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The Golf Ball "Problem": PGA Tour Players Hitting it Far is a Problem for All of Golf?

The Golf Ball "Problem"  

118 members have voted

  1. 1. Does the distance modern PGA Tour pros hit the ball pose a problem to golf as a whole?

    • Yes
      30
    • No
      88
  2. 2. What is the main source of the "problem" above?

    • The golf ball goes too far, primarily.
      22
    • Several factors all contribute heavily.
      13
    • I voted "No" above, and I don't think there's really a "problem" right now.
      83


358 posts in this topic Last Reply

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Golfers on the PGA Tour (and elsewhere) hit the ball farther than ever. I agree. I'd be a fool not to, of course.

Geoff Shackelford, and others, all want to blame the golf ball. They overlook, frequently, several factors, including:

  • Launch monitors allow us to optimize launch.
  • Players are more fit now.
  • Drivers are bigger and more forgiving.
  • Drivers are longer.
  • Drivers are lighter.
  • Players understand the value of distance over "hitting fairways."
  • The last several items lead to this: players are swinging their drivers significantly faster than they were in 1987.
  • The golf ball goes further… Yes, premium balls have lower spin off the driver than the Titleist Tour Balata did. But not really much less than a Surlyn Pinnacle did.

https://www.golfdigest.com/story/you-wont-believe-how-much-farther-pga-tour-champions-players-are-hitting-the-ball-now-than-in-their-primes

This line is a joke:

Quote

But if this trend continues, it makes you wonder just how far someone like Dustin Johnson will be able to hit it when he's on the senior tour.

The "trend" will not continue. Give me a break.

I'm branching this topic off from the Northern Trust topic.

9 hours ago, skydog said:

I don't quite understand people like Shack and others who are ringing the alarm bells that something needs to be done to curb distance to help preserve the pro game and keep courses relevant.

After increasing 27 yards between 1993-2003, average driving distance on tour has barely changed since 2003. This isn't some escalating phenomenon that needs to be deal with...it's just noticeable now because a few incredible athletes like DJ- who might have played baseball 20 or 30years ago- are now deciding to play golf. That and guys are getting bigger and stronger with each passing year...that's the way sports work. But it's not a systemic technological issue that needs to be dealt with.

And for us weekend hackers, golf is still as hard as ever, and a launched drive every now and then is usually the only thing that's going to keep us coming back for more punishment. :-D

Let's discuss this, seriously here, fellas.

There are a lot of people out there who act as if the game of golf is doomed unless the USGA/R&A bifurcate or do something to reign in the distance PGA Tour pros are hitting the ball. This, despite the fact that…

The average PGA Tour player hits his 6-iron 183 yards, and his driver carries 275. The USGA and R&A are on record as saying the distance numbers are basically flat. And courses like Harbour Town, Pebble Beach, and others resist scoring with design, and one of the most beguiling holes in golf is #10 at Riviera… which some pros will try to drive with a 3W…

I don't see the problem.

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All of golf?  Certainly not for me!  Nor for the vast majority of golfers out there!

As far as the pros...  Still no.  Those of us (at least most of us) want to see the best in the world tear it up.  It's not "the ball".  It's the enormous skill of the best in the world.  I'm good with that....

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Hasn't Nicklaus been advocating a ball that doesn't travel so far for decades?  Obviously no one is listening to him.

But I think the ball goes far enough now.  Watching pros at a couple of tourneys last year I was blown away how far they were hitting long irons - practically out of sight.  Now I'm just getting back into the game after a long hiatus and have almost gotten my sticks updated.  I have to admit that I love the feel and the extra yardage. 

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Every era has its Zach Johnsons and Dustin Johnsons.  The game can accommodate both.

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Guess this is why I like playing with my hickory clubs. Hardly seems right for a great course to have a hole designed for a Driver and  3i approach when it was built in the 30's now being reduced to a hybrid  or driving iron off the tee followed by a lob wedge approach. I understand this is a case of "each his own" so enjoy those 7,500 yard courses - maybe it will open up more tee times on the shorter older classics for people like me.

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The tour may have a problem with too much distance, but not the amateur game, and I agree it's not so much the ball but the ball does play a part.

I think the only reason its really a problem on tour is because many great courses are getting longed out, so they won't be considered for events, which is a shame, otherwise the tour loves it and will continue to support the length.

Edited by MrDC

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Being a bit selfish I say no, it's not a problem. Plenty of ways to make to course play harder for the gods instead of making longer courses. More water on fairways, tighter fairways, penal rough.I'm just shy of 60 yo, hit it 220-230 off the tee. I don't want a dumbed down ball. 

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I don't see a problem other than some writers feeling inadequate because they can't hit it far.

Does it bother me that a average NFL linebacker is 6' 3", 250 lbs and runs a 4.7 40? Not at all. We see them and other premier athletes of those sports as elite athletes. Yet we don't perceive PGA Tour golfers as elite athletes, when they certainly are. 

I marvel at the distances the Tour players hit. I find it as part of the allure of watching golf. 

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I voted "no". The lengths today's pros are hitting the ball is just the game evolving in the professional ranks. If you are a short hitter on the professional circuit, that's just a problem the short hitter needs to over come. 

Myself, I think narrower fairways, smaller greens would be a more efficient fix, than limiting equipment.  Set more courses up similar to a US Open set up. Let course conditions limit technology. That is if technology is a problem. 

Of course the down side to tougher course conditions is the pissing, and moaning some of the better known pros might make when they percieve a course as being to hard. :-P

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I do not see this as a problem at all. If anything I think it helps 'shorter' hitters compete. I like that there are Zach Johnsons and Kevin Nas who can compete cause they are still able to hit 7-8 or even 9 irons into 460 yard par 4s.  

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I'm not qualified to vote, but haven't many tournament level courses been lengthened (longer tips) over the past few decades because pros are hitting it so much further? Seems they've been mostly effective with the course mods.

If pros tee off and all can easily carry fairway traps, water, mature trees and other obstacles and therefore they're no longer hazards, the design is no longer as intended. If there are par 5's where most pros are hitting a driver and an iron, is it really a par 5 still? Tournament par 5's where (almost) no pro can reach the green in two seem to be pretty rare these days. Or par 4's that can be reached with less than a driver.  It's not the ball alone, but I'm sure there's a camp that knows reducing ball distance may be the easiest fix, IF a fix is required. 

That said, it's kinda fun seeing today's pros hit it so far. DJ's drive on the Northern Trust playoff hole was otherworldly. I think Faldo and Nance were stunned.

Edited by Midpack

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I voted no, and although it's not the topic here, I'd add that I don't think the ball travels too short (for amateurs) either as I've seen suggested elsewhere.

 

Have golf scores (for pros, and relative to par) trended down as much as distance has trended up? My guess is not really, but I don't know. We certainly haven't seen an explosion of 59s or anything, but obviously that doesn't necessarily mean that much.

 

If golfers are putting a premium on distance over accuracy, and not being adequately penalized, wouldn't it be easy to change the course setup? I get that you don't want to just "Tiger-proof" a course, which seemed to have the opposite effect at least initially (in terms of reducing the field of people who could actually beat Tiger)... but can't you tailor it, a bit? If we're worried about the guys who carry it 300+, can you taper the fairways more at the longer carry distances / add more fairway bunkers near the longer carries? So the guy who drives it 275 has a bit more margin of error for fairway width, and less penalty if he misses, whereas the guy going for 320 has a smaller margin of error, and a larger penalty if he misses?

 

29 minutes ago, Midpack said:

DJ's drive on the Northern Trust playoff hole was otherworldly. I think Faldo and Nance were stunned.

It was impressive, especially considering the circumstances. I actually thought he just pulled it, initially. Using that as an example, though, couldn't that fairway landing area (taking the path over the water) be reduced if you were trying to make it a better risk/reward play? If you succeed, great! If not, you're penalized by thick rough, or a tough set of traps.

 

I don't want to get rid of the loooong game some of these guys have, but I wouldn't mind seeing it be a more active decision to fully 'go after it', one that has to contemplate serious consequences.

 

I also think Louis Ost. had some comments about how these younger guys are training and swinging so hard that they won't be able to compete into their 30s-- if that's true, it would seem that course changes that penalize going all out off the tee would encourage a bit more thought and skill in the game as opposed to just sheer power or speed.

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7 minutes ago, BaconNEggs said:

I don't want to get rid of the loooong game some of these guys have, but I wouldn't mind seeing it be a more active decision to fully 'go after it', one that has to contemplate serious consequences.

+1. Sometimes the courses do. #11 at Glen Oaks/Northern Trust was a good example. Par 4 only 315 yards, but very few of the pros went for it (I only saw one, Matsuyama, and he missed the green left). They were all laying up because the hazards were great.

Edited by Midpack

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4 hours ago, MrDC said:

I think the only reason its really a problem on tour is because many great courses are getting longed out, so they won't be considered for events, which is a shame, otherwise the tour loves it and will continue to support the length.

I don't even think that many courses are suffering that fate.

There are a lot of older courses still capable of hosting tournaments. Oakmont isn't exactly young… and got a lot of rain… and Dustin Johnson played phenomenally… to win at -4…

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Yup. TPC Sawgrass #12 comes to mind as well. Not sure how well executed it was, but in concept I like the idea of making risk/reward a bigger deal. I think in that case, the risk became too much vs. what could be an easy iron + wedge into the green for birdie. So definitely requires some balancing, but I'd rather see changes like that rather than roll back technology.

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1 hour ago, BaconNEggs said:

I voted no, and although it's not the topic here, I'd add that I don't think the ball travels too short (for amateurs) either as I've seen suggested elsewhere.

 

Have golf scores (for pros, and relative to par) trended down as much as distance has trended up? My guess is not really, but I don't know. We certainly haven't seen an explosion of 59s or anything, but obviously that doesn't necessarily mean that much.

 

If golfers are putting a premium on distance over accuracy, and not being adequately penalized, wouldn't it be easy to change the course setup? I get that you don't want to just "Tiger-proof" a course, which seemed to have the opposite effect at least initially (in terms of reducing the field of people who could actually beat Tiger)... but can't you tailor it, a bit? If we're worried about the guys who carry it 300+, can you taper the fairways more at the longer carry distances / add more fairway bunkers near the longer carries? So the guy who drives it 275 has a bit more margin of error for fairway width, and less penalty if he misses, whereas the guy going for 320 has a smaller margin of error, and a larger penalty if he misses?

 

It was impressive, especially considering the circumstances. I actually thought he just pulled it, initially. Using that as an example, though, couldn't that fairway landing area (taking the path over the water) be reduced if you were trying to make it a better risk/reward play? If you succeed, great! If not, you're penalized by thick rough, or a tough set of traps.

 

I don't want to get rid of the loooong game some of these guys have, but I wouldn't mind seeing it be a more active decision to fully 'go after it', one that has to contemplate serious consequences.

 

I also think Louis Ost. had some comments about how these younger guys are training and swinging so hard that they won't be able to compete into their 30s-- if that's true, it would seem that course changes that penalize going all out off the tee would encourage a bit more thought and skill in the game as opposed to just sheer power or speed.

  I concur with Louie's observation. It seems as though we are seeing more pros with issues/breaking down than ever before. 

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I voted no. It's certainly not a problem for most amateurs. Distance is an advantage for guys like Dustin Johnson and even if you rolled back the golf ball, he's still going to hit it longer than Jordan Spieth. DJ would probably still have won that playoff hole, just not with so much flair.

It's funny how people complain about distance at select times. Nobody was crying foul when DJ hit a 5I into the 18th green at Chambers Bay and Spieth hit 3W.

This whole thing gets blown out of proportion. It's not like shorter hitters can't compete with the longer ones and there are still plenty of ways for courses to be set up so bomb and gouge tactics might not yield the best score. They were worried that Merion would be too short for the US Open and the course did alright for itself.

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 I think it would be great if everyone could hit it farther. At my age, the only way I will hit it farther is new technology. I was wondering... Who is it that is pushing this anyway? Is there money involved? -Marv

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