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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"  

122 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
      92
  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.
      87


369 posts in this topic Last Reply

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On 9/2/2017 at 8:46 AM, chilepepper said:

 Softer fairways or longer rough hardly qualifies as vandalism

I interpret "adding water" as adding water hazards. And long rough is a crutch not a design feature. It has its place but narrowing fairways and adding rough is not design, it's punitive.

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20 minutes ago, MSchott said:

I interpret "adding water" as adding water hazards. And long rough is a crutch not a design feature. It has its place but narrowing fairways and adding rough is not design, it's punitive.

I see it as both.  Just because a course is built one way, doesn't mean it can't ever change.  The course I work was designed and built to be a hard course, 74.8/149 rating on the tips.  BUT, it's too hard for a lot of golfers, so recently we've widened the fairways, approaches, and gotten rid of some bunkers.  If making a course harder by doing the opposite is not design, then neither is making it easier.  

But, it is design, because it can change based on the needs or wants of the audience/golfers/members.  Some of it meant to be punitive, some is meant to make it easier.  

Sure length of cut of greens, fairways, and rough isn't necessarily design, more of conditions of the day.  But how you shape the course is most certainly design, no matter why/when changes occur.

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20 hours ago, DeadMan said:

That is true, assuming golfers/golf courses will accept brown areas and "forced carries" like that.

There's no need to have more brown areas in play. You move the tees back. They don't irrigate the rough here, or most anywhere, AFAIK.

20 hours ago, DeadMan said:

My men's club had people pissy this year about 150 yard forced carries like that. 

Well that just seems ridiculous. If you can't carry it 150 off the tee, maybe you're playing the wrong tees.


On Geoff's site, a curmudgeon said:

Quote

My point is that a quality game can be achieved on shorter courses as short as 4,900-5,400yards as long as the design has incorporated the right hazards as well as well thought out bunkers. This as you could guess would lead to reduced cost i.e. purchase of land, its maintenance and therefore Green Fees - and not detriment to the game, the player or overall enjoyment by all parties.

Sorry, but we're past that. We're way past that. The scale of the modern golf course is way past that. It would actually be a tremendous cost NOW to do that, to shorten courses 2000 yards. Greens would have to be redesigned as smaller. Everything would have to get smaller or the scale would be off: a 280-yard drive hit 3° offline is 14.65 yards offline. Ignoring the nearly 25-35% reduction in length that this guy wanted, even a 12.5% reduction in distance would produce a 245-yard drive, which with 3° would be 12.82 yards offline. The same 12.5% reduction (of course). Everything would have to get smaller… except the hole.

That would be prohibitively expensive. Imagine re-doing EVERY golf course. Plus, rather than walking from green to tee, the green-to-tee walks would lengthen by several hundred yards on many holes. You couldn't use the "extra" land for much of anything because most every hole would be in the same place, and architecturally, you'd be moving greens, fairways, and/or tees from the areas where they were built to fit the land (or whatever). Homeowners who were in a certain location on a hole would be located perhaps 100+ yards from the new green. And again, SUPER expensive to redo EVERY course. When, again, this is just a "problem" for a small percentage of the small percentage: Dustin Johnson hits the ball too far, Jordan Spieth apparently does not, really?


And here's the other thing… when you reduce the distance the ball travels, there's no way that I can find out that reduction in distance would be "even." The ball flight would change. It would curve less (or more) relative to the distance traveled. The relative heights of shots between players would change. Ball speed would differ, and how a ball lands on the green would change… different players would benefit while other players would suffer.

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26 minutes ago, iacas said:

And here's the other thing… when you reduce the distance the ball travels, there's no way that I can find out that reduction in distance would be "even." The ball flight would change. It would curve less (or more) relative to the distance traveled. The relative heights of shots between players would change. Ball speed would differ, and how a ball lands on the green would change… different players would benefit while other players would suffer.

This is something I considered when I posted my original argument, but didn't want to get into. I don't know if a different ball could reduce the distance fairly among all players. Maybe it shortens long hitters without affecting shorter players as much which would clearly be unfair, or maybe the new ball requires high swing speeds to get decent flight conditions for optimal play. Imagine if they implement a new ball to handcuff the Dustin Johnsons of the world and it ends up killing the chances for the Zach Johnsons of the world to compete on tour. Then we get a bunch of guys swinging 125mph and driving the ball 250. What would be the point of that?

I just don't get the whole "the ball goes too far" argument.

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10 hours ago, phillyk said:

I see it as both.  Just because a course is built one way, doesn't mean it can't ever change.  The course I work was designed and built to be a hard course, 74.8/149 rating on the tips.  BUT, it's too hard for a lot of golfers, so recently we've widened the fairways, approaches, and gotten rid of some bunkers.  If making a course harder by doing the opposite is not design, then neither is making it easier.  

But, it is design, because it can change based on the needs or wants of the audience/golfers/members.  Some of it meant to be punitive, some is meant to make it easier.  

Sure length of cut of greens, fairways, and rough isn't necessarily design, more of conditions of the day.  But how you shape the course is most certainly design, no matter why/when changes occur.

It depends on the change. My take about golf courses is that the land dictates the course. Thus adding artificial water hazards and the like is something I abhor. I'm a fan of the Golden Age architects and their use of the land and bunkering. As far as a course changing, it's OK to narrow fairways reasonably, add rough and speed up greens for club tournaments but I'd hate to play a course like that on a regular basis. Lets just say I'd rather be a member at a course like Shinnecock than one like Medinah (specifically course 3).

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I have been thinking about this topic (I know...Dangerous to see me thinking) and doing a little reading up on it.

Has the USGA lost touch with the non-professional golfer, the regular Joes and Joanies? It seems all the limitations imposed on MOI, size of drivers, etc. and these discussions about golf ball limits are all about the pros. The limitations USGA wants are those they think limit the pros from hitting it too far. But are pros all that concerned about MOI, for example? 

No, the people hurt by the limitations are the majority of the USGA members and the regular guys and girls who DO NOT HIT THE BALL FAR ENOUGH (despite what they say about how far they hit it, I recall studies showing that MOST do not)!

The USGA is wrong-headed and just wrong. Courses are longer and even with the push to "Play It Forward,  the "normal" golfer takes a beating. I want golf to be very challenging, but I don't want to take a beating.  Maybe I'm seeing too much of myself here; those are just my thoughts. -Marv

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10 hours ago, iacas said:

There's no need to have more brown areas in play. You move the tees back. They don't irrigate the rough here, or most anywhere, AFAIK.

Maybe it's different in drier vs. wetter areas? All I know is the courses I play out in Colorado are green generally the entire hole. Some courses do dye their grass (yeah, seriously), so that could be part of it. Grass that isn't watered out here is brown by mid-July, though. 

I definitely don't know enough to be sure, though. And I'd imagine you know more about golf course maintenance/irrigation than I do.

My point is more that I find the more land/more water issue the only real concern with distances. Maybe it's more of a minor issue than I imagine. Which I'd be happy about, because personally, I love watching DJ hit the ball 330 and I love my hot balls. But I love reasonably priced golf more than either of those.

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On Thursday, August 31, 2017 at 9:58 PM, Vinsk said:

I voted no. Absolutely ridiculous to think golf needs to make balls travel less. Hell let's increase the weight of a baksketball, football, baseball....In every sport the athletes are getting better for the reasons Erik mentioned in the opening. (In each sports own terms) Golf is the most difficult of them all. Let the phenomenally gifted stand out!

I voted yes. I don't know that this argument works due to the fact that

1) the basketball (leather), hoop (still 10' and nylon), and basketball floors (still wooden) have remained the same. The athletes have gotten stronger, jump higher, dunk more often, can carry the ball instead of dribble but the equipment has remained fairly true to its roots. No equipment change has made 12' hoops necessary.

2) The football (leather with laces), and shoes have remained the same. Football helmets and pads have changed alot but mostly to protect the athlete. Football players have become much stronger and faster but again there hasn't really been an equipment change that has made it necessary to make the field 150 yards long (they did move the goalposts to the back of the endzone, good move :).

3) Baseball is, I think, the best example of this point in that the ball ( leather with laces), with exception to the deadball era, has remained the same. The bats (wooden) have remained the same, and I believe that they are starting to use wood again in College next year. When I was playing they were already starting to limit the aluminum bats in an effort to protect the game and the player, even at the highschool level. Older fields are still usable because of these reasons and the only way that players could find an edge was by pumping themselves full of cow roids.

I should retract a little though. I don't think that the ball is the only issue but I also don't believe that hitting the ball as long as tour pros do is in keeping with the way that the game was meant to be played (part fives should not be driver - 8 iron holes). Equipment advances have changed the way that older/shorter courses are played and I would think that golfers would be pissed about that because our game is the ultimate game of tradition/history. That being said, I almost feel that the R&A and USGA have let it get to a point of no return and to change now would do more damage than no change at all.

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1 hour ago, MarvChamp said:

Has the USGA lost touch with the non-professional golfer, the regular Joes and Joanies? It seems all the limitations imposed on MOI, size of drivers, etc. and these discussions about golf ball limits are all about the pros. The limitations USGA wants are those they think limit the pros from hitting it too far. But are pros all that concerned about MOI, for example?

I would argue that MOI, bigger driver heads, etc. benefit higher handicappers more than they benefit PGA Tour pros.

The ODS (overall distance standard) has basically tried to remain the same for decades. They've adjusted the methodology, but at no point did the change result in a jump (or decline) in the legal distance.

1 hour ago, MarvChamp said:

No, the people hurt by the limitations are the majority of the USGA members and the regular guys and girls who DO NOT HIT THE BALL FAR ENOUGH (despite what they say about how far they hit it, I recall studies showing that MOST do not)!

?

They don't swing fast enough. And what are you arguing for… bigger driver heads? 50" shafts?

1 hour ago, MarvChamp said:

The USGA is wrong-headed and just wrong. Courses are longer and even with the push to "Play It Forward,  the "normal" golfer takes a beating. I want golf to be very challenging, but I don't want to take a beating.  Maybe I'm seeing too much of myself here; those are just my thoughts. -Marv

I'm not sure I agree with all of that.

Play more forward tees. You don't have to go back to the back tees (I'm not saying you are).

I mean… how large do you want a driver head to be? How far do you think an 85 MPH swing speed should send a golf ball?

46 minutes ago, DeadMan said:

Maybe it's different in drier vs. wetter areas? All I know is the courses I play out in Colorado are green generally the entire hole. Some courses do dye their grass (yeah, seriously), so that could be part of it. Grass that isn't watered out here is brown by mid-July, though.

Nothing wrong with a little brown grass. They're not in the areas you're supposed to be - they're between the tees and the fairway. You shouldn't be there. And heck, if you top your driver, brown will at least let it roll farther than thick, lush, healthy grass. :-)

46 minutes ago, DeadMan said:

I definitely don't know enough to be sure, though. And I'd imagine you know more about golf course maintenance/irrigation than I do.

Eh. I wouldn't guess that. :-)

My original point is simply that lengthening a course doesn't really require watering more area because the land between the tees and the greens aren't often watered.

46 minutes ago, DeadMan said:

My point is more that I find the more land/more water issue the only real concern with distances. Maybe it's more of a minor issue than I imagine. Which I'd be happy about, because personally, I love watching DJ hit the ball 330 and I love my hot balls. But I love reasonably priced golf more than either of those.

I'm saying it's only really an issue for a few golf courses. And not every golf course needs to be 7500 yards, because few will ever host a PGA Tour level event.

24 minutes ago, mp33man said:

1) the basketball (leather), hoop (still 10' and nylon), and basketball floors (still wooden) have remained the same. The athletes have gotten stronger, jump higher, dunk more often, can carry the ball instead of dribble but the equipment has remained fairly true to its roots. No equipment change has made 12' hoops necessary.

You play basketball against someone, and someone who is also stronger, able to jump higher, faster, etc. is playing defense against you.

If basketball was a matter of getting a ball into a hoop with nobody between you and the hoop, I'd bet they'd have raised the rim when they discovered that people could just easily dunk to get it in.

24 minutes ago, mp33man said:

2) The football (leather with laces), and shoes have remained the same. Football helmets and pads have changed alot but mostly to protect the athlete. Football players have become much stronger and faster but again there hasn't really been an equipment change that has made it necessary to make the field 150 yards long (they did move the goalposts to the back of the endzone, good move :).nt of no return and to change now would do more damage than no change at all.

Again, you have a bigger, stronger athlete on the other side playing defense against you. The bigger, stronger athlete is countered by… another bigger, stronger athlete.

24 minutes ago, mp33man said:

3) Baseball is, I think, the best example of this point in that the ball ( leather with laces), with exception to the deadball era, has remained the same. The bats (wooden) have remained the same, and I believe that they are starting to use wood again in College next year. When I was playing they were already starting to limit the aluminum bats in an effort to protect the game and the player, even at the highschool level. Older fields are still usable because of these reasons and the only way that players could find an edge was by pumping themselves full of cow roids.

Ditto what I've said above.

Golf doesn't have someone playing defense. The course has to do it. So courses, like the athletes, have gotten "bigger" and "meaner" and whatever.

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4 minutes ago, iacas said:

I would argue that MOI, bigger driver heads, etc. benefit higher handicappers more than they benefit PGA Tour pros.

Right.

 

6 minutes ago, iacas said:

The ODS (overall distance standard) has basically tried to remain the same for decades. They've adjusted the methodology, but at no point did the change result in a jump (or decline) in the legal distance.

I don't know what the ODS is. I will look it up.

5 minutes ago, iacas said:

They don't swing fast enough. And what are you arguing for… bigger driver heads? 50" shafts?

No. Just arguing hat having a golf ball that flies, maybe, on average, 25 yards less, will limit the average golfer's game more (in my opinion) than the pros who are the target of the limitation. Or maybe the pros aren't the concern of those who want the limitation? -Marv

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1 hour ago, MarvChamp said:

I don't know what the ODS is. I will look it up.

Overall Distance Standard. Right there in the parentheses. :-)

http://www.usga.org/content/dam/usga/pdf/Equipment/TPX3006-overall-distance-and-symmetry-test-procedure.pdf

http://golf-info-guide.com/golf-terms/overall-distance-standard-for-golf-balls/

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1. Making a golf ball that shortens the distance attainable is the last thing that golf needs for the non-pro. Can't really see using a special ball just for tour players.

2. If the ball was changed (as apparently Nicklaus is in favor of) what does that do for the Zach Johnsons and Brian Harmons? The shorter hitters will still be shorter. DJ will still out drive those guys by 30-50 yds.

Dumb idea to change the ball. Period. There is no valid argument for it.

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I dont see a problem at present, at least not for the everyday golfers. Im not a big hitter and not ashamed to admit it so anything that helps me add yards is a bonus.

I know Jack Niclaus thinks the ball needs to be reigned in as courses are getting too long for the average joe but how much is down to the ball and how much is down to player fitness and other equipment effect like hot faced clubs etc.?

Creating two different types of the same ball (a pro ball and an amatuer/recreational ball), like some experts have suggested, would surely by cost prohibitive?

 

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8 hours ago, iacas said:

Ditto what I've said above.

Golf doesn't have someone playing defense. The course has to do it. So courses, like the athletes, have gotten "bigger" and "meaner" and whatever.

I actually think that I was agreeing with this? I was making the point that the big three sports argument doesn't work with the idea that equipment advances have changed the game exponentially. The biggest change in the big three sports, as iacas listed, has in fact been the ability of the athlete himself/herself.

The physical condition of golfers has also been improved but technological advances in equipment have made it tougher for the courses to "play defense", the only way for a grass, sand, and water opponent to improve is to increase in length (giggity), height, and bunker/water amount. This has rendered some of the games great courses obsolete/irrelevant to the best of tour players (this was my last point that golf seems to embrace tradition better than the rest but has not done so with equipment advances).

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The ball going further influences every player the same, so regardless of how far it goes long hitters and shorter hitters will remain the same, albeit over a bigger distance on the whole.  The main issue is course designers and the constant need to stretch them in an effort to make the Pro game a challenge.  Look at Brooks Koepka in the US Open, he pounded the course with distance hitting and personally I was bored watching that. 

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48 minutes ago, mp33man said:

I actually think that I was agreeing with this? I was making the point that the big three sports argument doesn't work with the idea that equipment advances have changed the game exponentially. The biggest change in the big three sports, as iacas listed, has in fact been the ability of the athlete himself/herself.

If so, I misread. I've seen the argument presented the other way: "the basketball hoop hasn't changed height, why should we allow golfers to hit it 70 yards farther than they used to" or some such.

That argument never made sense to me (and not just because of the hyperbole usually present), because the defenders also got bigger, faster, stronger as I noted.

52 minutes ago, mp33man said:

The physical condition of golfers has also been improved but technological advances in equipment have made it tougher for the courses to "play defense", the only way for a grass, sand, and water opponent to improve is to increase in length (giggity), height, and bunker/water amount. This has rendered some of the games great courses obsolete/irrelevant to the best of tour players (this was my last point that golf seems to embrace tradition better than the rest but has not done so with equipment advances).

I don't think it's necessary to have to play a course built in the 1800s in the modern day game. Why? I'm glad we get to see new courses now and then. Golf has a good mix of old and new. We have Kiawah Island, and then we have Oakmont. We have Bethpage, and Erin Hills. We go to Pebble Beach, and then we take Chambers Bay out for spin.

44 minutes ago, Keith White said:

The ball going further influences every player the same, so regardless of how far it goes long hitters and shorter hitters will remain the same, albeit over a bigger distance on the whole.

That's not necessarily true, in that different performance characteristics could shift the advantages. Perhaps a "shorter ball" would favor higher hitters, or vice versa. Or high spin players over low spin players. Whereas they are differently sorted now.

44 minutes ago, Keith White said:

The main issue is course designers and the constant need to stretch them in an effort to make the Pro game a challenge. Look at Brooks Koepka in the US Open, he pounded the course with distance hitting and personally I was bored watching that. 

You may have missed one of my points, @Keith White… the "pro game" and the "constant need to stretch" courses is only a small, tiny percentage of "golf." And it's not even true on the PGA Tour, as courses like Oakmont, Pebble, etc. still hold up. This discusses whether golf, as a whole, has a problem, and I don't think it's even close to demonstrable that it's so.

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9 hours ago, iacas said:

Interesting stuff. I suppose improved technology of the testing might have had something to do with the ODS increase in 2011? But even so, why decrease it now? I wonder if USGA is truly thinking about the masses in considering a decrease. Now, I'm back to an original question: Where is money involved in all this? I wonder what those impacted financially think about such rule changes? -Marv

1976: New USGA Rule, part of Rule 2 of the Rules of Golf. "A brand of golf ball, when tested on apparatus approved by the USGA on the outdoor range at USGA headquarters under the conditions set forth in the Overall Distance Standard Procedure for Golf Balls on file with the USGA, shall not cover an average distance in carry and roll exceeding 280 yards, plus a tolerance of 8%."  [302 max]

2011: "The overall distance of the ball shall not be greater than 317.0 yards. A maximum test
tolerance of 3.0 yards is associated with this test." [320 max]

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2 hours ago, RussUK said:

I know Jack Niclaus thinks the ball needs to be reigned in as courses are getting too long for the average joe

Is that really his argument? If the course is too long for a player, they should be playing a shorter set of tees. Nicklaus should know this as a course designer.

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