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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
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Well I do.One of the great golf moments of recent years is when the Golf Channel played an old match between Byron Nelson and Gee Littler at Pine Valley, an iconic American course that is hardly ever seen by us unwashed masses.  I'd like to see Cypress, and Spyglass, and Merion, and other classic courses on which much of golf's history was written being played by today's finest golfers in some semblance of how they were played while that history was unfolding.  One of the things that is so attractive about golf for a lot of people is its connection with the past.

I'm not sure I follow.  The implication per the thread topic is that somehow these courses are outdated due to technology.

Two of the four you named still get played on tour, one every year and the other occasionally in majors (much to @phan52 's chagrin :-P ) and the other two, AFAIK, are not being avoided because of there "ease" with todays technology.

I agree that it would be great to see Cypress and Pine Valley but that doesn't really relate to the throttling back of technology.

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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 cours

Yeah, well, you know, that's just like, your opinion man. I love watching Bubba and Rory bomb it, and I'm sure I would have loved to watch Arnie and Jack bomb it back in the day.

6245 yards http://www.thegolfballfactory.com/Hall-of-Champions/Francis%20Ouimet%27s%201913-United-States-Open-Playoff-Scorecard.htm And I voted for no changes.

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A few years back this is what Greg Norman had to say: "It's a sign of modern technology I suppose. We have to do this stuff to golf courses nowadays. Augusta was just taking a bit of a defensive stance, trying to defend the golf course from the young guys that fly the ball 325-plus yards. I would say this is probably the tip of the iceberg. The way technology is going, I think all tournament courses, including Augusta National, will have to keep making adjustments. Look what's happened to technology. It's really just been the last five years or so that the distance a golf ball is traveling has really come to the forefront. The Titleist Pro V1 is the golf ball that put us all out there. Phil Mickelson said he hits it 30 yards farther. I think we're all hitting it somewhat longer."
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I'm not sure I follow.  The implication per the thread topic is that somehow these courses are outdated due to technology.

Two of the four you named still get played on tour, one every year and the other occasionally in majors (much to @phan52 's chagrin ) and the other two, AFAIK, are not being avoided because of there "ease" with todays technology.

I agree that it would be great to see Cypress and Pine Valley but that doesn't really relate to the throttling back of technology.

Cypress decided on their own to opt out of the former Crosby Clambake due to PGA rules about club membership. It probably is too short for current PGA pros with today's technology though.

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It probably is too short for current PGA pros with today's technology though.

I don't know much about it (except for the 15th and 16th holes, obviously) but based on the fact that Pebble Beach has barely gotten any longer (200 yards total) in 40 years and it's still usable, I would be hesitant to assume that Cypress is necessarily outdated length-wise.

So I just looked it up and apparently from the "championship" tees its only 6,524 yards.  So, yeah, never mind.

Might make a fantastic US Senior Open or US Women's Open site though.

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I can't remember where I saw it, but somebody had Rory hit a persimmon driver after hitting his own, just for comparison, and I think he hit it about 270 yards in the simulator. I think he even used an old wound balata ball. So, If I'm not mistaken, that's about average distance off the tee for that era (Jack, Trevino, Miller), is it not?

Maybe they should just have five tournaments a year on those old courses, where they can only play wooden woods and blades. I bet Davis Love III would kick ass.

I think 270 was in the vicinity of Jack's average with persimmon & balata. Of course he could 'crank' one if he needed to. I expect Rory and Bubba would be right there near the top of Jack's era with practice with older equipment.

I don't think reverting to the old technology would work for the equipment sponsors. But modern balls could be specced to travel average distance (& maybe spin) relative to the era of a shorter course. If the Ouimet match was on 6,000 yards and Merion played 6,500 (short for the era) now the tour is playing to ~ 7,200 which is a linearish progression if current distances hold for a bit.

I do enjoy hitting it a long ways, but would not be put off by having my average shaved if everyone else experienced the same cutback. There are some distance-enhancing balls deemed illegal even today, yes?

The issue isn't that hitting longer is bad, just that the 'challenge of the game' which includes competing with the legends for pros has to have a reference point (scoring average / RTP) to make somewhat valid comparisons across eras. And the added costs of building and maintaining a course. That's the big one for me that makes it worth doing so courses remain financially viable and there are enough that also remain affordable. Rather than distance increases, it would be interesting to see a constant dollars progression in golf course fees / expense - has the added acreage really upped the out of pocket costs for the average golfer? Added round times due to longer courses could be another hit to the viability of the game IMO.

The 'Play in the Now' videos are funny and a good counterpoint to be mindful of. The technology has made much better equipment available at lower cost to the average player (like steel shafts and the guttie did), which is good for the game. I am just concerned that current land and maintenance costs offset that gain substantially.

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[QUOTE name="turtleback" url="/t/79029/should-the-pga-tour-throttle-back-technology-or-lengthen-courses/90#post_1094901"]   Well I do.One of the great golf moments of recent years is when the Golf Channel played an old match between Byron Nelson and Gee Littler at Pine Valley, an iconic American course that is hardly ever seen by us unwashed masses.  I'd like to see Cypress, and Spyglass, and Merion, and other classic courses on which much of golf's history was written being played by today's finest golfers in some semblance of how they were played while that history was unfolding.  One of the things that is so attractive about golf for a lot of people is its connection with the past.   [/QUOTE] I don't see the issue. Pine Valley was never used as a regular stop or anything of the sort. So some old courses don't get used. Oh darn. Some great new courses DO get used. And we still go to Oakmont, Augusta National, and so on. Those courses aren't exactly new. Yes, they were fortunate to have a little extra land, but they're not new.

oh dont get me started again.you may have the corner on the swing, but I will debate your course selections.

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  • 11 months later...
On 1/12/2015 at 10:34 AM, Pretzel said:

Just a minor thing here, but it doesn't change how the architect intended the hole to be played. The architect's intentions are the same regardless of what happens. The optimal strategy just becomes something other that what the architect intended, but that doesn't mean that it isn't a correct strategy or that it is wrong to play it that way.

But narrowing the fairway takes away from the architect's intended strategy options for a hole according to different pin placements. A really restricted fairway with thick rough boils down to 'you must hit it here'. That may test shotmaking skill, but not strategy. Tweaks like that make it play like a different course / changes the game.

 

On 1/12/2015 at 11:17 AM, cubdog said:

Yes the architect's intentions remain the same but those intentions are not being met. That's pretty clear.

I agree.

 

On 1/13/2015 at 0:30 PM, cubdog said:

That leads to another critical factor in this discussion which is course maintenance. For golf courses to survive and prosper going forward water usage needs to be reduced. Chemical use also needs to reduced. Can you imagine how much money in water and chemicals would have been saved over the last 20 years if all the courses that added length had not had to do so?

The impact on cost is not strictly linear with increasing course length either. Area increases roughly by the square of the increased length. Narrower fairways may offset some of this area bulge, but then there is less strategy allowed in placing drives and selecting approach angles. Coore & Crenshaw's rediscovery of Pinehurst #2 is a good example of an approach that recaptures strategy while also reducing cost.

 

On 1/13/2015 at 3:29 PM, natureboy said:

I agree that the Pro game will spill into amateur golf as well, because it is a big marketing factor to say you have a course of 'championship caliber'.

I wonder if this marketing factor is only relevant to the really serious or hyper-competitive (golf-wise or social-wise) golfer. Most people enjoy the game for the personal fun & challenge, not to compare themselves to the greats on the exact same yardstick or for bragging rights other than with their buds.

The "My course is tougher than your course types" are quite often the 'Type A' corporate leaders who are important to the industry financially, but will always represent a small portion of total golfing population. Maybe there needs to be a better diversity of marketing and business models for a range of golf course types. Maybe the USGA and even more so the equipment manufacturers should do more to emphasize the fun of the game that exists even on 'crap' courses and celebrate more of the skill appropriate options that are out there. Better yet, many people are introduced to golf by more experienced / better golfers who buy into the 'championship tough course is better' mindset. Maybe that mindset needs to be exploded a little bit and new golfers should be warned away from this 'top-down' inherited value system?

IMO, the focus on housing developments on courses has also led to an unnatural emphasis on high end / low HCP golfers because they can afford or will pay for 'premium' which equals bigger profits. Just because some of these places are struggling doesn't necessarily mean golf as a whole is or has to be. Anyway, I expect a significant portion of the noted participation downturn is largely demographic and cyclical as the baby boomers age and the next generation hasn't yet taken the game up as seriously.

 

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For me anyway, ever longer courses seem to contribute to two things that make golf less accessible / enjoyable. First is cost. Longer courses will definitely cost more - especially in more urbanized areas - and because of the higher maintenance costs have higher fees and/or lower profitability. I think that longer courses also contribute to longer rounds, but that's personal speculation. Not sure what actual studies say on it.

The next generation of golfers may be more inclined to take up the game more if low cost / low investment (time matters too) options remain abundant and this is tied to land acquisition and especially maintenance costs. Land cost also relates to accessibility of the game to urban based populations. Glad to see some of the restorations of old urban tracks that have been taking place.

 

Quote

If the ball was rolled back for everyone, then the athletic types would still have a potential advantage to most definitely hit it further than the average player, and I think they might finish their rounds quicker too. Accessibility in time and money I expect keeps more potential players away than the challenge of walking or speed golfing a long course.

 

Edited by natureboy
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On 1/6/2015 at 4:22 AM, turtleback said:

No, it would further penalize short players and change the character of the game to an overly penal one.

 

I think Jack had the right idea way back when, when he suggested controlling distance by putting limits on the golf ball.  Now we all know that the explosion of distance is not solely due to the golf ball, but I am pretty sure that they could come up with a golf ball that would basically top out at some reasonable distance, say 260.  Then they could play the great old classic courses the way they were intended to be played, not tricked up as they have to do now. Egos would adjust.

Nicklaus had McGregor design a golf ball with aerodynamic limitations some 25 years ago - he had a course at Grand Cayman with limited property so he designed the course to be playable at 9 holes with a regular ball and at 18 holes with his "Grand Cayman Ball".  I've got a few sleeves of that ball someplace in my garage - they have a very soft feel and go about 2/3 the distance of a regular ball - freaked out the starter at a local executive course when I took out a driver on the first hole which was a 160 yard par 3 (put it on the front edge). 

The ball felt more like  a regular one as you got closer to the green but was a bit light in feel on the greens.  Point of all this experimentation is that no pro playing for his living would feel comfortable with  a ball that felt that different from what he has always played with.  Might be easier to limit clubhead size or design or shafts to control length of shots than mess with the ball. As it stands now, you might see courses longer than 8000 yards on the tour if you really want to have pros hit anything other than short irons on par 4s or have real 5-shot par 5s - that situation will sure force a lot of good older courses off the tour if they don't have room to push back their tees

Edited by Coronagolfman
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9 minutes ago, Coronagolfman said:

As it stands now, you might see courses longer than 8000 yards on the tour if you really want to have pros hit anything other than short irons on par 4s or have real 5-shot par 5s - that situation will sure force a lot of good older courses off the tour if they don't have room to push back their tees

No you will not. The PGA Tour driving distance average hasn't increase much since 2003, 

golf-equipment-blogs-hotlist365-assets_c-2012-08-DistanceStats-thumb-450x224-75822.jpg

When they limited the COR to 0.830 they capped the distance. Though some things have helped a tad, lowering spinning golf balls and better fitting. I think there could be a slight increase if PGA Tour players switch to swinging more up on the ball. Still, there is no need to lengthen courses to 8000 yards. 

I do think they could limit the MOI some more and decrease the CC on the driver to make the accuracy go down more. Mostly those things benefit amateurs and not PGA Tour golfers. 

 

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7 hours ago, saevel25 said:

No you will not. The PGA Tour driving distance average hasn't increase much since 2003, 

golf-equipment-blogs-hotlist365-assets_c-2012-08-DistanceStats-thumb-450x224-75822.jpg

When they limited the COR to 0.830 they capped the distance. Though some things have helped a tad, lowering spinning golf balls and better fitting. I think there could be a slight increase if PGA Tour players switch to swinging more up on the ball. Still, there is no need to lengthen courses to 8000 yards. 

I do think they could limit the MOI some more and decrease the CC on the driver to make the accuracy go down more. Mostly those things benefit amateurs and not PGA Tour golfers. 

 

I don't recall this being mentioned, but what about longer fairway grass in the landing areas? That could be used to reduce roll-out and still keep the designs unchanged. I'm not talking rough length, but enough to cut the roll-out down. They would be able to vary that per hole if needed.

Some courses use rough in the fairway as a limiter too. usually it is because of the topography, but that could be used as well.

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12 hours ago, Coronagolfman said:

Nicklaus had McGregor design a golf ball with aerodynamic limitations some 25 years ago - he had a course at Grand Cayman with limited property so he designed the course to be playable at 9 holes with a regular ball and at 18 holes with his "Grand Cayman Ball".  I've got a few sleeves of that ball someplace in my garage - they have a very soft feel and go about 2/3 the distance of a regular ball - freaked out the starter at a local executive course when I took out a driver on the first hole which was a 160 yard par 3 (put it on the front edge). 

The ball felt more like  a regular one as you got closer to the green but was a bit light in feel on the greens.  Point of all this experimentation is that no pro playing for his living would feel comfortable with  a ball that felt that different from what he has always played with.  Might be easier to limit clubhead size or design or shafts to control length of shots than mess with the ball. As it stands now, you might see courses longer than 8000 yards on the tour if you really want to have pros hit anything other than short irons on par 4s or have real 5-shot par 5s - that situation will sure force a lot of good older courses off the tour if they don't have room to push back their tees

Very very debatable,  since virtually every pro did that when the ProV1 technology ball hit the market.  Now granted they did that because they had to, and no pro would switch to a limited flight ball unless every one was using them.  But if they had to, after a relatively short adjustment period they would adjust fine, IMO.

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On 1/14/2015 at 1:11 PM, natureboy said:

I think 270 was in the vicinity of Jack's average with persimmon & balata. Of course he could 'crank' one if he needed to. I expect Rory and Bubba would be right there near the top of Jack's era with practice with older equipment.

I realize you wrote this a year ago. . .but I hit a Titleist Tour Balata 100 about 5-6 months ago in warm summer weather, and it went the farthest I've ever hit a ball up to that point. This was with a G15 10.5 X100 shaft driver (too heavy for me). It went really far, and I spent the next couple weeks trying to purchase more of these balls which went out of production back in 2001. Wish I could get more of them. So, I think the Balata and steel shafts are not the distance limiting factors so much as the steel headed clubs? Not sure, just an observation. . .

On Topic, I think PGA should just keep the rules and everything the same. New equipment helps everyone hit farther and more accurately so it seems reasonable to continue the trend. Plus, there are already enough rules limiting equipment.

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what I hate is home courses high rough and high brush being cut of. for one thing it avoids searching/loosing the ball and injury for some fragile players.

greens are watered to pitch a lot. they still roll good yet putts dont roll true because footprints are deep.

FW are cut high to lift the ball easier for scoopers.

there is a big beginnerish golf transformation going on in the last 5-8 years and course slope is not being brought down.

some clubs even bring 4-6 tees up but count competition rounds from back tees. (thank god my club doesn't do that).

It's actually even harder to play in some ways (apart the rough part). FW roll less, tee shots pitch and stay short. Greens pitch too much and therefore chip shots can bite way too hard or roll out fast like the green should roll if you chip 1-2 inches lower), I find this very very hard to manage.

but if your a poor player you get your advantage.

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15 hours ago, saevel25 said:

No you will not. The PGA Tour driving distance average hasn't increase much since 2003, 

golf-equipment-blogs-hotlist365-assets_c-2012-08-DistanceStats-thumb-450x224-75822.jpg

When they limited the COR to 0.830 they capped the distance. Though some things have helped a tad, lowering spinning golf balls and better fitting. I think there could be a slight increase if PGA Tour players switch to swinging more up on the ball. Still, there is no need to lengthen courses to 8000 yards. 

I do think they could limit the MOI some more and decrease the CC on the driver to make the accuracy go down more. Mostly those things benefit amateurs and not PGA Tour golfers. 

 

It appears that way in the first chart below of just PGA measured drives too. For timeline perspective Big Bertha was introduced in 1991. Pro V1 introduced in 2001. COR / 'Characteristic Time' limit rules introduced by USGA around 2002-2004.

pga distance history.png

But this chart seems to show a shifting curve in the percentages of players who occupy longer distance 'bins'. The overall average might be held down by the outliers a bit. Perhaps this is just a case of technique diffusing among the field to make the most of the equipment limits. Might be improved (lower spin) ball tech too.

pga distance histograms.png

 

2 hours ago, Lihu said:

I realize you wrote this a year ago. . .but I hit a Titleist Tour Balata 100 about 5-6 months ago in warm summer weather, and it went the farthest I've ever hit a ball up to that point. This was with a G15 10.5 X100 shaft driver (too heavy for me). It went really far, and I spent the next couple weeks trying to purchase more of these balls which went out of production back in 2001. Wish I could get more of them. So, I think the Balata and steel shafts are not the distance limiting factors so much as the steel headed clubs? Not sure, just an observation. . .

Maybe you need a ball that spins more - not less for max carry / total distance? Was that a 'modern' high volume driver head?

 

 

Edited by natureboy
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1 hour ago, natureboy said:

Maybe you need a ball that spins more - not less for max carry / total distance? Was that a 'modern' high volume driver head?

Ping G15 10.5 degree 460cc head which is reasonable modern?

My normal ball is a Pro-V1, and I launch the ball still somewhat low as compared to a few other golfers I know.

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