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Bifurcation/Ball Roll Back Discussion


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16 minutes ago, RickyBobby_PR said:

The PGA tour on the other hand is selling a product that is based on gaining fans at the gate and on TV and they set up the courses to cater to that. 
 

Then from a PGA tour perspective all of this discussion is irrelevant.  They simply don’t have to adopt the rule for their competitions and can do what they feel is best.  

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6 minutes ago, cnosil said:

Then from a PGA tour perspective all of this discussion is irrelevant.  They simply don’t have to adopt the rule for their competitions and can do what they feel is best.  

See, this is what I think is probably going to happen.

This seems like an effort by the USGA and the R&A to keep their old classic courses in the discussion of rotational scheduling. I wouldn't be surprised if by the time this comes around in 2026, only USGA Championships and the Open are using this rule... and maybe The Masters, which is fine enough. It takes us back to the time of the "American Ball" and the "British Ball" which was in existence up until 1990. Might it be different for people for those 3 weeks? Yeah, but it'll keep some old courses that can be beaten into the ground with technology as part of the game's legacy and maybe that's good.

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2 hours ago, Jnoble89 said:

I personally am a fan of seeing the pros absolutely MASH the driver. I'm not sure that I believe changes to the golf ball would turn people away from watching professional golf, because pros are still pros and will still make incredible shots, regardless of how far the ball travels. It will definitely be interesting to see how this all shakes out, and what some of the more prominent guys on tour will say on the subject. 

The Tour players will complain about this rule just as they complain about every other rule.  I just don't care, they'll all be on a level field, just a different one from "normal" golfers.

2 hours ago, MaxEntropy said:

I think it would be hilarious if Titleist/Bridgestone/TaylorMade/Srixon all determined the ROI is NOT there to commit R&D funds to develop a shorter ball and opted not to participate. I know it won't happen, but still think it would be funny.

The manufacturers have supposedly been a part of this process for the last several years.

2 hours ago, RickyBobby_PR said:

Imo it’s the ruling bodies getting in the way again. Simple solution is increase height of the fairway grass, increase the height of the rough to penalize missed fairways. This can be done at the courses where people feel the scores are too low.

Simple?  Tell me, how are the R&A or the USGA going to write a Rule that defines how long the grass must be?  The ONLY thing they can do to address distance concerns is to limit the equipment in some way.  I'm not saying I think its necessary, but its the only avenue they have.

1 hour ago, cnosil said:

For handicapping purposes do we need to start identifying the ball…handicap with the elite ball vs handicap with the current ball?   I can see the uproar now,  I record all may rounds with the elite ball that goes 20 yards less and then during my non elite events I play the long ball.  Hitting the ball longer typically means shorter club into the hole so potentially lower scores.  

It will be interesting to see how far the Model Local Rule gets used.  Professional Tours, probably, national amateur championships, probably, but I'm not sure even State-level amateurs will use it.  If its that few events, played primarily by players who don't need to or care to keep a handicap, I'm not sure it will have much impact.

For anyone who's surprised, you simply haven't been paying attention.  You can see the releases which have come out over the last 3 or 4 years here: 

https://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/advancing-the-game/distance-insights.html

The proposed MLR is pretty consistent with the information presented a year ago, March 2022.

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1 hour ago, cnosil said:

For handicapping purposes do we need to start identifying the ball…handicap with the elite ball vs handicap with the current ball?   I can see the uproar now,  I record all may rounds with the elite ball that goes 20 yards less and then during my non elite events I play the long ball.  Hitting the ball longer typically means shorter club into the hole so potentially lower scores.  
 

Could this could have a huge impact on the amateur game as well 🤔

Maybe now you have two different handicaps!

I will give another example of something similar. In curling (yes the game with rocks, brooms and yelling) in 2016ish teams were using fabrics on the end of their brooms that were very abrasive. These broom heads and with powerful sweeping teams could essentially direct the stones where they wanted them by creating scratches in the ice. This had never been done before and it then became more useful to use one vs two sweepers. 

Traditionally sweeping served two purposes, to make a stone go further and to make a stone go straighter. Now you could slow a stone, make it go further, make it curl more or less etc. 

The TEAMS (as curling is not a association like golf) decided that this was essentially cheating (it also damaged the ice). The governing bodies (World Curling Federation and Curling Canada) then did a whole years worth of testing and ended up creating a rule where in competition leading to world championships a specific fabric had to be used. (Hair brooms were also outlawed) With this fabric it was proven that directional sweeping was ineffective and sweeping was back to normal per say. 

Some teams had an uproar about it, but now 6 years on from that ruling all players even at a social club level use the same competition approved broom heads for play.  They are the only ones sold now and in rare cases you may see an older brooms heads used in fun play, but its rare. 

However teams still want that edge, so there are two thoughts even with these new broom heads. Brand new ones teams still believe they can make a stone curl one way or another so they change every game (they are not allowed to change mid game). Or some teams have found that dirty and very worn broom heads also may help them become more abrasive or effective and use old ones. 

Point being high level athletes will still look and find advantages where they can. It is part of the nature or sport and trying to get better and being the best. So rolling back the ball sure it will help, but there will be other ways golfers will find speed and distances one way or another. 

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2 hours ago, RickyBobby_PR said:

But the reality is they do. How many times in a tournament do you see a pro hit one way offline? It happens more than people realize, the problem is many of them aren’t caught on tv, so it seems like it didn’t happen that often, but even so there’s plenty of fore right or pointing that way during tv times.

If I wanted to watch bad golf I would play or walk around the local courses and watch weekend hacks play. Just like if I wanted to watch mediocre baseball i would go watch high school and little league games. 

First time I went out to TPC boston to see the event there I walked in on the 9th tee.  It's a dogleg left.  Very first drive I ever saw from a PGA tour pro..... Hooked it solid off one of the pines on the left side of the hole.  

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3 minutes ago, GolfSpy_APH said:

Maybe now you have two different handicaps!

I will give another example of something similar. In curling (yes the game with rocks, brooms and yelling) in 2016ish teams were using fabrics on the end of their brooms that were very abrasive. These broom heads and with powerful sweeping teams could essentially direct the stones where they wanted them by creating scratches in the ice. This had never been done before and it then became more useful to use one vs two sweepers. 

Traditionally sweeping served two purposes, to make a stone go further and to make a stone go straighter. Now you could slow a stone, make it go further, make it curl more or less etc. 

The TEAMS (as curling is not a association like golf) decided that this was essentially cheating (it also damaged the ice). The governing bodies (World Curling Federation and Curling Canada) then did a whole years worth of testing and ended up creating a rule where in competition leading to world championships a specific fabric had to be used. (Hair brooms were also outlawed) With this fabric it was proven that directional sweeping was ineffective and sweeping was back to normal per say. 

Some teams had an uproar about it, but now 6 years on from that ruling all players even at a social club level use the same competition approved broom heads for play.  They are the only ones sold now and in rare cases you may see an older brooms heads used in fun play, but its rare. 

However teams still want that edge, so there are two thoughts even with these new broom heads. Brand new ones teams still believe they can make a stone curl one way or another so they change every game (they are not allowed to change mid game). Or some teams have found that dirty and very worn broom heads also may help them become more abrasive or effective and use old ones. 

Point being high level athletes will still look and find advantages where they can. It is part of the nature or sport and trying to get better and being the best. So rolling back the ball sure it will help, but there will be other ways golfers will find speed and distances one way or another. 

I always love a comparison to another sport that has already done a similar thing.
Especially, when the author is obviously loves the sport or is involved with the sport (I'm ashamed to say I only ever watch curling during the olympics, but when it's on I'm an instant expert 😄)

I hope the changes only affect the pros and in a positive way that makes the game better.
A par 4 should be a par 4 in anyones world, and in the age of technological advancements there's a reason most courses have had to either keep moving tee boxes back or introducing new hazards.
Augusta, IMO, shouldn't have to keep buying land behind it to extend the tees to combat the long hitters. (Also, it still makes me laugh that Bryson called it a par 67 and then Augusta ate like 3 of his golf balls)

Just never give me a Tour golf ball I need all the distance I can get.
 

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I put together this commentary on bifurcation back in early 2018.  Here are some considerations:

Re: Comment on Bifurcation of Rules (specifically, the golf ball)

As to the bifurcation of the rules of golf, many folks would agree that technology must be reined in.  Most people would agree with this premise. But, the real question which needs to be addressed is, where does the professional level begin at which technology is reined in?

Let's assume that the golf ball manufacturers eventually agree to make a ball that goes somewhere between 15-20% less distance than it currently does.  Who would be in charge of making sure that professionals adhere to this rule?  Is it the pro golfer? USGA? R&A? PGA Tour? How would testing be applied in pro golf tournaments to ensure that this is the case?  

Second, we address the question of what level to apply the rules of a new reduced distance golf ball. 

Excerpts from Wikipedia:

"Golf is one of the more lucrative sports in the world for both men and women, but has a very different structure from other sports. Almost all (at least 95%) professional golfers make their primary income as club or teaching professionals rather than competition. "Touring professionals", also known as "Tournament golfers" or "Pro golfers", who make their income from prize money and endorsements are a small elite within the profession."

Would a new reduced golf ball be required for the following tours?  And, consider that some of these tours help golfers qualify for a PGA Tour event.

Web.com Tour 

Challenge Tour (second tier tour to European Tour)

Asian Developmental Tour

Japan Challenge Tour

PGA Tour of China

PGA Tour of India

There are also third and fourth level tours, which are independently offered and may affect qualification for the 2nd level tours, like Web.com and Challenge Tour.  Will these professional events also require use of the new ball?

How about the US Open?  The U.S. Open is open to any professional, or to any amateur with an up-to-date men's USGA Handicap Index not exceeding 1.4.    Obviously, potential participants in the US Open trying to qualify have to use the new "reduced" golf ball.  Who will be in charge of ensuring that these potential qualifiers are using the correct ball?  How about amateurs qualifying for PGA Tour events thru sponsor exemptions?  PGA professionals for the PGA Championship?

Soo, if only PGA Tour players have access to this new "reduced distance golf ball", wouldn't anyone else not using this ball have a competitive disadvantage by not having access to it?  Also, if you don't have access to the ball, how can players determine its performance in the short game?  Again, another competitive disadvantage if only select players have access to this ball.

The Masters golf tournament would not have to abide by the reduced golf ball, if they chose not to.  But, wouldn't they be asked for input into the eventual decision?

Personally, I'm in agreement that the golf ball needs to have some distance roll back.  If the golf ball manufacturers agree to the roll back (which is not an insignificant hurdle), bigger questions remain as to how the golf ball distance roll back would be implemented.

1.  At what levels do the new ball apply? And, how far down the ladder of professional golf, does the new ball apply?

2. How would the use of the reduced ball be monitored and implemented?

I understand the reluctance of the PGA Tour in making a decision to roll back the golf ball.  Even if they said, yes, let's do it.  How would they do it?  And, who would it impact?

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17 minutes ago, joedeausen said:

I put together this commentary on bifurcation back in early 2018.  Here are some considerations:

I'm glad that someone else understands that this conversation has been going on for a while.  I agree that bifurcation through MLR will being complications.  I think that many of the issues you present here have fairly straightforward solutions.  The most significant concern I have is for players who are either moving upward in the level of competitions they play, or who play at varying levels of competition through the year.  Those guys will have adjustments to make, perhaps on a weekly basis.

On the other hand, accepting that some reduction of distance is appropriate at the highest levels, I think the MLR is the best solution to a difficult problem.  It won't have any effect on the vast majority of golfers, which is a positive.  

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I haven’t read the whole thread but am very curious how they regulate what 20% is.  What’s to stop a golf ball manufacturer from having the “smallest” 20% reduction.  
 

Why not just require wooden drivers and fairways instead?  Why not just limit golfers on strength and height?  Why not force golfers to use slick leather soled shoes with no spikes or tread?  Where does it end?

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The problem is with an average of 8 fairways missed off the tee, and 4 of those greens missed on approach, but par made 3 out of 4 times   on those misses the course conditions just aren't hard enough.  The problem is they want to keep the courses pretty looking, so the ball is the best answer in their minds.  Not sure I agree with it.

Look at what the PGA is up against.  How much complaining goes on about courses that at their worst, are 100x better than anything most of us will play under ideal conditions.,  My ball is on an and hill, my ball is in its own pitch mark, I wasn't really going to putt ball, but that sprinkler cover is in my way.  Imagine how they would complain, if greenside bunkers were turned into temporary ponds, and  coming up short from 120 yards made the best score possible for getting up and down a bogey  instead of being able to get up and down from the sand for par 75% of the time.  

"Oh the humanity!!"  You would think it was the Hindenburg disaster all over again, If the PGA decided to ACTUALLY punish bad shots by the pros.

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47 minutes ago, panhndl said:

I haven’t read the whole thread but am very curious how they regulate what 20% is.  What’s to stop a golf ball manufacturer from having the “smallest” 20% reduction.  

Ou can read the current testing protocols here:  https://www.usga.org/equipment-standards/test-protocols-for-equipment-9df6d04f.html

Essentially they they are changing the parameters for launch and club speed and the balls must meet the new standard.  

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BASEBALL bats are restricted in the almost ALL leagues by some manner of specification (weight / length ratio, materials, etc)... doesn't seem to prevent anyone from developing skills from T-ball through Little League, Travel, High School, College... or diminish interest in the sport. That said... the pro's still hit more home runs every year with wooden bats.. and the leagues still talk about moving fences back on a regular basis. Maybe they should start making baseballs softer too!? 😂

...this was just fun to think about... enjoy!

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1 minute ago, doubleduhric said:

 Maybe they should start making baseballs softer too!? 😂

Baseball has changed the ball in recent years to combat distance 

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Just now, cnosil said:

Baseball has changed the ball in recent years to combat distance 

I was curious if anyone would catch on... 👏 👍

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1 minute ago, doubleduhric said:

I was curious if anyone would catch on... 👏 👍

baseball is also implementing a clock, can we do that in golf too 😁

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Titleist has released a statement about the proposed roll back...much like they did in 2018 when it was mentioned.

 

                                                                                                                                                      

                                                                                                          ACUSHNET RESPONSE TO USGA AND R&A

                                                                                              NOTICE & COMMENT PROPOSING GOLF BALL BIFURCATION  

“The R&A and USGA continue to believe that the retention of a single set of rules for all players of the game, irrespective of ability, is one of golf’s greatest strengths.  The R&A and USGA regard the prospect of having permanent separate rules for elite competition as undesirable and have no current plans to create separate equipment rules for highly skilled players.” 

USGA and R&A Joint Statement of Principles, May 2002

Fairhaven, MA (March 14, 2023) - The sport of golf has advanced and evolved over the years thanks to a thoughtful balance between innovation and tradition. One of golf’s unifying appeals is that everyone in the game plays by the same set of rules, can play the same courses and with the same equipment.  Golfers can watch professionals and compare themselves to the world’s best, aspiring to hit the same shots.  This unification links the professional and recreational games, enriches the connection and viewing experience of the professional game, and contributes to golf’s momentum, unprecedented growth and promising future.  

 

The USGA and R&A have announced a Notice and Comment to manufacturers proposing a potential rule change to golf ball testing that results in a Model Local Rule (MLR) that provides for reduced distance golf balls intended for professional and elite amateur competitions and a different set of rules for all other play. This bifurcation would divide golf between elite and recreational play, add confusion, and break the linkage that is part of the game’s enduring fabric.

 

“Golf is an aspirational sport, and we believe at its very best when equipment and playing regulations are unified. Golf’s health and vibrancy are at historically high levels,” said David Maher, President and Chief Executive Officer, Acushnet Company. “As we see it, existing golf ball regulations for Overall Distance and Initial Velocity are highly effective. During the past two decades, PGA TOUR average course playing length has increased by less than 100 yards and scoring average has remained virtually flat. Average PGA TOUR clubhead speed of 114.6 mph in 2022 was well below the current 120 mph and proposed 127 mph testing conditions. The proposal of golf ball bifurcation is in many respects a solution in search of a problem.”  

 

Under the proposed guidelines, events that adopt this MLR would require players to use a substantially shorter golf ball, similar in distance to what was available in the 1990’s.  The performance changes of any rolled back ball would impact every shot in the round. Players would also be required to adapt to changes in equipment with some players disadvantaged over others by this disruption. Golf ball bifurcation would invite confusion as to what level of competition would use the MLR products and how to effectively manage and officiate. In addition, multiple versions of golf ball models in the market would be confusing to golfers.

 

“Playing by a unified set of rules is an essential part of the game’s allure, contributes to its global understanding and appeal, and eliminates the inconsistency and instability that would come from multiple sets of equipment standards,” continued Maher. “Unification is a powerfully positive force in the game, and we believe that equipment bifurcation would be detrimental to golf’s long-term well-being. As a result, we will actively participate in this conversation with the governing bodies, worldwide professional tours, PGA Professional organizations, amateur associations and federations, and golfers, in an effort to contribute to the continued enjoyment and growth of the game.”  

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4 minutes ago, doubleduhric said:

BASEBALL bats are restricted in the almost ALL leagues by some manner of specification (weight / length ratio, materials, etc)... doesn't seem to prevent anyone from developing skills from T-ball through Little League, Travel, High School, College... or diminish interest in the sport. That said... the pro's still hit more home runs every year with wooden bats.. and the leagues still talk about moving fences back on a regular basis. Maybe they should start making baseballs softer too!? 😂

...this was just fun to think about... enjoy!

Actually they did last year. 🙂

 

And we still had a guy break the home run record.  Athletes are getting bigger and stronger, that's not changing.  Even if you were to roll everything back to 1990 you could still fine tune those clubs and balls to get more out of them than they got back then.  Are you going to say that guys can't use trackman to practice and fit?  How would you legislate that?  

 

To me Golf seems very health right now on all levels.  I understand that you can never stand still or you go backwards but when something is healthy radical changes aren't necessary.  We've had tournaments won with a winning score single digits under par as well is mid 20's under par thus far this season.  I don't think it's gotten too easy.  

 

I did think that the response to the press release today was a collective - "Thanks for all you do but no thanks to this one.  We'll pass."  As DaveP wrote none of this is a surprise.  It's been talked about some the 1980's.  They should have done it then when they had the chance.  If this was that big a concern at least.  Instead of this they should forward look, consider what might come next, what might be good or bad for the game and legislate that.  

Taylor Made Stealth 2 10.5 Diamana S plus 60  Aldila  R flex   - 42.25 inches 

SMT 4 wood bassara R flex, four wood head, 3 wood shaft

Ping G410 7, 9 wood  Alta 65 R flex

Srixon ZX5 MK II  5-GW - UST recoil Dart 65 R flex

India 52,56 (60 pending)  UST recoil 75's R flex  

Evon roll ER 5 32 inches

It's our offseason so auditioning candidates - looking for that right mix of low spin long, more spin around the greens - TBD   

 

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3 minutes ago, Golfspy_CG2 said:

Titleist has released a statement about the proposed roll back...much like they did in 2018 when it was mentioned.

And this seems to me to be a quite reasonable position for them to take, some of the most logical reasons to oppose bifurcation.  Its also reasonably self-serving, Titleist is the most popular ball on Tour, leading to huge sales numbers, and they don't want to lose any of that.  But do any of us believe that Titleist hasn't been preparing for this type of change for at least the last 4 or 5 years?  They're just waiting for the final testing parameters to come out so they can fine-tune whatever they have in the development pipeline.

:titelist-small: Irons Titleist AP2 714, KBS Tour S, 3 flat

:callaway-small: Rogue SubZero, GD YS-Six X

:vokey-small: 52, 56, and 60 wedges

:ping-small: B60 G5i putter

Right handed

Reston, Virginia

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27 minutes ago, Golfspy_CG2 said:

One of golf’s unifying appeals is that everyone in the game plays by the same set of rules

THIS IS ALL ABOUT TITLEIST' COMMENT NOT THE POSTER!

I appreciate Titleist and their comments.  BUT PLEASE SAME RULES !! And I don't want to turn this into a discussion about rules, and the elite PGA game, or what THE PRO'S DESERVE BECAUSE THEY ARE PROS.  But Can Titleist or the PGA, or the R&A, provide spotters so I won't lose any more balls in play.  Can they flip the bill for some tarps to be erected, along holes and behind holes to simulate crowds knocking the ball down before it bounds into the forest, or so I can error on the side of hitting too much club,  to avoid water in front and then if I misjudge it hits the tarp representing a grandstand that will knock it down and keep it out of the head high brush behind the green.  Oh and I've seen the PGA play ball in hand under conditions that represent what I play most of the year.

That is such self serving, and insulting comment  to suggest in any way that the conditions, and circumstance under which the PGA plays in any way resembles what we weekend hackers play.   

Edited by Stuka44

Driver: Cobra King Speedzone

Irons:  :callaway-small: Mavrik 4-GW

Wedges:  :cleveland-small: CG-14 56 & RTX 52

Putter:  :ping-small: Scottsdale Wolverine

Woods:  Gigagolf  3W, 2H, 3H

Ball:  Srixon Z-Star XV 

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20 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

And this seems to me to be a quite reasonable position for them to take, some of the most logical reasons to oppose bifurcation.  Its also reasonably self-serving, Titleist is the most popular ball on Tour, leading to huge sales numbers, and they don't want to lose any of that.  But do any of us believe that Titleist hasn't been preparing for this type of change for at least the last 4 or 5 years?  They're just waiting for the final testing parameters to come out so they can fine-tune whatever they have in the development pipeline.

Yep, agree on all acounts.   

They do make a solid argument, and they do have a vested interest as you point out.  

And you are correct, I can bet there is a ProV1-T somewwhere behind the locked doors of Ball Plant 3 🙂

 

:titelist-small: TSR1 9.0 Graphite Design DI 5R 

:titelist-small: TSiR1 15.0 Aldlia Ascent 60g

:titelist-small: TSR2 18.0 PX Aldila Ascent 6og

:titelist-small: TSi1 20 Aldila Ascent Shafts R

:titelist-small: T350 5-GW SteelFiber I80 

:titelist-small: SM8 48F/54/58 D Grinds 

:scotty-cameron-1: Select 5.5 Flowback 35" 

:titelist-small: ProV1  Play number 12

 

 

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