Jump to content
iacas

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

The Golf Ball "Problem"  

151 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
      114
  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.
      106


551 posts in this topic Last Reply

Recommended Posts

4 hours ago, Pretzel said:

Those arguments lack substance entirely. The pros are professionals because they can do what others cannot. 

Exactly.

4 hours ago, Pretzel said:

I have yet to see a solid as to why the pros hitting the ball very far affects anyone.

Not even an argument that makes any sense at all, much less a solid one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

Want to hide this ad? Register for free today!

Hell let's pull out the ol' Robinhood balls and watch the pros go at it! :-D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

I think there are a lot of things that could be done to spice up the game. 

How about fewer clubs?  Say 6 clubs only.  Most people could play with 2 or 3 fewer clubs without much change.

Also, I'd LOVE to watch the pros play in a 4 ball or 2 man scramble format.  Let them make their own teams, like doubles in tennis.  That would be fun to watch. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The science is just so much better now in all sports...trainers, coaches, equipment manufacturers, clothing manufacturers, and ultimately the athletes, understand way more about what's going on than ever before and we're seeing the results of it.  This is the wave of athletes who were born and raised with technology in place their whole life.  I was probably in my early 20s the first time I saw my swing on video, which was about the time Jordan Spieth was born.

I'm not as amazed at how far players are hitting the ball today as I am at how well guys in the '30's, '40's, and '50's played!  It's far more impressive to me that players like Hogan could shoot 67 at Oakmont in the '50's than see a modern day player hit a 325 yd drive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

13 hours ago, Runnin said:

I think there are a lot of things that could be done to spice up the game. 

How about fewer clubs?  Say 6 clubs only.  Most people could play with 2 or 3 fewer clubs without much change.

Also, I'd LOVE to watch the pros play in a 4 ball or 2 man scramble format.  Let them make their own teams, like doubles in tennis.  That would be fun to watch. 

I was just thinking that last night. It would be fun to watch partners. Like a driving beast Dustin Johnson and a short game master like Phil Mckleson (no idea how to spell his name) and watch those two tear up the course. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, Runnin said:

I think there are a lot of things that could be done to spice up the game. 

How about fewer clubs?  Say 6 clubs only.

That would also be somewhat boring. I like to watch the pros playing by the same rules as me, so I can be humbled by their greatness.

 

13 hours ago, Runnin said:

Most people could play with 2 or 3 fewer clubs without much change.

That's because most people can't hit those clubs anyway. :-D

 

13 hours ago, Runnin said:

Also, I'd LOVE to watch the pros play in a 4 ball or 2 man scramble format.  Let them make their own teams, like doubles in tennis.  That would be fun to watch. 

This could be very fun to watch.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

I agree with the sentiment that this is elite level sport.  99.9% of golfers can't hit the ball nearly as far as tour pros so what is the big deal I ask myself?!

The ball travelling less far will only hurt the amateur game as well as potentially slow the game down in terms of time taken to finish a round.

Cheers

Golfingfiend 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, golfingfiend said:

The ball travelling less far will only hurt the amateur game as well as potentially slow the game down in terms of time taken to finish a round.

I don't know if I agree with that last part.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

@iacas I guess my logic was that if the ball travels less distance, in theory it would take more shots to get the ball in the hole, thereby taking longer. Though I guess you could just club up to get around that problem!! 

So in conclusion, I'm not convinced I still agree with the last part of my comment above now also :whistle:

 

Cheers,

Golfingfiend 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't read the whole thread.  But I actually think it's a-ok if the entire game gets shorter (or doesn't get longer). Whether it's technology of balls, MOI's or w/e, instead of admiring DJ's 350 drive, you'll admire his new-golf-ball 250 drive, or his 50yd whiffle ball drive. I think amazing altheticism will always draw attention, so long as they apply to both amateurs and pros. I do not believe a "backwards" transition is possible culturally or practically, but limiting distances moving forward doesn't really bother me (we all play conforming equipment anyways). The game is expensive and inaccessible to many. Reducing just the land purchase and maintenance costs for golf courses by 10% would (not could) have a huge impact on the game at large in the long run. I don't know if this argument is even in the current discourse, but it makes sense to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll offer a counter-argument to many of the posts here.

The distance the ball goes is a problem, for a number of reasons, including the fact that it's forcing the redesign/lengthening of courses and making it a 'brute' sport where physicality starts to have an edge over skill (sorry, Luke Donald), and you start to get some farcical endings to tournaments (thanks, Justin).  Also, it's becoming a driver-wedge game on TV which doesn't represent how most amateurs play.

However, these things are all minor nits compared to health and safety factors:

1) Health:

One of the great things about golf is that you can almost play it your entire life.  These days even the better players, with all of their trainers and physios aren't lasting for long stints without significant injuries (Justin, Day, Tiger, Casey, Rory, etc.).  These guys are taking their bodies to the limit, and sometimes past the limit.  Swings are changing to push the margins further, and this is trickling down to amateurs, as they try to mimic the swings of their favorite pros.  Health and longevity are suffering.

It's not as simple as how far the ball goes, but rather how much father that last 10mph can get you past the last guy.  If they changed the ball to ensure the fastest swingers still hit it farther, but a 30 yard differential became a 10 yard differential I'd be all for it.  'Unfair' for may say, however the physics of the clubs & balls are already 'gamed' so ensure a specific outcome, it's just that Trackman etc. allowed a leap that exceeded what the regs have so far accommodated, leading to a less heathy game.  The ball alone didn't cause it at all, but it can fix it.  When the javelin starts going too far they change the javelin.  It doesn't diminish the athleticism, or the bragging rights.

2) Safety:

I was playing 2 weeks ago early on a Sunday morning.  My five year old son was sitting in the cart.  I played the back 9 and was on the 18th fairway.  A ball smacks through the trees and lands about yards from me.  A second about 15 yards to the other side of me, and a third lands 15 in front after a rare - and particularly welcome - "fore!".

All three of these drives were from a group on another hole hitting in the other direction.  There were only three people in the group.

They were obscenely far from their own fairway, but with the modern combo of clubs and balls (and the tour-validated ethos where beating the life out of the ball, landing in a different zip code and then hitting the crazy - and also dangerous - recovery shot has become culturally somewhere between acceptable and cool.

Only one guy (the lone guy who also shouted fore) realized the gravity of the situation when their carts zipped up and circles my cart.  He apologized and I thanked him profusely for shouting fore.  I didn't get angry, rather I hoped that putting the more conscientious guy on a pedastal would somehow rub off on the other two lunks.

I wish this was rare, but It's way too common now on public courses.  The relentless desire to continually 'grow the game' has aided in making it cool to play golf 4 times a year, hit it as hard as you humanly can, lose 10 balls a round, endanger others, repair no pitch marks, and consider it a good day out.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

57 minutes ago, IrishAndy said:

The distance the ball goes is a problem, for a number of reasons, including the fact that it's forcing the redesign/lengthening of courses

Where? The vast majority of courses are already plenty long enough for 99.9% of golfers.

57 minutes ago, IrishAndy said:

where physicality starts to have an edge over skill (sorry, Luke Donald)

The ability to swing fast and hit a ball far while still hitting it accurately is a skill, too. Speed is a skill in almost any sport.

57 minutes ago, IrishAndy said:

Swings are changing to push the margins further, and this is trickling down to amateurs, as they try to mimic the swings of their favorite pros.  Health and longevity are suffering.

And if you cut 10% or 20% off the distance the ball traveled… nothing in this one would change. Players would still push themselves hard.

57 minutes ago, IrishAndy said:

If they changed the ball to ensure the fastest swingers still hit it farther, but a 30 yard differential became a 10 yard differential I'd be all for it.

Yeah, that wouldn't be fair at all.

57 minutes ago, IrishAndy said:

however the physics of the clubs & balls are already 'gamed' so ensure a specific outcome

I disagree. Nothing's been "gamed." Optimized, sure, but we'd still have optimizations if the ball traveled a shorter distance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

56 minutes ago, iacas said:

Where? The vast majority of courses are already plenty long enough for 99.9% of golfers.

Becuase they were 'Tiger proofed'.  This phenomenon didn't start last week.  It started with Tiger.  Conversely, that's what made bombing such an advantage.

56 minutes ago, iacas said:

The ability to swing fast and hit a ball far while still hitting it accurately is a skill, too. Speed is a skill in almost any sport.

It is a skill.  That's what I watch long drive for.

56 minutes ago, iacas said:

And if you cut 10% or 20% off the distance the ball traveled… nothing in this one would change. Players would still push themselves hard.

It would if blowing out your knee brought relatively smaller distance advantages.  It certainly wouldn't take that game back to where it was.  Agreed, that will never happen.

56 minutes ago, iacas said:

Yeah, that wouldn't be fair at all.

Nothing's ever fair.  Tiger proofing courses was extremely unfair for the shorter hitters.  Having a water hole where the top 5% can carry and the rest can't isn't fair.  Having a water hazard that 0% can carry is at least slightly more fair.

56 minutes ago, iacas said:

I disagree. Nothing's been "gamed." Optimized, sure, but we'd still have optimizations if the ball traveled a shorter distance.

Golf is one of the most regulated games in terms of equipment.  It's just a matter of how it's regulated, who those regulations benefit the most, and who they disadvantage the most.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, I was told Web.com players average more than 300 yards, and sure enough 302 average. Many average 310 to 320.

Shorter or longer courses are harder for them because of roll off. Hitting that far requires very good precision.

Seems like even my home courses are safe from rampant 54s at least for now...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

7 hours ago, IrishAndy said:

Becuase they were 'Tiger proofed'.  This phenomenon didn't start last week.  It started with Tiger.  Conversely, that's what made bombing such an advantage.

You didn't answer my question. Virtually every golf course out there was not lengthened. Why? Because this "problem" is only affecting a tiny percentage of golfers and golf courses - those who wish to host PGA Tour events. And not even all of them had to change.

7 hours ago, IrishAndy said:

It would if blowing out your knee brought relatively smaller distance advantages.

I think that this would remain exactly the same OR even become a bigger issue. Consider that if the ball went 10% shorter, distance may be a larger advantage.

DJ hits it 300 and ZJ hits it 270. Then DJ hits his PW 140 and ZJ hits his 7I 170.

Now take off 10%… DJ hits it 270 now. ZJ is back at 243. If you make the hole 10% shorter, they're just hitting the same clubs they were before, so distance is still an advantage. If you don't quite shorten the hole the same 10%, maybe you make it 425, now DJ has 155 in, and hits an 8I. ZJ has 182 in and is hitting a 4I or something.

The gap actually grows. PW to 7I is three clubs, 8I to 4I is four clubs. Distance becomes a larger advantage.

7 hours ago, IrishAndy said:

Nothing's ever fair.

That's not a response to what I wrote. You wrote that the relative difference would shrink: a 30-yard advantage would become 10. If that's done uniformly… you're reducing distance by 67%. You're talking about DJ hitting 100-yard drives, and ZJ hitting it 90.

Driving distance is, at the pro level, pretty linear for clubhead speed (if the player optimizes launch conditions - there are many like Bill Haas who choose to leave distance on the table).

Reducing a 30-yard advantage to 10 is ridiculously unfair. I like Zach Johnson, but Dustin is far more compelling to watch. And since you're talking about the tiny percentage - the entertainment portion of our sport - reducing a 30-yard gap to 10 would put a HUGE damper on how entertaining PGA Tour golf is.

7 hours ago, IrishAndy said:

Having a water hole where the top 5% can carry and the rest can't isn't fair.  Having a water hazard that 0% can carry is at least slightly more fair.

No it's not.

The course is fair because everyone plays the same exact course. There are always going to be things that favor one player over another. Some players putt faster greens, or greens with more break, better than others. Some players hit it farther. Some players favor a cut and like dogleg rights or right hole locations more than others.

It's all "fair" because they're all playing the same course.

They don't shorten the distance to the mound in the major leagues for slower pitchers, or shorten the distance between the bases for slower players, or have different home run fences for hitters with different power. THAT would be unfair - people playing under different rules/circumstances.

7 hours ago, IrishAndy said:

Golf is one of the most regulated games in terms of equipment.  It's just a matter of how it's regulated, who those regulations benefit the most, and who they disadvantage the most.

You didn't answer my reply. You said some people have "gamed" it. Nothing's been "gamed" at all. To "game" it implies that there's a loophole exploited or some sort of nefarious thing exploited or whatever.

Nothing of that sort has occurred, IMO. So I'll ask directly: what's been "gamed" in your opinion?


And at the end of the day, if this is a "problem" but only on the PGA Tour, then it's not really a golf-wide problem. You'd still have to show that to be the case.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

I have been playing golf through the "Tiger era" and I never saw any of my local courses lengthened.  In fact, one of my courses, which is a local favorite, is extraordinarily long; and it was built in the early 60's at 7300+ yards.  The course is a great but it has always been known as the 5-6 hour round on a weekend course.  The reason why is most golfers can't hit the ball very far.  The course has tried dozens of tricks to make the pace of play faster.  They try to shorten all the forward tees, add additional sets of tees, only recommend 6 handicaps or better to play from the tips, etc.  If they could redo it, I am sure they would make the course shorter.  

The only thing that the TIger era did to local golf was dramatically increase the amount of them that were built.  My area had about 10 courses built between 2000-2008.  We had 6 public courses before that.  To that point, there have been zero golf courses built since and a couple have closed up.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, iacas said:

You didn't answer my question. Virtually every golf course out there was not lengthened. Why? Because this "problem" is only affecting a tiny percentage of golfers and golf courses - those who wish to host PGA Tour events. And not even all of them had to change.

Umm, not sure, but this seems to be getting a little 'testy'?  Maybe?  Maybe not?  It's a Sunday morning, so I'm deliberately not going to engage with the same level of energy...

I think if you look at my first post I never alleged that 'Virtually every golf course' was lengthened.  They couldn't.  They'd be unplayable for most, and a complete waste of money, if not physically impossible for regular courses.  I was answering with regard to Tournament level, and hence my inclusion of DJ and Donald in the description.  Sorry if your thought otherwise.

Quote

 

That's not a response to what I wrote. You wrote that the relative difference would shrink: a 30-yard advantage would become 10. If that's done uniformly… 

Just to be clear, I do not mean uniformly (I.e. A fixed percentage) I don't believe with equipment it has to be that way.  A portion of the optimization has been to knock the spin off of driver shots that the dimples were intended to create.  No doubt they can make the ball do what they want it to do.

Quote

No it's not.

The course is fair because everyone plays the same exact course.

In the politest way possible I'll have to disagree.  I could set up a kid's obstacle course with a high obstacle in the middle that half of the kids couldn't get over and half could.  That would be 'fair' to some because it's the same course, but that doesn't make something intrinsically 'fair' IMO.  We'll just have to disagree, and that's just fine.

Quote

Nothing of that sort has occurred, IMO. So I'll ask directly: what's been "gamed"

And I'll directly answer.  Tournament golf was changed bacuase of some long hitters, the changes actually hurt shorter hitters.  Any change benefits one type of player and not another.  I just didn't like that change.  And that's OK.  Some may think it was the best thing to ever happen to golf, and that's OK too.

Quote

And at the end of the day, if this is a "problem" but only on the PGA Tour, then it's not really a golf-wide problem. You'd still have to show that to be the case.

I tried to go to great lengths to explain what I see as the specific 'golf-wide' effects in terms of heath and safety.  Not effects on the typical local course as far as I'm concerned.  Having said that I see my local is building tee boxes on one hole about 40 yards back.  I haven't asked, but it could be because people have started driving over the trees to the green on a dog leg par 4.  The green can't be seen at all from the tee box, so it's not very safe.  I've seen someone do it.  They had no clue if anyone was there.

Again, I can't get too excited about this, but offered what I thought was a reasonable counterpoint.  Good points on all sides.

Edited by IrishAndy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

45 minutes ago, IrishAndy said:

Umm, not sure, but this seems to be getting a little 'testy'?  Maybe?  Maybe not?  It's a Sunday morning, so I'm deliberately not going to engage with the same level of energy...

I'm not being testy at all. No.

45 minutes ago, IrishAndy said:

I was answering with regard to Tournament level, and hence my inclusion of DJ and Donald in the description.  Sorry if your thought otherwise.

The topic is about "all of golf." So who cares if a few courses that host PGA Tour events have lengthened (and not all of them have done so)?

The topic's about all of golf. It's not limited to the PGA Tour.

45 minutes ago, IrishAndy said:

In the politest way possible I'll have to disagree.

Then you have what I would say is a perverted definition of the word "fair." A synonym is "equitable."

Under your definition, golf is never fair, because again some players will be better putters, some will be better bunker players, some will be better out of the rough, and regardless of where you place the hazards or fairways, they will favor some players or others.

If everyone plays the same course, it's fair.

And that's a polite response, too.

45 minutes ago, IrishAndy said:

I could set up a kid's obstacle course with a high obstacle in the middle that half of the kids couldn't get over and half could.  That would be 'fair' to some because it's the same course, but that doesn't make something intrinsically 'fair' IMO.  We'll just have to disagree, and that's just fine.

Yeah… that course is fair.

It may be poorly designed if it doesn't produce "winners" that are in-line with the goals of the competition, but it's perfectly "fair." What would be unfair is if all the blonde children got to run a different, easier obstacle course or something. That would be "unfair."

45 minutes ago, IrishAndy said:

I tried to go to great lengths to explain what I see as the specific 'golf-wide' effects in terms of heath and safety.

I must have missed it. IIRC you mentioned players on adjacent holes being more likely to get hit. Is that it? Is that the extent of the "golf-wide" ramifications?

How many more players are getting hit as a percentage of rounds played (to account for fluctuating popularity) now versus in the 1980s or 1990s?

45 minutes ago, IrishAndy said:

Not effects on the typical local course as far as I'm concerned.  Having said that I see my local is building tee boxes on one hole about 40 yards back.  I haven't asked, but it could be because people have started driving over the trees to the green on a dog leg par 4.  The green can't be seen at all from the tee box, so it's not very safe.  I've seen someone do it.  They had no clue if anyone was there.

So one local course is changing one tee to help with a hole that may or may not be poorly designed to begin with?

I'm just not seeing it, and it's not impolite to say so, plainly. I don't see anything you've posted as indicative of a problem across all of golf.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now



×

Important Information

Welcome to TST! Signing up is free, and you'll see fewer ads and can talk with fellow golf enthusiasts! By using TST, you agree to our Terms of Use, our Privacy Policy, and our Guidelines.

The popup will be closed in 10 seconds...