways of making today’s golfers more stiff and less flexible. No more yoga. No more flexibility training. Roll it back.
Personal Trainers – Speaking of training and fitness, part of that whole combo includes personal trainers. They’ll have to go.
Dietitians – Part of the fitness component is dietitians. Golfers who eat better can be more flexible and strong. Roll back the dietitians. Go back to the food pro golfers ate in the 50’s (except probably Gary Player). Make ‘em all eat fatty diets with lots of carbs! No more kale. Roll them back from precisely calculated sports diets to greasy burger
Golf Coaches – Golf coaches will certainly have to be rolled back.
Golf Shaft Technology – Shafts are as much to blame for distance as the golf ball. They’re waaaaay too good these days. Shafts must be rolled back.
Driver Head Technology – Driver head engineering is certainly a distance culprit. What is it this year? Jail face break twist technology I think. Roll back the drivers!
Swing Analysis & Launch Monitors – 99.9% of tour players utilize launch and swing analysis to optimize their swing, their shafts, their launch angles, spin rates and so on. Launch monitors have a huge impact on today’s distance problem. No more launch monitors. Roll ‘em back.
Golf Grip Technology – Golf grip technology certainly helps the pro golfer connect to the club. Let’s roll back that connection. Make the grip weaker, less stable. Roll it back.
Golf Course Conditioning – Hard ground certainly is a contributor to the distance problem. Short, precisely cut grass is too. Roll ‘em back. Let’s make some soft, wet courses with longer fairways and be sure to cut those fairways with inconsistent, dull mower blades. Roll back the roll so to speak.
I find it mildly confusing and entertaining when I hear that golf courses are “too short.” Many courses are ruining their original designs and spending millions by adding more length because .0000000000000003% of the golfers in the world can hit the ball so far. Meanwhile the average golfer’s scores haven’t improved in decades. In fact, over the last few years average golfer’s scores have edged upward. All that extra distance the average golfer is getting these days is really helping!
To fix this mythical distance problem golf’s governing bodies are considering solutions that will hurt the golf equipment industry and simultaneously make golf less fun for the average player. With all this talk of the golf industry’s struggles and the need to “grow golf,” making it less fun is a really dumb idea.
Pop quiz: What’s the only document more complicated than the USA’s IRS tax code? You guessed it, the Rules of Golf!
I’ve just read through, ok glossed through the new and immediate rules decisions by the USGA and R&A regarding video evidence, disputes, and decisions. Golf has had such a bad reputation because of things like the recent Lexi incident the governing bodies obviously felt it immediately necessary to do something. In regular fashion, they added more language to the rules which doesn’t address the main problem.
If the committee concludes that such facts could not reasonably have been seen with the naked eye and the player was not otherwise aware of the potential breach, the player will be deemed not to have breached the Rules.
The above line is the key to the new changes, and I completely agree with the sentiment. If it isn’t humanly possible to conclude there’s a breach in the rules, then there are no rules broken. That’s the good part, but not the elephant in the room.
What’s completely missing from the new rules is the way that rules infractions are discovered, reported, and the timing in which these notifications happen. I’m talking mainly about the viewer call-ins, emails, or social networking of rules infractions. In the case of Lexi Thompson, she was notified and penalized an entire day later, and during her final round. In my opinion, any possible infractions and related penalties should have an expiration date. Perhaps once the next day’s tournament tees off, all possible issues from the previous round become invalid. If there isn’t an upcoming round, perhaps one hour after each player finishes the tournament is the point at which any questions about rules violations become moot.
That time limit can apply to any source of the possible infraction, whether another player, a spectator, a rules official, or some fat dude sitting on his couch eating Cool Ranch Doritos who has nothing better to do than shuttle his DVR back and forth 12,000 times to see if Segio’s ball moved on the 13th at Augusta in the final round of the Masters. That has to be the worst run-on sentence I’ve ever typed, but it sure rolls off the tongue nicely.
In my opinion (yes I realize nobody is asking for it) there should be NO call-ins. No emails. No tweets of rules infractions. There’s no other sport on the planet who allows such a thing and it’s one more way the golf industry makes itself look more dumb in the eyes of the general public.
I’m a bit hammered this morning. Certainly a case of U.S. Open hangover. I had expected to be getting ready to watch a Monday playoff today, the day after Sunday’s final U.S. Open round. Dustin Johnson’s stunning and heartbreaking 3-putt on the final hole nixed that great idea. Boy I feel bad for the guy. He looked like he’d seen a ghost after that 3-putt. I probably would have thrown up after that, if I was in that situation. Hell, I would have probably thrown up before each putt…
Hats off to Jordan Spieth for putting the winning number up on the board and putting the pressure on DJ to tie him. The Spieth story is becoming legendary in a very short period of time. It is quite a time in golf, with Tiger seemingly on the way out and Spieth and McIlory taking over.
Chambers Bay quickly became a very polarizing topic of discussion on golf TV, interwebs, and socials. Having been to Chambers Bay myself, and playing dozens of rounds of golf in Scotland, I’m a fan of hard, fast, brown golf. So I get what course architect Robert Trent Jones II was going after. The course’s location though, meant not just hard conditions, but Poa annua grass on the greens. We deal with Poa here in Salt Lake too. It grows faster than other grasses and has tougher leaves. So when a green isn’t 100% Poa (like Pebble Beach), it gets bumpy. It can be very frustrating to putt on greens like that and many pros voiced their displeasure with the bumps, along with their displeasure of the USGA setup. Fans see a brown course and think it is dead. They expect golf to be like Augusta National and the Masters Tournament. In reality, almost no courses have that kind of budget and with water as short as it is becoming, minimalist brown golf is the future. Plus, it is more fun in my opinion.
Chambers Bay – Click for more…
I engaged (perhaps still) in some great debates on my Twitter and Facebook pages with friends about the setup and conditions. It seems, almost like the fans or haters of Tiger Woods, that people either loved the course or hated it.
Gary Player had some pretty harsh commentary about Chambers Bay. I was quite surprised he called out RTJ like he did. Then again, he’s a golf course architect and RTJ is a competitor who just had his course featured in the U.S. Open. So I take his commentary in that context a bit:
On Sunday the greens looked to be rolling quite well. Spieth made an incredible long-range putt for birdie on the 16th which had perfect speed and dropped in on the side of the hole. No bumps there. DJ’s 3-putts all rolled nicely, unfortunately for him the first two didn’t roll nicely into the hole.
Well if the golf media wasn’t already in a Spiethgasm, they will be now. Be ready for the Spieth-slam talk, and for the ever popular “will Spieth break Jack’s major championship record?” drivel. That of course between the “hottest women in golf” and “hot wives and girlfriends” photo gallery garbage.
How can you not have a Spiethgasm though? This 21 year old kid is doing something special, and I’m glad I’m here to witness it. What’s more is he’s not an overpowering player like Tiger Woods was (yeah I said was). He’s not long, but he’s long enough. There are really no holes in his game. No weaknesses I can see. The next few years are going to be a joy to watch.
I felt really bad for DJ after the 3-putt. The look on his face was unreal. He was melting. I melted too. He’s had many chances to close out majors. Undoubtedly he has the game. He needs to overcome the pressure and mental aspects of winning the big ones and he’ll get it done.
What’s wrong with Tiger Woods? A lot apparently. After rounds of 80 (+10) and 76 (+6) he went home early. I tuned in just in time Friday to watch him DUFF a 3-wood. It was a horrid shot, so bad that I recorded it and watched it several times in disbelief. There were so many things wrong with that particular swing that it looked like a 15 handicapper.
There are many theories as to what Tiger’s problem is. A new one discussed in my golf group is his possible fear that his will be the biggest fall from the top in sports history. I don’t know what the problem is, and it is likely a combination of many many things. Physically he looks fine, which leaves the only possible solutions within the 5-inch course between his ears.
I watched Jason Day collapse on the 18th hole Saturday, a result of vertigo. Man that’s terrible and I felt for the guy. He did manage to finish the tournament but what a story it would have been had he won the tournament. A valiant effort by Day.
Rory McIlory is no Tiger Woods. Tiger was much more consistent when in his best years. Rory is super-streaky. When he’s hot, nobody can beat him. When not, he can miss cuts. McIlory showed some life in the tournament, but in the end was not a factor. No worries about his game. That’s the way he rolls.
Wow tough deal for Branden Grace (also known as “Branden Gracen” on the Fox broadcast). Standing on the 16th tee he was at -5, tied with Spieth, two shots ahead of the nearest competitors. One swing later his 3-wood goes out of bounds and kills his chances of winning. Brutal.
Fox Sports Coverage
Funny how so many people hated the Fox Sports coverage of the Open, even before they saw it. It seems those same people hated the course before they saw it in action as well. I didn’t expect the Fox broadcast to be perfect and it certainly was not. There were dozens of instances of bad camera work, shaky commentary, and technical issues.
There was a little too much talking, almost like baseball announcers who think they have to fill up all the dead space with sound. Many complain(ed) that all Greg Norman does is talk about himself. Seemed like Greg was fine to me and not this self centered personality they made him out to be.
What I did like was the drone coverage, since I too build and fly drones, mostly for flying over golf courses and shooting video and photos.
Many complained about not seeing the shots, and I agree. Fox had it tough though, having to break themselves in at such a difficult venue.
Overall I’d give Fox a C grade and I do expect they’ll analyze what they did, listen to the critics, and try to improve their product.
In the end the 2015 U.S. Open was exciting, controversial with regards to course setup like EVERY U.S. Open is, and produced a stellar leader board of the world’s best golfers. The USGA got what they wanted, a handful of players under par and a test that filtered out all but one of the top two players in the world as its champion.
While enjoying the U.S. Open this week, here’s a Chambers Bay scorecard you can use to follow along and get to know the flow of the course.
Chambers Bay Scorecard
And check the following link if you’d like to see a few Chambers Bay photos.
Chambers Bay – Click for more…
Greetings from 33,000 feet, the day after the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst’s #2 course came to a conclusion. While flying to the next Hooked on Golf Blog World Tour stop I’m attempting to write on my Google Nexus 7 tablet, which is working okay, albeit a bit slow and clunky on the typing end. Can’t use my laptop. Not enough room as Delta has cut down on space. No I’m not in first class. I’m on a golf blogger budget. I apologize in advance for typos and autocorrect errors.
Below are a few comments on this year’s U.S. Open, the players and the venue.
This is the first major championship other than the Masters where the golf course may have been the biggest star. This Donald Ross design had recently been restored by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. Gone was the rough and in its place was native sand with small grass clumps and bushes. The edges were much more rugged and purposefully unkept. The ground was hard and brown, like Scottish links courses.
In short it was a beautiful example of modern minimalist golf design. I especially liked seeing puffs of dust when players would hit from the fairway. That is real golf folks. Not the over-watered, overly-green salad bars most of american golf courses have become. Easy on the ranch dressing please.
Barring the scoring of the winner, German golfer Martin Kaymer, I think the United States Golf Association’s setup produced what they wanted, a couple of players at or just below par.
Raise your hand if you thought Martin Kaymer would win. If you thought he would lap the field, quit your day job and go into sports betting or perhaps fortune telling.
After starting the tournament with two five-under 65’s, Kaymer was untouchable. He would have had to melt down in Normanesque fashion for anyone else to have a chance. That didn’t happen.
Kaymer looked to be playing a different course than the rest of the field. The German golfer was flying down the autobahn in a Porsche 911 while the rest of the field was driving a 1993 Buick on Louisiana State Road 85.
Final winning margin: seven strokes.
Kaymer now has two majors (2011 PGA Championship) and THE PLAYERS (always write that in ALL CAPS, that’s what they do) Championship win earlier this year.
With Tiger Woods out of the tournament while still recovering from back surgery, Phil Mickelson was star the ever-predictable golf media glommed onto. I think many golf scribes already had their stories written for when Phil won the U.S. Open and completed the career grand slam. That didn’t happen.
Rory McIlroy was the Las Vegas odds favorite to win. He did play some solid Open golf, but like most of the field could not get close enough to threaten. He was on the dance floor but could not hear the band.
Better known for his apparel than his golf game, Rickie Fowler might have claimed a major championship if Kaymer was not in the field. The golfer/traffic cone gained respectability tying for 2nd place. His Sunday orange outfit was subdued compared to the usual “traffic cone” look. This orange and white combo had more of a cream sickle look. Fortunately the cream sickle didn’t melt. That could have been messy.
Mentioned about 45.2 billion times in the broadcast was the story of Eric Compton. What a story, having reached a tie for 2nd place having undergone TWO heart transplants.
The guy has a lot of heart. I’ll be here all week. Try the veal.
Interesting to note who missed the cut. Some very big names failed to make the weekend including Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Jason Dufner, Hunter Mahan, Bubba Watson, Charl Schwartzel, and El Gato (Angel Cabrera). Luke Donald can only be described as a major disappointment.