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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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12 minutes ago, Jack Watson said:

The par five being basically a gimme birdie on tour does bother me though.

Why, though? You were correct in pointing out that par is just a number. :beer:

In any case, the average par 5 on tour isn't a gimme birdie for anyone, or the scoring averages would be lower (https://www.pgatour.com/stats/stat.144.html). So, I see it as actually leveling the playing field a bit. I like the idea of a few holes on the course providing (good) low scoring opportunities to everyone.

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29 minutes ago, Jack Watson said:

You caught me here.  I tried to say par doesn't matter first.  

The par five being basically a gimme birdie on tour does bother me though.

One of those players is a Web.com player. He's still not out-scoring the PGA even with that tremendous length. Also, making that distance doesn't automatically translate into a gimme birdie every time.

 

Quote

Good job you pointed out inconsistency.

No inconsistency, the extra length doesn't make the game automatically easier for the longer PGA hitters while simultaneously making it harder for us amateurs. They do score better, but we kind of expect that.

 

2 minutes ago, roamin said:

Why, though? You were correct in pointing out that par is just a number. :beer:

In any case, the average par 5 on tour isn't a gimme birdie for anyone, or the scoring averages would be lower (https://www.pgatour.com/stats/stat.144.html). So, I see it as actually leveling the playing field a bit. I like the idea of a few holes on the course providing (good) low scoring opportunities to everyone.

Exactly.

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3 hours ago, iacas said:

Regardless, this is all off topic, as it has little to nothing to do with whether the "ball" is to blame or whether the game of golf has a "problem."

If you can directly tie it back to that, cool.

Well then the discussion won't exist because none of us (myself, pretzel or you, I mean) think that golf has a problem due to the ball.  :)  But I can still make an argument that ties back to that. :P

4 hours ago, Pretzel said:

My comparison is more about how the game is played differently, not how the competition gets larger and faster. Athletes like Vince Young, for example, are a prime example of someone who had an exemplary college career and then couldn't adapt to the completely different game of the NFL. In college football a quarterback is expected to be able to move and run when needed, whereas in the NFL they're far more often expected to be able to sit in the pocket and keep watching for an open pass. This leads to some otherwise great athletes being unable to "step up" into the role of an NFL quarterback compared to their college successes. Matt Leinart, David Carr, JaMarcus Russell, and Tim Teebow are all good examples of great athletes who just couldn't adapt because the game in the NFL is fundamentally different from college football.

But the game is played differently precisely because the competition gets larger and faster.  There was nothing in the rules that prevented Vince Young's style from working in the NFL.

What I'm getting at is that I believe the differences between other sports at the pro and college and other levels are barely affected by the differences in the rules.  Likewise, I believe the similarities in golf are not as due to the lack of bifurcated rules as others claim.  (I apologize if this doesn't make sense - I'm not even sure myself and I have tried to write it like five different ways.  It's late and I'm tired. ;))

4 hours ago, Pretzel said:

Think of it this way: You oftentimes will see college golfers compete, and finish well, in PGA Tour tournaments. Despite her lack of success on the men's tour, Michelle Wie was still able to make the cut and place in a PGA Tour tournament. In how many other sports can either of those things happen? This is why I think the rules and the equipment should stay the same at all levels of competition for golf.

I agree, this really doesn't happen in the other sports, but again, I don't believe the rules have anything to do with this.  If the PGA Tour started using a ball that only traveled 95% as far as it does now (or whatever they needed to make it) how would that affect the game of a college player or a Michelle Wie relative to the other players on tour?  They'd all be using the same ball.

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Players on the edge would be at a disadvantage. Time spent learning both balls would disadvantage them in both the upper and lower levels of competition.

If you had to learn two CAD programs you wouldn’t be a star at one. Right?

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Just now, iacas said:

Players on the edge would be at a disadvantage. Time spent learning both balls would disadvantage them in both the upper and lower levels of competition.

If you had to learn two CAD programs you wouldn’t be a star at one. Right?

This is my biggest problem with proposing a different ball for pros. For US Open qualifying and such, I'd have to do everything a little different. That would be ridiculous. 

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24 minutes ago, iacas said:

Players on the edge would be at a disadvantage. Time spent learning both balls would disadvantage them in both the upper and lower levels of competition.

If you had to learn two CAD programs you wouldn’t be a star at one. Right?

I get it, but I still say its being overstated.  I mean, what's the difference between calibrating from your non-regulated ball to a regulated tour ball vs. calibrating between a tournament at sea level one week and in Denver the next?  Or even just guys swapping PGA and Euro tours and having to calibrate between yards and meters for the same ball.

I totally agree that it isn't remotely necessary, however, if it DID happen, I wouldn't be worried, but rather intrigued.

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14 hours ago, iacas said:

Also, @johnclayton1982, as you know we like to stick to the topic here, and you're close to going off of it… the ball is not a problem in your opinion.

Correct?

100% correct.  I'd make the ball (and the driver face) longer and hotter.  Its more fun for everybody.  Shots go flying into the woods more and those shots are fun.  I have no issue with obsoleting old courses or the distances people drive the ball.  My argument basically boiled down to the fact that science and golf have intersected in a way that makes massive hitters the norm (and not the unique, like in Hogan/Nicklaus' day). Its the phenomenon of diminishing returns.  A 4.4 40 running linebacker is incredibly fast, but doesn't seem or sound as fast than a 4.6 linebacker.  But those two hundreths are probably more impressive than a 5.5 to a 5.0 at another level.  Similarly, adding 10 yards when you hit it 330 is way harder / move impressive than when you hit it 250.  But that doesn't come across on TV, just seems "long".  Because of that, its like other sports where rather than tune in to see *how* people win we tune in to see who has executed the obviously correct game plan that week.  Its less compelling, IMO.  Apologies for pulling the thread off topic.

I think the best comparison here is aluminum bats to wooden ones in college baseball to pro baseball.  I don't know many prospects who can't make it in the majors because they can't adjust to a wooden bat.  Its basically the same, the ball just goes shorter. I'd keep the PGA rules exactly as they are now (or similar) but push COR for casuals to like .89 and allow them to juice the balls a lot.  It'd be more fun. There's a grey area in rules adjustment where the game looks identical (college basketball doesn't use 8 foot hoops, and I'm not advocating cutting foot wide holes) but becomes easier.

We just disagree re: uniformity of rules mattering.  I don't care that I can compare my 74 to DJ's 63.  I've never heard a single person in my group or club or at my range discuss it.  95% don't even know what slope is.  That said, I have no study, so I could be wrong that it is irrelevant to the vast majority of the golfing public.

Anyway, my bad for steering it somewhere else - thought the question was more a "Whats wrong with the PGA Tour" in general question.  I wouldn't change the ball.  If anything I would juice it.  I could care less if Merion or whatever is "obsolete". I want to be entertained.

Edited by johnclayton1982

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7 hours ago, Golfingdad said:

I get it, but I still say its being overstated.

I don’t think you and I agree on how strongly it’s being “stated.” I said a disadvantage. You agreed. I haven’t said much about the strength of that disadvantage only because in my opinion any disadvantage, any difference is too much. Any bifurcation is too much.

And this is only even a thing if there’s a “problem.” I don’t think there is… and I don’t recall you saying there was.

7 hours ago, Golfingdad said:

I mean, what's the difference between calibrating from your non-regulated ball to a regulated tour ball vs. calibrating between a tournament at sea level one week and in Denver the next?

Short game spin/control. The fact that the Tour rarely sees those extreme differences, and when they do everyone sees them. The borderline guy still has two things to deal with then - the altitude and the ball. That’s not s great analogy.

7 hours ago, Golfingdad said:

Or even just guys swapping PGA and Euro tours and having to calibrate between yards and meters for the same ball.

Most of those guys keep the same caddie and thus stay in meters or yards per their preference. Also that’s just math. You can learn that conversion in an instant. It’s not at all like learning how a new ball behaves.

Again any “in the Rules” type of disadvantage is too much IMO.

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14 minutes ago, iacas said:

Again any “in the Rules” type of disadvantage is too much IMO.

The USA basketball team plays by international rules every Olympics and absolutely dominates.

I guess the question I (and golfingdad) have is why is this so important to you?  Don't you think its cooler to be able to hit a drive closer to DJ's distance (because you can use a super juiced ball at a .89 COR driver) than it is to be able to figure out what he would shoot on your home course?  Bifurcation exists in literally every other sport I can think of.  Even in tennis (which I've posted before about playing at a high level) there is minor bifurcation between high school, college and the professionals.  I can't think of a single sport besides golf where there is no bifurcation. Going to a middle school basketball game having 20 shot clock violations a game because they play by the same rules as the NBA makes about as much sense as going to a local muni and watching guys hit 5 woods into par 4s because they can't play juiced balls or clubs.

I don't understand why playing by the same rules as DJ is as fun as being able to play *more like* DJ.

Edited by johnclayton1982

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32 minutes ago, johnclayton1982 said:

The USA basketball team plays by international rules every Olympics and absolutely dominates.

Oh my. You found one example.

John, you know that's not how this works.

32 minutes ago, johnclayton1982 said:

I guess the question I (and golfingdad) have is why is this so important to you?

I don't think that's Drew's question. He doesn't think there's a problem, and you have said you don't think the ball should be changed (or that you think it should be made longer?). So, I don't know that he'd really throw in with you. I feel like he was just playing devil's advocate to me, which is fine.

Also, this doesn't feel on topic. You're on record as saying the ball isn't the problem, no?

32 minutes ago, johnclayton1982 said:

Don't you think its cooler to be able to hit a drive closer to DJ's distance (because you can use a super juiced ball at a .89 COR driver) than it is to be able to figure out what he would shoot on your home course?

No. Not at all. That takes away meaning or accomplishment.

Right now I can marvel at the things Dustin Johnson does… while understanding that we're on equal footing. I'd have no sense of accomplishment if I hit an "illegal" driver past his legal one.

32 minutes ago, johnclayton1982 said:

Bifurcation exists in literally every other sport I can think of.

I like that it doesn't exist in golf.

32 minutes ago, johnclayton1982 said:

I can't think of a single sport besides golf where there is no bifurcation.

That's not an argument for it. "Everyone else does it, so should we" has never been a good argument for something. Not in grade school, and not in adult life.

I like that we don't have bifurcation in golf.

The USGA/R&A are the one ruling body in all of golf, worldwide. That's not true in other sports.

32 minutes ago, johnclayton1982 said:

I don't understand why playing by the same rules as DJ is as fun as being able to play *more like* DJ.

Because the latter strips away meaning, comparison, etc.

If pros putted to a 3.75" hole… our connection with the game we see on TV each week is weakened. Like I said, any weakening of that, any disadvantage, is too much IMO.

You think golf is too boring because people have figured it out. But you've not proven this to be a problem. It's just a problem for you.

I'd have written more but I'm rushing out the door to watch @NatalieB play.

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Quote

I guess the question I (and golfingdad) have is why is this so important to you?  Don't you think its cooler to be able to hit a drive closer to DJ's distance (because you can use a super juiced ball at a .89 COR driver) than it is to be able to figure out what he would shoot on your home course? 

Not really, I’d prefer to play on the courses they play under the same conditions and see I would do on them. The main thing is Golf already has guidelines for the shorter hitting players like us. So, why do we need to dumb down the pro player’s ability? I can’t think of any good reason to do so.

 

Quote

Bifurcation exists in literally every other sport I can think of.

For kids versus adult players, this makes some sense. However, there are more sports that don’t bifurcate the rules than those that do.

I agree with your argument about making things different for the standard player versus a pro, but Golf already has provisions for that, play shorter courses. ;-)

We play Golf by the same rules as the pros, because it’s possible to do so and still have fun. On top of that, if the rules were different, it wouldn’t be Golf any more.

 

Quote

I don't understand why playing by the same rules as DJ is as fun as being able to play *more like* DJ.

It’s kind of the same reason you want to feel like you can out drive Dustin, Rory or Bubba by different rules.

My preference is to play by the same rules since we can.

Edited by Lihu

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4 hours ago, iacas said:

Short game spin/control. The fact that the Tour rarely sees those extreme differences, and when they do everyone sees them. The borderline guy still has two things to deal with then - the altitude and the ball. That’s not s great analogy.

My counter to that would be:  then why don’t we hear about people having issues in foursomes in the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup due to playing the ball they’re not accustomed to?

(And, yes, my argument is somewhat of a devils advocate thing.  But I’m not very strongly against slowing down the tour ball.  If you do the math between my side that thinks the current ball is not a problem and the side of me that would like to see a slower tour ball, it averages out to about ... ambivalent) :)

3 hours ago, Lihu said:

Not really, I’d prefer to play on the courses they play under the same conditions and see I would do on them.

If tour courses weren’t tricked out the week the pros came through (I know they all aren’t but many are) and we all always played from the tips then this would make perfect sense, but that isn’t the case for the vast majority of us.  We aren’t members of Shinnecock playing it from 7400 yards, many of us play munis from 6300-6500 ... so it’s already nothing alike and a tour ball wouldn’t do much more to add to that. (other than perhaps allow them to play from 7100, for example)

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14 minutes ago, Golfingdad said:

If tour courses weren’t tricked out the week the pros came through (I know they all aren’t but many are) and we all always played from the tips then this would make perfect sense, but that isn’t the case for the vast majority of us.  We aren’t members of Shinnecock playing it from 7400 yards, many of us play munis from 6300-6500 ... so it’s already nothing alike and a tour ball wouldn’t do much more to add to that. (other than perhaps allow them to play from 7100, for example)

True, I wouldn’t really play from more than 6300-6500 yards on narrow courses like that anyway, but I have tried putting and chipping when the conditions were supposedly the same. Like after a tournament. That’s hard enough that I appreciate what they can do.

I’ve also had this weird luck where pros play on courses I usually play, and from that I appreciate their long games much more. Those guys can really hit the ball far.

So, I agree with the tricked out part, but I also like looking back at the tees they play and wonder in amazement from where I play. My gut response is like “Wow”.

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I'd rather play by the same rules with the same equipment on the same courses.  For me, it's what makes it so fun to watch the pros and realize how incredible they are.

My crappy analogy would be watching basketball where the pros all have to wear 20 pound ankle weights - while playing at home, high school and college they don't.  BORING and a bit senseless.

vote:  NOT a problem and, frankly, very cool

Edited by rehmwa

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41 minutes ago, Golfingdad said:

My counter to that would be:  then why don’t we hear about people having issues in foursomes in the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup due to playing the ball they’re not accustomed to?

a) you do occasionally

b) those balls are pretty similar

This is off topic enough for me that I’m done there. I am against bifurcation.

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Last week Gary Player came out for dialing back the ball.    So that makes Lee, Jack and now Gary.    I'd be inclined to believe these guys know something about it.   BUT they're old now, and might just not like the young guys today with modern equipment hitting it past what they could do in their prime ... who knows.:hmm:

Edited by inthehole

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16 minutes ago, inthehole said:

I'd be inclined to believe these guys know something about it.

Why?

They were last competitive 30 years ago.

Just because they were good golfers doesn't mean they know much about how the current game is played, how the average amateur plays the game, etc.

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