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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"  

103 members have voted

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

    • Yes
      25
    • No
      78
  2. 2. What is the main source of the "problem" above?

    • The golf ball goes too far, primarily.
      19
    • Several factors all contribute heavily.
      9
    • I voted "No" above, and I don't think there's really a "problem" right now.
      75


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The only think limiting the golf ball will do is help out the shorter hitters on the Tour. This sort of thing does not scale linearly. Bubba Watson will see a much greater decrease in distance versus someone like Furyk.

I see no problem with the equipment as it is.

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9 hours ago, RickPro said:

you know it is a problem when golf courses have to change the original and beautiful layout to accommodate professional competition. 

Very few courses have had to do that, and adding a tee box 30 yards behind another one doesn't do much to make a layout "less beautiful."

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1 hour ago, iacas said:

Very few courses have had to do that, and adding a tee box 30 yards behind another one doesn't do much to make a layout "less beautiful."

People talk about how much more it costs to maintain longer courses, but literally all the courses do is mow the grass short 30-50 yards back to create another teebox. The additional cost is whatever they pay their mowers to do another 15 minutes of mowing a week, because it gets watered regardless.

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On ‎9‎/‎17‎/‎2017 at 1:06 PM, inthehole said:

 

PS - if Jack and Lee say the modern ball goes too far, it goes too far.

Why?

 

I'll assume you're familiar with logical fallacies and spare explaining why this isn't a legitimate argument.

 

I don't remember Jack complaining when he was outdriving most of his fellow competitors in the 60s and 70s.

 

 

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If Jack and Lee say the modern ball goes too far, it's because they're jealous for one of two reasons:

  1. They didn't have access to that equipment in their prime and they wish they did (they could feel as though their records are threatened)
  2. They feel like the ball goes much further than it actually does because they're hitting it a fair amount shorter while everyone else is hitting it longer than they did, magnifying the apparent change in distance of the ball

My money would be on option 2. They think the change in the distance is much greater than it is because they're hitting the ball shorter at the same time that others are hitting it further. Nowadays, with the better fitness of all the golfers (thanks, Tiger) and the better data and equipment for players to use it's just silly to blame the golf ball alone. The golf ball is, however, the easy target to blame since it's the thing that's ultimately going further.

I think that if the current generation of professionals were born in Jack's era, but had the weight training regimens that they do now and access to Trackman and Flightscope, they would hit the ball further than Jack and Lee did using the same equipment (just better fit to the player and being hit by a fitter golfer).

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1 hour ago, Pretzel said:

I think that if the current generation of professionals were born in Jack's era, but had the weight training regimens that they do now and access to Trackman and Flightscope, they would hit the ball further than Jack and Lee did using the same equipment (just better fit to the player and being hit by a fitter golfer).

Miles of golf demonstrated this.

My son's high school team were monster long players. The longest hitter hit a couple Balata balls with an older style club with a steel shaft over the fence 240 yards away and about 75 feet high or more. Other than playing baseball, he didn't really workout a lot. I'd guess that if he were playing in the 1980s, he'd be one of the longest hitters. His average drive was something north of 300 yards. Average, not poked.

I was told that one of the players the web tour have hit over 390 yard drives with some frequency.

The longest LDA is now almost capable of reaching the high 400s.

http://www.africanamericangolfersdigest.com/maurice-allen-long-drive-hitter-phenom/

For those who think height is the most important attribute, Maurice is 5'8" in shoes and 225 pounds.

Edited by Lihu

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17 hours ago, BaconNEggs said:

Why?

 

I'll assume you're familiar with logical fallacies and spare explaining why this isn't a legitimate argument.

 

I don't remember Jack complaining when he was outdriving most of his fellow competitors in the 60s and 70s.

 

 

Perfect response.

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I think the balls are not the problem in golf.  I mean guys are swinging harder and trying to get that extra yards out of their swings. These guys are getting more information that are helping them use that in their swing to get the most out of it. Their are guys on tour who hit long but are not great wedge players and then their are guys on tour that are not long but are great wedge players. That is golf. Look at Bubba he is one of the longest guys on tour but he's not winning every weekend. Does it help to be long hitter sure but there is more to golf than hitting it long and that what makes this a great game. It be like taking a pitcher in baseball that throws it 100 mph and tell him he cant do that because only handful of guys can so you are only aloud to throw 92 mph to make it fair to the other guys. Sure he can throw 100 mph but if he cant throw strikes he is useless. 

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None of the arguments I've heard make any sense. Amateurs play shorter courses and hit short anyway.

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I read the thread, I think some of the "other sports" analogies are a bit off, because they have all made massive allowances for players getting bigger and stronger and faster.  Sure, there is someone just as big playing defense on the other side, but all those sports have still recognized the need to change as "distance" (physical prowess) has changed.  To say the hoop is still 10 feet and someone bigger and faster is playing defense is so simplistic as to be wrong.

All of those sports have made massive rule changes at the professional level (but not the amateur) to "keep up" with what the modern professionals in those sports can accomplish.  Most were done for either safety or to keep the game from becoming incredibly uniform and boring.  Sports get solved, so will (has?) golf. Its more about that than the ball - its really, really, really boring to watch the PGA Tour these days compared to years past because you can simply do a lot more with a 200 yard shot than an 80 yard shot and you can do a lot more exciting things when there *haven't* been exhaustive scientific studies on how to best play the game.  With trackman, LSW, Broadie, Strokes Gained (and, I guess, starting with Pelz to a certain extent) golf has made a massive transition out of unknown art and into known science.  That's fine, but it is a heckuva lot less poetic and interesting to watch.

In basketball, when the players go so quick and strong that nobody could stop the best isolation scorers in the league, they changed the illegal defense rules.  Now, the ability to bring help means that if a team doesn't have an isolation scorer and two or three really good shooters they can't run boring, clear-out, one-guy offenses like Jordan and Iverson could run.  The rule of verticality allows big defenders at the rim to play defense despite the fact that 6'2" guards can now dunk with two hands - that would have been impossible to stop under the rules Bird and Magic played under.  The shot clock is 24 seconds and only resets to 14 so that defenses don't have to play D against those big strong guys very long - in college its 48.  Ditto the NFL.  As defensive backs to stronger and faster, the offenses couldn't keep up.  Rules were changes to disallow contact and take away those advantages and scoring skyrocketed.  Hockey made very similar changes as athletes got so big and strong that a single defensemen couldn't stop a forecheck alone, so the rules were changes so dump-and-chase wasn't the strategy used by literally every single team.

Could you imagine a high school referee trying to interpret the NBA rule of verticality? Or trying to play with a 24 second shot clock?  Could you imagine a 17 year old high school kid trying to cover somebody without being allowed to touch them even after they caught the ball, but required to stay with them step for step?

Every single sport except one has different rules for the pros and the rest.  I don't know about the ball part, but, IMO, golf should have three rules levels: pro, amateur, casual.  Amateur can be like pro, but designed to be fast - OB like water, 2 mins lost balls not 5, 2 mins to hit putt when its your turn, etc... Something like that.  And each event can choose its rules level.  I have no idea why golf insists on having the "same rules" at every level, but it doesn't make any sense.

Sports get solved, and golf is being solved. I would argue that this whole topic isn't correctly based. Its not that distance is getting longer randomly, its that professionals (And their advisors) have figured out how important distance is and are doing everything they can to maximize it - JUST like NBA teams realized about 1995 that Iso scorers were the most important type of player and NFL teams figured out a quarterback and two cornerbacks were under those rules.  Its about information, not the ball.  Millions of dollars are at stake - they'll figure out how to hit a beach ball 300 yards. The rules should change to make this un-solved because watching it is like watching paint dry.  I can think of a few suggestions, but the issue isn't distance its information.  If we took a time machine to 1960 and handed some aspiring tour pro a trackman, a copy of Broadie's work, some of the distance studies and LSW he'd become the best player the world, or at least one of them.  That is the advantage.  Knowledge of the most optimal way to play the game (smash it as far as possible that doesn't risk a hazard) is way bigger advantage than the ball.  Now that everyone knows how to play golf optimally, its incredibly boring, just like the other sports when every team was trying to do the same thing.  One team running the run-n-shoot is great.  15 doing it sucks.  One guy dominating by being an isolation scorer and nobody else doing it is fantastic TV.  20 teams running isolation offenses is awful.  One guy hitting it 300 yards (Nicklaus in his time) is awesome, half the tour doing it sucks.  Its a time-tested pattern.  Sports get solved.  You un-solve them with rules changes, not equipment changes.

Oh, some corporated-out whitebread guy hit a 310 yard drive, then a wedge to 9 feet, then slid a biridie putt by?  Awesome.  Tune in next week!

Edited by johnclayton1982

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37 minutes ago, johnclayton1982 said:

Its more about that than the ball - its really, really, really boring to watch the PGA Tour these days compared to years past because you can simply do a lot more with a 200 yard shot than an 80 yard shot and you can do a lot more exciting things when there *haven't* been exhaustive scientific studies on how to best play the game.  With trackman, LSW, Broadie, Strokes Gained (and, I guess, starting with Pelz to a certain extent) golf has made a massive transition out of unknown art and into known science.  That's fine, but it is a heckuva lot less poetic and interesting to watch.

Golf is less interesting for a lot of people because Tiger isn't at the forefront anymore. When you have a very polarizing guy, who is just crushing everyone, you tune in to either watch the greatness or wish for him to crash. I just don't think there is anyone on tour who has Tiger's charisma on the course. Some of the shots he pulled off, his confidence, his domination. It brought people to the sport. No one today has those combinations. It's not the ball.

Imagine if Tiger Woods was 27 years old and these young bloods show up. Now you have all these high level players challenging Tiger. Golf would be really exciting.

Edited by saevel25

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20 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

Golf is less interesting for a lot of people because Tiger isn't at the forefront anymore. When you have a very polarizing guy, who is just crushing everyone, you tune in to either watch the greatness or wish for him to crash. I just don't think there is anyone on tour who has Tiger's charisma on the course. Some of the shots he pulled off, his confidence, his domination. It brought people to the sport. No one today has those combinations. It's not the ball.

Imagine if Tiger Woods was 27 years old and these young bloods show up. Now you have all these high level players challenging Tiger. Golf would be really exciting.

Tiger Woods was interesting because he was different.  If in 2000 there were 55 guys who played the game exactly like Tiger and were just as long as Tiger and understood what it took to shoot low scores like Tiger (i.e. iron approaches most important, than drives, etc...) Tiger may have won a lot, but he would have been boring.

All the guys we remember as super amazing, super interesting, super memorable guys are almost uniformly the first great type of guy who has solved the sport.

First great isolation scorer in a no-help-D-allowed NBA?  Jordan.

First great fast/ forechecker / finisher in a hockey game that allowed dump and chase?  Gretzky.

etc... etc...

When there was one (Jordan) he was "incredible".  When there were 15 (McGrady, Kobe, Iverson, Carter, Francis, Eddie Jones, etc...) because everyone knew it was the best way to play it was boring and we needed Jordan back.  The issue isn't that Tiger is great and we miss him.  The issue is that we now have 55 Tigers (i.e. guys who understand iron shots and then driver are most important), so its not interesting.

Sure, Tiger was awesome, but "charisma" ?  Go watch some youtubes of his interview from his prime.  He was incredible, but "charisma" would be pretty far down the list of terms I'd use to describe him.  He understood (whether consciously or not) how to best play golf from a scientific perspective.  Combined with his talent, he dominated.  If there were 100 guys who all knew distance and approach shots and GIR were king in 1999 he may have still dominated, but it would have been a whole lot less interesting.

The rules have to change to make the Tour interesting again because everyone up there knows how to play golf the "best" (read: most high probability) way.  Its exactly like the NBA with zone defense, the NFL with passing defense, hockey with forechecking, etc... If 23 teams in the league were still playing the Tampa 2, keeping everything in front of them, and winning super bowls 17-13 NFL TV ratings would still be in the toilet.  So they changed the rules.  They didn't change the rules when Gruden's Bucs did it, because it was only one team.  When more than half the league switched to it, football started to suck. When the Pats dominated the mid-2000s with it and literally every single AFC playoff team played it one year (it was awful), the rules had to change (and they did).

Once everyone starts doing it one way, it sucks to watch regardless of the personalities.  Its not the ball.  Its that, gradually, every single one of those guys is starting to play the game the same way, because its been figured out.  It needs rules changes to become un-figured out in order to be interesting again.

 

EDIT:

The sport can self-correct.  The entire league ran the west coast offense and it was generally considered unstoppable with the right personell until Labeu invented the zone blitz to beat it.  You can't throw quick dump offs if a random lineman is dropping into coverage.  Hard to imagine golf self-correcting though.

Edited by johnclayton1982

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10 minutes ago, johnclayton1982 said:

Tiger Woods was interesting because he was different.  If in 2000 there were 55 guys who played the game exactly like Tiger and were just as long as Tiger and understood what it took to shoot low scores like Tiger (i.e. iron approaches most important, than drives, etc...) Tiger may have won a lot, but he would have been boring.

All the guys we remember as super amazing, super interesting, super memorable guys are almost uniformly the first great type of guy who has solved the sport.

First great isolation scorer in a no-help-D-allowed NBA?  Jordan.

First great fast/ forechecker / finisher in a hockey game that allowed dump and chase?  Gretzky.

etc... etc...

When there was one (Jordan) he was "incredible".  When there were 15 (McGrady, Kobe, Iverson, Carter, Francis, Eddie Jones, etc...) because everyone knew it was the best way to play it was boring and we needed Jordan back.  The issue isn't that Tiger is great and we miss him.  The issue is that we now have 55 Tigers (i.e. guys who understand iron shots and then driver are most important), so its not interesting.

Sure, Tiger was awesome, but "charisma" ?  Go watch some youtubes of his interview from his prime.  He was incredible, but "charisma" would be pretty far down the list of terms I'd use to describe him.  He understood (whether consciously or not) how to best play golf from a scientific perspective.  Combined with his talent, he dominated.  If there were 100 guys who all knew distance and approach shots and GIR were king in 1999 he may have still dominated, but it would have been a whole lot less interesting.

The rules have to change to make the Tour interesting again because everyone up there knows how to play golf the "best" (read: most high probability) way.  Its exactly like the NBA with zone defense, the NFL with passing defense, hockey with forechecking, etc... Once everyone starts doing it one way, it sucks to watch regardless of the personalities.

So, after writing so much that I, as a reader, lost track of what I was reading about other sports, are you advocating ball speed reduction?

Even if not, I’m not sure I agree that it’s “boring”?

Edited by Lihu

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2 minutes ago, Lihu said:

So, after writing so much that I, as a reader, lost track of what I was reading about other sports, are you advocating ball speed reduction?

Even if not, I’m not sure I agree that it’s “boring”?

No.  I'm advocating rules changes so that the optimal way to play the game isn't figured out any more.  I didn't know that writing more was considered bad here. I was making an argument that I think was correct.  The ball doesn't matter.  Its boring to watch the same guys play the same way every single week on courses that all look the same.  Diversity in looks, approach, strategy and other factors is very interesting.  The PGA Tour has none.

You might think its not boring, but TV ratings sure think its boring.

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Just now, johnclayton1982 said:

No.  I'm advocating rules changes so that the optimal way to play the game isn't figured out any more.  I didn't know that writing more was considered bad here. I was making an argument that I think was correct.  The ball doesn't matter.  Its boring to watch the same guys play the same way every single week on courses that all look the same.  Diversity in looks, approach, strategy and other factors is very interesting.  The PGA Tour has none.

You might think its not boring, but TV ratings sure think its boring.

You write very well. It’s just that I lost the ultimate idea while reading it.

Yeah, I guessed you were advocating many changes, but not sure if those included ball speed reduction or not?

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18 minutes ago, johnclayton1982 said:

No.  I'm advocating rules changes so that the optimal way to play the game isn't figured out any more.  I didn't know that writing more was considered bad here. I was making an argument that I think was correct.  The ball doesn't matter.  Its boring to watch the same guys play the same way every single week on courses that all look the same.  Diversity in looks, approach, strategy and other factors is very interesting.  The PGA Tour has none.

You might think its not boring, but TV ratings sure think its boring.

If you want golf to be more exciting. . .

"This is action packed, this is sport!" :-D

Edited by Lihu

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33 minutes ago, johnclayton1982 said:

No.  I'm advocating rules changes so that the optimal way to play the game isn't figured out any more.  I didn't know that writing more was considered bad here. I was making an argument that I think was correct.  The ball doesn't matter.  Its boring to watch the same guys play the same way every single week on courses that all look the same.  Diversity in looks, approach, strategy and other factors is very interesting.  The PGA Tour has none.

You might think its not boring, but TV ratings sure think its boring.

I guess this is kind of to each to their own. I do not think golf is boring or everyone figured it out. I think there is a lot of diversity in the sport. When you have one guy that can make up their mistake by using his putter ala Jordan Speith. Then you have a guy that's really long off the tee DJ. Then you have a guy with very creative wedge game Phil. I mean Zach Johnson won the Open and hes not a long hitter. Jim Furyk shot a 58 and he's not long at all. I do not think all the courses look the same. Do they have some similarity in them sure. There is a tee box and a fairway and a putting green. Its up to these guys figure out how to play these course to their advantages. You hear pro's all the time say that one course suit them better than another one. I think golf is in good hands. Will we see it spike like when Tiger was winning probably not but we will see. TV ratings in a lot of sports are down. There are other ways now with technology to watch them. I'm sure if you had couple big names on Sunday at the Masters the ratings would not be down.

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It's a combo of ball and equipment.  The increased forgiveness and added distance makes courses designed with the older stuff in mind obsolete without modification.

Its not that players have figured out a new strategy at all.  It's just that the equipment makes it far easier for less skilled players to hit farther and straighter.  It's a different game.

its not that older balls couldn't be hit long it's just that it was more difficult.  The level of precision required was higher.

Edited by Jack Watson

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