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

USGA/R&A Distance Report  

100 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
      32
    • 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
      44
    • No
      56
  3. 3. Is too much distance a problem for amateurs?

    • Yes
      6
    • No
      94
  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
      12
    • 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
      62


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10 minutes ago, GolfSpy MPR said:

Right now, the ZJ/Furyk guys are finding it hard to win. ZJ is, on average, nearly 30 yards back of Champ.

He's also, on average, driving the ball 285 yards! If he's in almost any four man scramble, he's your anchor driver. The difference between him and the "bomber" in your scramble isn't distance; it's that ZJ is hitting all those shots down the center.

The only place he's short is relative to the even bigger hitters on Tour.

Is the professional game broken because there's literally no place at all for a guy averaging 250 off the tee? Or 235?

We recognize that there's always going to be a guy on Tour who's the shortest on Tour. There will always be a group of guys 30-35 yards behind the longest hitters.

In 30 years, the "short" guys will be averaging 300.

The professional game isn't broken; just changed.   You will not see many short hitters on tour in the future; there are just too many good long hitters.  Sure, talented young players ala Furyk/ZJ and Luke Donald will try because of the money, but there are so many players coming up that that hit the ball far that the short hitter will not be able to compete week in - week out.  The short hitters will drop out, and the rest of the field will be bunched up.  There will always be the Cameron Champs in the field, but everyone else won't be that far behind.  This is the main reason we are seeing a spike in the average driving distance today.

It's always fun to watch players hit the ball a long way, but I really miss the players that worked the ball.  Corey Pavin was awesome!

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13 hours ago, GolfSpy MPR said:

Right now, the ZJ/Furyk guys are finding it hard to win. ZJ is, on average, nearly 30 yards back of Champ.

He's also, on average, driving the ball 285 yards! If he's in almost any four man scramble, he's your anchor driver. The difference between him and the "bomber" in your scramble isn't distance; it's that ZJ is hitting all those shots down the center.

The only place he's short is relative to the even bigger hitters on Tour.

Is the professional game broken because there's literally no place at all for a guy averaging 250 off the tee? Or 235?

We recognize that there's always going to be a guy on Tour who's the shortest on Tour. There will always be a group of guys 30-35 yards behind the longest hitters.

In 30 years, the "short" guys will be averaging 300.

There is a point where distance disqualifies you because there will be forced carry holes on courses - I'm not exactly sure of what that yardage is probably around 260 on tour.  For me it's 200 - I can carry driver around 210 with all things being equal so anything more than 200 and I'm not trying it - if I have a forced carry that long I'm in big trouble.

The USGA has made it clear that they are wanting to elevate skills other than distance - they believe the game is out of balance.  It's certainly not out of balance for any of us - I can negate distance advantages among the guys that I play with by being better at other things - that's not happening with any touring pro - with them distance is where it starts and it continues through the bag.

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14 hours ago, Kenny B said:

Corey Pavin was awesome!

You don't see the "quail-high" fade much these days from the guys, but some of the women will still hit it.

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Personally, I don't think I am opposed to some form of bifurcation, if that's what they think they need to do. Baseball does it once at the professional level with bats. Granted, I doubt there is much $ pumped into R&D on a piece of wood, but maybe I'm wrong.

If they choose to bifurcate with the ball, perhaps the USGA and R&A could learn from racing - almost every top level professional series has a spec tire where interested manufacturers bid for the right to provide tires periodically. They could maybe even go the F1 route where there are 3 different specs to choose from on any given weekend. I could imagine something like a low, medium, and high spin or compression option that players get to chose from depending on the course and/or conditions and what they are trying to accomplish. I suppose they could develop a spec that could include any and all manufacturers (sort of like the NASCAR "car of tomorrow" that was a mandated body shape with Toyota, Chevy, or Ford stickers on them) so they don't burn any bridges with current manufacturers.

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3 hours ago, MaxEntropy said:

Personally, I don't think I am opposed to some form of bifurcation, if that's what they think they need to do. Baseball does it once at the professional level with bats. Granted, I doubt there is much $ pumped into R&D on a piece of wood, but maybe I'm wrong.

If they choose to bifurcate with the ball, perhaps the USGA and R&A could learn from racing - almost every top level professional series has a spec tire where interested manufacturers bid for the right to provide tires periodically. They could maybe even go the F1 route where there are 3 different specs to choose from on any given weekend. I could imagine something like a low, medium, and high spin or compression option that players get to chose from depending on the course and/or conditions and what they are trying to accomplish. I suppose they could develop a spec that could include any and all manufacturers (sort of like the NASCAR "car of tomorrow" that was a mandated body shape with Toyota, Chevy, or Ford stickers on them) so they don't burn any bridges with current manufacturers.

I like your comparison to what F1 does and think it could be applied here.  The problem is still that the long guys will be long and short guys will be short.  You've either got speed or you don't.  Sure, there are things each individual can do to increase speed to an extent, but some just have different body physiques/compositions that allow for a faster base than others can even obtain as a peak.

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4 hours ago, MaxEntropy said:

Personally, I don't think I am opposed to some form of bifurcation, if that's what they think they need to do. Baseball does it once at the professional level with bats. Granted, I doubt there is much $ pumped into R&D on a piece of wood, but maybe I'm wrong.

If they choose to bifurcate with the ball, perhaps the USGA and R&A could learn from racing - almost every top level professional series has a spec tire where interested manufacturers bid for the right to provide tires periodically. They could maybe even go the F1 route where there are 3 different specs to choose from on any given weekend. I could imagine something like a low, medium, and high spin or compression option that players get to chose from depending on the course and/or conditions and what they are trying to accomplish. I suppose they could develop a spec that could include any and all manufacturers (sort of like the NASCAR "car of tomorrow" that was a mandated body shape with Toyota, Chevy, or Ford stickers on them) so they don't burn any bridges with current manufacturers.

The problem imo with mandating a shape is you put brands who sell consumer goods into a cookie cutter maker. Ford, Toyota and Chevy aren’t trying to sell the nascar body at retail.

The ability to design and tweak shape, face, materials is how each brand separates themselves from each other. TS3 with a longer head shape, mavrik with different head shapes for each type of driver. 

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4 hours ago, MaxEntropy said:

Personally, I don't think I am opposed to some form of bifurcation, if that's what they think they need to do. Baseball does it once at the professional level with bats. Granted, I doubt there is much $ pumped into R&D on a piece of wood, but maybe I'm wrong.

If they choose to bifurcate with the ball, perhaps the USGA and R&A could learn from racing - almost every top level professional series has a spec tire where interested manufacturers bid for the right to provide tires periodically. They could maybe even go the F1 route where there are 3 different specs to choose from on any given weekend. I could imagine something like a low, medium, and high spin or compression option that players get to chose from depending on the course and/or conditions and what they are trying to accomplish. I suppose they could develop a spec that could include any and all manufacturers (sort of like the NASCAR "car of tomorrow" that was a mandated body shape with Toyota, Chevy, or Ford stickers on them) so they don't burn any bridges with current manufacturers.

I can't see this as a viable option.  First, from a player's standpoint, each guy has a little different idea of what he wants from a ball, and chooses what he plays accordingly.  A standard tour ball eliminates that choice.  The only viable option that I could see would be to lower speed limits or increase minimum spin levels across the board, allowing every manufacturer the option to manufacture a conforming ball.  

But the obstacles to bifurcation are too many to be overcome, in my opinion.  As a group, we want to have the choice of playing the same ball and the same driver that the pros do.  Bifurcation eliminates that.  We don't want to buy two sets of equipment for improving juniors, one standard set for most play, and a reduced distance set for top competitive play.  We don't want to have to learn to use two distinctly different golf balls, one for normal play, one for the random time we qualify for the State Amateur.  The pros will fight the potential loss of sponsorship revenue.  If I can't play the same Titleist ball is Joe GOAT does, why do I care that Joe plays Titleist, and why should Titleist pay Joe a bucketload of cash to play Titleist?  We don't want to have to pay more for our golf balls, but you know they're giving the balls to the players, we're the ones who are going to subsidize the R&D and new plants needed for the reduced-distance balls.  

I'm not particularly opposed to bifurcation, I just don't think it will happen.  My expectation is that equipment-related distance gains will be minimized to the maximum extent possible, possibly with new facets of equipment being tested and limited.

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31 minutes ago, RickyBobby_PR said:

The problem imo with mandating a shape is you put brands who sell consumer goods into a cookie cutter maker. Ford, Toyota and Chevy aren’t trying to sell the nascar body at retail.

Which is one of the things that always confused me when NASCAR went the way of the template. I couldn't understand why the manufacturers stuck around when "their" car was not what was on the track so people couldn't go buy what looked just like the Thunderbird that won the Daytona 500.

17 minutes ago, RickyBobby_PR said:

The ability to design and tweak shape, face, materials is how each brand separates themselves from each other. TS3 with a longer head shape, mavrik with different head shapes for each type of driver.

I didn't mean drivers fitting a template, I was more talking about a ball "template" of some sort. I'm sure they could develop a spec that would reduce distance but still give the manufacturers some leeway to try to differentiate themselves if they wanted to keep multiple manufacturers involved. Spec tires haven't really ruined racing, so I would suggest if a spec ball were done properly, it could work here, too.

46 minutes ago, Smellis745 said:

The problem is still that the long guys will be long and short guys will be short.

I would argue that has always been the case. I recall seeing a chart somewhere (maybe even in this thread?) that shows the distance difference shortest to longest on tour has held pretty steady over the last few decades. Who knows, I may be imaging it, though.

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2 minutes ago, MaxEntropy said:

Which is one of the things that always confused me when NASCAR went the way of the template. I couldn't understand why the manufacturers stuck around when "their" car was not what was on the track so people couldn't go buy what looked just like the Thunderbird that won the Daytona 500.

I didn't mean drivers fitting a template, I was more talking about a ball "template" of some sort. I'm sure they could develop a spec that would reduce distance but still give the manufacturers some leeway to try to differentiate themselves if they wanted to keep multiple manufacturers involved. Spec tires haven't really ruined racing, so I would suggest if a spec ball were done properly, it could work here, too.

I would argue that has always been the case. I recall seeing a chart somewhere (maybe even in this thread?) that shows the distance difference shortest to longest on tour has held pretty steady over the last few decades. Who knows, I may be imaging it, though.

There already is a template for balls right. They have specifications for the design. Each manufacturer has tour balls out that are 3-5 pieces with different layer sizes and different dimple patterns. This is probably closest to nascar mandating frame/chassis. Let the individual teams build their “engine” how they want to fit in that chassis to get the most out of it

 

 

 

 

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17 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

But the obstacles to bifurcation are too many to be overcome, in my opinion.  As a group, we want to have the choice of playing the same ball and the same driver that the pros do.  Bifurcation eliminates that.  We don't want to buy two sets of equipment for improving juniors, one standard set for most play, and a reduced distance set for top competitive play.  We don't want to have to learn to use two distinctly different golf balls, one for normal play, one for the random time we qualify for the State Amateur.  The pros will fight the potential loss of sponsorship revenue.  If I can't play the same Titleist ball is Joe GOAT does, why do I care that Joe plays Titleist, and why should Titleist pay Joe a bucketload of cash to play Titleist?  We don't want to have to pay more for our golf balls, but you know they're giving the balls to the players, we're the ones who are going to subsidize the R&D and new plants needed for the reduced-distance balls.  

I don't necessarily disagree with you, especially since golfers are a different breed, but to continue the racing analogy, Pirelli clearly sees value in supplying tires to F1, which has to mean it effects their sales positively. Those tires are most certainly not available to the weekend warriors who like to take their sports cars to track days (besides, who would want to put 13" wheels on their Porsche?), but I'm willing to bet there are people buying Pirelli's because of their involvement in F1.

Personally, I see no need for bifurcation in golf until you hit the professional ranks. How often do amateur baseball players own or practice with wooden bats prior to getting drafted? I honestly don't know, but I would be surprised if it happened too often just because the skill required to hit a baseball is not sufficiently changed by the bat they are using.

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1 hour ago, MaxEntropy said:

I don't necessarily disagree with you, especially since golfers are a different breed, but to continue the racing analogy, Pirelli clearly sees value in supplying tires to F1, which has to mean it effects their sales positively. Those tires are most certainly not available to the weekend warriors who like to take their sports cars to track days (besides, who would want to put 13" wheels on their Porsche?), but I'm willing to bet there are people buying Pirelli's because of their involvement in F1.

Personally, I see no need for bifurcation in golf until you hit the professional ranks. How often do amateur baseball players own or practice with wooden bats prior to getting drafted? I honestly don't know, but I would be surprised if it happened too often just because the skill required to hit a baseball is not sufficiently changed by the bat they are using.

I just think racing and golf are two different animals.  So far, we have always played under the same rules, both playing rules and equipment rules, all golfers, hacker to Tiger.  This is one of very few sports where that is the case.  To change that is to potentially change the effectiveness of advertising.  Potential is the issue, neither the sponsors (manufacturers) nor the sponsees (players and tours) want to find out what actually happens.  

If we DO think about bifurcating at the pro level, there are still lines to be drawn.  Are club pros using the limited equipment in local PGA events?  The PGA of America's Club Pro Championship is logical.  How about local Pro-Ams, pros with limited balls, the rest of their group with "normal" stuff?  For State Open tournaments, are all entrants using it, including amateurs who qualify?  US Open?  The Masters, including the amateurs who qualify?  There's just not a single clean dividing line.  This isn't to say it can't be done, but its complicated.

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9 hours ago, Smellis745 said:

The problem is still that the long guys will be long and short guys will be short.  You've either got speed or you don't. 

I don't know that this is a problem that the governing bodies are trying to solve.  Nothing I've read says that they want everyone hitting it the same distance (or even reducing the spread).  What I'm reading says that they are worried about the distance that the longest hitters are hitting the ball.  Distance is going to be rewarded, whether a long drive is 330 or 290.

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9 hours ago, HardcoreLooper said:

I don't know that this is a problem that the governing bodies are trying to solve.  Nothing I've read says that they want everyone hitting it the same distance (or even reducing the spread).  What I'm reading says that they are worried about the distance that the longest hitters are hitting the ball.  Distance is going to be rewarded, whether a long drive is 330 or 290.

Good point.

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10 hours ago, HardcoreLooper said:

I don't know that this is a problem that the governing bodies are trying to solve.  Nothing I've read says that they want everyone hitting it the same distance (or even reducing the spread).  What I'm reading says that they are worried about the distance that the longest hitters are hitting the ball.  Distance is going to be rewarded, whether a long drive is 330 or 290.

For the most part I agree they aren’t trying to make sure everyone hits it the same. It’s more of back to tiger proofing current courses and future ones.  


 

 

 

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I have no issue if they choose to change the ball for professional golf. I know bifurcation is a hated word among many golfers, but I don't care what the tour guys are playing. Let them play the special tour balls that go shorter, and who cares. Reducing the flight of every golf ball is ridiculous. I think that would honestly lead to more manufacturers creating "non-conforming" golf balls, especially at independent DTC manufacturers who have no skin in the game with the tour. I would be happy to play something non-conforming if that was the case, I am never going to turn pro.

The biggest problem with this solution is how long would it take to implement? It wouldn't happen a week after it was announced. It would take months/years of R&D to make sure everything else is the same and you were getting the effect you wanted. You can't test with tour players during events, it would have to be lab and range testing. What's the timeline? 2-3 years for a solution? 

Growing the grass is an easier solution that can be applied in the meantime to see what the effect is. Then maybe you don't need the rolled back ball at all. Or you still use it or whatever. But then you have options. Putting all your option in one bag seems to be very poor planning.  

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I may be ignorant to the topic. But where/who/what/why are they getting this information and why do they care anyways?

It seems like social media “brands” and complainers are influencing golf more and more.

No I’m not talking about this wonderful place.

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On 2/17/2020 at 3:10 PM, MaxEntropy said:

Personally, I see no need for bifurcation in golf until you hit the professional ranks. How often do amateur baseball players own or practice with wooden bats prior to getting drafted? I honestly don't know, but I would be surprised if it happened too often just because the skill required to hit a baseball is not sufficiently changed by the bat they are using.

Going back to the golden days a decade ago---most of the guys I played ball with that didn't have their eyes set on playing professionally owned and took BP with wooden bats (same mantra of practicing with blades vs GI irons).  Others that were genuine prospects often practiced or even played games with wooden bats--even while the rest of us mortals were swinging and competing with aluminum/composite bats.  The underlying skill required to swing wood vs aluminum isn't great, but there is enough of a difference to merit wooden bat leagues for higher level college/amateurs during the summer that helps provide separation at those higher levels.

I don't think the baseball/golf bifurcation holds much merit.  Though some similarities exist, they are two completely different games.

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Did they throw out the driving stats from the WGC Mexico before publishing the results??  🤣 🤣 🤣

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5 hours ago, FrogginBullfish said:

It was great to see a major OEM take a stand against this report. Admittedly though, I am more than a tad surprised that it was Titleist that took the stand first. Hopefully more will follow soon.
 

Titleist did nothing more than release a statement that tries to protect its financial interests.  They also engage in a little bit of scare tactics to get people on their side.:

"We believe the conclusions drawn in this report undervalue the skill and athleticism of the game's very best players and focus far too much on the top of the men's professional game and project this on golf and golfers as a whole,"

Its absolutely fair to disagree on value judgements, but the underlined part pretty much disregards what the conclusions of the USGA/R&A say,:

" It is not currently intended to consider revising the overall specifications in a way that would produce substantial reductions in hitting distances at all levels of the game."

Golf and golfers as a whole are not going to be impacted, unless you specifically believe that the USGA/R&A are lying about their intentions.  

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