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Bifurcation of USGA rules for golf balls

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Let’s start with a major topic of discussion: the golf ball. Many respected names in the world of golf have made it clear that they feel the current ball goes too far and needs to be re-engineered to carry shorter and ostensibly spin more.

Nowhere is this more of a concern than the USGA, an enormously successful 501-c-3 organization with some $300 million currently in the bank earning returns, and its new Fox contract of $100 million annually for 12 years. It’s safe to forecast its financial future as being significant — very significant.

The majority of these funds exist because of television. Professional golf as TV entertainment is a very lucrative arrangement for the players and supporting organizations.

Yet, if you’re the USGA you have an issue, something irritating that just won’t go away. You want the U.S. Open, our National Championship, to be the No. 1 golf event on TV, which it isn’t. In the ratings game The Masters wins, and with Rory McIlroy quickly becoming a “must watch,” there is no reason to believe there will be a change.

Further, as the USGA you watched Mr. McIlroy hit a driver and 9 iron to a 508-yard par 4 during his win at the PGA Championship. You want to hold the U.S. Open on great courses around the country, but how do you legitimately protect them against that kind of overpowering distance? Make no mistake, McIlory is not some freak, but a harbinger of the future.

It’s time for two sets of rules so there can be a “tournament ball.” Why not just roll the ball back for everyone? As the USGA, you have a responsibility to the game as a whole; it’s losing players because golf is “too slow, no fun,” so making the game harder with a ball that is shorter just doesn’t compute.

Think of a tournament ball in TV terms — an infinite number of stories, predictions about shot-making, curving the ball, etc., and great video provided by Shotlink. Not just on Open courses, but all courses around the country are now candidates for a whole new world of televised golf.

And, to be clear, the decision opens the door for a legitimate formant to make the U.S. Open the No. 1 televised event in golf. This in no way, however, slights the great job done by The Masters. Somebody has to be No. 1, and from the perspective of the USGA, why not the championship of our country?

As easy as it is to see the benefits, this would be a very difficult decision. There is enough controversy surrounding a tournament ball that the USGA would take major flack, some within its own organization.

The golf purists would be up in arms and there is the potential of legal action from the professionals themselves. Think not? This is their business, and financially it’s very lucrative. Now the ball changes and let’s say with your angle of attack and swing speed it makes the game harder for you than some of your fellow competitors. Don’t you have a right to protect your ability to make a living? Do you use the legal system rather than trying to change a swing you’ve perfected over the years?

For these reasons, and I’m sure many more, changing the rules to introduce a tournament ball is, at the least, a decision that will be tumultuous. Given the objective of making the U.S. Open the premiere golf event as measured by TV viewership, it’s time to make the bold decision, two sets of rules: “an idea whose time has come” (Apologies to Victor Hugo).

But wait; professional golf encompasses some 0.05 percent of those who play. What about the other 99.05 percent? Amateur golfers and those folks certainly don’t need a ball that goes shorter. As far back as the 1930’s, a pretty good player by the name of Sarazen petitioned for two sets of rules and over the years many knowledgeable and involved members of the golf community have done the same.

Given the financial state of the golf industry, what better time for bifurcation and the opportunity to make the amateur game more enjoyable. The list of potential changes is endless and I’m giving you readers and opportunity to “play Czar;” what changes would you make to amateur golf?

For the record, I’m an old fogey and have a great appreciation for the game. Therefore, I’d be very careful with its basic structure: no 15-inch cups, no crazy non-conforming equipment. Anchored putters are ok; I’d drop spring effect but have some limit in case someone figures a way to stop the faces from caving in. So maybe there’s a 10-to-15 yard limit. I’d leave the current ball alone; maybe make out of bounds a one shot and a line of flight drop (to speed up play).

And one last input — what about the elite amateur? I ask, what about them? They can play whatever ball they choose, and if they are getting ready to try for the tour then make the switch. Think of baseball and the graduation to wooden bats. There would be no penalty for any amateur deciding to play the professional ball; it’s just the pros that have no choice.

So good readers faced with the chance for amateur rules what would you suggest? My only caveat, it’s a game with great history so make haste slowly!

Read more from Barney Adams

When Modern-Day fittings aren’t so modern
Straight answers about equipment costs
Establishing better rules for pace of play
A specific approach to grow golf (Part 6)

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Barney Adams is the founder of Adams Golf and the inventor of the iconic "Tight Lies" fairway wood. He served as Chairman of the Board for Adams until 2012, when the company was purchased by TaylorMade-Adidas. Adams is one of golf's most distinguished entrepreneurs, receiving honors such as Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young in 1999 and the 2010 Ernie Sabayrac Award for lifetime contribution to the golf industry by the PGA of America. His journey in the golf industry started as as a club fitter, however, and has the epoxy filled shirts as a testimony to his days as an assembler. Have an equipment question? Adams holds seven patents on club design and has conducted research on every club in the bag. He welcomes your equipment questions through email at barneyadams9@gmail.com Adams is now retired from the golf equipment industry, but his passion for the game endures through his writing. He is the author of "The WOW Factor," a book published in 2008 that offers an insider's view of the golf industry and business advice to entrepreneurs, and he continues to contribute articles to outlets like GolfWRX that offer his solutions to grow the game of golf.

237 Comments

237 Comments

  1. Pingback: The "Tournament Golf Ball"- A Terrific or Terrible Idea? - Golf Slot Machine

  2. TotalHack

    Nov 16, 2014 at 1:10 am

    I don’t understand this. Wouldn’t it just be easier to make those regularly reached in three par fives par fours instead? Why take away from the awe factor that is the capability of pro golfers that make me want to watch them. Also, courses don’t have to be longer to make them tougher, plant some well placed trees or narrow the fairways. Pros know that staying out of trouble in many situations is more beneficial than trying to get too aggressive. They’ll start thinking playing shorter just for that.

    • Mat

      Dec 3, 2014 at 1:06 pm

      Because “Par” is relative. A tournament with a Par-68 would just be the same thing, but with more + numbers.

      Adding trees is expensive, and it doesn’t solve the issue.

  3. Nick

    Nov 13, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Anything that improves pace and some of golf’s more penal aspects that turn people off from the game would help the game grow. The game needs to be hard because that’s part of its beauty but some changes can be made without corrupting the beautiful struggle that is a round of golf.

    1) Lost ball and OB should be lateral penalties. It helps pace and it helps with the “too hard” feel a lot of new golfers get because the driver is often a club the new golfer struggles to hit well. I honestly don’t know how you deserve less penalty for finding the lake than the neighbor’s yard or woods so thick you can’t even find your ball. All those shots suck, but one has a penalty where you can easily salvage par or a bogie at worst while the other is probably a double without some heroics. The penalty exceeds the crime.

    2) Tees based on handicap and skill level. I’m sorry but if you cannot regularly break 80 you do not belong on the tips and if you shoot in the 90’s you should not be on the blue tees. This again helps with pace and the “too hard” feel. I’m not sure how you do this other than making it a rule of the game and make it “cheating” to play further back or closer than your skill level demands. Some will ignore the rules, as they always have, but I really hate to see a guy with a Titleist staff bag tee off from the tips in front of me only to hit a worm burner. You just know its gonna be a long day….

    3) If you sign for a score HIGHER than your actual score, you just get the score you signed for. No DQ. C’mon, what purpose does the rule serve to DQ the man who marked a genuine birdie a par????

    4) As for equipment, they need to roll back the ball. I don’t think a longer ball makes the game easier or rounds faster. For those who struggle, a longer ball is just further in the woods and an excuse to use tees they cannot play to. I think we need a shorter ball so people tee it forward and the sacred courses don’t have to be continually lengthened to defend themselves from the elite .05 percent who can actually use a longer ball to score better.

    • Peter

      Nov 17, 2014 at 8:39 pm

      #3 – that’s the rule already. You don’t get DQ’d for signing for more than you scored. Roberto de Vicenzo – Masters 1968

  4. Mat

    Nov 12, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    It doesn’t need bifurcation. It needs to be restricted for EVERYONE. Make them slightly softer. Amateurs and Ladies tours won’t blink because they are already using a softer ball now.

    • Pat

      Dec 16, 2014 at 12:08 pm

      That’s only going to slow down play. Having a 4 iron in instead of a 7 iron increases the chances of the ball going offline somewhere out of bounds or some other horrible shot. USGA doesn’t need to screw with the golf ball. Just leave it be.

  5. Mike Mul

    Nov 12, 2014 at 7:22 am

    Hi Barney,
    Leave the game alone. The game doesn’t need to be made easier for amateur golfers. They need to get better.

    • Big Bob

      Nov 26, 2014 at 3:55 am

      Whilst there is some truth in this not everyone will benefit. I sometimes shoot my handicap or am close to it, however if I hit a couple of loose shots it always seem to end with a Blob, No score or No return I don’t need to explain because we all do it.

      However when I’m playing these poor shots I keep moving, slow golf is unaccptable at all levels, The USPGA and the R & A need to get stricter on this and need to do it now.

  6. gvogel

    Oct 29, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Pro baseball players use wood bats – same as they always have played. If the pros switched to aluminum, the ballparks would need to be much larger. That would be stupid.

    Pro golfers (and anyone who wants to compare their game to the pros) should use wooden headed drivers. Implement that, and there is no reason to lengthen the great old golf courses.

    Simple fix. End of discussion.

    • Nick

      Nov 13, 2014 at 1:50 pm

      I love the idea but the idea the equipment manufacturers would allow the best marketing money can buy, pro’s using the equipment they sell to the masses, makes this one something of a pipe dream. I think that’s the main problem with a tournament ball but pretty much only Titleist would stand to lose their since it dominates Tour to the other manufacturers’ envy.

  7. Waqar

    Oct 16, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    F1 standardized on tires, all team use the same tires, at first there was a big objection but it seems to be working fine. If Tiger Woods could have won 1-2 more majors if he had continued to play with PRO-V1 then would he have changed balls? I don’t know only Tiger can answer that question. A few million bucks or 2 majors, tough choice.

    And the ball company can be changed each year, how economics will work I don’t know. But the ball should not be detuned. The ball chosen should be technically upto date.

    • Big Bob

      Nov 26, 2014 at 4:00 am

      If Tiger could have hit it straighter he would have won more than another 2 majors. Straight is the key word.

      My neigbour keeps loosing to his wife, and told me she does him on the par 3’s I told him to go and practice hitting it closer to the pin.

  8. Bernard

    Sep 27, 2014 at 10:41 am

    What makes Amen Corner special at Augusta?

    What makes the British Open potentially the best tournament every year?

    WIND.

    The modern ball is neutering the X-factor in golf. Add spin to it and wind comes to the fore once again. The game becomes more interesting, entertaining and a fairer test of ability. Golf becomes more right-brained, more creative. The long hitter can still dominate but his misses will cost a lot more. Classic courses stay relevant. The integrity of the game remains intact. Fans get to witness better golf.

    Wind. It’s win, win, win.

  9. James

    Sep 25, 2014 at 11:55 am

    I think the point of all this is that golf will become less on television in terms of ratings and that could eventually hurt the game more than it is hurt now. Every pro starts shooting 59 then it becomes the new normal and the tournaments are no longer exciting. Tennis has suffered with the new equipment in terms of tv. Why? Because the long rally is almost dead. It’s serve an ace on to the next point or serve where it can’t be returned effectively even if hit or it is returned weakly and the server puts it away. Has made tennis unbearable to watch. Golf will get that way if all pros can go low and hit it a mile. If the ball isn’t rolled back, then force the pros to use persimmon drivers and true blade irons just like pro baseball requires wood bats.

    • EJR2

      Nov 19, 2014 at 1:07 pm

      I like the idea of requiring pros to play blade irons (but not the persimmon wood recommendation). Requiring pros to play blades would be similar to the requirement for pro baseball players to use wood bats. If the amateur player wants to play the same clubs as the pros – good luck with that. As for drivers, manufacturers need to market the same club to the masses as the pros play. How about limiting the “hotness” of the face in a pro version to limit ball speeds. Amateurs could play the same club but with a hotter face. This makes marketing work but limits the capabilities of the pro equipment.

    • Pat

      Dec 16, 2014 at 12:13 pm

      Golf would even more boring watching guys struggle all the time to shoot even par. It’s way more interesting watching them bomb 300+yard drives and making tons of birdies and eagles. The tour players would probably go on strike if the USGA made them go back to persimmon and blades.

  10. Cwolf

    Sep 20, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    This is pure nonsense.

    • kevin

      Sep 24, 2014 at 3:33 pm

      A lot of good points by Mr. Adams. But focusing on the ball alone is not going to cut it (pun intended). It was interesting at the BMW event in Denver to see the pros try to drive the green with Arnie’s persimmon driver. Mcilroy was closest but nearly 50 yards short of the green, a mere 295 at altitude, or a bit over 265 sea level (with a modern ball!). The classic courses were designed for a persimmon driver with no spring effect and a high spinning balata ball. Long drivers in those days topped at around 275 yards. I remember a good amateur would hit it about 250. Not a monstrous difference. Going back to a 250cc max driver with no spring effect (steel head, thick face) and a two piece ball that spins like the old balata would make the game more fun for everyone and bring shorter classic courses back in vogue.

      • Keegan

        Dec 15, 2014 at 9:39 pm

        Now while I agree with some of your points, what I’ll go against here is the loss of distance for everyone. Going back to steel faced metalwoods with no spring effect would make more people quit the game than already are. I personally swing around 112 and I think that hitting a steel faced driver and bringing me back 30 yards is going to be awful. In no way would that make the game more fun. Also the modern golfball is meant to go further, the metalwoods don’t hit it that much further. I hit my dad’s old persimmon wood a few months ago during the summer, and I carried the ball about 250, then i pulled out my SLDR and flew it 15 yards past it. The clubs aren’t what has made the game shorter, it’s the ball. Short courses can still be challenging as well, take the US Open at merion for example, it was under 7000 yards and the winning score was +1, and if you look at Congressional during the US Open, around 7600, the winning score was -16. So the course doesn’t need to be long to be extremely tough. The ball and the clubs can stay the same, the greens need to be firmer, the rough taller, and the fairways narrower. That’s the only way that the game will get tougher for the pros and for everyone else

  11. Themaddriver

    Sep 20, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Changing the ball for distance will not help. The long player will still hit a shorter club. Higher ball flight. Softer landing. Better score. Rory hits the ball high thus he can hold more greens than say Cory Pavin would. It just does not matter. Golf will always advantage the longer player. I would love to see them play tournaments on everyday municiple course that are struggling for money vice the courses that have millions and millions of dollars coming in from their extremely wealthy members. Imagine if they brought a tournament to your course. Just one time would make a significant impact on how your course would be for many years to come. So my rule would be that the course has to be semi-private or public to hold a tournament.

    • chris

      Sep 20, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      I agree. I’d love to see tournaments held on the same courses amateurs play. Not only would it bring money to the struggling courses well after the event, it would put money back to the community.

    • JoAnn

      Oct 20, 2014 at 9:30 pm

      Have you ever seen the prelims that are mandatory to a tournament? The parking necessary to host one? The restroom facilities? Food booths? Most courses could not begin to host a pro tourney. I know many courses could sure use the income but it isn’t feasible, although many courses would thank you for the consideration.

      • Big Bob

        Nov 26, 2014 at 4:05 am

        With the exception of the rest rooms all those other points can easily be dealt with.

  12. B

    Sep 20, 2014 at 9:53 am

    First, 99.05% plus 0.05% is 99.1%, not 100%. Second, how is reducing the distance of the “tournament ball” going to improve viewer ratings? You’ve reached the conclusion that it will, but haven’t stated why. Whilst we’re trying to inflate the egos of inferior amateurs, how about we legalise steroids for them as well? Some critical thinking before regurgitating this garbage would be greatly appreciated for future articles.

  13. Greg

    Sep 19, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    The only real problem with golf is “Speed of Play”. Give the Pro an amount of time to hit or putt once they are within 10 feet of the ball. 30 Seconds sound great to me. That will do two things. Raise Scores and improve the enjoyment of the game. Same rule for amateurs also. Get the distance, pick your club, two practice swings, get your line, hit the ball. 30 seconds is plenty of time. I love this game and I will love it more when I am not standing by my ball for 3 to 5 minutes every shot.

    • JoAnn

      Oct 20, 2014 at 9:31 pm

      The Pros hit far enough that time is not the issue as it is for the amateurs who only wish they were pros.

  14. bwoody01

    Sep 19, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Curve ball time…. just a thought here and not realistic, so don’t hate me yet! LOL 🙂 How about restricting/ limiting the lengths, flexes, and lofts of each club that can be used. Short or tall, strong or week, all players would have to use the same tools to get the job done. Manufactures would likely make profits then, verses rolling out a new club every 3 months to be considered ‘tech forward’… I will stop there before I get carried away in ‘NEVERland’ here….

  15. ca1879

    Sep 19, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Barney:

    Your comment that a ball that is shorter for the pros must be shorter for amateurs is probably correct, but misses the fact that aerodynamic changes would affect the pros much more than amateurs because drag and lift functions are proportional to the square of the velocity. So we would suffer some small reduction, while the pros would lose more because of their higher ball speeds. That the distance gains plateaued before the recent focus on dropping spin and increasing launch angle bumped them up again shows how much this matters. I think we could all live with some distance loss if it’s part of an effort to make shorter courses and holes challenging in the way they used to be.

  16. brendon

    Sep 19, 2014 at 1:15 am

    The ball should be shortened by 10% for everyone, basically back to 2002 levels. This would make the game tougher for pros and elite players but actually not make the game much tougher for regular amateurs because currently the ball going further just means that it is going further off line. Having a ball that goes a lot further only helps if you can hit it relatively straight.

    A ball that goes further for a 18 handicap just means that it is past the rough and into the trees, the ball that used to be in the trees is now OB. Once in a while when you do hit it long and straight you have now hit it 25 yards longer than you used to but 25 yards further down the fairway isn’t going to help as much as being deeper and further in the trees and rough hurts.

    The savings on agronomy and water costs to not having to lengthen the courses as much makes it worth it as well.

  17. Tom

    Sep 19, 2014 at 1:10 am

    Rule change: All amateurs must complete 10 lessons with a verified PGA pro before being allowed on any 18-hole par 70-72 golf course. In lieu of lessons, an amateur may take a playing abilities test, which includes a written portion and a performance portion. One tests knowledge of rules and etiquette. The other tests ability to hit the ball over 100 yards to a 50 yard wide target area.

    Some people have no business being on a golf course!

    • MHendon

      Sep 19, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      Ok hypothetically speaking. You’re a golf course owner and like most courses you’re barely keeping your head above water. You’re gonna send business away because they haven’t past a performance test? I think not.

      • BIG STU

        Sep 29, 2014 at 5:15 pm

        Reminds me of the time that some of the courses down here tried a simular thing by making you show your handicap card and then telling you what tees you could play. That did not last long because some folks dont want or have a handicap card and it ticked off a lot of people. Basically telling the courses we paid our money we will play whatever tees we want to or we will play elsewhere

    • John Mclane

      Sep 19, 2014 at 3:04 pm

      The best advice I ever heard came from an old pro while i was watching the golf channel. I think it was Gene Sarazan or Bobby Jones but they said, “I try to miss my putts quickly.” I know they meant that nothing was gained by taking extra time and over analyzing things but the lesson I took from that is one can play terrible golf, fail your so called test, and still play fast. Actually some of the slowest golfers are foursomes 5 to 15 handicaps that play for money and perform ridiculously long routines, don’t play ready golf, stand around and watch each other hit and are not ready to hit when it is their turn, but they would all pass your test.

    • cRaSh2k1

      Oct 10, 2014 at 12:51 pm

      What communist country do you live in?

    • Briggsky

      Nov 13, 2014 at 8:13 pm

      Making it harder for new golfers to come into the game will help no one and cost us all eventually. This is exactly the reason that golf play is down. The number one complaint among our newest members for the last three years has been rudeness from members who expect to play around in a three hour pace. Every round is timed at our course and less than 4% are over four hours. This rudeness is even expressed at every meeting we have. The three hour players have broken the basic rule of etiquette. Treating people decently. The real problem is that most of the players who leave after a year or two are afraid to express how they were treated. They just leave. At our club rudeness is at an all time high. With an average time of around 3:45 that shouldn’t be the case.

  18. Chuck

    Sep 19, 2014 at 12:56 am

    Merion was a stern test at the U.S. Open and I think Chambers Bay will be next year as well. Augusta is a great test nearly every year since their modifications. I would not change any rules. I enjoy golf because when I shoot in the low 70’s I know I could beat an elite pro on a bad day. Golf is too hard and we tend to focus on the select few that dominate any given week, while others have pedestrian results that could be similar to what a better amateur would shoot. The wake up call will be when multiple players shoot 62’s at major championships… Still hasn’t happened!!

    • Knobbywood

      Sep 20, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      Lol your low 70s round on a 6400 yard 67.5 rated course would not beat an elite pro on a bad day… He would shoot 68 and be complaining about missing putts all day on the tracks we play

      • Chuck

        Sep 20, 2014 at 11:49 pm

        My course plays over 7,100 yards with a 74.5 rating. My course is a private club in IL that doesnt allow women. 2.5 hour rounds all day. Enjoy the white tees at your muni!

        • Shallowface

          Oct 3, 2014 at 8:08 am

          There is no way you are playing that kind of golf course in 2.5 hours and playing under the rules of golf (holing out every putt). I’ve heard this stuff for years and it is complete BS.

          As is the idea that women are slow players. Slow play is caused by trash talking, gambling, high fives, patting each other on the butt and poor shots from swinging 460cc drivers from the heels.

          And all of that belongs to “men.”

          • JoAnn

            Oct 20, 2014 at 9:37 pm

            AMEN “Face” ~ you said it better than I could formulate and saved me the grins. The arrogance of some golfers rarely ceases to amazed me.

    • Uphill both ways

      Nov 1, 2014 at 10:05 pm

      No you couldn’t. You clearly have no idea what you are talking about or how good today’s touring professionals actually are. Remember they put these numbers up on the hardest courses under the most difficult conditions against the best possible competition. If you could compete with that at all, someone would have noticed and you’d have been given a shot.

  19. Sean

    Sep 19, 2014 at 12:41 am

    It’s fine if you disagree with what Mr. Adams has to say, but please have the courtesy of keeping it civil.

  20. Professor Czar

    Sep 18, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    Golf is not baseball, Mr. Adams. If golf was baseball, then you would probably want to limit the type of wood that can be used in bats at MLB level. Team sports, in professional leagues, set equipment standards. Individual sports like golf or tennis don’t regulate equipment so that everyone uses the same type of racket or club. It would be unfair to make John Daly and Jim Furyk play the same spec clubs. Just like they don’t make MLB players use the same gloves or bats. Or tennis players use the same rackets.

    Stop writing drivel and maybe increase your word count so it is not segemented thoughts. Stick to your point after you state it and argue that point only. Stop hopping around.

    Your essays would get a grade of C at a high school or college level.
    Do you outline/edit these or just hit post?

    • Mad-Mex

      Sep 18, 2014 at 11:42 pm

      In regards to your post, maybe you should have done a little research. Bats are regulated not by type of wood but what material is used, as any baseball fan knows, only certain woods make good bats, after all, who would use Brazilian rosewood to make a bat, or Mahogany? (answer is too soft and too heavy, BOTH too expensive!!!) by the way, ALL MLB BASEBALLS ARE MADE BY ONE COMPANY! ,,and there IS a regulations as to the size and type of glove a player can use,,,,, Also, all rackets and tennis balls are made to certain regulations,,,, Do YOU research or just click on post?!?

  21. Mad-Mex

    Sep 18, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    I have an idea,,,, have the pro’s play what an average golfer has to play on!,,, range balls are almost smooth, cracked, different brands, the best green is the practice green, every green on the course is a different speed, mowed to different heights,,, some lack grass and are nothing more than hard packed dirt,,, NO AREAS UNDER REPAIR!!! sand traps are filled to different levels with sand, dirt and other variables,, some with only 1/2 of dirt/sand,,, some hard packed some soft, some racked,, fairways will also be mowed like the greens to different heights and different levels of grass on them,,, OH!!! and there will be some one driving a cart while your swinging and on occasion the sprinklers will go off,,,,, THAT would be a tournament to watch!!!!

    • bwoody01

      Sep 19, 2014 at 2:47 pm

      Sounds like you have played at one of my courses, before! LOL. Love it!

  22. Sean

    Sep 18, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    I don’t think courses need to be lengthened or equipment changed for the professionals. Simply make the courses a bit tougher. For example, thicker rough, narrower fairways, and OB if the ball goes into another fairway, or past a certain designated “line”. They are professionals, they should be able to hit the ball straight more often than not. As to the amateur, many of todays modern courses were built with the better golfer in mind: forced carries, a plethora of hazards, and long par 3’s. Since the average golfer plays too far back anyway, this just exacerbates his ability to score. Rare is the modern course that allows the golfer to play the game “on the ground.”

  23. Bwoody01

    Sep 18, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    Soap Box Time! Simple – leave the golf ball alone except only to make it ‘better’. Leave everything else alone with the game as well!
    The associations of golf (NGCOA, PGA and USGA) say that the game is on a significant decline. Why change something to make it harder to play than it already is? If anything, we should be finding a way to make the game easier and cost less – especially for the recreational folks. This is the only way. Golf is a dying ‘sport’. Messing with the golf ball will not help this matter.

    • Bwoody01

      Sep 18, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      I am in tune with the idea of havign ‘tournament regulated’ golf balls however… This will equal the playing field somewhat…

      • Bwoody01

        Sep 18, 2014 at 3:36 pm

        Also, get rid sand bunkers and make them all 7-10 inches of rough grass bunkers – that will fix the scores for sure. Pros say they have an advantage out of sand verses the rough. Take the sand away!

        • Joe

          Sep 18, 2014 at 5:14 pm

          Not sure that will speed up play having to look for golf balls instead?

          • bwoody01

            Sep 19, 2014 at 2:45 pm

            I am all about the pace of play issues here, but we are talking about PGA tournament golf here, no? They have marshals to help ‘look’ for balls, but not in the AM tournaments I play.

        • Chris Loskie

          Sep 18, 2014 at 9:00 pm

          Exactly right… everyone was worried about these guys destroying Merion… well guess what. They got crushed by the course and it was awesome lol.. what ever happened to making them struggle .. they wanna play pristine flat greens with groomed bunkers.. how about the bunkers they have stop over raking them and let there be a shitty bunker lie.

  24. Ben

    Sep 18, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Instituting separate rules for professionals is a poor way to fix a made up problem. 10 feet rims long ago became a joke for basketball players to dunk on but they didn’t change the rules of the game to prevent that, because it’s entertaining and doesn’t negatively affect the game. Why force pros to use outdated, inferior balls when it would be far easier to just give up on the notion of protecting par? I don’t care if McIlroy wins the US Open at 20 under par, I just want to know HOW MUCH he won by.

    • Bernard

      Sep 18, 2014 at 6:14 pm

      The NBA has tweaked the rules of the game over the years to make the game more entertaining and fair. The NFL has sped up the game and tweaked things so the passing game dominates. Both leagues have evolved over the last several decades and they are thriving.

      Golf talks of tradition and integrity, yet everyone wants to hit a super ball with a 46″ tennis racquet. Please.

  25. mizuno 29

    Sep 18, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Leave the ball alone and make the courses tighter, you see what the scores were at Merion, and that was a short course but very tight, penalizing to shots not in the fairway, make them play courses with doglegs that make them think there way around the course, not just bomb it, put some shot making back in to golf.

    • Dong

      Sep 18, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      I love it when it’s tight

    • gvogel

      Sep 25, 2014 at 1:06 pm

      It is exactly the course set up at Merion that makes the argument for dialing back the ball and the size of the driver.

      The longest players did not hit driver at Merion. They didn’t have to, and the rough was too penal.

      I believe that the best players should be tested on all facets of the game to win a National championship. Merion didn’t test the players properly on who could hit the long, straight drive.

      If the ball is dialed back and the spring effect is removed from the driver, it will become more important to be able to hit the long straight ball off the tee on the older courses. That should favor a guy like McIlroy over the shorter players in the field, as it should.

      Nicklaus, Palmer, Hogan, players like that were both long and straight off the tee.

      In order to “test” the field at Merion, the greens were running 14 and the rough was monsterous. Those are exactly the conditions that cause slow play on every day golf courses. And, on many older courses, super fast greens are unfair because the slopes on the greens were never designed to be putted with such fast speeds.

      If you take away the spring effect and limit the size of the driver head for elite players, and dial back the ball, you can make a Merion play plenty difficult in every day conditions – not tricked up to the extreme as it was in 2013.

  26. Doug Muir

    Sep 18, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Wouldn’t it be possible to design a ball that has diminishing returns for increasing swing speed? Rory would still hit it farther than me, but not as much. For arguments sake, lets say we want someone with an 80mph swing speed to be able to drive the ball 200 yds (2.5 yds/mph), someone with a 100mph swing speed to drive the ball 240 yds (2.4 yds/mph), and someone with a 120mph swing speed to drive the ball 260 yds (2.167 yds/mph). It seems like this should be achievable — heck, it might be possible just requiring everyone to play with low compression/ladies balls.

  27. Bill Wendton

    Sep 18, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    I suggest eliminating all equipment rules except for the following 2 mandates: No dimples on balls (they must all start out smooth) and no grooves on the faces of clubs (again, all smooth). That will limit distance and spin control.

    • Doug Muir

      Sep 18, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      My understanding is that dimples were “discovered” when golfers noticed that their scuffed balls flew further. How do you ensure that the ball stays smooth?

    • Dong

      Sep 18, 2014 at 4:17 pm

      I suggest you play baseball

    • Jimmy Tudeski

      Sep 19, 2014 at 12:36 am

      I hope you are trying to be funny. Have you ever hit a ball with no dimples? A course I used to play a lot fished balls out of lakes on the course and put them in with the range balls. The water wore down the dimples on some of the balls until they were smooth. I can carry a normal ball 285 yds with a driver and I couldn’t get a smooth ball over 150 yards and the ball could curve all over the place changing directions three or four times. Imagine playing a course trying to be accurate hitting a 170mph knuckleball.

  28. Ken

    Sep 18, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    If Rory Mcilroy can hit the ball 350 with a driver I could care less, so long as there is a competitor right by his side and they are going shot for shot. At the end of the day I would rather watch two players battling for the US Open title both at 15 under, then watch 1 guy who is -5 while the field is +5. Competition is why I watch golf and I am certainly not turned off when a pro is 20 under par. When is the last time someone said…geez, that was boring golf, all they did was hit the ball 350 yards and birdie every hole….

  29. dunn2500

    Sep 18, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Then equipment will change……Most pros hit ball so high, put more spin and equipment will start to be modified to keep ball down…..and guess who copies all the pros?….that’s right all the avg golfers play what the pros play…….golf is golf

    Bottom line is its hard game….Most won’t or don’t have time to get good so they don’t play….slow play is issue on tour and they still haven’t resolved it, lol…..you think at rec level things will change?…..not a chance

  30. Ben

    Sep 18, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    If you’re actually considering the switch you should also think about the proposal to use hockey sticks instead of putters. That will put an end to the anchor debate

  31. gvogel

    Sep 18, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Here is a little known fact: up until about 1929, all of the matches in the US Amateur Championship were played at 36 holes. 36 holes! Why? Because they could. Basically, the clubs were hickory shafted, heavy, and most players couldn’t hit the ball much farther than 230. When steel shafts came on the scene, players hit longer shots, and courses had to get longer. After the advent of steel shafts, 18-hole matches at the US Amateur, except for the Championship match, became standard.

    If you want to play more golf in a shorter amount of time, the equipment has to be dialed back.

    If you are retired and have all day to play golf, you probably don’t care much about 5 hour rounds.

    But if you are working and want to get out for 18 later in the afternoon, you probably care a lot about slow play.

    If you do care about slow play: a ball that doesn’t go as far, drivers without spring faces, and shorter golf courses are the answers to playing more golf in less time.

    One more thing. Why not dial back the driver, and make the limit around 200 cc’s for elite players, to put more skill in hitting the tee ball for cahmpionship golf? Hogan would be taking the modern game to task for not identifying the best driver of the ball as part of the equation for determining a champion.

    Ask Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus their opinions.

  32. Tyler

    Sep 18, 2014 at 11:41 am

    All I read here was:

    “Wahh, the AMATEURS can’t hit the ball as far as the PROFESSIONALS… PUNISH THE PROFESSIONALS!”

    Get over it Barney, your articles get whinier and whinier as you get older.

    • Gonzo

      Sep 18, 2014 at 11:53 am

      His perspective has been an awful addition to GolfWrx

      • Tyler

        Sep 18, 2014 at 12:55 pm

        It’s complete and total whiny drivel…

        The separation between professionals and amateurs of all levels is not because of the equipment, it is because high level golf is attracting true athletes.

        The yesterdays of golf were riddled with soft, untrained men who would have had zero chance of being competitive at other more physically demanding sports… Now we have a touring cohort that puts as much time into strength and overall fitness training as they do into their short game.

        Golf has true elite athletes now – soft and untrained but loaded with talent can no longer compete with those who are fit, strong, flexible, and loaded with talent – and this is pissing off old men like Barney Adams that grew up in that past era, because they can’t keep up with the real athletes that put in the real effort.

        If you’re looking for something to blame, blame Tiger… He’s the one that showed the world what strength can skill can accomplish.

        • CM

          Sep 18, 2014 at 2:57 pm

          I agree Phil, Daly, Herron, Jimenez, Stadler, Petterson are truly elite.

          • Ryan

            Sep 18, 2014 at 3:18 pm

            I wouldn’t call duffdaddy an Adonis but he seems pretty good at golf… And marrying hot women.

          • Tyler

            Sep 18, 2014 at 3:39 pm

            You’re trying to hard to find pros that aren’t in great shape.

            Phil is a freak.

            Daly was relevant 15-20 years ago, not today, which is exactly my point.

            I don’t know who Herron is.

            Jimenez has zero PGA Tour victories.

            Stadler has won once, lol…

            Petterson has had a bit of success with five Tour wins in a fifteen year career…

            You’re gonna have to be a bit more convincing.

        • Tyler

          Sep 18, 2014 at 3:47 pm

          The professionals elevated themselves to another level, the majority of amateurs didn’t.

  33. Teaj

    Sep 18, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Have the fairways run out at a desired distance say 300-310 to make guys hit shorter shots or club down. People my say well its still not fair having one guy hitting driver and the other guy hitting 3 wood but the guy hitting 3 wood has the ability and game to do so, so I don’t think that would be a valid argument. a longer hitter will hit the ball longer if they are all playing with the same equipment unless for what ever reason the longer hitter cannot control the spin. as for the main article I never thought about the backlash and legal issues that would come up if they were to make a change, I don’t practice law but it would be interesting to sit in on a case if it were to come to changing the ball, to listen to both sides.

    • peter ruggles

      Sep 18, 2014 at 11:57 am

      Legislating an outcome is never a good idea, and almost always results in unintended consequences. Where does it say the US Open has to have the most TV viewers or the world is upside down? In football, the AFC and NFC Championship games are almost always better than the Superbowl, and have less hype. You can mandate McElroy to play with one hand just to make it even, but he isn’t any more dominant than Tiger was 12 years ago. I do like the idea of making 320 yard shots through the fairway occasionally, but McElroy will still be hitting wedges to 440 yard holes.

      • CM

        Sep 18, 2014 at 1:09 pm

        All baseballs are the same. Footballs. Tennis balls. Pucks. All mandated by the league. Would it be that bad if golf mandated a specific ball with qualities that were agreed upon? or are we all buying into the TM, Callaway, ect. bs that you have to buy new equipment every 6 months.

  34. Nathan

    Sep 18, 2014 at 6:10 am

    You mean the other 99.95 percent sir.
    No anchoring of any club is a must.
    No human being is perfect, and neither will their game ever be perfect.
    So in a lifetime of improvement and striving your game will never be perfect.
    And besides, you cant change the rules on me half way.
    i dont see the need to change any rule, except the anchoring rule. That has been done so all good there.
    I like your line of flight idea!

    • Robeli

      Sep 18, 2014 at 9:22 am

      “And besides, you cant change the rules on me half way.” ….eh, what about anchoring rule change? You can’t have it both ways.

  35. TeeBot2000

    Sep 18, 2014 at 1:43 am

    Here’s what I don’t get, everytime they try to “hurt” the long hitter’s with extending the course or now changing the golf ball. That’s only helping the guys with length, there still going to smash it 330+ the only person on tour that make it a longer course is the short knocker’s, and for those who say “the guys that don’t hit it as far have a better short game” are you out of your minds? EVERYONE on tour has a stellar short game, otherwise they wouldn’t be out there! I really think the only way to kill the longer hitter’s advantage is to drasticly change the lay out of the course, put water where they’re length would hurt them, add dog leg’s and stupid distances, you get the idea. Either way the way the game is going why change it, golf is amazing to watch on tv or to go to a pga tour event and witness first hand the amazing talent these guys have. As a +5 handicap and who has been playing before I could drive a car, I’ve seen the game’s equpiment go from wooden clubs to the space age technogly we put into it now. I couldn’t say equiment hurts the game, I also know that if your a hack a ball that flys straighter and further will only make you grow to love this beautiful sport we all hold so dear to our hearts that much more enjoyable. I agree with everyone saying make rules better for the amuter player faster and more enjoyable, as far as the pro’s dido. The only differance that deatermins who holds the trophy or wears the jacket on sunday isn’t the eqiupment but what’s between his or her ears.

    • Brian

      Sep 18, 2014 at 9:05 am

      I love the water/hazard idea at long distances!! Doglegs would take too long to implement and would rule out older courses. With the hazard idea, all courses could adjust by simply digging a trench at a certain distance, everything else plays the same. +1 to that!

  36. Bob Jones

    Sep 18, 2014 at 12:34 am

    I’m a recreational golfer who doesn’t care one bit about whether the professional game is out of balance. Mine isn’t. I like being able to get on the green of a 400-yard par 4 with a driver and a 4 or 5-iron, and that’s what modern equipment lets me do. That the pros are overpowering the older courses should not have any bearing on the game I play.

    As for comparing your game to the pros, unless you are plus-handicap amateur, here are the facts. Your game compares to the male professional game as the slow-pitch softball you play compares to Justin Verlander’s fastball. Even any LPGA pro would hand you your head in a basket. Your game is NOTHING like the professional game and never will be. You don’t even play the same course they do, the tournament setup is so different from the member setup. Not meaning to be rude here, but the idea of keeping the rules the same so you can compare your scores to the pros is absolutely nuts.

    • Joe

      Sep 18, 2014 at 10:40 am

      Kudos! In general amature golfers have no idea at what level the pro game is played. The ONLY way we could even remotely compare our game to theirs is to play a “day after” round. These are rounds that the tournament course books the day after a pro tourney, obviously mostly Mondays, where the course is left as it was for the final round. Sometimes they cut and roll the greens again, but most of the time not, presumably because the greens are cut so short for the tourney. We don’t play their courses, conditions, or equipment (mostly blades and 440cc drivers for the top5/10), so there really is no comparing our games to theirs. Literally and figuratively. Just enjoy the game you have and watching the ridiculous levels of skill on TV.

      • MHendon

        Sep 18, 2014 at 4:28 pm

        Even playing the day after a PGA tour event isn’t the same. The course conditions may be but you have to play under the pressure of competition to really compare. It’s the ability to handle that pressure that separates the guys on tour from the elite amateur.

        • Joe

          Sep 24, 2014 at 1:51 am

          Yep, just like my dad always says: if you can’t play golf when cash is on the line, then you can’t play golf.

  37. leo

    Sep 18, 2014 at 12:05 am

    not only does the ball go farther it goes straighter as well.combined with the 420-460cc titanium heads technology has virtually the quick hook that even tour players had to worry about.now it is possible to swing harder to achieve 115-120 mph clubhead speeds with less concern about how far off line the shot may end up.this also allows a player to use a longer shaft increasing clubhead speed.today a slight mishit especially off the toe of a driver results in a decent shot.todays iron lofts are much stronger because of the spring effect being allowed in the design of irons.these irons when used with a ball that launches higher makes a 9 iron go as far as a 6 iron used to go but still with proper trajectory.all these factors contribute to the massive distances players hit the ball.add in the firm and fast conditions of the fairways at most tour events and a par 4 under 480 yds is a driver and a short iron. a shorter ball would affect more than just driver distance.

    • Bernard

      Sep 18, 2014 at 12:08 pm

      Leo, I think you are onto the crux of the problem with technology in golf. The ball goes straighter, the sweet spot is bigger, the pro can take a bigger swing and gamble off the tee on a course that cannot add real estate.
      Makes for a boring sport. I’m sorry the 15th at Augusta is lame when a guy is hitting a 6 iron to the green in two.
      NASCAR throttled back horsepower, MLB keeps wood bats, basketball & football modifies rules to change the style of play, to make it more engaging. Let amateurs have all the “help” they want, pro golf needs to become more engaging.

  38. Mad-Mex

    Sep 17, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    If you add the “I want to play like the pros” to the “I want to play the who course” you get,,, FIVE HOUR PLUS ROUNDS!!!!

    How many times have you pulled up to a tee box to find four hacks hitting their drives MAYBE 200 yards, then at the green marking their balls when its 4 inches from the cup?

    Make OB line of sight, one stroke, play on,,,, the pros slow play, the USGA spineless officials to speed up play and their blind followers are whets wrong with golf today and driving players away,,,,,,,,,

    OH,,,,,,,, leave the ball alone, make fairways narrower and softer,,, sponsors and manufactures get off seeing driver 9 irons to par 4’s,, along with their cultlike followers,,,, but again,,,, I could be wrong,,,,

    • Mad-Mex

      Sep 17, 2014 at 11:49 pm

      Sorry,,,hard to post from phone! should have waited to rant!!!!!

  39. Airbender

    Sep 17, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Please move forward with technology. Make the course harder if necessary, not longer.

    Let the long hitters train to hit longer and the short game specialist keep practicing their short game and etc. That’s the beauty of the game. So many ways to go about it.

    Power is not everything in golf but it should be some sort of an edge – that’s why Jim Furyk won 1 Fedex cup and is World #5, Luke Donald is former #1, Brent won the Fedex cup, Tiger won the US open in 08′ injured. Tom Watson almost won the Open as a senior.

  40. Tommyd59

    Sep 17, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    Agree totally with the concept. The power game threatens to completely swamp the finesse game of old and we’re heading for tournaments becoming long/straight drive contests. The tour ball could be gradually detuned over time so as to not unduly penalize any existing players whose current game doesn’t suit it.
    The shorter ball would actually help develop a more complete game in the younger elite amateurs. If I was a coach I’d maybe make them use one now during practice.
    But also how about a 3rd much longer ball for say beginners, seniors, ladies and juniors which increases their enjoyment by being able to take on some carries rather than so many enforced layups.

    • myron miller

      Sep 30, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      My distance has gone drastically as I’ve aged. Yes, I’m a full fledged super senior. The only thing saving me today at all is the new technology – balls and clubs. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to play most courses. I’ve spent a lot on lessons and time practicing to improve my swing to get back some of the distance lost. But age does definitely reduce flexibility and the corresponding swing speed.

      If they change the ball for amateurs to the low speed/distance ball that Nicklaus and some others are advocating, one of two things would happen to me: 1) I’d switch to non-conforming balls: 2) I’d quit playing entirely; And I know a number of other avid older players that feel the same. Just what the USGA and the golf industry needs. Getting rid of those older players that can afford to play alot (and do spend a moderate amount doing so). That loss of income couldn’t be good for the economy.

      THe anchoring decision was a stupid one and counter-productive to the amateur. Who cares. (I don’t anchor and never did other than practice to see if it would help so I’m pretty neutral on whether it helps or not). But lots of amateurs do and it does help them enjoy the game so why not allow it since its been allowed for years and years. just because some pro’s win some majors isn’t a good reason to get rid of it for everyone.

  41. Chris

    Sep 17, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    I do think they should change the ob rule to match that of a hazard. I’ll be honest for the sake of speed and not losing a dozen balls in a given round my group normally plays this way anyhow.

    • Brennan Hough

      Sep 17, 2014 at 11:30 pm

      Excellent point. There are a few rules that could be simplified or revised to improve pace of play.

    • Joe Golfer

      Sep 18, 2014 at 12:09 am

      Gotta agree with this one.
      OB can add a lot of time.
      Especially if you don’t even know it went OB until you get out there, so you didn’t hit a provisional.
      Just take a penalty and hit from the area where it went out.

  42. Paul

    Sep 17, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    Could have a soft medium and hard ball like racing tyres, each made by their own golf sponsor brand (titleist, TM etc)
    then have them marked so we know which ball they’ve selected to use

    you could then have the ability to put tiny computer chips in them so we can get shot tracer style video with every shot – which imo would make golf so much better to watch instead of see a guy swing, watch the ball with a blue sky in the background, then see it land…

    • Also Starring

      Sep 18, 2014 at 2:16 pm

      The chip in the ball is a great idea. But…it will lead to not lost balls. We will find them all. So less business for the golf ball manufacturers. So it won’t happen. 🙁

  43. Tom v

    Sep 17, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    Roll back the ball? Worst idea ever even if it’s for the pros. How about the no fun league usga roll back the groove rule and anchored putting. Those two rules have back fired.

    Who cares what the ball is, it’s a level playing field. Who cares what scores are, everyone is playing the same course. Worried about scores? Grow out the rough, make the pins harder and narrow the fairways.

    Golf is the one sport where there are more variables than any other sport. It’s the only sport where your tools change. Promote positivity and the sport will grow. Stop trying to make the game harder than it already is especially when we complain golf is too hard and takes too much time. Get the ball in the hole and go have a couple beers

    The masters is more popular because they have a better image, a better course, a tradition unlike any other. It’s marketed better and the first major of the year after a long break. The only thing the usga seems to be concerned with is keeping the ideas of a few board members in tact. It’s time to get younger and change what the usga is doing because it is obviously not working…

    The usga sucks right now, but that doesn’t mean they can’t change their image. They should hire the same guys that have turned the LPGA around and created a better brand

    • Robeli

      Sep 18, 2014 at 9:36 am

      What do you mean with groove and anchoring rule changes backfired? Anchoring rule isn’t enforced yet.

    • Domino

      Sep 18, 2014 at 11:49 am

      “The masters is more popular because they have a better image, a better course, a tradition unlike any other.”

      Worth repeating 🙂

  44. Christosterone

    Sep 17, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    So should I lower my kids basketball goal outside and give them a smaller ball somthey can palm it?

    • Joe Golfer

      Sep 18, 2014 at 12:15 am

      They already do that.
      Kids who play in youngster leagues often have temporary baskets hung over the top of the regular baskets, making it an 8 foot high rim.
      It’s common for leagues of 4th to 6th graders.

      As for he size of he basketball, women’s professional b-ball uses a smaller ball than men do.
      Even the international tournament (male pros known as FIBA, which Team USA just won, uses a slightly smaller ball, though I do not know why.

  45. Jamal

    Sep 17, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    Really, the only people that talk about the “ball going too far” are seniors that used to play with balata balls and persimmon woods. Improvements to technology have ALWAYS been a part of the game and always should be. Who cares that Rory hit Driver + 9 iron to a par 4? He also hit a 3 iron to a par 4 in the same round. It’s also one of the things that attracts people to the game that you can play the same ball and clubs as Rory, Tiger or Phil. It’s overthinking like this that can kill the game even more.

    • allen

      Sep 17, 2014 at 8:52 pm

      If they all play with the same ball WTF who cares!

  46. RG

    Sep 17, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    If we all played the same game there would be 1 set of tees. If we all played the same game there would be only 1 set of clubs. If we all played the same game there would be only 1 ball. If we all played the same game there would be no handicap system. If we all played the same game ALL golf courses would be the same length.
    The USGA and R&A call them rules, but really they are just modes of play and standards. How ridiculous to hold a recreational player to the same standard as a professional.

    • Tom v

      Sep 17, 2014 at 10:02 pm

      Not a bad idea. Eliminate the variables. Require everyone play the same loft and flex clubs and same ball. Eliminate MANUFACTUERS and go to a nascar like inspection each tournament. Everyone plays usga clubs and balls. The usga would make so much money! While we are at it put a limit on the swing speed golfers can have…and penalize golfers that swing too fast. Brilliant! Not.

  47. Bernard

    Sep 17, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    Ask yourself if you want to se a MLB players swing a titanium bat. How interesting would that be after a time?
    The analogy with baseball is quite valid. The ball is juiced, the bat is corked, fix them both. I would go further than just the ball. The size of the driver, the use of hybrids, hell even cavity back irons should be eliminated from pro competition.
    Truth is technology helps but it does not improve one’s game. An ounce of technique is worth a pound of technology.

  48. BigBoy

    Sep 17, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    Who really cares, the hackers have played 5 hour rounds for decades, the pros have always hit it longer as technology got better, its just the way it is, so go clean your clubs and go play 18 with your mates and have a drink at the 19th.

    • C web

      Sep 17, 2014 at 7:55 pm

      Exactly

    • mgm

      Sep 18, 2014 at 11:16 am

      Truer words have never been spoken. At some point it needs to stop being analyzed to death. Just go play.

      Rounds have always been long, I don’t care what anyone says. I’ve been around this game long enough that I can say that. The whole slow play campaign is an attempt by the usga to stem the tide of people leaving the game – its not going yo work because that’s not the only problem. The easiest way to reduce slow play is to properly space tee times and marshal the course: usga courses won’t do that because that will reduce their profits. Therefore no one should preach to me about slow play. And for the record I can play 18 in a foursome in 3.5-4 h.

      • akreno

        Sep 18, 2014 at 11:29 am

        exactly! perfectly stated on pace of play. proper tee sheet spacing and some solid marshals would help pace more than anything but $$ talks.

      • Domino

        Sep 18, 2014 at 11:45 am

        “Rounds have always been long, I don’t care what anyone says. I’ve been around this game long enough that I can say that. The whole slow play campaign is an attempt by the usga to stem the tide of people leaving the game”

        Couldn’t agree more, absolutely spot on. And if anything, all this pressure to speed up play is actually making the game less enjoyable for the new and/or young player deciding if they like the game, which is the segment the game obviously needs if stability of numbers is the goal.

        What I’d love to see is data on what percent of golfers who started in the last 10 years has left the game, and how that number compares to say like 1985. I suspect as a percentage it’s about the same, but the sheer numbers are higher because of the Tiger effect and the boom in interest that came along with it. I understand the golf industry would love to retain a higher proportion of that gift in market size they were given, but I’m not sure it’s a realistic objective. Golf is a very hard game requiring a huge investment in time, and a fairly high percentage of people who try it out are going to surrender.

        • mgm

          Sep 19, 2014 at 5:32 pm

          I agree that new players need to be taught etiquette and pace of play, but it can be taken too far, and it has been. Some beginners I’ve seen are so terrified about offending someone on the course that their round turns from a fun afternoon to a stressful ordeal. They are usually the ones that are preached to about rules, slowness, and etiquette by more experienced players that then proceed to cheat their way to a vanity handicap of 7-14, and play slowly, while the beginners watch. Is it any wonder they don’t come back?

        • mgm

          Sep 19, 2014 at 5:36 pm

          Agree with you on this point as well:
          Golf has always been a sport with limited appeal. It is difficult, expensive, and time consuming (and always has and always will be). Its hard to make a sport that takes years of effort to be even able to consistently play mediocre a mainstream sport. I don’t necessarily know if it’s the tiger effect or not. A big part of it is people expect instant gratification a lot more than they used to.

  49. Rwj

    Sep 17, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    How about long tooth rakes for the bunkers on tour. The bunkers were considered hazards, they are no more. The average tour pro has zero trouble from a bunker because they are perfect. The single bunker that isn’t perfect, they complain and the PGA and USGA bend over for them. A shot in the bunker should be a pain not easy street, that would make GIR important. Tall, lush rough lining the fairway would make fairways hit important. You noticed in 2012 the USA captain setup the rude cup course with virtually no rough because he knew he had bombers with no accuracy, the US tour player is a pampered pansy that needs perfection to perform… A lot of “p’s” there!

  50. Domino

    Sep 17, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    It’s funny to me how often I’ll hear someone lament that golf is in peril due to slow play driving off all the new and young players, then recite a laundry list of things to do to keep new and young players from slowing down the game, lol. Licenses? Good grief, that’ll draw ’em in. Golf is slow because, well, golf is slow.

    Regarding the golf ball and the pro game, what is the problem that needs fixing, really? The game draws enough viewer and sponsor support that these top guys are flying around the world in private jets, and Billy Horshel was just able to string together a few peak weeks and walk away with $13MM. So what’s broken?

    I respect Jack Nicklaus and his opinions on the golf ball and always have. I’m 46 and I grew up watching him, he was our Tiger Woods. But let’s be honest, it’s not like he was playing a featherie when he came out and crushed the field with his length in his day, and they were complaining about then too. Despite the evolution (or because of it who knows) there’s no doubt the pro game is bigger and higher profile now than it ever was back then. Golf is fine, just play the game.

    • Rob Logan

      Sep 17, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      I couldn’t agree more. However, I think the problem at its heart is that better technology is making the typical golf course smaller, which has caused various championship courses to find ways to make each hole longer, which may not be as much of a problem for them. For the local courses, though, maintaining a golf course is expensive enough. Having to make the course bigger would put many of them out of business, that’s my hunch anyway.

      • GL Johnson

        Sep 17, 2014 at 10:25 pm

        If you really care about this, read this article from a few years back. Luke Donald, then one of the top golfers, was using older clubs and older balls and comparing them to his then current set of clubs and balls he was playing. Interesting article.

        http://www.golf.com/tour-and-news/luke-donald-tees-it-vintage-clubs

      • MHendon

        Sep 18, 2014 at 12:49 am

        There are what maybe 50 courses that host PGA tour events. Those are the only courses that need to be concerned with length. Pretty much every other course can keep it under 7000yds and still be plenty challenging for the average golfer while keeping maintenance cost down.

  51. nikkyd

    Sep 17, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    When i was playing semi pro football, we played by NFL rules and played with NFL leather footballs which are larger and heavier than NCAA and NFHS footballs. I dont see distance the biggest factor in the change of the golf ball , but spin characteristics , absolutely. You gotta tame that 120mph swing so your ball doesnt hook 60yards ob, 270 yards down the chute

  52. Todd

    Sep 17, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Tongue in cheek of course but….I don’t think it’s fair that certain bball players can jump out of the gym with 40+ inch vertical jumps…maybe invent a bball shoe that limits their jumping ability…seems fair, huh? I agree with a previous post – yes Rory hit it 350 and had a 9 iron into a par5 BUT most of the field didn’t reach the green in two or had a much longer club into that hole….so what? Guys like Rory and Bubba have a distance advantage BUT guess what happens when their bombs go offline? (hint: they’re not playable). Grow up the rough, make the greens firm and fast….that will bring the field together.

    • Themaddriver

      Sep 20, 2014 at 9:34 am

      Firm and fast greens definitely give the longer hitters an advantage. They can hit higher shorter clubs. Thusly driving the field apart.

  53. GL Johnson

    Sep 17, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    It was stated in the article, “Don’t you have a right to protect your ability to make a living? Do you use the legal system rather than trying to change a swing you’ve perfected over the years?”

    And yet, they outlawed the long putter which for some players have used for their entire professional career. Football, baseball, tennis, and others all use an official ball. If we don’t get a uniform ball, soon all regular courses will be par 62’s. All par fives will be reachable in two and many par fours reachable in one.
    A young golfer, Christopher Lee, of Martinsville, Illinois had his first hole-in-one before his senior year in high school. It was on a par four! And yet, too many will fight a change that should have been made years ago!

  54. Jason

    Sep 17, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    I don’t like the idea of two different balls. We want to be able to compare our games as closely as possible to the pros. Without a doubt, if there were two balls, Everyone would buy the pro version.

    Different sets of rules would be fine. However, to me, if your group wants to make up its own rules, who cares?(not in a tourney of course) You can certainly do that. Just don’t claim you broke the course record under anything except the real rules.

    • Tginger

      Sep 17, 2014 at 5:10 pm

      should go back to when Titleist first came out with the Professional and the Maxfl HT and Bridgestone’s Precept were the most popular. Those proved more durable than a straight balata but would still “cut” on a drastic mis-hit, players could truly “work” the ball, even mid-amatuers, bring the price per dozen back to reasonable dollars and the yardage related to the ball would be brought back to allow more conventional and historic courses more plausible for Majors. Remember when the Professional debuted? What a generation of golf ball!! And Maxfli followed with their HT, initially met with back orders because half the golfers couldn’t wait to try it. The unspoken hero was the Precept…AWESOME golf ball in it’s black and aqua green packaging…performance of this ball rivaled all in its class. The need for longer courses would be irrelevant if the USGA and the industry simply dialed the ball back to its hey day and let the clubs remain as they are today. Have the industry do tests on ball performance with today’s clubs and the ball of 1990-93. All courses would be in play for Majors as well as the average amateur…no more 7400 yard courses unless you’re a mile high!!

    • MHendon

      Sep 17, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      +1

    • Joe

      Sep 17, 2014 at 7:15 pm

      There already are two different balls, most Golfers just don’t realize it. If you use a “pro” ball and have a swing speed under say 100mph, you are pretty much going to hit it shorter than a non-pro ball. If you have a swing speed over say 110ish, you’re going to hit a non-pro ball shorter than a “pro” ball. It’s because of that mystical beast called compression. Slower swing speeds don’t create enough energy to make a pro ball “rebound”, causing it to not reach its distance potential. Whereas faster swing speeds create too much energy and squash non-pro balls, creating too much “rebound” and thus go shorter. If we hit Tiger or Rory’s golf ball (just examples) they would feel like “rocks” basically; and if they hit our ball it would feel like a marshmallow. So basically, golf does have ball bifurcation, unfortunately it creates exactly the opposite of the desired effect.

      • Tom v

        Sep 17, 2014 at 10:06 pm

        Bro did you know that compression doesn’t really matter. It’s all about the dimple patterns that create less drag and spin less. The TaylorMade tour preferred balls are 88 compression balls and fly a mile…

        • Joe

          Sep 18, 2014 at 10:51 am

          I used to think that too, but I’ve seen the “mystical” power in action. I say mystical because i have no other explanation. I play a callaway hex chrome (93-97ss) and my friend who is a golf professional (not touring) plays the provx (118-120ss). He hits his ball about 15 yds further than mine and I hit mine about 5-10 yds farther than his. I’m a 1.5-3 handicap and he’s a consistent +2, so I’m fairly consistent and he’s very consistent. I don’t know what else to attribute it to.

      • Dale Doback

        Sep 18, 2014 at 11:54 am

        You have been watching way to many Bridgestone commercials. Dimple depth and width affect the ball flight as does the pattern. The Hex design by Callaway is actually slightly less drag than a circle. Every year Independant companies do robot testing in golf balls and ALL the balls from a Nike PD long to a ProV1 were within 5 yards on driver tests. On the 6 iron test there weren’t all that much different either. However when the partial wedge test was done I believe the MaxFli U6 had the most spin and was about 3500rpm more than the Nike PD Long which wasn’t the lowest but right up there. Tour caliber golf balls are expensive so I only play them when the greens require them and can buy them at a discount. I’m currently gaming a Wilson staff Duo low compression for slow greens because I get the balls for $1 a piece and I see no more or less distance off the tee than my tournament ball which was the TM Lethal. Only difference is the Lethals have a little harder bight on the greens with my wedges. Don’t take my word for it though, the ball data is online if you go look for it.

    • GL Johnson

      Sep 17, 2014 at 8:21 pm

      And you think the clubs you buy and the balls you play are the EXACT same ones that PGA players are using? I have serious doubts about that.

      Someone told me once, “It all comes down to the MONEY!” That’s what we’re dealing with here. Too many egos to feed in golf.

      At age 75, I’m playing the best golf of my life and it certainly isn’t because I’m so much more athletic than I was at 40 or 50.

  55. MHendon

    Sep 17, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    I’ve been hearing this argument the balls going to far for years. The fact is the ball hasn’t gotten any longer since the introduction of the ProV1. What we are seeing is a greater number of more athletic players capable of producing high swing speeds, hence more players hitting drives up around 300yds. The longest driving avg for a season goes way back to 2003 or 2004 thanks to Hank Kuene. Length is supposed to be an advantage and there is no other sport that seems to want to change the playing conditions or rules simply because players have become more athletic then golf. A football field remains 100yds even with bigger, stronger, and faster players. A basketball goal remains 10 feet weather your 5 feet tall or 7 feet tall. Tennis courts have the same dimensions even with players capable of 130 plus mph serve speeds. As Mr. Adams pointed out in a previous article equipment reached its limits years ago due to the equipment rules imposed by the R&A and USGA. Why limit the ball now simply because players are becoming more athletic. Plus one of the great points of golf is we can all compare ourselves to the best in the world every day, but that’s not the case if were using different balls.

    • Mike

      Sep 17, 2014 at 4:46 pm

      I agree, its like we want to take away from the talent these pros have and the time they are putting in to become better and stronger. Also, courses can be built and setup to focus in on shotmaking vs. the long ball, for example, Harbour Town.

    • Foss69

      Sep 17, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      How can you say that players are more athletic and hit the ball further?? My swing speed has been the same from 2000-2014, around tour average of 115mph (I am by the way a former club and mini tour professional) However I hit every club an every drive further than I ever did!!
      I realize a lot of this has to do with the increase in technology and understanding of launch conditions etc etc..
      But answer me this.. Does the fact that Mercedes/mclaren, Ferrari, Renault won the Formula 1 championship or Chevy/Ford won the Nascar Championship make you want to buy their cars??
      I hope not.. I know I make my decisions about what I buy and use based on my enjoyment factor and if there is a way to improve the enjoyment factor of golf for the amateur and stop the pros making a mockery of our greatest golf courses around the world, then I’m All In!!!

      • MHendon

        Sep 18, 2014 at 12:24 am

        I guess things are different for me foss69. My swing speed is about the same as yours and like you has pretty much stayed the same from 2000-2014. I hit the ball the same distance now that I did then. However I’ve been playing the same irons and wedges over that entire period. Only my driver is less than 3 years old, but I don’t hit it any farther then my old Titleist 975J.

    • Brennan Hough

      Sep 18, 2014 at 12:24 am

      Personally I’m thankful for the current limitations the usga has in place for the ball and clubs. As a golfer that has been struck in the head by a wayward shot resulting in $1500 worth of cat scans I cringe at the thought of 10 or 20mph more ballspeed because people are going to die. My dad always had used terms like worm burners or snake rapers but that was probably from the days of 1 irons because thanks to technology and “lofting up the driver,” 7& 9 woods and hybrids poor struck shots are now elevating with faster ball speeds than ever and they are flying further all over the course and into golf community homes but not just the first house, now hackers can reach 3 houses deep. I don’t know…this post was all in fun either way the game was fun when I tried my dad’s Johnny Miller wooden clubs and it is still a great game today. You guys debate this I’m going to go play.

  56. JD

    Sep 17, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    Leave golf balls alone. Instead, why don’t we eliminate the driver and reduce clubs in the bag to 10-11?

    We could still see pros bomb 3 woods and less clubs would promote better shot selection and better creativity.

    For amateurs, there’s less cost in the game with fewer clubs. Courses shorten up, and the game gets quicker with less and less people bombing hooks or slices 20 times from the tee.

    Only push back for this idea would be from clubmakers and people with huge egos….

    Just an idea!

  57. Joseph Dreitler

    Sep 17, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    Mr. Adams makes very valid points. Those few purists who are 23 years old, hit the ball 300 yards and have a 2 handicap are so few and far between that when they talk about not changing anything because everything is fine, I have to laugh. There are more golf courses bulldozed in the US every week than are built in a year. In 1987 there were 200 new courses being built each year and new golfers taking up the game. Those days are long gone, and having a game that is too hard for most people, brutally hard to play even half well for those of us over 60 is a sure fire way to lose more participation as the younger generation ages. I see nothing illegal from an antitrust standpoint about the USGA decreeing that every ball company can make a ball for its pro players so long as it conforms to the USGA standards for a pro ball. And that ball doesn’t go 330 yards. At this point it should be welcomed by equipment manufacturers. Anyone who has bought clubs in the past 3 years who is over the age of 50 and not a 0 handicap player knows the obvious – -the product claims about distance and such are etherware. While a person with a 120 mph swing speed may get more distance, the 99 and 44/100% of golfers see virtually no improvement in distance because their swing is too slow and you can’t buy that. We had two different balls being used by the USGA and the R&A and the world did not end. It won’t end if there are specs for a tour ball to be played by tour players.

  58. John

    Sep 17, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Great idea Barney.

    I for one would love to see more shoemakers on tour. Can you imagine that iconic picture of Hogan posing at Merion after striping that 1 iron with a seven iron in his hands, hmm…not quite the same, is it?

    • John

      Sep 17, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      Umm, make that shotmakers, I have no interest in watching shoemakers on tour.

    • gplfing

      Sep 17, 2014 at 4:13 pm

      That is no fun to watch driver wedge is becoming boring to watch,
      I rather see some ball striking skills like a mid/long iron approach.

      it´s like the skill of archery from 50 yards vs 5 yards.

      • jwc

        Sep 17, 2014 at 5:16 pm

        Very valid point. In addition, viewing a ball fly through the air with the sky as background, as most TV coverage does, is nearly pointless.

        I’m pro-Pro-Tracer for all TV coverage, at least that gives me an idea of what is going on.

        • Joe

          Sep 17, 2014 at 7:22 pm

          I concur!! Pro tracer is awesome. It actually shows us the shape. It makes you realize that the pros hit shots way left/right, but they MEAN to! I’d would much rather see their shot shape than a cannonminolta super slow mo of the swing/ball impact. PGA is really missing the boat not using that tech way more.

          • Dale Doback

            Sep 18, 2014 at 2:46 am

            I also like when they add trackman numbers with the pro tracer. I like seeing the numbers with what different swings produce. I’d love to see trackman catch a Tiger stinger and then a Bubba Bomb with the driver seeing the tracer with trackman launch angle spin rates etc. makes watching more fun than listening to Chamblee guess what’s going wrong with Tigers swing.

  59. Steve

    Sep 17, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Mr. Adams, do we really need to change anything in the actual game of golf? My opinion is NO. It’s really just an behavior issue (for players, operators and governing bodies) in my opinion.

    Too slow –> Need to encourage golfers to play ready golf, play the right tees, and not spend so much time looking for balls, etc. Teach golfers to let faster groups through without feeling ashamed or annoyed that people want to play at their faster speed. Be polite to faster and slower groups. Encourage golfers to get some instruction if they need it. Come up with some better instruction programs for busy people. Maybe like “drop-in” group practice sessions or mentoring programs or something besides the 30-60min swing lesson with video that has to be scheduled a week in advance. Make getting help fun, simple, convenient and inexpensive, and more people will take advantage of it.

    Not enough fun –> See above. Lighten up. Nobody cares if you shoot 70, 90 or 110. If you aren’t happy that you are hitting it too short, get on an exercise program, play an easier/shorter course, or move up another tee box. Read a mental game book or 3. Remember it’s a game, and nobody cares how good or bad you are. Be fun to be around, and your golf partners will hopefully do the same. Relax some stuffy golf traditions. Quit making rules decisions that are lacking in common sense. Make the game more welcoming to new or weaker golfers without making them feel out of place or uptight. Build inexpensive pitch and putt courses for people to go practice, have some fun, and to give beginners a chance to gradually improve before playing 6000 yards plus.

    We don’t have to change the game for any individual group, we need to help each other improve, have more fun, feel comfortable and play quickly. If we don’t do those things, people will still complain that it’s no fun and too slow.

  60. E P Martin

    Sep 17, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    It is really an easy fix. Wooden clubs. The wood will will not hold up to the current ball with the swing speeds of top pro and amateur players. The ball would be forced to go back to a softer balata type ball of the past. Old venues would be viable again without 700 yard par 5’s& 500 yard par 4’s.
    The equipment manufacturers would hate it but it would bring back the tradition of classic yardages. Big Business will prevent this from happening. Easy Fix!

  61. Vinnie

    Sep 17, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Yes its the balls but you cant forget the equipment either. The drivers now a days are virtual trampolines.

    Personally, its great for the game and more importantly, ratings!

    I race road bikes and the cycling governing bodies try their hardest to deter technological advances. It is killing the sport……. well, that and dopers but that is a completely different story.

  62. Mike

    Sep 17, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    I recall reading, just a few years ago, an article which tracked major technical advances in golf equipment against average handicap for amateurs, and PGA scoring average. The conclusion of this article was that the entire golf equipment industry is “much ado about nothing.”. Across the past 40 years only three things moved the needle on scoring: 1) Perimeter weighted irons (for amateurs) 2) Metal woods (for both amateurs and pro’s) and 3) solid core / non-wound golf balls (for amateurs and pro’s). The last one was BY FAR the biggest needle mover, but even so, those three MAJOR technology advances amounted to less then a 2 shot difference. 40 years of golf equipment technology advancements, and less than a 2 shot difference. This is the very definition of “much ado about nothing”.

    I agree that golf is hard, takes some time, and requires both skill and dedication to play even marginally well. But most amateur golf is also highly social, good exercise, and a great stress reducer (replacement)? So if it’s 5 hour rounds that you want to shrink to 3.5 hours, then focus some attention on what causes rounds to explode to 5+ hours. a) Golfers who are not ready to play when it’s their turn (give each player their own cart, or out-law carts totally) b) Sergio Syndrome (limit practice swings and re-grips to something less than 2) c) Ball hunting (drop a ball, take a penalty stroke, move on) d) Bag positioning (through the green, not left on the front). And finally, encourage all superintendents to have a heart, and keep the rough long enough to be penal, but not long enough for a ball to hide in.

    As for the pro’s….Let’s first agree that no one is building longer golf courses because amateurs are hitting tee shots farther. New back tees are exclusively for the 0.05%. But if you want to keep them challenged then I would say, just make them play tough courses. Courses that are architected to defend themselves…..with some length, some layout, and some green complexity that combine to force both shot selection and great execution. Pinehurst seemed to work just fine this year, for both the Ladies and the Men. They didn’t even use all of the new back tees they built, and they certainly didn’t have any “US Open” rough. I would wager that the sum total of minutes that the entire field spent looking for wayward balls, across 8 rounds, and two weeks, was less than 60 minutes. Pinehurst #2 kicked the butts of the best golfers in the world, for two straight weeks, using whatever balls they wanted, without getting all tricked out. And now, it’s back to being a “resort course”, albeit, a very challenging one.

    • Robeli

      Sep 17, 2014 at 4:43 pm

      It’s not the Sergio Syndrome anymore – he cleaned up his act. These days it’s the Jim Furyk Syndrome. It is a fact that TV producers doesn’t change over to him putting until his second back off, so TV viewers doesn’t even realize how slow he is. And not to talk about Keegan Bradley’s ‘evil eye’ routine – it’s a joke!

    • rlaffoon

      Sep 17, 2014 at 4:54 pm

      Perfect

  63. Bob

    Sep 17, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    I for one appreciate the newer technology it makes the game a lot more enjoyable for the average golfer like myself. If the USGA decides to dial the ball back a few years I hope bifurcation becomes a reality. We all know the PRO’s will adjust, at least most of them, so it wont be a big deal for them but it will be for the average golfer and doing this will cause some people to leave the game.

    This game is tough enough as it is, used relaxed rules and play the tees that fit your game that’s all we need to do to speed up this game. Courses need to do a better job of dictating what tees you play based on your skill, and as many have mentioned leave your ego at home. I play as a single a lot and usually play the tees the rest of the group are playing but I can tell you 90% of the time the men are picking the blues when they don’t have the length to play them, why hit driver hybrid to all the par 4’s when you could hit Driver 9 iron and have a shot at getting a birdy instead of a bogey. Just makes no sense to me why people do this. Blue tees are not the “Mens Tees” they will not take away your man card if you tee it up from the whites.

  64. bert

    Sep 17, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Leave the game alone. There have been cahnges to equipment and balls since the beginning. I had the good fortune to attend the 2013 US Open at Merion and that course brought the pros back to realization. Let the rough grow, narrow the fairways and slick up the greens that brings the pros back to par. A few rules changes for the amatuers are lin order i.e. the OB rule. One additinonal thing for the pros once you putt you must put out and no remarking the ball.

    • MHendon

      Sep 17, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      The putt out sounds nice until it has one player standing in the line of another player. that won’t go over to well.

  65. Gabe

    Sep 17, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Instead of mandating a specific ball, what about doing a better job of uniformly testing equipment (this could apply to any club or type of equipment, not just golf balls) and applying a rating? For example, test out all golf balls and apply a rating that is easy to understand and relative to skill level or relative to the advantage gained over a standard. Or, if a “tournament” ball were to be implemented, this of course could be the standard by which other balls are judged. You’d get information on improved dispersion, distance, etc. This would help amateurs to pick out game improving equipment that fits their game. This is one of the problems for new golfers, the equipment purchase decision is daunting, expensive and for most people a relatively long term decision. If it was easier for golfers to pick equipment that would help them, this would make the game more fun while also improving the pace of play.

  66. Eric

    Sep 17, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    The number one technological advancement in golf has been the ball. Roll it back for everyone. There is a reason golf courses have multiple sets of tees, even the top amateur does not play the pro tourney tees. Make the classic parkland courses relevant again. I recently visited the home course I learned to play golf on, it was 6400 yards; I reached every par 5 with driver iron. There should be 2 standardized balls, a pro ball and an amateur ball that is played outside of elite amateur competition; both would be rolled back for distance. Equipment manufacturers can build equipment that will match a player’s swing style to one ball. Let them go to town with design, as long as they’re conforming for current groove and cor rules.

    The average amateur is not going to notice a big difference with a rolled back ball; they don’t have a high enough smash factor. If anything, they’ll keep the ball in play when the nut it right or left. Very good amateurs and pros obviously will notice the difference and so they’ll be hitting the ball 1990’s distances. As someone already mentioned, scores have not come down in decades, but the time to find a ball that was driven 350 yards has gone up.

    Change the ball!! Make those old parkland courses relevant again! It’s a game about putting the ball in the hole in 3,4 or 5 tries, hitting it significantly further has not changed that in 500 years…

  67. Mike Belkin

    Sep 17, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    I love the idea of having the pros focus on shot-making instead of brute force. Who wouldn’t want to see the pros shape shots more? Bombing drivers and hitting flip wedges out of the rough is not the game we all love.

    • gplfing

      Sep 17, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      That is no fun to watch driver wedge is becoming boring to watch,
      I rather see some ball striking skills like a mid/long iron approach.

    • gerald chessen

      Sep 17, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      The game is already bifurcated. The modern ball gives the short hitter very little benefit , but exponentially increases distance the harder you hit it. I have played golf for over 60 years and Sam Snead ( i caddied for him once) and the other big hitters of their day would be short hitters today using their old balls and clubs. The USGA has allowed manufacturers to get away with creative obsolescence, golf equipment changes every year. Even the loft of irons have been changed to create the illusion of LONGER!
      The answer is stop the nonsense! USGA get some gonads. A universal shorter ball is the answer.Otherwise, golf courses will be 8,000 yards and $500 to play a round. It will solve the congestion at the courses for sure!

  68. Lime Shark

    Sep 17, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    You are already seeing a bifurcaton of the playing rules with the recent push for relaxed rules. Amateurs regularly play their own rules–ignoring the USGA rules.

    If the USGA insists on continuing to focus their equipment rule decisions around the pro game, and refuse to take into account how it affects amateurs (belly putters, grooves, balls) eventually someone will set up an organization that competes with the USGA–one that is focused on the needs of amateur golfers.

    The North American Amateur Golf Alliance?

    Rule changes that harm/discourage amateurs harm the courses that depend on amateurs, which is 99% of courses. There’s your funding source, and that’s why they would have the needs of amateur golf foremost in their minds.

    As the article pointed out, the USGA gets most of its funding from professional golf, so it’s focused on protecting professional golf. Amateur golf will always talk a back seat to protecting their cash cow.

  69. rc

    Sep 17, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Change the ball for the pros! Even the greatest, Mr. Nicklaus, agrees.
    Stop spending bookoo dollars to try and lengthen the courses to keep up with the technology! This would make some of the great older and shorter courses viable again. Lets return the game to the shotmakers, not just the bombers! As a longtime and fervent golfer, I get no satisfaction watching players hit short irons into par 5s. It is discouraging to see players hitting 8 irons 190-200, when your average amateur might hit that club 120-140. I disagree that changing the ball would give any players a disadvantage, shorter players will still hit the ball shorter than the bombers, but the need for 7500 yard courses would end and as mentioned in the article, it would reduce the amount of water/maintainence/space.

    • Robeli

      Sep 17, 2014 at 1:55 pm

      USGA and R&D should get 1 manufacturer to make the core of the ball – from the same material and the same dimensions. There can be a 1,2 & 3 core ball. Then give that ball to Titleist, Nike, etc. so they can put their own cover, color and dimple pattern on it. Such a ball will play very similar and it will rely on the SKILL of the athlete to differentiate him/her from the rest.

  70. Rob

    Sep 17, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Wait a second. Mr. Adams opens by talking about Rory’s ridiculous length (which, is recent due to his workout regimen, not his recent switch to Nike products). He then asserts that the USGA is worried that their tournaments will somehow become birdie-fests due to this “new long” on the PGA Tour.

    Let’s look at the last 10 winning scores from the US Open:
    2014: -9 (To be fair, 2nd place was -1. For the entire season Kaymer averaged 50th in driving distance at 294.9)
    2013: +1
    2012: +1
    2011: -16 (Rory wins by 8 & Congressional was playing *soft*)
    2010: E
    2009: -4
    2008: -1
    2007: +5
    2006: +5
    2005: E
    2004 -4

    I don’t know about you but I think the USGA has a good idea of how to setup a golf course to make par the winning score. Sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate.

    Leaving the false premise that the US Open is in danger of becoming a birdie-fest, let’s look at driving distance. Taken from pgatour.com I pulled the 10th highest driving distance to weed out the freak shows (looking at Bubba & Rory):

    2014: 304
    2013: 301
    2012: 306
    2011: 304
    2010: 301
    2009: 301
    2008: 301
    2007: 303
    2006: 304
    2005: 304
    2004: 301

    Again, we’re looking at numbers from the last decade and I fail to see the warning signs. Calling Rory a “harbinger of the future”, as Mr. Adams puts it, is silly. The same things were said about John Daly back in 2002 when he led the tour’s driving distance category….at 306.8. FYI: Rory’s average was 310.8 this year.

    4 yards in a decade? I think it’s time to stop romanticizing the past, stop being so damn scared about the future, and look at the facts.

    • MHendon

      Sep 17, 2014 at 4:43 pm

      +1

    • Chuck

      Sep 17, 2014 at 5:20 pm

      Now go back pre- Pro V1.

      What the pre- and post-Pro V comparison shows all of us is that it really is the ball. Not “fitness,” not agronomy, and maybe not even drivers and launch monitors.

      It’s the ball. The ball, the ball, the ball.

      And oh by the way how much worse would the driving distance numbers be if we weren’t tricking up courses with ever-narrowing fairway widths and more players hitting 285-yard 3 woods?

      • Rob

        Sep 17, 2014 at 9:12 pm

        It’s true, there was a noticeable 20 yard increase in distance when solid (i.e. non-wound) 3-piece construction became the norm. That being said, since the USGA put in place its testing measures, that increase distance has gone nowhere. My point is that over the last 10 years there has been no appreciable increase in that figure. Mr. Adams assertion that Rory is a spearhead of a new generation of players that will once again out-drive a golf course is an inaccurate statement.

        People are still complaining about an increase in distance that happened (supposedly only due to the ball) 14 years ago. Hint: titanium drivers did more to increase distance than the golf ball. Golf courses and the general consumer have adjusted and moved on., Those of you who’re nostalgic should go back to enjoying your featheries and hickories.

        • GL Johnson

          Sep 17, 2014 at 11:21 pm

          Unfortunately, most, if not all, of the premiere golf courses were built and became premiere venues long before the advent of the 330 yard drives and the 460cc drivers with the maximum “rebound.” A lot of them have been Tiger-proofed to the greatest extent possible already.

          I wonder how much rebound was in the old persimmon head driver that I started with back in 1960?

          Too bad even par isn’t the goal anymore. The PGA (Prima-donna Golfers of America) have to be 5 or 6 under or they feel that the course has been set up “unfairly.”

  71. njlam

    Sep 17, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Almost all other sports that use a ball have a standardized ball (football, basketball, baseball, tennis, squash, etc) why should golf be any different?

    Surely all these other sports could allow manufactures to make balls that fly further, straighter, etc. however, the governing bodies of those sports want to protect the tradition of their sports and not allow the rules of the game be dictated by business interests. I am especially impressed with baseball: MLB does not allow metal bats for the safety of the players and to maintain the size of the existing ballparks. This is just smart.

    I am all for a tournament golf ball with limited characteristics.

    So what if we don’t play what the pros play? We are not pros.

    Softball was invented for non-pros who like baseball.

  72. Steve

    Sep 17, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    How about bringing back square grooves in wedges that will allow better back spin on the ball for amatuers. Instead of the ball rolling over the green it might stop a little better.

    I like the OB shot penalty change as well.

  73. C web

    Sep 17, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/golf_license

    I think golf is fine… the rules, courses, equipment, cost…. It’s all fine…. There’s enough alternatives out there to meet the demands of most people. I think the players are the problem. Not all of them of course, it’s only a small percentage of players that can make the game “slow, no fun” for themselves (and for the rest).

    Check out the link above. Some european countries require a “license” to play golf. Sounds weird but I am beggining to dig the idea…. So you want to play golf? Learn the basic rules and etiquette, learn how to play properly then prove it and you are good to go….

    About a ball that goes shorter? Not sure what’s the point? Who cares about what 0.05% of golfers score on a particular course? What’s the difference between that and adding length to the very back tees? Why do we need to discuss changes that don’t apply to us? For the other 99.95 of us I propose this:
    1. Learn to play better, and never stop learning
    2. Learn proper etiquette
    3. Play relaxed rules and adjust as you get better
    4. Play forward tees and adjust as you get better
    5. Play properly fit clubs and adjust as you get better
    6. Leave your ego at home

    Trying to shortcut any of these leads to slow no fun, unfortunately there are a lot of people out there who don’t get it or don’t care.

    • Diego

      Sep 17, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      There are some countries in Latin America with the same policy. I am from Argentina and you have to have a “license” to play golf here. What you have to do is to play 5 “acceptable” golf rounds with any certificated pro and he will also evaluate that you know the basic rules and etiquette and after that the license is issue.

      • C web

        Sep 17, 2014 at 3:28 pm

        Hello Diego,

        How does that work in Argentina? Are people OK with it? Does it make people afraid to try the game? Is the game slow / no fun there?

        Saludos desde PR – un fan de GC entre canibales

    • rer4136

      Sep 17, 2014 at 1:47 pm

      I agree with your comments. I do not watch golf to see the pros hit 250 yard drives. I want to see them hit it 300+. I am not sure if I will continue watching televised golf if the players are hitting drives only as far as I do. Can’t the USGA leave the game alone. Maybe it is time that the PGA goes out on it’s own and doesn’t adhere to the antiquated old frump’s rules. Think about baseball where no home runs could be hit because of the ball. Boring!!! Everyone should abandon their USGA memberships and maybe start a new organization that is progressive rather than regressive.

      • Robeli

        Sep 17, 2014 at 1:50 pm

        BTW, in MLB baseball there is only ONE ball to be used manufactured by ONE company.

        • bradford

          Sep 17, 2014 at 2:18 pm

          good point, and everyone uses the same one. There is no competition to make a ball that goes farther.

        • rer4136

          Sep 17, 2014 at 2:41 pm

          Okay, but it can be hit far enough for a home run. So you limit the flight of a golf ball. The players that hit it 300+ will only hit it 250. The players who currently hit it 250 will hit it 225. It will be like watching the grass grow.

          • Robeli

            Sep 17, 2014 at 4:55 pm

            But MLB didn’t made the stadiums bigger the last 20 years like golf course becoming longer.
            The notion by dialing the golf ball back to say your 250, will also decrease total length from 7200y to say 6800, which should speed up play.

    • Robeli

      Sep 17, 2014 at 1:47 pm

      There is already a ‘license’ – it’s called official handicap. Golf courses should require that you want to play certain hours, you need to have a certain h/cap. This will speed up play.

      • bradford

        Sep 17, 2014 at 2:19 pm

        I can’t think of a better reason to carry a GHIN card. It would also force people to carry a more legit handicap if their fake 22 banned them from playing the back.

  74. Joe W.

    Sep 17, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    The idea for an ob shot, one stroke and drop on line of flight, is a great idea. We will start using it right away.

    • D.S. Graybeal

      Sep 18, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      A very good idea, but in reality in amateur golf at courses around the country how many people hit one out of bounds and then go back to the tee to hit an other one. Unless it is in competition, not many.

  75. Diego

    Sep 17, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Change just one rule, stop looking for your lost golf ball if you saw it that It went to some specific area where is no hazzard at all, we don’t have fore caddies when we play so just drop another ball and go on playing without any penalty. That would make golf much more fun & fast.

    • Carl Smith

      Sep 17, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      That is a rule. You stop after 5 Minutes and it is deemed lost. Or are you saying if you hit it in the rough or trees just to abandoned the ball and hit another one? That is moronic.

      • Diego

        Sep 17, 2014 at 1:32 pm

        Carl thanks for such a constructive comment. By the way I still think that that would be a significant change in the right direction.

      • DaveJohns

        Sep 17, 2014 at 2:22 pm

        Why is that moronic? It is the 5 minutes searching for a ball in tallish rough 10 times a round per lower level player that slows down the game for everyone. If you can find your ball in 60 seconds, drop one where you thought it would be for free and play on. Unless you are in a league or tournament, what difference does it make?

        If you hit it out of bounds or into a hazard, take your distance and a 1 stroke penalty then keep on trucking. Our league has played with this rule forever.

        • Brennan Hough

          Sep 17, 2014 at 11:53 pm

          After playing a 4.5 hour 12 hole round last winter in Palm Springs before quitting out of frustration. I am all for speeding up play. The three areas I have noticed in order of time wasted are
          1. On the green foursomes not ready to putt or chip because they are standing around watching the person who’s turn it is to play and when it’s their turn they perform a Sunday pga tour back 9 routine.

          2. Searching for lost balls. Hey it happens maybe some rules relief to help speed things up and course marshalls need to get after the guy with the 50 feet fishing pole trying to extract every ball within reach in hazards.

          3. Courses overloading courses with to many players. There may be other things but these seem to be the three biggest hold ups at courses.

    • Robeli

      Sep 17, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      You need to have a penalty. Your rule will only encourage ‘just bomb it as far as you can – no matter what your direction is’ mentality. I’ll just go drop there in front somewhere – no skill in THAT! Will lead to more time playing and arguments as to what is fair spot or not.

  76. Styles

    Sep 17, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Surely, with all the new ball technology there must technology available to make a ball that travels max distance at predetermined swing speed with little or no increase above that SS thereby allowing the use of one ball that limits the distance for pros and max’s it for am’s

  77. Dale Doback

    Sep 17, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    I totally agree. Having separate rules is a dumb idea and having separate equipment would not allow the public to fully appreciate just how good the worlds best are. Also Mr Adams, Rory may have gone driver 9iron but what did the rest of the field do? I don’t mind a distance reduction ball as most of the the guys i play with hit the ball further than they can see so it should improve pace of play and allow designers to shorten courses but it needs to be a reduction for everyone and then we can all tee it forward. The game was fun with wooden clubs, still fun with current equipment. I like one set of rules.

  78. Alex T

    Sep 17, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    These debates are all good and well but don’t address the REAL issues in pro golf. I don’t change the tv channel when a player hits a 350 yard bomb, but I DO change when they spend 15 minutes waiting for a ruling because their ball landed near a tv cable. If the USGA wants higher viewing figures they shouldn’t be considering making the game easier or harder for the pros, they should be streamlining the viewers’ watching experience. Impose time limits on shots and show less flannel, by which I mean we don’t need or want to see a player spend 5 minutes lining up a putt, we just need to see the putt. By making golf easier for people to watch without having to invest 4 hours at a time on our sofas I guarantee more people will a)watch the sport and b) start playing it. It also stands to reason that this would be beneficial to the amateur game too, with people soon realising that you don’t need to agonise over every shot and hopefully pace of play on courses would improve too. It’s a win-win-win.

    • John Mclane

      Sep 19, 2014 at 3:12 pm

      +++++1 I can’t stand when Furyk is in the lead and having two watch his putting routine, i would rather go to the dentist. Or having to watch Andrew Loupe take practice swings for 2 minutes only to hook it into the rough. There are other really slow players on tour but those come to mind as extremes. Slow play is bad enough, having to watch it on TV is torture but maybe a better interrogation technique than water boarding.

  79. Robeli

    Sep 17, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Many years ago F1 Grand Prix motor racing and NASCAR were getting out of hand due to technology. Their governing bodies had to come to their senses and set controls and limitations for engines, suspensions, tires, etc. to make sure the most money and technology doesn’t overwhelmed the rest. They had to make sure the SKILL of the athlete will make the difference, not the equipment. Golf should follow the same.

    • Styles

      Sep 17, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      Great analogy

    • Rob

      Sep 17, 2014 at 1:35 pm

      Have you not looked at the guidelines the USGA has in place for equipment conformance? That already exists and is firmly in place.

      • Robeli

        Sep 17, 2014 at 2:00 pm

        And you think it is working? Especially for the ball? What this discussion is about.

    • Dan

      Sep 17, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      @ Robeli: Your argument doesnt really apply. If it did, then golfers “engines” or bodies would have to conform, which would mean that there would be a speed limit on swings, which is the primary contributor to distance.

      No golfer or group or golfers has a technological advantage, they can all play the same clubs and balls, which already have to conform. If golf clubs or balls were limited somehow, you would still have long hitters and short hitters. In fact wouldn’t the short hitters be even more at a disadvantage, having to hit fairway woods and long irons instead of mid irons?

      • rer4136

        Sep 17, 2014 at 2:52 pm

        Well said. Wasn’t it the bombed drives that John Daly hit at Crooked Stick that made him exciting to watch? He made the game fun to watch with the power he had. Leave things alone USGA or at least poll the membership for their opinion.

      • Robeli

        Sep 17, 2014 at 3:02 pm

        Where did I say our bodies are equipment?

        On your second paragraph. You are missing the point about what a ‘dial back’ golf ball would do. Yes, short drivers may need hybrid to green vs long driver’s iron, but they have better change of being in the fairway than long driver because ‘dial back’ golf will have more spin and the further you hit such a ball, the greater the deviation (left/right) is if you don’t hit a perfect shot.

  80. Billy C

    Sep 17, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Golf is not easy. This is one of the things that makes it the “Greatest Game Ever Played”. If someone needs instant gratification, might I suggest a game of miniature golf with belly putters and 15 inch cups.

  81. Kevin

    Sep 17, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Really for most casual players, limiting the golf ball wouldn’t be that big of a deal. The majority of players need to worry about solid contact with ANY ball more than they need to worry about what happens after that. Everyone else would just adjust to the change and keep playing.

  82. stew c

    Sep 17, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Right let’s give the pros a handicap just like us, Rory was +6 I think before he turned pro. Let’s see how good they are once they are giving up shots before they strike a ball. I would love to play a course knowing that I played to my handicap but the top pro didn’t.

  83. Tom

    Sep 17, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Tournament scores have not come down in decades, despite this ball being longer than years past. Leave the ball alone. Having mcilroy hit driver 9iron to a 500y hole wouldn’t happen every time he played that hole – you know that barney. And it’s just good TV to see him do that. Nothing here… Leave the ball alone.

    • leo

      Sep 17, 2014 at 10:58 pm

      courses are so much longer today decades ago a 7000 yd course was a monster now it is a cupcake.a 508 yd hole was a par 5 not a par 4.todays players with todays equipment would make a joke out of the courses played back then.augusta national is about 600 yds longer than it was in the 1980s.

  84. Styles

    Sep 17, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Out of Bounds-No penalty, hit again from same spot….now laying 2, or 1 stroke penalty and drop 2 club lengths from where crossed line of OB
    Lost Ball-search 2 minutes max, 1 stroke penalty, drop nearest playable location where ball lost (this is how most non tournament amateurs are playing anyway)
    Water Hazard-No penalty, hit again from same spot….now laying 2, and treat all water hazards as laterals for relief under 1 stroke penalty

    • Jeremy

      Sep 17, 2014 at 5:10 pm

      I’m all for this. If you hit it OB you’re already being penalized by having to hit your shot again, no need to add another stroke on top of that.

  85. Ian Riley

    Sep 17, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    I would protect the courses better against the pros, why not have rockery type waste areas or flower beds or streams or even thick rough running across fairways between 310 and 340 yards, this would limit driver distance and could be implemented by all top golf courses and courses that have become obsolete because of their length would once again be a challenge to the pros.

    • Chuck

      Sep 17, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      This is the point; the one that Barney barely touched.

      The one great aesthetic constant in golf — the thing to be preserved and worshipped above all — is the classic architecture of the historic championship golf courses. When we have to start stretching and tricking up courses to defend them against equipment technology, something has gone wrong and needs to be fixed.

      It is thereby easy to say with absolute assurance that something has gone wrong in the rules on equipment technology. Because absolutely and beyond any doubt, golf officials have been stretching and tricking up the historic championship golf courses. It’s wrong; and virtually everyone whose opinion matters (and who isn’t working for Acushnet) agrees on the point.

  86. Kevin

    Sep 17, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    Limiting the golf ball will also help with the environmental issues golf courses are facing. If the ball does not go as far, the need for 7,500 yard courses will decline. Shorter courses means less water, and less maintenance and upkeep, lowering costs. Now the industry isn’t worrying about losing customers like every other industry has done in the new economic reality America faces. It would help golf survive with less revenue.

  87. Cazzman

    Sep 17, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    There are too many and very complicated rules. The second issue is that most amateurs want to play with tour balls. Tour balls launch lower spins less which is detrimental to any amateur player. Most amateurs should be playing with a ball that launches higher and spins more. If there is a need for a ball it should be for Joe Average and not for the Pro that swings between 110 to 120mph.

  88. Mike

    Sep 17, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    I agree that watching Driver to… anywhere except water followed by a wedge or short iron can be boring golf to watch. But I’ve been much more interested lately in how the ‘old’ courses at Merion, Cherry Hills, the Open Championship and Valhalla for the PGA have held up and challenged the tour pro strategy. Forcing irons and fairway metals off the tees with protected greens makes for more interesting tour golf. Long irons to greens, drivable but penal par 4’s and eagle possibilities are fun to watch. The courses can adapt to the ball distance and force more ‘traditional’ play on tour. They don’t just have to be longer.

    • Richard

      Sep 17, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      I agree with the comments on the rules; many should be simplified and eliminate those that require going back to the tee. I also think using the line on the ball to align putts should be forbidden, you cannot use alignment aids on any other part of the course and it slows up play. Until a month ago, I would have agreed with the comments on amateurs using pro balls, but I played with one recently and I could not believe both the distance and especially its stopping ability on the greens. Whether they are worth double the price is the real question. As far as limits on the ball, a limit should be established, if one is not already in place.

  89. Stan Goodman

    Sep 17, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Spectators don’t want to see the pros shooting 75’s. It’s just like baseball fans idolizing the home run hitters, or football fans cherishing the long TD bombs. Let the PGA pros hit the super long shots. That’s what we all want to see!

    • Lane

      Sep 17, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      Let them still break par. But do it with a ball that’s 40 yards less and courses that are 400 yards shorter. Rather than wedges into par 4’s, make pros hit 5-7 irons into those holes. Balls with more spin should be easier to stop on greens anyway. Makes more athletes a contender too. Doesn’t give the long hitters such a big advantage IMO.

  90. DERH50

    Sep 17, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Great idea….the reason why many amateurs play poorly is that they try to compete with the Pros. How often do you hear a Pro saying that during Pro AM, they endless encourage amateurs to play a club (or 2) more.

    Bridgestone and others (bar Titleist) now design a ball for amateur swing speeds. Most amateurs play an iron that suits their game – not a full blade…

    There are some fantastic traditional courses, beautifully designed, that are not longer capable of providing a test – albeit Merion proved otherwise – perhaps the exception.

    In terms of litigation, I don’t see this happening with the long putter..that would be a precedent to changing the ball. And lets see the 1 iron back in the bag – or perhaps these “super stars” couldn’t hit it?

  91. Dan Cohen

    Sep 17, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Here is my take. People want Golf to grow to be baseball or football. WHY????? We are lovers of the only game where honesty is a positive. A game in which we struggle to get better by miniscule amounts and revel in the accomplishment of half a shot better average in 100 rounds. Let’s stop trying to grow so much, and concentrate on finding the correct level of interest. Maybe Golf is good the way it is, and the idea of 1/3 of the courses closing, and 1/2 of the manufacturers going away, isn’t so bad. Maybe, shrinking the game and having a smaller loyal fanbase is better then a huge fanbase accomplished by bastardizing the game. There is still some honor left in our game, lets stop killing it over money. Just look at what TMAG did to your company over money. Adams will cease to exist because of this great need of ours to grow the business. I say shrink the fairways for the pros, no need to change the ball, just make it a bit harder to land in the fairway, bottle neck it from 280 to 340, or even grow the rough directly across the fairway, we don’t need to change the game, also, if pros start hitting a shorter ball the same distance as the rest of us, Watch how much less tv money there is. People want to see amazing things on tv. This whole bifurcation push is silly.

  92. Mark

    Sep 17, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Jeff inadvertently exposes part of the problem. Most golfers *think* they are playing the same equipment as the pros–we’re not. Golf clubs are customized for the pros in ways we couldn’t even dream of. Count the number of ‘prototype’ models in pro golfer’s bags. Try to find ANY professional golfer using a stock shaft or that doesn’t bend, grind, or custom position weight on their club heads. Both the technology available to them and the time they have to get fit and customized is far beyond our reach…yet the myth continues that we’re using the same equipment as the pros.

    • GMR

      Sep 17, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      I don’t understand why this silly conversation always comes up. OK fine so we don’t have access to the latest prototypes (i.e. next year’s clubs). But really who cares? If you go buy the newest and greatest you will have a technology advantage over what pros were playing 5 years ago, I guarantee you. They were able to shoot in the mid-60s with that equipment, and to hit the ball further and more accurately than you can now. Granted most of them have clubs that are better fit to them, since they spend a huge amount of time tweaking with experts to help them, but you know what? Give the average pro a set of clubs off the rack with *about* the right shaft stiffnesses, lie angles, lengths, and lofts, and I guarantee he will still destroy you.

      Can we stop having this debate now?

    • Jack F

      Sep 17, 2014 at 1:18 pm

      And I can’t buy the same Ford Fusion that Joey Logan drives…

  93. Thomas H

    Sep 17, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    This is why I am no longer a member of the USGA , and never will be, I could care less about their decisions and stupid rule changes. I play golf by the rules , but not about equipment , as I need and like to be able to play what ever I can to help make my game more fun. Hopefully the USGA will someday be a non entity in the future

    • Chuck

      Sep 17, 2014 at 4:11 pm

      Opinions like this one I fail to understand.

      If you think that the USGA’s equipment rules are, or will be, too strict, then don’t follow them. Buy yourself a hot non-conforming driver and some Bandit balls.

      But please don’t complain about the USGA trying hard to preserve the classic game on historic championship courses.

  94. CM

    Sep 17, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    If baseball were like golf every stadium would be twice as large, and 2-3 pitchers per year would die from getting hit by the no spin ball hit with the cavity back titanium bat. There is a reason why the pros still hit wood bats. Golf needs get some perspective.

  95. Claude Whitlock

    Sep 17, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    I dont get it. All the rules, golf course ratings etc are based on PROFESSIONAL golfer play. Not the average golfer. This makes golf complicated and difficult beyond the reasonnable needs of the AVERAGE golfer 99%. Now you suggest making it harder for them by making them play shorted travelling balls. How about changing the rules and course rating system in regards to the 99% of us insted? I for one want to see them hit 450 yard drives..

    • Dan Cohen

      Sep 17, 2014 at 12:51 pm

      They don’t want to make it harder for us, they want to change the rules and make it harder for the pros and easier for us. Maybe a lot of like the challenge, overcoming the difficulty is part of the beauty of the game.

  96. Eric Cockerill

    Sep 17, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    You didn’t quite have me until you mentioned baseball and the bat. Absolutely an equivalent issue and they do just fine with it.

    Another option: is the technology available to have a diminishing return for higher swing speeds? I believe most balls are the opposite…increasing return for higher swing speeds, not a linear increase. I’ve always understood that low compression balls are bad for high swing speed because they “max out” the compression on the face. How about a two or three point limit on ball distance (e.g. COR for 95 mph – 1.49, COR for 110 mph – 1.45, COR for 120 mpg – 1.42) instead of the existing one point limit (317 y for 120 mph swing speed). I’m not saying no improvement for higher swing speeds, but reduced from what it is not without hurting the typical amateur.

  97. CM

    Sep 17, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    I am looking forward to the 775 yard par 5. It’s good for the game.

  98. Jeff

    Sep 17, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    We are all using the same equipment and balls as the pros and none of us are going driver 9/iron on a 500+ yard hole. Golfers want to play what the pros play to compare their games. Making a tournament ball is a dumb idea. Let the scores get lower and lower.

    • Dustin

      Sep 17, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      A tournament ball will not make a difference. Like Jeff said, everyone wants to play “like the pro’s”. They’re our role models. Why do you think we rush out to buy new Drivers every few years? Technology was locked in ’99 by the USGA on maximum trampoline effect, but we want to have parity with the Tour players we see on a weekly basis, and judge our games versus theirs.

      If they make a tournament ball, amateurs will rush out to buy them, just like they do the ProV1 now. When do you start requiring players to use a Tournament ball in competition? US Amateur? Mid-AM? Collegiate Golf?

      How do players manage the transition from Amateur ball to Tour Ball? There will forever be a gulf between Pro’s and Amateurs (Yeah, but they use TOUR balls).

      Lame….you should have thought about this when you labeled all the existing balls “Conforming.” Change them all, or change none of it.

    • john c

      Sep 17, 2014 at 12:55 pm

      Its like telling PBA to get tournament bowling ball everyone has to use. Guys are just learning to hit the ball longer of course with the help of technology and research has helped better equipment too.

    • Wayne

      Sep 17, 2014 at 1:07 pm

      Jeff we are not using the same equipment in the sense that our’s is not tuned to our every need, as Mark has stated. There are not very many of us out there who have been fitted by pro’s of the quality that the tour players have on hand. I am not sure about making a ball that travels less distance, but you have to think they can do something.

    • John

      Sep 17, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      Correct! This is GolfWRX 500+ yards is Driver LW (or PW if 550+).

  99. gvogel

    Sep 17, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Great point about the game being “too slow, no fun.” But I challenge your assumption about the longer, modern ball making the game faster. In fact, if we played with a “tournament ball”, tees could be set forward, making courses shorter. Shorter courses play faster, not longer balls. For many golfers, longer balls mean longer off-line; a shorter ball would keep more shots findable.

    Shorten courses and rounds will take less time. A well-struck shot will always be a well-struck shot. And the pros will always hit the ball a lot longer than I can conceive, regardless of ball.

  100. Jake Anderson

    Sep 17, 2014 at 11:31 am

    This is not a good idea. I am fine with professionals overpowering courses because it is part of a skillset, which they acquired. Why not shoot 59 at Merion?

    Golf is played by one rules and one rules only.

    Everything else is immoral.

    • Chuck

      Sep 17, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      Agree SO MUCH!

      It is the perhaps the single greatest charm of the game of golf; being able to play on a historic championship course, under the same rules as those who competed for those championships.

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Opinion & Analysis

Squares2Circles: Course strategy refined by a Ph.D.

Published

on

What do you get when you combine Division I-level golf talent, a Ph.D. in Mathematics, a passion for understanding how people process analytical information, and a knowledge of the psychology behind it? In short, you get Kevin Moore, but the long version of the story is much more interesting.

Kevin Moore attended the University of Akron on a golf scholarship from 2001-2005. Upon completing his tenure with the team, he found himself burned out on the game and promptly hung up his sticks. For a decade.

After completing his BS and MS degrees at the University of Akron, Kevin then went to Arizona State to pursue his Ph.D. Ultimately what drew him to the desert was the opportunity to research the psychology behind how people process analytical information. In his own words:

“My research in mathematics education is actually in the realm of student cognition (how students think and learn). From that, I’ve gained a deep understanding of developmental psychology in the mathematical world and also a general understanding of psychology as a whole; how our brains work, how we make decisions, and how we respond to results.”

In 2015, Kevin started to miss the game he loved. Now a professor of mathematics education at the University of Georgia, he dusted off his clubs and set a goal to play in USGA events. That’s when it all started to come together.

“I wanted to play some interesting courses for my satellite qualifiers and I wasn’t able to play practice rounds to be able to check them out in advance. So I modified a math program to let me do all the strategic planning ahead of time. I worked my way around the golf course, plotting out exactly how I wanted to hit  shot, and minimizing my expected score for each hole. I bundled that up into a report that I could study to prepare for the rounds.

“I’m not long enough to overpower a golf course, so I needed to find a way to make sure I was putting myself in the best positions possible to minimize my score. There might be a pin position on a certain green where purposely hitting an 8-iron to 25 feet is the best strategy for me. I’ll let the rest of the field take on that pin and make a mistake even if they’re only hitting wedge. I know that playing intelligently aggressive to the right spot is going to allow me to pick up fractions of strokes here and there.”

His plan worked, too. Kevin made it to the USGA Mid-Amateur at Charlotte Country Club in September of 2018 using this preparation method for his events just three years after taking a decade off of golf. In case you missed the implied sentiment, that’s extremely impressive. When Kevin showed his reports to some friends that played on the Web.com Tour and the Mackenzie Tour, they were so impressed they asked him to think about generating them for other people. The first group he approached was the coaching staff at the University of Georgia, who promptly enlisted his services to assist their team with course strategy in the spring of 2019. That’s when Squares2Circles really started to get some traction.

At that point, UGA hadn’t had a team win in over two seasons. They also hadn’t had an individual winner in over one season and had missed out on Nationals the previous two seasons. In the spring of 2019, they had three team wins (including winning Regionals to advance to Nationals) and two individual wins (including Davis Thompson’s win at Regionals). Obviously, the credit ultimately belongs to the players on the team, but suffice it to say it appears as though Kevin’s involvement with the team was decidedly useful.

“One of the things we really focused in on was par 3 scoring. They finished 3rd, 2nd, 4th, and 3rd in the field as a team in their spring tournaments. Then at the SEC’s they struggled a bit and finished 6th in the field. At Regionals, they turned it around and finished 1st in the field with a score of +6 across 60 scores (186 total on 60 par 3’s, an average of 3.10).”

Sample Squares2Circles layout for the 18th hole at Muirfield Village. Advanced data redacted.

Kevin is available outside of his work with UGA and has been employed by other D-I teams (including his alma mater of Akron), Mackenzie Tour players, Web.com Tour players, and competitive juniors as well. Using his modified math program, he can generate generic course guides based on assumed shot dispersions, but having more specific Trackman data for the individual allows him to take things to a new level. This allows him to show the player exactly what their options are with their exact carry numbers and shot dispersions.

“Everything I do is ultimately based off of strokes gained data. I don’t reinvent the wheel there and I don’t use any real new statistics (at least not yet), but I see my role as interpreting that data. Let’s say a certain player is an average of -2.1 on strokes gained approach over the last 10 rounds. That says something about his game, but it doesn’t say if it’s strategy or execution. And it doesn’t help you come up with a practice plan either. I love to help players go deeper than just the raw data to help them understand why they’re seeing what they’re seeing. That’s where the good stuff is. Not just the data, but the story the data tells and the psychology behind it. How do we get ourselves in the right mindset to play golf and think through a round and commit to what we’re doing?”

“Even if you’re able to play practice rounds, this level of preparation turns those practice rounds into more of an experiment than a game plan session. You go into your practice round already knowing the golf course and already having a plan of attack. This allows you to use that practice round to test that game plan before the competition starts. You may decide to tweak a few things during your practice round based on course conditions or an elevation change here and there, but for the most part it’s like you’ve gained a free practice round. It allows you to be more comfortable and just let it fly a lot earlier.”

Kevin is in the process of building his website, but follow @squares2circles on Twitter for more information and insight.

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The Gear Dive: Mike Yagley and Chad DeHart of Cobra Golf

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In this episode of The Gear Dive, Johnny chats with Mike Yagley and Chad DeHart of Cobra Golf Innovation on Cobra Connect, new ways to evaluate good play, and the future of golf improvement.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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Mondays Off: U.S. Open wrap-up | Steve plays against the new assistant pro

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Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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