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Nicklaus suggests a 20% rollback in driving distance

post #1 of 223
Thread Starter 

Enjoyed watching Jack Nicklaus on Feherty last week and was curious what others thought about his suggestion that, because of improvements in technology, golf balls have increased in distance to the extent that many older courses are now "obselete".

 

He said (if I remember correctly) that from 1935-1995 the ball only traveled 6 yards longer off the driver, but since 1995 thanks to technology it now travels 50 yards longer.

 

He suggested a 20% rollback in distance, which would bring many obselete courses back into play and make it cheaper to build and manage new courses due to reductions in space required for a course, reductions in watering costs, etc.

 

Sounds cool to me, but then again I'm a "traditionalist".

 

Your thoughts?

 

- Dave

post #2 of 223

Dave,

 

I think this is a great idea. Would you buy into it as a "conditions of competition" thing for the pros and competition amateurs?

 

We already had hundreds of models of approved golf balls. It shouldn't be difficult to develop a class of competition balls that go 20% less in distance. I suggest we allow some variety of models as far as trajectory and spin goes. I think TaylorMade and Srixon would be a little upset if the ProV1 Stubbie was the only ball model you could use.

 

Also, do we need a cap on how far the other balls for us mere mortals can go under Iron Byron conditions?

post #3 of 223

Have to assume he sees it purely as a problem for the pros. I don't see many amatuers hitting it long enough for it to make sense, prior to 1995 or now. The obsolete courses for the pros are still in play for just about everyone else and I don't see many PGA Tour length courses being built around here. The few that are were built with maintenance and conservation in mind. The back tees are just that, a small patch of grass with an area of whatever the native terrain is between that and the forward tees.

post #4 of 223
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WUTiger View Post

Dave,

 

I think this is a great idea. Would you buy into it as a "conditions of competition" thing for the pros and competition amateurs?

 

We already had hundreds of models of approved golf balls. It shouldn't be difficult to develop a class of competition balls that go 20% less in distance. I suggest we allow some variety of models as far as trajectory and spin goes. I think TaylorMade and Srixon would be a little upset if the ProV1 Stubbie was the only ball model you could use.

 

Also, do we need a cap on how far the other balls for us mere mortals can go under Iron Byron conditions?

 

I think judging from the context (I wish I was able to find the transcript online) that he was referring not just to the balls the pros use but all golf balls.  Jack talked about how advancements in golf ball construction are responsible for nearly all the improvement in distance and how the USGA, which had in the past reined in manufacturers, has now allowed such increases in distance that it effects all golfers (and course designers).

 

In effect, if the USGA were to do what Jack suggested, I think they would just dial back the maximum distances about 20% from what they are now before adding a golf ball to the approved list.  It would require manufacturers to use different materials or a different design in order to keep the ball from being too "hot".

 

I once thought the increase in distance was because of not just ball but club technology, but Jack explained that you can take an old set of clubs and still hit the new balls quite a bit farther than you used to be able to hit the old surlyn/balata balls that I started with 30 years ago.

post #5 of 223
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave2512 View Post

Have to assume he sees it purely as a problem for the pros. I don't see many amatuers hitting it long enough for it to make sense, prior to 1995 or now. The obsolete courses for the pros are still in play for just about everyone else and I don't see many PGA Tour length courses being built around here.

 

The way he presented the material, it seemed like he was talking about OUR courses...public courses...not just the courses for the pros.  Seemed to me he was saying it was a way to dial back the price of golf as well, since it costs less to maintain smaller courses.

post #6 of 223
Thread Starter 

I did find this, and it explains his thoughts more clearly than I ever could.

It's from 2007, when he was suggesting a 10% rollback.

He bumped it up to 20% on Feherty last month.

The reasons were the same, and apply to both amateurs and pros...

 

http://www.golfdigest.com/magazine/2007-03/diaz_nicklaus

post #7 of 223

At the moment the way the rules around drivers are defined it actually magnifies the differences between the shorter and longer hitters off the tee. I'd like to see this reversed and see Jack's 20% taken off the longest hitters, slowly decreasing to the point where the short knockers down the local club (say sub 200 yards) don't lose anything off their drives.

 

Don't get me wrong, there should still be an advantage for the guy who can swing the club faster, but not as much as it is currently. 

 

But the major motivation for doing this is to help combat the two biggest problems facing golf at the moment. The amount of time it takes to play a round and the costs of building and maintaining courses. It will allow for shorter courses that take less time to play, and cost less to maintain.

 

There are a few courses near me that would have been fairly short when built due to the size of the land they were on. They're now so short that it takes away a lot of the fun of playing them. The best way to play a number of the par 4s is mid iron off the tee and wedge in. These courses would have a new lease of life.

 

Unfortunately I can't see it happening. Look at the way the pros and equipment manufacturers are fighting back on the putter anchoring rule. There are too many whose (short term) interests would run contrary to this move, even though I think it would be a huge benefit to the long term health of the game.

post #8 of 223

Yeah I think and have heard it is somewhat exponential what he is talking about.  So the harder you swing the higher percentage the ball would decrease in distance up to 20%.  It would affect the pros more than amateurs in that way.  I think maybe 10-15% would be good enough for the top end though.  I am for it. 

post #9 of 223
Quote:
Originally Posted by dave67az View Post

 

The way he presented the material, it seemed like he was talking about OUR courses...public courses...not just the courses for the pros.  Seemed to me he was saying it was a way to dial back the price of golf as well, since it costs less to maintain smaller courses.

I added more to my post since the quote but it's worth repeating here. Here maintaining the real long courses wouldn't be much of an expense because of the design. Back tee boxes are small and far behind the rest of the grassy areas, the area between is uncared for native terrain. To play for those tees requires busting out your handicap card and getting permission from the pro shop. There's a few of those long local courses here where I didn't see a marker on those tees the entire season. Most probably don't even know the boxes are there. At most all they do is water and mow 18 very small tee boxes. The rest of the course, what is playable for amateurs with decent distance is what they spend the majority of time and money caring for.

post #10 of 223

I don't see anything wrong with the game as it is now.  And I do think he was only referring to the pros, because there are no courses that are "obsolete" for us amateur hacks.

 

I would be all for them putting some sort of rules in place for the ball now to make sure it doesn't go any further, like they've already done with the driver, but I just don't see a need to roll it back at all.

 

Or how about this:  Have one tournament a year where the pros are required to use these balls.  Pick an old classic course that the pros used to play but can't anymore because it's obsolete and hold it there.  At the very least, it might be a fun experiment.  Who knows, maybe they could show everybody that it would be a great thing to roll it back permanently

post #11 of 223
Thread Starter 

Here's another story, this one from the Great White North, with Nicklaus being backed by Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.

 

http://www.golfcanada.ca/professional-tours/pga-tour/?articleId=4098068

 

"The galleries whoop and cheer when Tiger Woods drives the golf ball out of sight, nodding their heads in amazement at the incredible distances he and his fellow professionals now reach.

For some of the game’s elder statesmen, however, those nods are being replaced by frowns and concern that technology is ruining the sport."

post #12 of 223
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Golfingdad View Post

I don't see anything wrong with the game as it is now.  And I do think he was only referring to the pros, because there are no courses that are "obsolete" for us amateur hacks.

 

I would be all for them putting some sort of rules in place for the ball now to make sure it doesn't go any further, like they've already done with the driver, but I just don't see a need to roll it back at all.

 

Or how about this:  Have one tournament a year where the pros are required to use these balls.  Pick an old classic course that the pros used to play but can't anymore because it's obsolete and hold it there.  At the very least, it might be a fun experiment.  Who knows, maybe they could show everybody that it would be a great thing to roll it back permanently

 

I like this idea.  Nicklaus mentioned specifically Augusta because it's one of the first in danger of becoming obsolete, if I remember correctly.

 

Oh, and I didn't mean that the PROBLEM was with the amateurs as well, I just meant he wasn't suggesting different balls for pros but not for amateurs.  He's NOT a proponent of bifurcation...he's actually very against it.

post #13 of 223

The course where I (usually) play is a short course but they intentionally keep the fairway grass a little longer than many courses, and all of the courses holding a PGA tournament. There are several 260 to 280 yard par fours but nobody gets more than about 20 yards of bounce and roll (and less than that if it's not dry). It actually takes a legitimately long carry to reach the greens. They also did a decent design job with the available land and made the short holes uphill to the greens or the landing area.

 

One side benefit to that little course is that all of the kids that grew up playing on that course, and trying to carry those greens all the time, are all now pretty big hitters.

post #14 of 223

driving the ball 275+ is a lot of fun.  if tomorrow i had to cut that down to 220y i'm not sure the sport would be as much fun to me anymore.  not that jack's idea isn't intelligent, we're just way too far along to do anything that drastic.
 

post #15 of 223

I brought this idea forward some time ago on the TST.  Years ago Jack Nicklaus 'invented' or at least promoted a ball to be used on some certain  Caribbean Island course, a very short course.  The ball was identical, except for internal construction, to the ordinary ball and  had a greatly reduced ability to go as far with any strike. Hence, perfect for the island course.  

Now i suggest that Jack Nicklaus get off his soapbox and actually DO something. Notably, use HIS Memorial tournament to play this ball. or any similar ball.  Plan 2 years in advance, let sponsors get on board, pros use the balls in practice.  Sure, such a tourney would be out of the ordinary but may give everyone a chance to really test the theory.  Come on Jack, use your influence and unquestioned golf concern to promote and develop some idea to help the game.  This is just one.

post #16 of 223
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tuffluck View Post

driving the ball 275+ is a lot of fun.  if tomorrow i had to cut that down to 220y i'm not sure the sport would be as much fun to me anymore.  not that jack's idea isn't intelligent, we're just way too far along to do anything that drastic.
 

 

So you wouldn't think it's as much fun if you had to use a 7 iron instead of a wedge on your approach, or were forced to move up the next set of tees?

post #17 of 223

So you're going to punish the long hitters now? Speed is a skill.

 

Yeah, I really wanna watch the guys on my TV bombing it out there 240. Please.

post #18 of 223

I agree with the poster above who said perhaps they should put a cap on where it currently is. I'm not sure a rollback would work. But if we could press the pause button on the ball, as we have with the driver head size, I don't think too many players, pro or amateur would gripe. 

 

Equipment manufacturers... they would gripe for sure!

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