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Should the PGA Tour throttle back technology or lengthen courses?


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  1. 1. Should the PGA Tour throttle back technology or lengthen courses?

    • Dial Back Technology
      9
    • Lengthen Courses
      4
    • Neither
      32


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One solution would be bifurcation for the balls: have Pro tournament "conditions of competition" balls which don't travel quite as far.

One thing longer courses do is drive up the cost of course construction and maintenance:

A 7,500-yard course simply takes up more land than one the tops out at 6,800 yards.

A course that ranges in length from 4,400 yards to 7,500 yards - rather than 6,800 yards - will have longer stretches of tee boxes to maintain.

Why bifurcate?  People just need to get over their egos.  I'm a short hitter but I would not have any problem with a ball that had its distance governed.  So what if my driving average goes down from 220 to 200?  The guys I play with will also have their distance reduced.  Competitively it is relative distance that matters, not absolute distance.

How about instead of making courses longer or limiting the tech in golf balls they make the courses a little tougher by lengthening the rough and keeping the greens firm and fast. Everyone thought that the pros would destroy Merion because it was too short but the winning score ended up being +1. We dont need 8,000+ yard courses or tech limitations (do you really want to see Rory and Bubba only be able to hit it 260?) they just need to make the current courses a little tougher where the pros are punished for poor shots and poor course management.

That changes the character of the course.  I think Merion was a much better course in 1971 when it played as it has historically played than in the recent Open there where it was, IMO, tricked up.  But if they had played Merion as it was in 1971 the scores would have likely been 20 shots (maybe that is exaggerated, but probably not by much) less.  And there is a line between making courses tougher (even discounting distance they are already tougher than those "back in the day") and making them gimmicky.  I could design a course that was 6000 yards long on which no one on Tour could break 80 - but it wouldn't be golf it would be gimmickry.

It is not just about what we can do to keep scores in bounds, we have to do it while still retaining all the great things about the game and those courses that made us love it and them in the first place.  Limiting the ball would do that far more, IMO, than trickery.

Can you really tell on TV whether the ball went 320 or 260?  The swing is the same.  The picture of the ball against the sky is the same, and the only thing about the landing spot is where it is.  How does that change YOUR experience of watching?

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[QUOTE name="trickyputt" url="/t/79029/should-the-pga-tour-throttle-back-technology-or-lengthen-courses#post_1092598"] Whats so wrong with making all par 3's into par 2's? You should be tight on those pins anyway and you know it. At least half the par 4's I know should be par 3's. Drop the number from 72 to 64 on the scorecard and quit calling certain holes "birdie holes". Cheapest thing to do imo, unless you are boxed into a par 72 frame of mind. That way bombing drives will be incouraged and it will not seem like players are owning the courses.[/QUOTE] I don't see how that addresses the problem of courses becoming obsolete. The shorter classic courses were not designed to have players hitting 300+ yard drives, A number on the score card doesn't change that. cubdog

Give me an example. The way I understand it, they are driving for a low score. Sure the rules are what they were, but how many acres of golf holes are there in the world? And I am not real clear on this point, but the arguement is that they are getting too big and expensive to maintain a profitable industry? Also that rounds take too long? That equipment makers are being throttled back? The having fun part is the hardest question for me.

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Give me an example. The way I understand it, they are driving for a low score. Sure the rules are what they were, but how many acres of golf holes are there in the world? And I am not real clear on this point, but the arguement is that they are getting too big and expensive to maintain a profitable industry? Also that rounds take too long? That equipment makers are being throttled back?

The having fun part is the hardest question for me.

The scores are not all that important. The playability of a course is. Why do you think there are no tournaments played on Cypress Point? Generally recognized as one of Americas greatest courses it is just over 6500 yards. That's way to short to take on the long drives by todays players. There are similar examples in every state, great short courses that have become obsolete at the highest level of competition. Only because of their length and that is sad.

cubdog

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[QUOTE name="trickyputt" url="/t/79029/should-the-pga-tour-throttle-back-technology-or-lengthen-courses/18#post_1092605"] Give me an example. The way I understand it, they are driving for a low score. Sure the rules are what they were, but how many acres of golf holes are there in the world? And I am not real clear on this point, but the arguement is that they are getting too big and expensive to maintain a profitable industry? Also that rounds take too long? That equipment makers are being throttled back? The having fun part is the hardest question for me.[/QUOTE] The scores are not all that important. The playability of a course is. Why do you think there are no tournaments played on Cypress Point? Generally recognized as one of Americas greatest courses it is just over 6500 yards. That's way to short to take on the long drives by todays players. There are similar examples in every state, great short courses that have become obsolete at the highest level of competition. Only because of their length and that is sad. cubdog

Overall length divide by avg shot and they are short. Its also a math formula favoring distance. The game has two sides though when you get to the holes and away from the block of overall length. Sort of like an equation where ((2 long stick shots)=(2 putts)x18 holes). In this case the discussions are overweighting 2 long sticks by reason of technical and technique advancement. I believe the balance can be restored, because the advancement has but one purpose, that being to reduce the number of putts. To adjust the number of putts downward by rule, and that rule having a thesis of accuracy, balance is restored and fun maintained. Courses, makers, balls, are free to go crazy. I would disagree with the use of overall length of a course in the discussion because I dont see the measurement as being that meaningful when you are challenged by a 1 putt green. I do agree with you that the players are able to reach the lengths easier now than ever and its becoming an issue that more land cant solve because of cost. I am trying to flip the math formula that created the problem over on its head for the good of my local course as well.

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Overall length divide by avg shot and they are short. Its also a math formula favoring distance. The game has two sides though when you get to the holes and away from the block of overall length. Sort of like an equation where ((2 long stick shots)=(2 putts)x18 holes). In this case the discussions are overweighting 2 long sticks by reason of technical and technique advancement. I believe the balance can be restored, because the advancement has but one purpose, that being to reduce the number of putts. To adjust the number of putts downward by rule, and that rule having a thesis of accuracy, balance is restored and fun maintained. Courses, makers, balls, are free to go crazy. I would disagree with the use of overall length of a course in the discussion because I dont see the measurement as being that meaningful when you are challenged by a 1 putt green. I do agree with you that the players are able to reach the lengths easier now than ever and its becoming an issue that more land cant solve because of cost. I am trying to flip the math formula that created the problem over on its head for the good of my local course as well.


Sorry I'm not smart enough to understand what you are getting at. I do understand that many courses have become obsolete. This is due to their shorter yardage and by how far today's players hit the ball. I also understand that you disagree with this. So be it, I have no other argument to give you.

cubdog

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I voted neither, and I wouldn't change par either.

The over or under par in use today is just a convenient way to present any given competitor's relation to the field. What matters is the total on the card at the end of the tournament.

Par is only a relative number for todays pros anyway. This is not a pure definition, but par allows for two putts, plus the number of strokes for an "expert" or "accomplished" golfer to reach the green. Most any hole is a potential "birdie hole" for most of the PGA tour. Most any par 5 under 600 yards is a 2 shot hole, but really has been at least for most of  the elite for 40 years. Par fours under 400-425 are certainly drivable, but only if you can hit the green--distance and accuracy.  The really short ones are a lot of fun to watch-usuallly a penalty for missing the green on the drive that is easily avoidable if you play it as a two-shot. Merion held up very well, and was generally fun to watch as well.

The technology has plateaued somewhat, so I don't think there is need for rollback, but maybe keep it where it is in terms of ball velocity, COR, etc. If distances and scores start to improve for reasons other than skill, it could be revisited. Having a condition of competition ball, at least for some courses, is not a bad idea in and of itself, but if I were voting I would say no. A lot of folks want to hit the same ball the pros use for better or worse, and want to compare themselves even if there is no comparison.

For now, I wouldn't change anything.

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The problem is not only driver length but on the second and third shots. Rarely do pros have more than a wedge or 9 iron going into a par four. In the sixties that wedge was likely to have been a 5 iron. It's the same on every hole. More distance means lesser clubs on almost every shot. It means the course is no longer being played as it was designed to be played. Forget the score that has nothing to so with the playability of a course.

cubdog

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Considering that drivers and balls have reached the limit as to how fat they can feasibly travel within the USGA rules (unless you buy into the theories about balls that behave exponentially as your swing speed increases), I see no reason to change things from how they currently are. I personally enjoy watching the usual tournaments where guys are capable of shooting a 63 on occasion, as it shows how good these players really are. The U.S. Open is fun to watch them struggle one week of the year, but if you try to make every course artificially more difficult by reducing the ball distance you'll see that more frequently. It's just not fun to watch the winning score be +1 week in and week out, because I want to see some excellent golf with tight approach shots most of the time. I see no issue with courses playing favorably for scoring, so long as it isn't ridiculous to the point that a winner needs to string together four sub-65 rounds together to win anything.
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[QUOTE name="trickyputt" url="/t/79029/should-the-pga-tour-throttle-back-technology-or-lengthen-courses/18#post_1092619"] Overall length divide by avg shot and they are short. Its also a math formula favoring distance. The game has two sides though when you get to the holes and away from the block of overall length. Sort of like an equation where ((2 long stick shots)=(2 putts)x18 holes). In this case the discussions are overweighting 2 long sticks by reason of technical and technique advancement. I believe the balance can be restored, because the advancement has but one purpose, that being to reduce the number of putts. To adjust the number of putts downward by rule, and that rule having a thesis of accuracy, balance is restored and fun maintained. Courses, makers, balls, are free to go crazy. I would disagree with the use of overall length of a course in the discussion because I dont see the measurement as being that meaningful when you are challenged by a 1 putt green. I do agree with you that the players are able to reach the lengths easier now than ever and its becoming an issue that more land cant solve because of cost. I am trying to flip the math formula that created the problem over on its head for the good of my local course as well.[/QUOTE] Sorry I'm not smart enough to understand what you are getting at. I do understand that many courses have become obsolete. This is due to their shorter yardage and by how far today's players hit the ball. I also understand that you disagree with this. So be it, I have no other argument to give you. cubdog

No I agree with this. What I am saying is that the imbalance caused by these tee bombs can be adjusted for in strokes gained putting. There is nothing wrong with par, its just that par 72 does not describe what these players do anymore. They get 68s and 69s or lower because they are long and putting is therefore too easy. But the game needs to remain balanced. The accuracy on par 2s (par3 usually a course has 4 of them) would favor the iron player. The bombers may still have advantage on a par5 if they had accuracy, but the accuracy players would be in there tight with them, if they are on close in 3. Its just an idea, but I keep hearing about changing something without changing anything which is never gonna work. So I realized par was the problem, because it describes strokes that really seem accurate for 1/2 the holes and too easy for the other half. My muni course is short and old. The par 3s should be changed to par 2s and 2 of the par 4s should be par 3s. USGA scored it a 66 something which is what that adds to subtracting from 72. If you played for the 66, it might not change your shots, but if it did, the accuracy component certainly would be an issue so you might play different. Thats all I got. Well not all, part of this is that there is no way to stop human improvements. Clubs, balls whatever...bowties should go away though.

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Considering that drivers and balls have reached the limit as to how fat they can feasibly travel within the USGA rules (unless you buy into the theories about balls that behave exponentially as your swing speed increases), I see no reason to change things from how they currently are. I personally enjoy watching the usual tournaments where guys are capable of shooting a 63 on occasion, as it shows how good these players really are. The U.S. Open is fun to watch them struggle one week of the year, but if you try to make every course artificially more difficult by reducing the ball distance you'll see that more frequently. It's just not fun to watch the winning score be +1 week in and week out, because I want to see some excellent golf with tight approach shots most of the time.

I see no issue with courses playing favorably for scoring, so long as it isn't ridiculous to the point that a winner needs to string together four sub-65 rounds together to win anything.

I think you will see just the opposite.  If you reduce ball distance you will also reduce course distance, keeping the game the same.  It doesn't artificially make the game more difficult at all.  Tricking up the course set-up is what makes courses artificially difficult.  Putting pins way closer to the edges of the greens makes the course more difficult.

It is not the length of US Open courses that makes them difficult it is the penal nature of the set-up.  A 6800 yard course with a restricted ball is no more difficult than a 7400 yard course with a current ball if the restriction is done correctly.  Having the ball distance and the length of the course change proportionately keeps the character of the game the same.  Letting the ball get too long and then first lengthening and then tightening up courses to an artificial degree as was done, IMO at Merion does not,  And Augusta has also been diminished, IMO, by the changes they have made to keep up with distance.

People shot 63s back in the day with shorter courses and shorter equipment.  Why wouldn't they if ball distance and course lengths were reduced to those yardages again?

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I just feel that since all the courses are currently the length they are, you're only going to make them all change again if you mess with the ball. I don't see why change is necessary when the distance has hit the legal limit limit under the current restrictions.
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I just feel that since all the courses are currently the length they are, you're only going to make them all change again if you mess with the ball. I don't see why change is necessary when the distance has hit the legal limit limit under the current restrictions.

Personally since I dont shoot par I am not bothered by it. I dont like watching putting on tv though because 1) 36ish strokes are with one club and 2)its boring. Talk about a imbalance in the game that has to be it. Only 14 strokes with driver.

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That changes the character of the course.  I think Merion was a much better course in 1971 when it played as it has historically played than in the recent Open there where it was, IMO, tricked up.  But if they had played Merion as it was in 1971 the scores would have likely been 20 shots (maybe that is exaggerated, but probably not by much) less.  And there is a line between making courses tougher (even discounting distance they are already tougher than those "back in the day") and making them gimmicky.  I could design a course that was 6000 yards long on which no one on Tour could break 80 - but it wouldn't be golf it would be gimmickry.

It is not just about what we can do to keep scores in bounds, we have to do it while still retaining all the great things about the game and those courses that made us love it and them in the first place.  Limiting the ball would do that far more, IMO, than trickery.

Can you really tell on TV whether the ball went 320 or 260?  The swing is the same.  The picture of the ball against the sky is the same, and the only thing about the landing spot is where it is.  How does that change YOUR experience of watching?

So instead of making the pros up their game a little by making the rough a bit longer and fairways a bit tighter which would create a lot more risk/reward choices for players, you want the PGA and USGA just to say: "Nope, you aren't allowed to hit the ball far anymore"?  Not every course (or any course for that matter) needs to go to the extreme that Merion was in 2013(if you recall there was rain that entire week meaning they couldn't mow the grass at all leading up to the US Open making it play harder than it was supposed to) but just letting the rough get a little bit rougher on several tour stops during the year would be a great subtle way to make courses play a little tougher without ruffling many feathers and without making any expensive changes to courses or tech.

Also IMO limiting how far a golf ball can fly seems a whole lot more gimmicky than just letting the grass grow.

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[QUOTE] So instead of making the pros up their game a little by making the rough a bit longer and fairways a bit tighter which would create a lot more risk/reward choices for players, you want the PGA and USGA just to say: "Nope, you aren't allowed to hit the ball far anymore"?  Not every course (or any course for that matter) needs to go to the extreme that Merion was in 2013(if you recall there was rain that entire week meaning they couldn't mow the grass at all leading up to the US Open making it play harder than it was supposed to) but just letting the rough get a little bit rougher on several tour stops during the year would be a great subtle way to make courses play a little tougher without ruffling many feathers and without making any expensive changes to courses or tech. Also IMO limiting how far a golf ball can fly seems a whole lot more gimmicky than just letting the grass grow. [/quote] I considered increased rough, but I thought to myself "who cares?". The silliness just overwhelmed me. There is nothing interesting about whacking a sloppy short ball out of monkeygrass. It has to be a skill shot to be interesting, and there are limits to the modern game in rough play. Sure it can be bad rough, but those tourneys I viewed where the rough was almost a DQ were not interesting to watch, and the courses were not any I would enjoy playing. The best players can be reduced to ditchdiggers using a shovel under those conditions. I would prefer to watch players gifted with uncanny accuracy demonstrate their skill because...wait for it...thats what I want to learn how to do. Plus, that nasty rough in one of the opens, I think it was or was around Torrey Pines, was disgustingly sandy and lame. I enjoy a beautiful course. Golf is a good walk enhanced by the course flora. Make people want to come play just because its beautiful. I seriously would combine Tee It Forward with less strokes allowed per round. The courses dont necessarily have to spend their full resources cutting grass that way, they could beautify and not have to raise prices. Somebody needs to defend this need for a 72 par long course. Its no more important to me than were course par to be 76 or 80. Right now my perspective is that the best low scores have been set as the bar, and 72 is no more than a signpost one would pass on the way down low. Interesting is shooting 60. I can see why people want to do things the way they have been done traditionally. I just dont think tradition for the sake of tradition is always a good answer. Prior historical play created traditional golf practices for us because those practices answered certain problems. Thats inherent in all traditions. I am thinking that modern players need to consider making the game harder, and in doing so unleash the technology and expenditures on such that continue the business of golf as well as the fun in buying new toys. Plus the idea of breaking a tradition is far more palatable were the break to be for increasing the challenge rather than reducing it. That way when you finally get to Valhalla your forefathers will respect you.
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Trickyputt, you need to keep something in mind. Just because you change the par value of a hole doesn't mean players will suddenly play it better. Scores will not go down because it's labeled as a par 2 instead of a par 3 as you suggest. You will merely see people shooting the same scores with a different value compared to par.
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The scores are not all that important. The playability of a course is. Why do you think there are no tournaments played on Cypress Point? Generally recognized as one of Americas greatest courses it is just over 6500 yards. That's way to short to take on the long drives by todays players. There are similar examples in every state, great short courses that have become obsolete at the highest level of competition. Only because of their length and that is sad.

cubdog


I think they would have found a way to lengthen Cypress but ultimately they didn't have to cause it got dropped from rotation at the AT&T; because of the membership dispute

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Trickyputt, you need to keep something in mind. Just because you change the par value of a hole doesn't mean players will suddenly play it better. Scores will not go down because it's labeled as a par 2 instead of a par 3 as you suggest. You will merely see people shooting the same scores with a different value compared to par.

I think the focus would change. People will simply try harder to meet the stated par. My course is rated a 66 and I have seen players shoot 66 there. Even though the score sheets are laid out as 71. It takes time,just like it took decades of time to develop the game into a distance focused game we have today. What I could say about changing focus might be along the lines of a question. That being How would you change all the players all over the US and maybe the world eventually, to one unified theme? A equipment restriction fits that bill. Scoring changes, but not course unique things like rough. It would ultimately be a lot of things combined just like todays game. I am trying to not just be coming from the pro game observer point of view. The regular player was playing long before there were pro players, and are the most important part of the game. Drivers that bomb are a club choice that not everybody has, and I am not so sure they are all that important here, since so many people can hit 3w or hybrids so far. Its just that that distance is taking away putts, and there has to be something about green play to balance it out. It might not be unreasonable for a larger cup hole if the strokes for par were reduced. Play would certainly speed up. I wonder how long it would take if a course did set up something new. Most courses have a lot of regulars, and it takes a few years to get them coming enough to make it worth it business wise. Players would have to try it, have fun, and decide to come back.

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