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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"  

162 members have voted

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

    • Yes
      37
    • No
      125
  2. 2. What is the main source of the "problem" above?

    • The golf ball goes too far, primarily.
      22
    • Several factors all contribute heavily.
      23
    • I voted "No" above, and I don't think there's really a "problem" right now.
      117


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1 hour ago, chicub15 said:

I am fearful that bifurcation would slowly kill the game. What club/ball manufacturers are going to be able to advertise to the masses when the equipment played by the pros we admire and wish to emulate aren't clubs/balls worth us buying?

I don't know how good this take I'm about to make is but....any of those companies that want the masses to buy their balls would engineer a ball for the bifurcation. I don't think that many players would give up ProV1s for the ProV1P(pro), but they would still buy just as many proVs as they do now. You can replace Titleist with any other manufacturer there.

Another option would be Poulter's, but to the extreme. Ex. With the exception of the putter, no club may have a loft under 17 degrees. In this case, your average consumer can still buy a driver, but pros (PGA, KFT, and Q school applicants) can't use em in competition.

1 hour ago, chicub15 said:

The average drive of the weekend hacker is in the low 200s- how many guys would quit the game if they could no longer drive it over 200? There are already pace of play issues due to guys playing the wrong tees- just wait until you have to play a dead ball or use dead clubs....

This assumes that you don't bifurcate equipment standards, and pace of play doesn't come from the wrong tees (unless you can't clear a forced carry).

 

1 hour ago, chicub15 said:

Part of the reason the PGA/LPGA Tour is fun to watch is to see the skill demonstrated. There is something romantic about being able to outfit your bag with the same clubs and balls and go out to the same courses and see just how much better those folks on TV are than us.

I completely agree with the skill part, but the second part of this is untrue. You can't outfit your bag with any tour player's kit unless you are having their tour rig guy make your bag (and probably break some sort of NDA rule doing so). They have custom everything, and aside from quick WITBs, we don't know what is going on. The grinds on their wedges and their lofts and lies aren't really public knowledge. Sure, you can say "x player plays x club(s) with x shaft so I want to play it", but you aren't playing their set. Even if you could do this, it probably wouldn't work well at all for anyone above a + handicap. If the argument is that it would be harder for them to sell their newest latest and greatest clubs to the consumer because the pros aren't using them, I say bullocks to that.

If you had Bryson's bag (any player could be inserted here, but Bryson has the most dramatic one) for a month and play on 4 tour courses (from the tour tees), I think you would quit faster than if you couldn't drive it 200 yards.

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8 hours ago, Bonvivant said:

I don't know how good this take I'm about to make is but....any of those companies that want the masses to buy their balls would engineer a ball for the bifurcation. I don't think that many players would give up ProV1s for the ProV1P(pro), but they would still buy just as many proVs as they do now. You can replace Titleist with any other manufacturer there.

One of the many things you seem to be failing to consider is that if equipment manufacturers have to make balls or clubs or whatever for 2000 PGA Tour players, European Tour players, LPGA Tour players, Korn Ferry players, elite amateurs and college players, etc. without getting paid for them, they're going to pass the costs off onto someone else. Your guess as to who that might be? Consumers.

I said many things, because many people do not want bifurcation at all. There are many reasons for not wanting it, but two of the strongest are:

  • Many enjoy the fact that we play the same game under the same Rules with the same equipment. You can't jump into a major league baseball game, and your church rec league softball games aren't the same at all. Golf is and can be the same.
  • Many players blur the line. A good amateur player will qualify for the U.S. Open. In baseball, for example, nobody gets called up from those same rec softball fields to play in the sixth game of the World Series.

There are other reasons, but those are two of the bigger ones.

8 hours ago, Bonvivant said:

Another option would be Poulter's, but to the extreme. Ex. With the exception of the putter, no club may have a loft under 17 degrees. In this case, your average consumer can still buy a driver, but pros (PGA, KFT, and Q school applicants) can't use em in competition.

Why?

I mean, you don't think Tour players could figure out how to, with even something as simple as ball position, still launch a driver at 13°?

8 hours ago, Bonvivant said:

You can't outfit your bag with any tour player's kit unless you are having their tour rig guy make your bag (and probably break some sort of NDA rule doing so).

Yes, you can.

8 hours ago, Bonvivant said:

They have custom everything

This is not remotely accurate.

8 hours ago, Bonvivant said:

The grinds on their wedges and their lofts and lies aren't really public knowledge.

Really? You're going to this level of depth to try to stay "correct"? You can play the same clubs, balls, etc. If you want to be this specific, nobody else in the world is playing the same exact hot melted driver I have… or the exact weight and flex shaft I have in my 54.2° wedge which, because I've played it for so long, has an incredibly unique grind what with the little cuts and nicks it has in the sole.

8 hours ago, Bonvivant said:

Sure, you can say "x player plays x club(s) with x shaft so I want to play it", but you aren't playing their set.

C'mon man.

8 hours ago, Bonvivant said:

Even if you could do this, it probably wouldn't work well at all for anyone above a + handicap.

Who's making that argument?

8 hours ago, Bonvivant said:

If the argument is that it would be harder for them to sell their newest latest and greatest clubs to the consumer because the pros aren't using them, I say bullocks to that.

Defying all logic…

8 hours ago, Bonvivant said:

If you had Bryson's bag (any player could be inserted here, but Bryson has the most dramatic one) for a month and play on 4 tour courses (from the tour tees), I think you would quit faster than if you couldn't drive it 200 yards.

Missing the point.

P.S. Moved posts away from the "tired of the distance debate" topic to here…

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10 hours ago, Bonvivant said:

This assumes that you don't bifurcate equipment standards, and pace of play doesn't come from the wrong tees (unless you can't clear a forced carry).

Pace of play can absolutely come from playing the wrong tees. High handicaps playing from the tips, trying to hit long iron approaches into par 4s and off the tee on par 3s and spraying those around the course vs hitting wedges/short irons and having considerably more GIR or nGIR is going to slow a group down a ton, especially if they aren't the quickest anyway.

10 hours ago, Bonvivant said:

The grinds on their wedges and their lofts and lies aren't really public knowledge. Sure, you can say "x player plays x club(s) with x shaft so I want to play it", but you aren't playing their set. Even if you could do this, it probably wouldn't work well at all for anyone above a + handicap. If the argument is that it would be harder for them to sell their newest latest and greatest clubs to the consumer because the pros aren't using them, I say bullocks to that.

The average golfer has no idea what shafts the pros are playing and definitely doesn't care about lie angles and grinds when they say they are playing the same equipment as the pros are. And if the idea that pros using the same equipment doesn't impact consumer buying habits is true, then how come every single golf equipment commercial has PGA tour players in them hitting the club?

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I voted "No, the ball does not cause a problem for golf as a whole".  It is not new to the sport that a player or players focus on an specific skill to gain advantage.  Some have phenomenal short game skills, some are top putters, some bomb-it, some are very accurate.  Who are we to tell a pro, or any golfer, which skill we value over another.  It is a player's prerogative strategize how they want to play a hole/course.  Golf is, in part, a strategy sport.

I also see issues with bifurcation.  Where do you draw the line?  Is it when a HS player moves to College, or to mini-tour, or to PGA Tour?  How about the amateurs that play in some of the events, do they have a different standard?  How about European v US v Asian tours?

As long as all players have the same rules and options then it is a level playing field.  I can't remember who said it but we need to accept that these guys are good and par may not be the standard for them.

I fully appreciate accuracy but that is my preference because I hate looking for balls in the rough only to take a stroke when I can't find it. 

Maybe the courses need to take a look back at history and how in 1979 the USGA planted the Hinkle Tree at Inverness Club in an effort to force the players to play up the par-5 instead of taking a short-cut.  A few well-placed trees or hazards can add to the risk-reward decision on some shots.  The hard part would be making sure any change does not make the course un-playable for the masses.

 

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14 hours ago, Bonvivant said:

That means that for every 3 ish positions you go up in DD rank, you go up 1 rank in scoring average.....not exactly weak...

Distance is clearly an advantage. To try and dismiss it with an arbitrary and faulty correlation is silly. The debate rages on.

Um, no. That's not how correlation works.

Arbitrary? So math and numbers are arbitrary and silly, and your opinion is factual? Sigh...

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Just now, BC-to-MI said:

Pace of play can absolutely come from playing the wrong tees. High handicaps playing from the tips, trying to hit long iron approaches into par 4s and off the tee on par 3s and spraying those around the course vs hitting wedges/short irons and having considerably more GIR or nGIR is going to slow a group down a ton, especially if they aren't the quickest anyway.

The highlighted section is what makes players slow, not the amount of strokes that they take.

 

Just now, BC-to-MI said:

And if the idea that pros using the same equipment doesn't impact consumer buying habits is true, then how come every single golf equipment commercial has PGA tour players in them hitting the club?

I've seen plenty of commercials for equipment that don't feature pros at all. Most GI or SGI clubs have something of the idea of the player that should use them acting in them, not pros.

 

@iacas, all good. I think that with bifurcation only one or two things would change. You could have the full experience of the pro bag if you altered your bag the same way that they do. Maybe the "pro" ball can still be bought at a premium. The hardest part I have with bifurcation is where the line is drawn. The fact that their are many amateurs that are basically right on the cusp is a hard fact to deal with and I don't have a great answer for that.

I don't think that "playing the game under the same rules with the same equipment" adds value to the sport personally, but it seems to be a popularly held opinion or feeling.

Just now, chspeed said:

Um, no. That's not how correlation works.

Arbitrary? So math and numbers are arbitrary and silly, and your opinion is factual? Sigh...

Can you explain it to me then? The way I read it was that 1 rank of driving distance will on average, net 0.35 rank in scoring average.

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5 minutes ago, Bonvivant said:

I've seen plenty of commercials for equipment that don't feature pros at all. Most GI or SGI clubs have something of the idea of the player that should use them acting in them, not pros.

You've also seen plenty of commercials with pros in them, too.

Your position on the marketing of better player equipment is really bad.

5 minutes ago, Bonvivant said:

@iacas, all good. I think that with bifurcation only one or two things would change.

I don't know what to tell you other than that I think you think wrong.

Did you read any of what was written there? C'mon man. If you want to play devil's advocate or actually argue something, you've gotta reply to what's written. It's disingenuous any other way.

You: a bunch of stuff.
Me: refuting that stuff.
You: rephrasing the same things without any real foundation beyond what you "think."

5 minutes ago, Bonvivant said:

I don't think that "playing the game under the same rules with the same equipment" adds value to the sport personally, but it seems to be a popularly held opinion or feeling.

Uhm, yeah.

5 minutes ago, Bonvivant said:

Can you explain it to me then? The way I read it was that 1 rank of driving distance will on average, net 0.35 rank in scoring average.

Look up statistical correlation.

That's not how that works.

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41 minutes ago, Bonvivant said:

I've seen plenty of commercials for equipment that don't feature pros at all. Most GI or SGI clubs have something of the idea of the player that should use them acting in them, not pros.

I bet there are at least a dozen pros I could name which you would immediately know what brand of clubs they represent. Most of them without even thinking about it. 

Even my mom knows. After Bryson won the US Open we were talking and she said "Hey, doesn't he play your driver?" ... "Technically, Mom. I play his driver." 

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56 minutes ago, Bonvivant said:

The highlighted section is what makes players slow, not the amount of strokes that they take.

Sure, but a slow group of high handicappers playing 7,000 yards is going to be a lot worse for pace of play than the same group playing from 6,200 yards. Either way, that's not really the issue at hand.

56 minutes ago, Bonvivant said:

I've seen plenty of commercials for equipment that don't feature pros at all. Most GI or SGI clubs have something of the idea of the player that should use them acting in them, not pros.

I'm talking drivers, which are almost always represented by professionals in commercials, because the original topic we were discussing was driving distance.

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On 10/13/2020 at 1:09 PM, ChetlovesMer said:

STOP BITCHING about how far guys hit the ball! 

If I have to hear one more golf commentator complain about how far these guys hit the golf ball I'm going to lose my mind!
According to the data below the average tournament winner has improved by 5 strokes since 1960. 

pga-tour-average-decade.jpg.476d11025dfd997ec3b9f38634192886.jpg

STOP BITCHING about how far guys hit the ball! 

If you want to get those 5 strokes back, make the rough rougher. Or make the fairway rougher. In the 60's the rolled the greens before every tournament. I watched a thing about them getting Winged Foot ready for the US Open, they rolled the greens more than a dozen times. They rolled the FAIRWAYS more than half a dozen! 

I don't want two sets of equipment! 

I don't want two sets of rules!

I don't care that guys hit it far. I actually think its pretty cool. 

If you want to get those 5 strokes back (and I don't even care if you do) there are plenty of ways to make the game tougher for the pros. You don't have to take the air out of the ball! (No offense to Tom Brady.)

STOP BITCHING about how far guys hit the ball! 

Nobody in pro football bitches that the average offensive lineman weighed 251 pounds in 1960 and weighs 313 pounds today. Nobody in tennis complains that the average serve speed went from under 100 mph in 1960 to almost 120 mph today. You never hear track and field people lament "Remember the good old days when nobody could run a mile in under 4 minutes." 

STOP BITCHING about how far guys hit the ball! 

Separate and distinct from the general debate, with all due respect your chart is nonsense and doesn't even bear on the question because of one HUGE omission. Your chart fails to taken into account the massive increases in course yardage.  Some of us are old enough to remember when a 7,000 yard course was considered a monster and most tour events were played on courses in the 6,600-6,800 range.  Without "normalizing" courses, winning score comparisons are meaningless. 

It is exactly the same issue as to why comparing raw scoring averages over different eras tell you very little.

You may or may not have a good case otherwise, but that chart is just a bad argument.

And for a lot of us, that ongoing need to keep increasing the course yardages threatens to remove some great courses from that category because they just don't have the available land to stretch out the course.

4 hours ago, dennyjones said:

+1

Distance is a skill.  

Yes, it is.  And it would continue to be a skill if the ball were dialed back 10 or 15%.

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11 minutes ago, turtleback said:

And for a lot of us, that ongoing need to keep increasing the course yardages threatens to remove some great courses from that category because they just don't have the available land to stretch out the course.

Name 'em.

I've asked more than a few people, and when asked to name courses that used to but no longer host PGA Tour events because they're not long enough, the list is very very short.

BTW, @turtleback, I moved the posts here.

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Look, if all the pros can drive every green, they still need to get the lowest score.  Its relative to the competition.  
They are pros.  They are supposed to make it look easy.  No one goes to a concert to hear the musician struggle through a hard passage.

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I just continue to not be able to find the energy to care too much about how far the Tour players hit the ball. So much has been made about Bryson, but he's not that much of an outlier on Tour. Wolff outdrove him in the U.S. Open, McIlroy, DJ, Koepka are all up there. Maybe he's more driven than the rest of them to hit the ball longer, but that doesn't mean they're being held back.  

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3 hours ago, turtleback said:

Separate and distinct from the general debate, with all due respect your chart is nonsense and doesn't even bear on the question because of one HUGE omission. Your chart fails to taken into account the massive increases in course yardage.  Some of us are old enough to remember when a 7,000 yard course was considered a monster and most tour events were played on courses in the 6,600-6,800 range.  Without "normalizing" courses, winning score comparisons are meaningless. 

That's a good point. I see what you mean. 

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13 hours ago, jamo said:

I just continue to not be able to find the energy to care too much about how far the Tour players hit the ball. So much has been made about Bryson, but he's not that much of an outlier on Tour. Wolff outdrove him in the U.S. Open, McIlroy, DJ, Koepka are all up there. Maybe he's more driven than the rest of them to hit the ball longer, but that doesn't mean they're being held back.  

Agreed.  By the same token, I have no energy to care much about the argument in favor of the ball rollback either.  Similar to the square grooves, the long putter, the flagstick, etc, if they did ever decide to roll back the ball or bifurcate, it's not going to be a big deal.  We're going to move on and keep on playing and liking the game just like we do now, and basically forget about this like we've done all the others.

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On 10/15/2020 at 1:18 AM, Bonvivant said:

I completely agree with the skill part, but the second part of this is untrue. You can't outfit your bag with any tour player's kit unless you are having their tour rig guy make your bag (and probably break some sort of NDA rule doing so). They have custom everything, and aside from quick WITBs, we don't know what is going on. The grinds on their wedges and their lofts and lies aren't really public knowledge. Sure, you can say "x player plays x club(s) with x shaft so I want to play it", but you aren't playing their set. 

I knew it!! Why them secret saucing sons of guns!

I always wondered. 

Edited by GolfLug

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20 hours ago, jamo said:

I just continue to not be able to find the energy to care too much about how far the Tour players hit the ball. So much has been made about Bryson, but he's not that much of an outlier on Tour. Wolff outdrove him in the U.S. Open, McIlroy, DJ, Koepka are all up there. Maybe he's more driven than the rest of them to hit the ball longer, but that doesn't mean they're being held back.  

If they roll back the ball, Bryson will be at MIT working on the optimum means to maximize performance using it.  And so will every other player.  DJ and Brooks will add 100 lbs to their bench press and Colin, Rory and Wolf will do more of whatever they do to swing so fast LOL.  
 

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