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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


595 posts / 38302 viewsLast Reply

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Regardless of the effect that an equipment bifurcation would have on the golfing population, the more important question is getting overlooked here by @Bonvivant and others recently.

Why do you feel that a specific distance for a tee shot is too long?

It's a fact that golfers who hit the ball longer have an advantage over golfers who hit the ball shorter. This has always been true, the greats of the past like Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer were great in large part because they could hit the ball further than other players on the course. Arnold Palmer's entire reputation was built on hitting the ball hard! Rolling the golf ball back won't change the fact that some players hit the ball further than others. It also won't change that fact that player who hit it further will score better than players who hit it a shorter distance. There will still be long hitters and short hitters, and the long hitters will always perform better on average.

Why does it matter to you if the long hitters are driving the ball 330 yards instead of 280 yards? You can play any golf course in the world, including a par 3 course, even if your tee shots go 330 yards. The length of the course is not the only thing that makes golf difficult, and short courses are still more than capable of being played by modern professionals. Merion Golf Club was criticized because it was "too short" to be a worthy U.S. Open challenge, and the winning score there was still as high as it's ever been since 2007 (+1). Erin Hills played at an average length of 7,805.75 yards and it wasn't considered a hard course, with the winner matching the U.S. Open scoring record at -16. The reason many short courses can no longer be played has nothing to do with the difficulty of the track, and everything to do with the production circus that goes along with the PGA Tour. You can't fit the entire broadcast setup and tens of thousands of spectators if the course doesn't have space on the property to locate it all. Short courses can still have space for this, but long courses naturally are built on larger tracts of land which makes it less of a challenge.

Here are the facts, things that with never change and can be proved with hard data

  1. Short courses can still be plenty difficult to play for long hitters
  2. Longer hitters will always have an advantage over shorter hitters 
    1. This holds true even if the driving distance for everyone is made shorter, longer hitters will still have shorter and easier approach shots
  3. The winning final score of a tournament doesn't matter and cannot be effectively compared to previous years or eras, even at the same course, because playing conditions will never be the same between years and eras
    1. The only effective comparison is deviation of the winner's score from the mean score in the tournament, which compensates for differing conditions and has decreased over the years as fields get better

Given these facts, why do you care if the long hitters bomb the ball 330 or 250? It doesn't make any difference - the long hitters will still have an advantage and any short courses that have been dropped from the calendar will never come back because their land-area is too small to support PGA Tour events. I cannot find a logical reason to arbitrarily limit driving distance, because changing the driving distance doesn't change any of the "problems" that people think it will magically solve. Short courses that have been eliminated from the calendar will not return, and short-hitting players will never have an advantage over their longer driving counterparts.

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1 hour ago, Pretzel said:

Why do you feel that a specific distance for a tee shot is too long

Ive mentioned it many times. Conservation and course variety. Bigger courses suck more resources from the environment. Also, great courses have been phased out because they become obsolete because of distance. This has been going on for a long time, so I'm not saying its bryson or anyone else. 

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8 minutes ago, Bonvivant said:

Ive mentioned it many times. Conservation and course variety. Bigger courses suck more resources from the environment. Also, great courses have been phased out because they become obsolete because of distance. This has been going on for a long time, so I'm not saying its bryson or anyone else. 

Two counter-arguments:

1. The land between the tee box and the fairway is pretty easy to maintain. Often it's not irrigated, and on many courses it's kinda native turf, or just grass like your lawn, cut to rough height with a gang mower.

How much more resources does it take to mow 150 yards of rough from the back tee to the start of the fairway versus 180? The fairways, greens, and tee boxes are all about the same size. Bunkers take time and money, and they can be numbered about the same, too (I'm in favor of reducing the number of bunkers on courses, too, but that's a different thing altogether.)

2. Please list all the "great courses" that once used to host a PGA Tour event which do not anymore solely or even primarily/mostly because of course length? I've asked this question, as have others, of people who understand and know far more about golf course architecture, history, etc. than you and I combined, and their lists are very, very short. We still host U.S. Opens on courses that are over 100 years old… I think the "classic great courses being run out of the game" idea is incredibly overstated.

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@iacas for point one I'd have to say that i somewhat agree, although some course may have to upkeep a special box which requires some maintenance (and maybe water). My issue kind of comes up more in point 2. Places that can't stretch (and shouldn't) but I don't have any good examples except my local courses that have hosted PGA championships in the past, Miami valley cc and NCR. I haven't had the chance to play either of them, but I am fairly certain they won't come back into favor with the PGA. I am not sure if length is the problem, so I am standing on grounds that may not exist. 

Apologies for random caps...on the phone

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And..what does ‘obsolete’ mean? I’ve yet to see a leaderboard where the top 10 were all ...? Furyk shot a 58. Is that course obsolete? Does obsolete mean if it hosts a PGA TOUR event every player in the top 10 shoots under 60? Maybe some would find it boring but someone will win. So what makes a course obsolete to play?

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7 hours ago, Vinsk said:

So what makes a course obsolete to play?

I think @Pretzel nailed it. It only has to do with space for spectators and TV production and not the course itself. Massachusetts has held several US Opens and it’s coming back to The Country Club in Brookline. The course has space for spectators and production and is right next to Boston, so there are plenty of places to stay. Traffic is going to stink, but there is public transportation.
 

The Miopia Hunt club, which held 4 US Opens, probably could hold one, but the venue is much smaller, has polo fields and is in a small suburb that would not want it again I would think.

 

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10 hours ago, Bonvivant said:

I am not sure if length is the problem, so I am standing on grounds that may not exist.

I’m sorry man, I like you and your contributions to the site, but arguing about things you don’t seem to have a full grasp on based on a reason that you admit may not be valid is just silly.

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27 minutes ago, billchao said:

I’m sorry man, I like you and your contributions to the site, but arguing about things you don’t seem to have a full grasp on based on a reason that you admit may not be valid is just silly.

Yeah! And I’ve never done that...🥴

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10 minutes ago, Vinsk said:

Yeah! And I’ve never done that...🥴

We all have at one point or another, I’m sure. But there’s always a point to recognize when your castle is built on sand and to walk away.

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3 hours ago, billchao said:

We all have at one point or another, I’m sure. But there’s always a point to recognize when your castle is built on sand and to walk away.

1446ECC8-E211-4CC1-8A69-79546436130B.gif.fb5062af15da4529db2dbc9d342c4674.gifWell said...just had to post this...😀

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6 hours ago, billchao said:

We all have at one point or another, I’m sure. But there’s always a point to recognize when your castle is built on sand and to walk away.

Listen, lad. I built this kingdom up from nothing. When I started here, all there was was swamp. Other kings said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built it all the same, just to show 'em. It sank into the swamp. So, I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So, I built a third one. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp, but the fourth one... stayed up! And that's what you're gonna get, lad: the strongest castle in these islands.

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26 minutes ago, boogielicious said:

Listen, lad. I built this kingdom up from nothing. When I started here, all there was was swamp. Other kings said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built it all the same, just to show 'em. It sank into the swamp. So, I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So, I built a third one. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp, but the fourth one... stayed up! And that's what you're gonna get, lad: the strongest castle in these islands.

... sounds like you need a better architect.  And a house boat.

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49 minutes ago, boogielicious said:

Listen, lad. I built this kingdom up from nothing. When I started here, all there was was swamp. Other kings said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built it all the same, just to show 'em. It sank into the swamp. So, I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So, I built a third one. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp, but the fourth one... stayed up! And that's what you're gonna get, lad: the strongest castle in these islands.

Ah...and that my friends...is the Holy Grail....😉

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22 hours ago, Bonvivant said:

Ive mentioned it many times. Conservation and course variety. Bigger courses suck more resources from the environment. Also, great courses have been phased out because they become obsolete because of distance. This has been going on for a long time, so I'm not saying its bryson or anyone else. 

You completely ignored the list of facts I presented:

Quote
  1. Short courses can still be plenty difficult to play for long hitters
  2. Longer hitters will always have an advantage over shorter hitters 
    1. This holds true even if the driving distance for everyone is made shorter, longer hitters will still have shorter and easier approach shots
  3. The winning final score of a tournament doesn't matter and cannot be effectively compared to previous years or eras, even at the same course, because playing conditions will never be the same between years and eras
    1. The only effective comparison is deviation of the winner's score from the mean score in the tournament, which compensates for differing conditions and has decreased over the years as fields get better

Name a single course that has been phased out because of distance instead of because it's too small of a venue to host the circus that is the PGA Tour. I'd be willing to wager money you can't, because they don't exist. I don't mean to come across too confrontational here, I'm just trying to point out that driving distance has nothing to do with courses being phased out and the physical length of a course has nothing to do with whether it can be used for a PGA Tour event or not.

Course length is not a valid argument for rolling back the distance of the ball or equipment, because it's a non-issue. It literally doesn't matter in the slightest, short courses can be played just fine by long hitters without being "ruined" and can still be as or more challenging than long courses.

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5 minutes ago, Pretzel said:

You completely ignored the list of facts I presented:

Name a single course that has been phased out because of distance instead of because it's too small of a venue to host the circus that is the PGA Tour. I'd be willing to wager money you can't, because they don't exist. I don't mean to come across too confrontational here, I'm just trying to point out that driving distance has nothing to do with courses being phased out and the physical length of a course has nothing to do with whether it can be used for a PGA Tour event or not.

Course length is not a valid argument for rolling back the distance of the ball or equipment, because it's a non-issue. It literally doesn't matter in the slightest, short courses can be played just fine by long hitters without being "ruined" and can still be as or more challenging than long courses.

I think Jack just wants his 280 yard bombs remembered...

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Chambers Bay may never host again, not because of the greens, they roll great now. It’s because it was a terrible venue for spectators. Off the fairway is dune grass that could twist your ankle if you’re not careful. Can’t walk easily in dunes or anywhere around that place. It is a massive piece of land but not built for people watching. Another PNW giant that won’t host a big pro event is Bandon. There’s nothing outside of that tiny town for an hour. Zero resources. Chambers and Bandon are both difficult and big pieces of land but not capable of hosting due to spectator and media necessities. 

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Just schedule the US Open at Erin Hills permanently.  They can make that course 9000 yards long if they want and also be able to hold a million spectators.  Let's take this thing up a notch.  😉

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