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USGA and R&A say distance needs to be reigned back in


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USGA/R&A Distance Report  

101 members have voted

  1. 1. Which of these has made the biggest contribution to distance gains on Tour in the last 30 years?

    • Ball technology
      33
    • Driver tech/fitting
      20
    • Fitness
      33
    • Launch monitor optimization
      4
    • Course conditions
      11
  2. 2. Is too much distance a problem on the Tour?

    • Yes
      45
    • No
      56
  3. 3. Is too much distance a problem for amateurs?

    • Yes
      6
    • No
      95
  4. 4. Which best represents your solution to the distance issue?

    • There's no issue. Keep things the way they are.
      19
    • Bifurcate: roll back the balls/clubs for the Tour, but leave the amateur equipment alone
      13
    • Change course conditions on Tour: taller grass, narrower fairways, etc.
      65
    • Roll back balls/clubs for everyone
      4
  5. 5. If the USGA rolls back the ball for everyone, would you switch to the new ball?

    • Yes
      38
    • No
      63


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I found some interesting things on the blog today.  One got me thinking.  What about if instead of rolling back distance they were to decrease MOI of drivers as a condition of play for tour level events? 

 

Just a rough draft thought but this could put a greater premium on ball striking which seems to be what they are getting at while still allowing for the distance that so many love, best of both worlds.  We all know we aren't using the same driver as Tiger right now - we just want the same brand with the same name on it - that could easily be the case here.

 

Thoughts?

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18 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

I'm not sure what that first sentence fragment is intended to convey, cold you explain it? 

In what way does the current report intend to "stunt the game", given that there's no intention to roll back the distances for the huge majority of players?  In what way did the WHS or the 2019 Rules of Golf "stunt the game"?  I didn't hear Chamblee, but I accept that you quoted him accurately.  It kind of sounds pithy and wise, but I don't see much wisdom behind it.

And how would you test this?  Part of making a rule about ball speed is determining exactly how you're going to test the ball speed.   You'd need to have a standard clubhead and clubhead speed, I believe, but clubhead speed may continue to increase with better mechanics and fitness, making the old standard test obsolete.

I have no idea. Way past my intelligence. But you are correct in the fact that CHS will continue to increase. Sasho Mckenzie believes that 140 mph is about what the max CHS for a tour player will become. If that is indeed the case that is roughly 24 mph higher than what it is currently average on tour. 60+ yards longer than now. That is a problem. No it's not a problem for 99% of golfers but it is a problem. I stand firmly against bifurcation but believe that there is something that will need to be done moving forward. 

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9 minutes ago, revkev said:

I found some interesting things on the blog today.  One got me thinking.  What about if instead of rolling back distance they were to decrease MOI of drivers as a condition of play for tour level events? 

 

Just a rough draft thought but this could put a greater premium on ball striking which seems to be what they are getting at while still allowing for the distance that so many love, best of both worlds.  We all know we aren't using the same driver as Tiger right now - we just want the same brand with the same name on it - that could easily be the case here.

 

Thoughts?

Not a bad idea, I just think that at that level it wouldn't change enough. I am not a fan of the USGA but I do not envy the position they are in. Yes they, did it to themselves but there are so many factors to accomplish what needs to be done that it is mind boggling. Even just saying we are rolling everything back. Which year do you pick to roll it back to?

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Silly report

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Not sure why this should have an influence on us general hackers.  I've always said the Pro's should have a different set of rules than the general golfing public.  All this is going to do is drive away more people from the game.  OEM"s are not going to manufacture different clubs.  "Yeah I'm looking for that club that hits it about 20 yards shorter?"  Not sure what they are thinking here.  Just make the fairways narrower, more rough, not so rock hard so they get 75 yards of roll, etc.  

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52 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

I'm not sure what that first sentence fragment is intended to convey, cold you explain it? 

In what way does the current report intend to "stunt the game", given that there's no intention to roll back the distances for the huge majority of players?  In what way did the WHS or the 2019 Rules of Golf "stunt the game"?  I didn't hear Chamblee, but I accept that you quoted him accurately.  It kind of sounds pithy and wise, but I don't see much wisdom behind it.

And how would you test this?  Part of making a rule about ball speed is determining exactly how you're going to test the ball speed.   You'd need to have a standard clubhead and clubhead speed, I believe, but clubhead speed may continue to increase with better mechanics and fitness, making the old standard test obsolete.

Pro golfers are training in the gym to be the best they can be and separate themselves from their competitors by being faster and thus longer. By making changes to limit distance they are penalizing guys for trying to get better. 
 

As Brandel was saying they are putting in rules that will artificially change the game despite its growth being organic their technology, equipment, training and so on. It get back to the point of minimizing and penalizing the work these athletes are doing.

 

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58 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

My apologies that I misunderstood.  I honestly don't care if the elite players have to play with reduced flight balls, but I don't think it will happen in my lifetime.  I just don't believe they'll ever accept that voluntarily, for reasons I mentioned in that previous post, and I don't believe the USGA/R&A would ever choose to develop mandatory bifurcation.  

How is it bifurcation if Tour pros and amateurs are playing the exact same golf ball?  OEM's have the ability to make balls that reduce the distance elite swing speeds produce without reducing the distance average swing speeds produce from the same golf ball.

Andy Johnson and Geoff Shackleford went into some detail about this on The Fried Egg this morning.  Say what you will about Shackleford but he predicted this "report" and its "findings" in his book 15 years ago!  Almost verbatim!

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18 minutes ago, sixcat said:

How is it bifurcation if Tour pros and amateurs are playing the exact same golf ball?  OEM's have the ability to make balls that reduce the distance elite swing speeds produce without reducing the distance average swing speeds produce from the same golf ball.

Andy Johnson and Geoff Shackleford went into some detail about this on The Fried Egg this morning.  Say what you will about Shackleford but he predicted this "report" and its "findings" in his book 15 years ago!  Almost verbatim!

AAhhh, a "non-linear" golf ball, nonlinear meaning an increase at say 80 mph clubhead speed would produce a significantly greater "reward" than the same increase at 120 mph.  I wouldn't doubt that this can be done, and could have the potential to address the distance issue at elite levels without hurting us mortals.  Do you have a suggestion of how to structure the specification?  You'd have to decide where the break point(s) in the reaction curve would be, and find a way to test the ball at multiple clubhead speeds, but it does seem like a feasible option.  Makes me wonder if Dean Snell would be willing to provide some insight.

35 minutes ago, RickyBobby_PR said:

Pro golfers are training in the gym to be the best they can be and separate themselves from their competitors by being faster and thus longer. By making changes to limit distance they are penalizing guys for trying to get better. 
As Brandel was saying they are putting in rules that will artificially change the game despite its growth being organic their technology, equipment, training and so on. It get back to the point of minimizing and penalizing the work these athletes are doing.

 There will always be an advantage to hitting the ball longer.  But yes, decreasing distance, especially in the way that @sixcat finally got me to understand, would decrease the amount of advantage gained by a specific increase in swing speed.  To my mind that's not penalizing them, its just reducing the reward.  But this is part of what the Ruling Bodies dislike, what seems like a disproportionate advantage distance brings at the highest levels of the game, as compared to some of the other skills a golfer can have.  It may influence the way players prepare, less gym and weight room time, but I don't look at any of this as penalizing anyone.  

In a way, this reminds me of some of the rules changes in hockey, football, and basketball.  Most of the rules changes have had the effect of increasing offense, and making it more difficult for defenses to succeed.  They're basically adjusting the relative value of different facets of the game.  Any changes that influence distance at the elite level will do the same kind of thing, adjust the value of one facet of the game relative to some other facets.  I didn't find golf any less interesting to watch in the days when Nicklaus booming it 270 was big, as compared to watching Dustin hit it 330.  That wouldn't change if Dustin could only hit it 300, it would be just as much fun to watch.  To me, that limitation would not "stunt the game".  

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10 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

AAhhh, a "non-linear" golf ball, nonlinear meaning an increase at say 80 mph clubhead speed would produce a significantly greater "reward" than the same increase at 120 mph.  I wouldn't doubt that this can be done, and could have the potential to address the distance issue at elite levels without hurting us mortals.  Do you have a suggestion of how to structure the specification?  You'd have to decide where the break point(s) in the reaction curve would be, and find a way to test the ball at multiple clubhead speeds, but it does seem like a feasible option.  Makes me wonder if Dean Snell would be willing to provide some insight.

That's the difficulty in my mind.  Where is that line of demarcation?  I could foresee an instance where someone like Jordan Spieth reaped benefits while a Jon Rahm didn't.  They are only about a yard or two different in the driving statistics year in and year out.  I guess my lack of understanding is in whether it's a hard line of demarcation or a gradual progression.

I'm still not convinced this will be as big a deal as it's being made out to be.  We will see, I'm sure.

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Another thought I had (a thought that pre dates this report) Pros should have to look for their ball in the same manner amateurs do. Only their group and caddies. No spotters, crowds not allowed to help, difficult to enforce, but we don't get any help, why should they! The increased chance of losing balls would be likely to change the bomb and gouge approach.

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4 hours ago, PMookie said:

Silly report

 

48 minutes ago, Tolmij said:

I agree, just overpaid people justifying their existance.

Dang, and think of all that time and effort we've wasted having a reasoned discussion of the actual report, and possible future actions.  Thanks to you gentlemen for pointing us in the right direction.

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I think #10 at Riviera is a good example. It's short at only 302 yards andimg] 67% of all scores come in at par or https://forum.mygolfspy.com/uploads/monthly_2020_02/791138665_Screenshot2020-02-06at10_32_54AM.thumb.png.e9e1a98ee6277f70e3087b7aabb8ba03.png' alt='791138665_Screenshot2020-02-06at10_32_54AM.thumb.png.e9e1a98ee6277f70e3087b7aabb8ba03.png'>
The other thing that comes to mind when looking at this hole is that it is probably one of the smallest greens on tour - I'm sure there are smaller, but I'm not familiar enough with all the tour courses to provide a better example. How many tour setups offer large greens where playing from the rough is even less penal?


This is a great example. Doug Ghim lost the US Amateur in a playoff on this hole in 2017.
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Dang, and think of all that time and effort we've wasted having a reasoned discussion of the actual report, and possible future actions.  Thanks to you gentlemen for pointing us in the right direction.

You’re welcome. Glad I didn’t waste any time and “effort” that, ultimately, won’t change a thing of what the report said, or will do....




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I strongly oppose different rules for most players and elite players.
 
But whose performance should be evaluated when determining the rules for equipment:

millions of recreational players or a couple hundred elite touring professionals?

Which group not only supports the game of golf, but for that matter, the other group as well?

I don't care if a few hundred players totally ravage par playing major tournaments. I don't think that the R&A and USGA should either.

The priority should be we, not they.
 
And how this isn't obvious to everybody astounds me.
 
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26 minutes ago, RetiredBoomer said:
And how this isn't obvious to everybody astounds me.

It is absolutely appropriate that people hold differing opinions on this issue.  I think every opinion I hold is the right one, but I do my best to understand the reasons that someone might hold an opposing viewpoint.  The way you have phrased this, there's your opinion, and there's WRONG.  That's doesn't leave a lot of room for discussion or compromise.

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12 hours ago, DaveP043 said:

It is absolutely appropriate that people hold differing opinions on this issue.  I think every opinion I hold is the right one, but I do my best to understand the reasons that someone might hold an opposing viewpoint.  The way you have phrased this, there's your opinion, and there's WRONG.  That's doesn't leave a lot of room for discussion or compromise.

I respect everybody's right to a different opinion, of course, Dave.

I'm just saying that on this particular issue, I would have expected a lot more people to have the same opinion that I do.

My opinion is my opinion and my no means an absolute truth.

Sorry to have given the wrong impression.

Edited by RetiredBoomer
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It seems to me that the discussion/debate can get a little muddled due to the size/scope of the report.  It has some interesting stuff in it for sure. 

Yes, there are many reasons tour pros are hitting it further and further (club tech, ball tech, fitness, etc). and there are many reasons why golf courses can't be lengthened (cost, environment impact, etc).  All of them have merit, but they are still secondary considerations IMO.  Ultimately, the bottom line is that golf courses cannot be perpetually lengthened as a method of accommodating continually longer shots hit by tour pros.  Something has got to give.  I thought that was the original reason which caused the USGA and R&A to undertake this report. 

I go back and forth on what that “something” should be.  I have ideas and opinions like everyone else.  There’s only so many weapons governing bodies can use to address the issue anyway.  Whatever changes are implemented, I guess that the following will happen:

  1. Tour pros and aspiring pros will still want to play on the PGA Tour for all that PGA Tour prize money
  2. People will watch about the same amount of televised golf as they do now
  3. Most of us will play about the same amount of golf as we do now

I think we'll all be fine.

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9 minutes ago, RetiredBoomer said:

Sorry to have given the wrong impression.

Sorry to jump down your throat.  I just think this is a very difficult issue, because I do share some of the concerns, particularly around televised golf.  I'd hate to see further distance gains make older classic courses become obsolete.  I'd hate to see televised golf be played only on new cookie-cutter TPC Courses, the ones that are long enough.  I'd enjoy seeing players hit a 6-iron on a par 4 because he NEEDS to, not because he's laying up with it off the tee.  I would prefer that new courses not feel a pressure to be built to over 7000 yards because of some perceived preference from the golfing public for "championship length".  All of that would push me towards limiting distance, perhaps rolling it back, at least at the elite levels.

But 99.9% of us don't hit the ball much further than we did 20 years ago, most of us struggle to play a 6500 yard course, the distance problem isn't a problem for us.  I don't think bifurcation, even in the form of an Acceptable Local Rule, is a good choice, and is extremely unlikely to be accepted by the PGA Tour or anyone else.   So what's the right course of action?  I can accept trying to "stall" the equipment-related distance gains, maybe even find additional things to regulate, but decreasing distance wouldn't be a great thing for most of the golfing public.  But I am really glad that someone is actually paying attention to what's going on, and evaluating both the direct and the "trickle-down" effects of distance improvements.

I guess I'm conflicted, I feel opposing urges myself, so when someone is so absolutely certain of his own opinions it just bugs me.  To borrow a phrase, the idea that someone can see all this as black and white astounds me.  😎

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I have to pause and thank Dave and retired boomer for working through to an understanding - great job!

This truly is a tough topic and tougher for those of us who enjoy testing the waters of tournament golf now and again. We want to play by the rules but for a guy like me who’s doing everything he can to hang on to every yard the thought of having all of my hard work undone is unthinkable.

I love this non-linear ball idea - what if that were coupled with some sort of moi limit or some other thing - I will say that it would be fun to watch the pros play a game that more similar to the one we play now.

Just please USGA don’t make a change that makes the game harder for us -


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