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NPG Episode 31: How to Fix the Distance "Problem"

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14 minutes ago, NRJyzr said:

A few years ago, I got curious and ran a comparison of the PGA Tour Driving Distance stat,  between 1999 and 2002.  The idea was to isolate it down to only those players who had played in both seasons, in an attempt to show the change for those guys who switched from wound to solid.  I'd picked 2002 to try weed out the slow adopters, but there's no guarantee.  I also didn't account for those guys using the Stratas or solid core Bridgestones/Precepts, not having much beyond Furyk and O'Meara.  😉

That difference was less than 6 yards (hence my earlier 5.5 yds comment).

My take is, anything since then is related to something else, like fitness, launch conditions, shaft tech, clubhead size/MOI, more coached efficient (in theory) swings, etc

The problem is that many people quickly abandon objective, logical thought for subjective emotion when quantifying a problem becomes difficult which is why this debate will never end even if the USGA makes regulatory changes in some capacity. 

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1 hour ago, Tsecor said:

High school golf "governs" by the section. They have certain rules they draft, implement and follow.....most rules align with NCAA rules with some minor differences in certain areas. 

but like i said, its not that big a deal in my opinion....changes happen all the time. people have to adapt and when it comes to the money? of course that comes into play. 

It is a HUGE deal and as Dave said where is the break? There isn't a clean one no matter where you put it.

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30 minutes ago, Kenny B said:

But I'm saying the new stuff won't be on the shelf IF the OEMs keep making it like they are today.  The ruling bodies can't mandate that they change; they have to go along with it.  My question still stands:  What if they don't go along with it?

This is exactly the issue that the Ruling Bodies are trying to avoid, the reason that they specifically say they have no plans to roll back equipment for all players.  To me, any talk of distance rollbacks across the board simply ignores what the USGA/R&A have very clearly stated.  

But bifurcation, even via an approved local rule, will require manufacturer cooperation.  The market for the "reduced-distance" equipment will be pretty small if its only elite players.  Manufacturers will have to decide whether the investment in research, product development, and manufacturing facilities will be worth it.  It becomes a smaller issue if its only the golf ball that gets changed, but its still significant.  Certainly some of manufacturers will agree, but I'm sure some will choose not to produce separate lines of stuff for elite players.  This is part of the next step, getting together the Ruling Bodies, the professional tours, and the manufacturers to try to find some way that can be swallowed by all parties.  And I do mean swallowed rather than accepted, I'm pretty sure the manufacturers and the pro players will fight this tooth and nail.

My bet is that there are too many conflicting opinions and motivations, and that equipment-related distance reductions will not happen.  We may see additional factors regulated and tested, but not rolled back.

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45 minutes ago, Kenny B said:

But I'm saying the new stuff won't be on the shelf IF the OEMs keep making it like they are today.  The ruling bodies can't mandate that they change; they have to go along with it.  My question still stands:  What if they don't go along with it?

If they dont, obviously you would see a delay.....but new OEMs would arise and eventually.....you would see everyone on board. 

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19 minutes ago, THEZIPR23 said:

It is a HUGE deal and as Dave said where is the break? There isn't a clean one no matter where you put it.

It doesnt matter though....to the point, people and organizations have to adapt.....has history not taught us anything? 

look at the biggest changes in rules and equipment throughout sports, not just golf.....people said the same stuff you guys are saying for 100's of years

look at the DH in baseball, wood bats vs aluminum / composite. In soccer, you used to be able to run with the ball like Rugby.....that changed. The shot clock in basketball....goal tending wasnt banned until the mid 40's in basketball.....i could go on and on for days with equipment / rule changes....the 2 pt conversion in football..blasphemous......the addition of the red line in hockey.....

the point is rolling back the ball or equipment and building "short courses"  may seem like a huge deal, but everyone adapts and the game continues on like nothing happened....sure, hr frst year of playing under the new rules might be strange to what you are used to, but 3 yrs in, its the new norm.....

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51 minutes ago, NRJyzr said:

A few years ago, I got curious and ran a comparison of the PGA Tour Driving Distance stat,  between 1999 and 2002.  The idea was to isolate it down to only those players who had played in both seasons, in an attempt to show the change for those guys who switched from wound to solid.  I'd picked 2002 to try weed out the slow adopters, but there's no guarantee.  I also didn't account for those guys using the Stratas or solid core Bridgestones/Precepts, not having much beyond Furyk and O'Meara.  😉

That difference was less than 6 yards (hence my earlier 5.5 yds comment).

My take is, anything since then is related to something else, like fitness, launch conditions, shaft tech, clubhead size/MOI, more coached efficient (in theory) swings, etc

Your view doesnt work because your start date is 5-8 years too late.  Here is a good article on the subject. your numbers are half of what this article states. 

But another, even bigger factor is a drastic improvement in equipment over the years. Before the 1990s, driver clubheads were significantly smaller, made of heavy material like persimmon (instead of metal) and attached to the ends of shorter, heavier metal shafts (as opposed to graphite). As more and more players began switching to modern clubs — the last major won with a persimmon driver was Bernhard Langer’s victory at the 1993 Masters — the tour began to see a massive increase in driving distance (and, interestingly enough, a decrease in driving accuracy). More than just the introduction of fitter players, established golfers were also hitting the ball harder: The 60 players who qualified for the PGA Tour driving leaderboard in both 1995 and 2005 saw an average increase of 18.6 yards per drive over that span.

Simply put, lighter clubs with a longer shaft and larger clubhead surface area generate more power. As a fun exercise last year, YouTuber and PGA club pro Rick Shiels hit 10 drives with both a top-of-the-line club from about 20 years ago (the Ping TiSi Tec) and 2018 (the Ping G400 Max) and measured the results using tracking analytics. On average, Shiels estimated to have hit the ball 16 yards farther in the air (and 19 yards farther in total) with the modern driver, thanks in part to a ball velocity 4 mph faster off the clubhead:



Of course, the ball itself has also made it easier to drive for huge distances. The introduction of Titleist’s Pro V1 model in 2000 — which features a “multilayer” design with a solid rubber core and thin polymer casing — instantly revolutionized the way balls were manufactured, optimizing power without sacrificing accuracy. When Shiels ran a similar test between 1998 and 2018 golf balls (using the same club for each), he drove the ball 11 yards farther through the air — and 12 yards farther in total — with the current Pro V1, thanks again to a nearly 3 mph boost in velocity off the face.

These clear technological improvements have led to questions over whether such advantages should be dialed back at the pro level to make the game harder again. Although the golf ball debate rages on, many top-tier courses have been remade since the ’90s, “Tiger-proofing” themselves by adding more distance to their layouts. Par-72 major championship courses in the 1990s averaged 7,006.1 yards in total length; by the 2000s, that average became 7,319.3 yards and this decade it’s 7,456.6 yards — a 6.4 percent increase that mirrors the change in average driving distance since the early 2000s.

And just like the existing players increased their power through technology, existing major hosts have added length to offset it. Sixteen courses hosted a major in both the 1990s and 2010s; those courses averaged 7,011.6 yards back then and 7,307.9 yards now — an increase of 296.3 yards on average. Even the Black Course at Bethpage State Park in Long Island, which hosts this weekend’s PGA Championship, has increased its length by 222 yards since it hosted Woods’s U.S. Open victory back in 2002.

We should note that both the boom in driving distances and the Tiger-proofing craze have largely leveled off since the mid-2000s. The average PGA Tour drive continues to creep up by a couple of yards every few years, but today’s long-drive leaders, such as Champ, Johnson and Rory McIlroy, are mostly hitting it the same distance as Bubba Watson and Robert Garrigus were a decade earlier. In that sense, the game Woods left when his 11-year major drought began in 2008 was actually similar to the one he climbed to the top of again last month.

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13 minutes ago, Tsecor said:

Your view doesnt work because your start date is 5-8 years too late.  Here is a good article on the subject. your numbers are half of what this article states. 

But another, even bigger factor is a drastic improvement in equipment over the years. Before the 1990s, driver clubheads were significantly smaller, made of heavy material like persimmon (instead of metal) and attached to the ends of shorter, heavier metal shafts (as opposed to graphite). As more and more players began switching to modern clubs — the last major won with a persimmon driver was Bernhard Langer’s victory at the 1993 Masters — the tour began to see a massive increase in driving distance (and, interestingly enough, a decrease in driving accuracy). More than just the introduction of fitter players, established golfers were also hitting the ball harder: The 60 players who qualified for the PGA Tour driving leaderboard in both 1995 and 2005 saw an average increase of 18.6 yards per drive over that span.

Simply put, lighter clubs with a longer shaft and larger clubhead surface area generate more power. As a fun exercise last year, YouTuber and PGA club pro Rick Shiels hit 10 drives with both a top-of-the-line club from about 20 years ago (the Ping TiSi Tec) and 2018 (the Ping G400 Max) and measured the results using tracking analytics. On average, Shiels estimated to have hit the ball 16 yards farther in the air (and 19 yards farther in total) with the modern driver, thanks in part to a ball velocity 4 mph faster off the clubhead:



Of course, the ball itself has also made it easier to drive for huge distances. The introduction of Titleist’s Pro V1 model in 2000 — which features a “multilayer” design with a solid rubber core and thin polymer casing — instantly revolutionized the way balls were manufactured, optimizing power without sacrificing accuracy. When Shiels ran a similar test between 1998 and 2018 golf balls (using the same club for each), he drove the ball 11 yards farther through the air — and 12 yards farther in total — with the current Pro V1, thanks again to a nearly 3 mph boost in velocity off the face.

These clear technological improvements have led to questions over whether such advantages should be dialed back at the pro level to make the game harder again. Although the golf ball debate rages on, many top-tier courses have been remade since the ’90s, “Tiger-proofing” themselves by adding more distance to their layouts. Par-72 major championship courses in the 1990s averaged 7,006.1 yards in total length; by the 2000s, that average became 7,319.3 yards and this decade it’s 7,456.6 yards — a 6.4 percent increase that mirrors the change in average driving distance since the early 2000s.

And just like the existing players increased their power through technology, existing major hosts have added length to offset it. Sixteen courses hosted a major in both the 1990s and 2010s; those courses averaged 7,011.6 yards back then and 7,307.9 yards now — an increase of 296.3 yards on average. Even the Black Course at Bethpage State Park in Long Island, which hosts this weekend’s PGA Championship, has increased its length by 222 yards since it hosted Woods’s U.S. Open victory back in 2002.

We should note that both the boom in driving distances and the Tiger-proofing craze have largely leveled off since the mid-2000s. The average PGA Tour drive continues to creep up by a couple of yards every few years, but today’s long-drive leaders, such as Champ, Johnson and Rory McIlroy, are mostly hitting it the same distance as Bubba Watson and Robert Garrigus were a decade earlier. In that sense, the game Woods left when his 11-year major drought began in 2008 was actually similar to the one he climbed to the top of again last month.

My view works perfectly fine, because it's related to the ball, which is what you were talking about before this post.  In 1999, the vast majority of Tour players were using a wound ball. 

Talking about the clubs more or less supports my point.  Generally speaking.

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1 hour ago, Tsecor said:

It doesnt matter though....to the point, people and organizations have to adapt.....has history not taught us anything? 

look at the biggest changes in rules and equipment throughout sports, not just golf.....people said the same stuff you guys are saying for 100's of years

look at the DH in baseball, wood bats vs aluminum / composite. In soccer, you used to be able to run with the ball like Rugby.....that changed. The shot clock in basketball....goal tending wasnt banned until the mid 40's in basketball.....i could go on and on for days with equipment / rule changes....the 2 pt conversion in football..blasphemous......the addition of the red line in hockey.....

the point is rolling back the ball or equipment and building "short courses"  may seem like a huge deal, but everyone adapts and the game continues on like nothing happened....sure, hr frst year of playing under the new rules might be strange to what you are used to, but 3 yrs in, its the new norm.....

You are talking about 2 different things, 1 bifurcation 2 a roll back. They are completely different.

Golf has one thing that no other sport has had or will ever have and that is the ability for anyone to qualify and compete on the same level with the elite. Not just the opens but all the am events as well. Bifurcation changes the entire golf world, not just for a period of time but forever. 

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21 minutes ago, THEZIPR23 said:

You are talking about 2 different things, 1 bifurcation 2 a roll back. They are completely different.

Golf has one thing that no other sport has had or will ever have and that is the ability for anyone to qualify and compete on the same level with the elite. Not just the opens but all the am events as well. Bifurcation changes the entire golf world, not just for a period of time but forever. 

You actually brought up that point not myself. We’re talking about equipment not splitting something into two different leagues so that point was mute the whole time. We’re talking about changing the bar shortening courses as the title states fixing the distance problemYou actually brought up that point not myself. We’re talking about equipment not splitting something into two different leagues so that point was mute the whole time. We’re talking about changing the bar shortening courses as the title states fixing the distance problem

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1 hour ago, NRJyzr said:

My view works perfectly fine, because it's related to the ball, which is what you were talking about before this post.  In 1999, the vast majority of Tour players were using a wound ball. 

Talking about the clubs more or less supports my point.  Generally speaking.

That’s why I added the stuff about the equipment because as we said earlier it’s not just one thing it’s a host of things but we focused on the ball because that is probably the biggest change that we have seen in the last 20 years related to distance. Some agree some don’t but the PGA pros now and in the past I’ll talk about it they all realize what the biggest technological gain has been

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8 minutes ago, Tsecor said:

 ...but we focused on the ball because that is probably the biggest change that we have seen in the last 20 years related to distance.


You *think* it is.  Others do also.  The data, not so much. 

I said it before, this is a data driven site.  Show us the data.  I'm willing to be convinced if the data exists, and is solid.  I've never seen anything, just a lot of opinions based on anecdotes.  Which aren't much different than Phil Mickelson saying the Pro V1 gave him 20 or 30 yards, while the driving distance stat showed him +3 (from 1999 to 2002)

(Youtube videos showing a comparison between a 20 year old wound ball and a new solid core ball don't count, LOL) 

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5 hours ago, Tsecor said:

I dont think its that deep. Once the PGA incorporates, it would filter down to the appropriate level and then high schools would govern their own way, just like they do now.

 

This is you specifically quoting a post about bifurcation. But ok man. 

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For what little it's worth, here's the data I pulled:

PLAYER 99 avg 02 avg change
Andrew Magee  279.93 282.94 3.02
Billy Andrade 269.54 279.76 10.22
Billy Mayfair  269.73 270.87 1.14
Blaine McCallister  270.32 274.86 4.54
Bo Van Pelt  280.69 290.75 10.06
Bob Burns 274.80 273.87 (0.94)
Bob Estes  269.16 279.83 10.67
Bob Tway 274.36 283.62 9.26
Brad Faxon  265.87 269.60 3.74
Bradley Hughes 274.18 281.18 7.00
Brandel Chamblee 268.65 272.55 3.90
Brent Geiberger 273.90 282.80 8.90
Brett Quigley  276.71 282.28 5.57
Brian Gay  268.88 272.26 3.38
Brian Henninger 272.01 278.26 6.25
Brian Watts 267.39 272.79 5.40
Briny Baird  274.76 282.19 7.43
Cameron Beckman  280.09 282.19 2.10
Carlos Franco  277.93 290.71 12.78
Chris DiMarco  274.98 279.69 4.71
Chris Riley  271.60 272.69 1.09
Chris Smith  287.20 292.24 5.04
Corey Pavin  252.48 258.07 5.60
Craig Barlow  280.42 284.67 4.25
Craig Parry 269.97 278.29 8.32
Craig Stadler 277.22 280.43 3.21
Dan Forsman  274.82 274.71 (0.11)
David Duval 286.75 290.84 4.09
David Frost  268.24 269.49 1.25
David Toms  275.35 279.17 3.82
Davis Love III 283.05 287.65 4.60
Deane Pappas 274.96 283.91 8.95
Dennis Paulson 286.28 293.72 7.44
Dicky Pride  265.94 276.27 10.32
Dudley Hart  276.32 276.74 0.42
Duffy Waldorf  279.90 284.51 4.62
Ernie Els 278.18 281.38 3.20
Esteban Toledo  261.25 264.94 3.69
Frank Lickliter II 267.79 283.01 15.22
Frank Nobilo 265.38 274.71 9.33
Franklin Langham 270.46 276.06 5.60
Fred Couples 283.45 288.63 5.18
Fred Funk 269.66 272.98 3.32
Fulton Allem 261.91 267.53 5.61
Glen Day 271.77 270.04 (1.73)
Grant Waite 280.42 283.91 3.49
Greg Chalmers  276.04 280.79 4.75
Greg Kraft 267.11 267.70 0.59
Hal Sutton 276.38 277.33 0.94
Harrison Frazar  290.52 290.46 (0.06)
J.L. Lewis  279.46 285.84 6.38
J.P. Hayes 277.07 277.11 0.04
Jay Don Blake 266.84 271.22 4.37
Jay Haas  266.55 273.31 6.76
Jay Williamson 273.62 275.76 2.15
Jeff Brehaut  269.76 280.23 10.47
Jeff Maggert  269.90 274.86 4.96
Jeff Sluman  269.07 272.94 3.87
Jerry Kelly 272.70 273.95 1.25
Jesper Parnevik 272.41 279.16 6.75
Jim Carter 266.30 275.31 9.01
Jim Furyk 265.54 271.81 6.26
Joe Durant 269.97 274.83 4.86
Joe Ogilvie  277.64 279.15 1.51
Joey Sindelar  269.02 285.77 16.75
John Cook 265.33 263.99 (1.35)
John Daly 305.56 306.84 1.28
John Huston  272.40 281.59 9.19
Jonathan Kaye 279.95 286.06 6.11
Justin Leonard 271.20 278.69 7.49
Kenny Perry  280.45 286.38 5.93
Kent Jones 270.13 277.76 7.64
Kevin Sutherland  272.48 275.00 2.52
Kirk Triplett  276.40 275.02 (1.38)
Lee Janzen 267.39 283.71 16.32
Lee Porter 259.00 265.04 6.04
Len Mattiace 270.12 276.91 6.79
Loren Roberts  254.80 267.99 13.20
Mark Brooks 265.00 270.09 5.08
Mark Calcavecchia  274.69 285.53 10.85
Mark O'Meara  266.88 274.98 8.11
Mike Hulbert  266.37 272.42 6.05
Mike Sposa 268.37 274.66 6.30
Mike Weir  274.79 280.03 5.24
Neal Lancaster  272.83 281.94 9.11
Nick Price 273.98 272.67 (1.31)
Notah Begay III 283.79 280.78 (3.00)
Olin Browne 265.44 268.07 2.63
Paul Azinger 273.08 276.17 3.09
Paul Goydos  265.82 271.34 5.52
Paul Stankowski 279.56 286.96 7.40
Pete Jordan 264.75 256.63 (8.12)
Peter Jacobsen 276.20 281.54 5.34
Phil Mickelson 285.69 288.80 3.11
Phil Tataurangi 270.81 288.64 17.83
Rich Beem  272.88 292.05 19.18
Robert Allenby 279.50 286.70 7.20
Robert Damron 276.17 277.99 1.82
Robert Gamez 264.34 282.60 18.26
Robin Freeman 271.85 281.99 10.15
Rocco Mediate  271.44 277.33 5.89
Rory Sabbatini 292.68 289.00 (3.68)
Russ Cochran  275.43 282.46 7.03
Scott Dunlap  273.66 272.47 (1.19)
Scott Hoch  267.50 269.98 2.48
Scott McCarron  287.09 285.49 (1.60)
Scott Simpson  256.85 264.64 7.79
Scott Verplank 270.77 268.52 (2.25)
Skip Kendall 270.30 271.49 1.19
Stephen Ames 270.86 282.13 11.26
Steve Elkington  269.55 280.51 10.97
Steve Flesch 274.72 285.68 10.96
Steve Jones  274.38 276.85 2.47
Steve Lowery  271.90 280.54 8.64
Steve Pate 269.74 281.06 11.31
Steve Stricker  275.21 285.11 9.90
Stewart Cink 276.92 279.62 2.70
Stuart Appleby 280.11 289.04 8.93
Tiger Woods 293.07 293.33 0.26
Tim Herron  284.80 293.24 8.44
Tom Byrum 263.07 270.51 7.44
Tom Lehman  275.62 283.04 7.42
Tom Scherrer 276.38 279.26 2.88
Tommy Armour III 281.18 282.01 0.83
Tommy Tolles 276.24 289.28 13.04
Vijay Singh 284.31 285.64 1.33
Woody Austin  275.99 279.94 3.95
       
column totals 273.44 278.99 5.55
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1 hour ago, NRJyzr said:


You *think* it is.  Others do also.  The data, not so much. 

I said it before, this is a data driven site.  Show us the data.  I'm willing to be convinced if the data exists, and is solid.  I've never seen anything, just a lot of opinions based on anecdotes.  Which aren't much different than Phil Mickelson saying the Pro V1 gave him 20 or 30 yards, while the driving distance stat showed him +3 (from 1999 to 2002)

(Youtube videos showing a comparison between a 20 year old wound ball and a new solid core ball don't count, LOL) 

i hear ya and all the data is there, especially in 2001 with the prov1 introduction.....6 yard gain on average...just from the ball. here is one article on it....you can easily pull the data from whatever source you want.

https://www.golfdigest.com/story/how-the-titleist-pro-v1-revolu

The next year, 2001, average driving distance leapt six yards in a single season. There was a very clear reason for that huge jump -- the introduction of what might be the single most influential product in the history of any sport: the Titleist Pro V1 golf ball.

Edited by Tsecor

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13 hours ago, Tsecor said:

i hear ya and all the data is there, especially in 2001 with the prov1 introduction.....6 yard gain on average...just from the ball. here is one article on it....you can easily pull the data from whatever source you want.

https://www.golfdigest.com/story/how-the-titleist-pro-v1-revolu

The next year, 2001, average driving distance leapt six yards in a single season. There was a very clear reason for that huge jump -- the introduction of what might be the single most influential product in the history of any sport: the Titleist Pro V1 golf ball.

Bit confused.  You told me you disagreed, but now you're showing the data that illustrates my position.  I am of the opinion that 6 yards is essentially much ado about nothing.  <shrug>

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5 minutes ago, NRJyzr said:

Bit confused.  You told me you disagreed, but now you're showing the data that illustrates my position.  I am of the opinion that 6 yards is essentially much ado about nothing.  <shrug>

If u dont think a 6 yard jump isnt big , cant help u there.  The entire golf world historically recognizes that.   So....time to move on i think.   

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15 hours ago, THEZIPR23 said:

This is you specifically quoting a post about bifurcation. But ok man. 

Thats a response.  Just move on.  U obviously dont get the point or just want to argue.  Either way the point is beyond what u are willing to accept.   Wrx has threads for u to argue.  Head over there.  I refuse to engage in these types of back and forth.  

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6 minutes ago, Tsecor said:

If u dont think a 6 yard jump isnt big , cant help u there.  The entire golf world historically recognizes that.   So....time to move on i think.   

Probably, yes.  

Just think the 20+ yards that are due to the average swingspeed increase are a far bigger piece of the puzzle than the half club from a golf ball switch.  Which was actually available previously, if anyone had cared to try.

Not sure why everyone just *had* to switch when Tiger won the US Open with the Tour Accuracy.  It's not like the ball was the reason he won by 15.  LOL 

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5 hours ago, NRJyzr said:

Probably, yes.  

Just think the 20+ yards that are due to the average swingspeed increase are a far bigger piece of the puzzle than the half club from a golf ball switch.  Which was actually available previously, if anyone had cared to try.

Not sure why everyone just *had* to switch when Tiger won the US Open with the Tour Accuracy.  It's not like the ball was the reason he won by 15.  LOL 

yea...but when you see tiger taking down a course like he did and the extra length Titleist brought to the table (tigers ball made by Bridgestone with a nike swoosh)...it puts the masses on alert.....people freak out year to year over a much smaller gains then that, so i understand it.  Its crazy that for sure. You made a lot of good points along the way, so thanks for showing me a different view of it. 

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Interesting pod, although everyone seemed to certainly have a very anti USGA/R&A attitude about the whole thing and really didnt even seem like they were open to any kind of real conversation or debate about the issue.

I still stand by the belief that if you reduce driver clubhead sizes (maybe only 300cc), it would put a premium back on hitting the center of the clubface and these players wouldnt be able to just swing as hard as they cant and not worry about if they miss the middle a bit.

I also like the idea of growing up the rough and fairways and making the greens harder and faster.  Growing the rough would penalize misses more and make bomb and gouge a less appealing tactic.  I also think that growing the fairways would reduce roll and that making the greens harder/faster would make it much more difficult to hit the green with a driver or FW in your hands.

The problem is, thats not what people want to watch.  No one wants to watch these guys struggle to make pars, they want to see birdies or eagles on every hole and winning scores that are -20.

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