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USGA/R&A Distance Insights Project (Updated Feb. 2021)


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Also, this is from Tutelman:

ballweightdrivingdistance.gif

If that chart is remotely accurate, that's almost a non-starter for me. It's nowhere near "fair" across the board.

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I have a few thoughts on the distance debate in golf. Except for the first, they're in no particular order. I'll try to be brief, but we all know how that tends to go… 1. I don't care about the 0

This right here, all my opinion. It's based on what I believe to be true, based on some relevant facts, and it's said with full understanding that none of us can truly know what would happen, so any o

I took the time to expand a little on my stance on distance on another forum, and thought I might post it here as well. I would say, in that vastly different scenario, that the courses should b

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(From 2011), forget bifurcation, John Solheim wants/wanted TRIfurcation!

1588636298811.jpeg

John Solheim, chairman & CEO of Ping, believes golf's distance debate is about to heat up again, and he thinks he has an idea that might help cooler heads prevail.With the PGA Tour driving distance...

 

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1 hour ago, iacas said:

(From 2011), forget bifurcation, John Solheim wants/wanted TRIfurcation!

1588636298811.jpeg

John Solheim, chairman & CEO of Ping, believes golf's distance debate is about to heat up again, and he thinks he has an idea that might help cooler heads prevail.With the PGA Tour driving distance...

 

IMHO 3 different balls isn't cost effective.    I'm sure the ball manufacturers wouldn't approve.    

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This right here, all my opinion. It's based on what I believe to be true, based on some relevant facts, and it's said with full understanding that none of us can truly know what would happen, so any of the future-based stuff is speculation. Educated guessing.

I've said a few times the only pro-rollback argument that I think carries weight (with me only, I'm not speaking for or against anyone else) is one of resource usage/sustainability. If golf is becoming resource intensive (beyond what it obviously already is, as I'll often joke about how you could fit four baseball fields on a good sized par four, let alone what you could do with the 17 other holes with basketball courts, tennis courts, football fields, etc.), then that'd ultimately be what changed my mind on the distance issue.

I just don't think we're there. I don't think 95% of golfers need more than 6500 yards, and the few who do have plenty of places to go play. I've asked a few times if anyone has the data on the number (as a percentage or otherwise) of courses that have added > 300 or > 500 yards (or some number) of distance in the last 10 years. The last 15 years. The last 20 years. What are the actual numbers? Are courses truly adding length (and costs, and land), or is that over-stated? What are the actual facts here?

The other arguments that I can think of off the top of my head, listed below and replied to briefly (my version of brief, anyway, ha ha ha) don't carry weight with me. If they do with you, cool.

Pro Golf is Boring
I don't think pros playing worse golf (which we'd see if they are hitting it shorter and thus having longer clubs into the greens) would be "less boring" or "more exciting." And I don't think distance is in the top three reasons why golf is often "boring." I golf is boring because of the money involved and because of how it's presented on TV, and because the players lack personality. And the money actually affects the latter two, because players can't have a personality or they risk offending the fan base and/or sponsors, and the coverage is crap because CBS or NBC have to pay for the money they lay out to cover the events, and they do it with commercials out the ass.

Pro golf is exciting when players have to make decisions, when they face real risks. That doesn't have much to do with the ball. Three-shot par fives are just short par threes. They're not "more exciting." Pros hitting a 6I to 35 feet isn't "more exciting" than a guy hitting a 9I to 12 feet. It likely takes more skill, and we can appreciate that, but "exciting"? Nah. Often, the shorter holes on the PGA Tour are the more exciting ones. The 10th at Riviera. The 17th at Sawgrass. Real risk. Real reward. Not length.

We Can't Play on Old Courses
Yeah, we can. The Tour pros might not be able to. But… so? It just doesn't carry weight with me. If it does for you, if your enjoyment or desire to play the Old Course would be diminished if the R&A never went back there for a British Open, then okay, I get it, I just don't agree. Every time people ask for a list of courses the PGA Tour would like to play but can't because it's too short (and not because of a lack of room for hospitality or infrastructure, or because the course doesn't want the Tour to play there), the list peters out after two or three courses. Besides, it's not like the PGA Tour plays the best and most interesting architectural courses very often. They play TPC Scottsdale. They play Torrey Pines.

Scoring is Too Low
Meh. The Tour average in 2020 was 70.56 (https://www.pgatour.com/content/pgatour/stats/stat.108.y2020.html) and that's with the par 70s and 71s they play. They average around par. Sure, occasionally Dustin Johnson goes off and shoots -30 or whatever and wins by ninety-seven shots, but Tom Kite shot -35 at the Bob Hope in 1993, too.

Equipment isn't Regulated
Yes, it is. It's been regulated with the ODS since 1976, and drivers, the golf ball, shaft length, ball speed, etc. are all pretty highly regulated. This is not even an argument, as it's not even true. What these people seem to be saying is that they want "new" and "different" regulations, but then just say that, and say why.

PGA Tour Players aren’t Punished for Mis-Hit Drivers
Dude, they’re not mis-hitting many drivers per round now, and they don’t often mis-hit their 3W. Jon Rahm heel-topping his 3W at Augusta is notable because it’s notable… not because it happens twice a round. Also, https://www.pgatour.com/content/pgatour/stats/stat.02403.y2020.html. They’re not getting away with mis-hits because they’re not mis-hitting them. They didn’t mis-hit them all that often in the 90s, either… and the guys playing now are better than the guys playing in the 90s.

Player Safety
I've yet to see much here that shows that the ball going farther directly leads to more safety concerns. I admit that more courses are doing things in the name of safety, but you can't ignore the shifting legal and ethical concerns here, either. We used to just plow up wetlands, too, but regulations changed, and we don't do that anymore.

Yes, it makes sense from one perspective, that if the ball goes farther it can go farther offline, but pro-rollback people will say that out of one side of their mouths while saying that the ball goes too straight now out of the other. Or they'll say that the average amateur isn't hitting it much farther, only the pros are (and there's a little truth to that since the Pinnacle was legal in 1999, and many golfers were already playing longer-flying balls instead of shorter but more controllable balata balls). Anyway, we've become more litigious and more concerned with stuff like this, so it may not be about distance as much as changing social and legal expectations.

Not Identifying Skill
"Bomb and Gouge" is a misnomer that disrespects Rory, DJ, and all the other great golfers who hit it far. They're long AND accurate. Hitting a tee shot into the rough is still a 50- to 60- to 70-yard penalty on the PGA Tour. Speed is an advantage in every sport I can think of, and it is in golf too. It's a skill. The guys who are long and wild don't last on the PGA Tour, and that's been true since the days of Hank Kuehne. Approach shots are still the most important skill in golf.

    Golf Wasn't Meant to be Played This Way
    Ah, the golf purist who may as well just say "back in my day…". Their vision of the game is what is important, and what matters, and the way it should be. Bah. Here's the thing, though: give everyone steel shafted persimmon drivers and balata balls, and… they're not going to forget what we've learned in the last 25 years. They're going to figure out how to optimize launch conditions. They're going to remember the value of going for par fives in two. They're going to know the value of distance instead of laying up off the tee with a 2I. They're not going to forget the shift in how the game is played, just like how basketball, baseball, and every other sport have shifted toward understanding analytics and game theory and statistics more readily, as well as increased understanding of the science of their sport. There's too much money not to.

    Pace of Play Will Improve
    Slow players are slow whether they're hitting it 235 off the tee or 205 off the tee. And, if everyone moves up a set of tees or something, people are still going to wait on the tees of short par fours and the second shots of shorter or medium length par fives. Slow players (and thick rough, and blind shots, and all sorts of other things) cause slow play, not the ball going 10% "too far."

    Bifurcation
    This isn't an argument pro-rollback, but it's proposed as a "they're not coming for your guns" situation to say that a rollback won't affect most golfers. I won't get started here, except to say two things:

    1. Why would the PGA Tour bifurcate and roll themselves back? Unless absolutely forced to do so, I don't see the upside for them to gladly go along with it if given a choice. If the PGA Tour doesn't roll back, what's the point?
    2. Bifurcation affects (and harms) thousands who are just below whatever cut-off line you establish, and it harms everyone who appreciates that Tiger plays under the same Rules with the same equipment regulations that they do.

    If there are some other pro-rollback arguments, lay 'em on me.

    The one that I give weight to is the sustainability one, the resource usage one. But I've yet to see good data on this.


    Overall, I'm against "doing something" (rolling back the distance) with the HOPE that it will change something. I think that, if you're going to roll back the ball, you'd better be damn sure it's going to have the effect you think it will have.

    That's why I'm against people who say "just make the ball spin more" or "a rollback will make golf exciting again." They don't know what will happen, and it may be true that nothing happen sat all, really. With spin, I think guys would figure out how to get around that pretty darn quickly. With "excitement," see above. I don't think it's worth doing a whole bunch of stuff, disrupting things, etc. if in the end almost nothing actually changes.

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    Regarding course lengths, there is some data presented in References 24 to 26 here:

    I didn't see anything that directly answered your questions about how many courses have seen the need to  add length, although there are a few "examples", I think in R024. 

    I haven't said much recently about this, because I really don't see that the new release says anything different from the release a year ago.  There are some more details about the equipment regulations they may study in more depth, and more detail in the ways they might consider to effect an "optional local rule" (bifurcation).  I don't have a problem if they find ways to minimize future distance gains from equipment advances.  Really, bifurcation wouldn't effect me significantly, but I think there are far too many hurdles for it to become reality.   

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    • Administrator
    19 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

    Regarding course lengths, there is some data presented in References 24 to 26 here:

    Yeah, that only talks about the length of courses as they're built. It doesn't really speak, as you say, to changes made to lengthen existing courses.

    And the 90th percentile of the second tees are at 6700 yards (an increase from 6450 yards in 1950) with the median at 6300:

    image.png

    And the longest tees haven't gotten much longer — going from 7000 yards or so for the 90th percentile in 1960 to 7250 or so in 2010?

    image.png

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    One thing people mention as a positive for a rollback is that pace of play would get faster. I'm not sure that's true, because it's very dependent on the players. But throwing that out there as a pro-rollback argument.

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    46 minutes ago, DeadMan said:

    One thing people mention as a positive for a rollback is that pace of play would get faster. I'm not sure that's true, because it's very dependent on the players. But throwing that out there as a pro-rollback argument.

    Okay, I don't even think that needs a response. Surely people can understand that rolling back the ball, especially if it's just for the game's best, won't affect pace of play.

    But yeah. Maybe I'll add a brief section on that.

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    Here is what Peter Kostis has to say about the distance issue.

    USGA-Flag.jpg?w=640

    After years of looking at golf swings through the trusty Konica Minolta BizHub Swing Vision camera, I have learned to see things differently than most people. So, with the distance debate raging on…

     

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    Mr. Kostis makes a lot of good points. Distance is king and it is exciting. Yesterday when I went to the range there were 14 disperate golfers occupying the mats. 12 of them were hitting drivers.

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