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His 2-iron goes how far? Dustin Johnson’s distance chart is impressive

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Dustin Johnson topped Jon Rahm in the final to take home the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship, his second WGC event victory of the year. And even more impressively, the match play triumph is his third W in a row.

TaylorMade filed an interesting look at DJ’s distances and recent preference for an Ultimate Driving Iron 2-iron, rather than a 5-wood, off the tee on tight holes.

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Dustin Johnson’s TaylorMade UDI 2-iron.

And while TMag didn’t offer a full profile of lofts, here’s a look at his distance gapping on his average full-swing shots.

M1 Driver: 312 yards
M1 3-wood: 282 yards
M1 5-wood: 267 yards
2-iron UDI: 261 yards
4-iron: 236 yards
5-iron: 225 yards
6-iron: 212 yards
7-iron: 200 yards
8-iron: 186 yards
9-iron: 172 yards
PW: 158 yards

As TaylorMade points out, the distances represent averages, not full-bore, on-the-screws blasts. Johnson, of course, has no problem carrying his driver more than 320 yards when he wants to or smoking his 3-wood more than 300 yards off the tee.

And we’ve got his full bag specs as of the WGC-Dell Match Play.

Driver: TaylorMade 2017 M1 (10.5 degrees, set to 11)
Shaft: Fujikura Speeder Evolution 2.0 Tour Spec 661X
Specs: 45.75 inches, tipped 1 inch

Fairway Wood: TaylorMade 2017 M1 3HL (17 degrees, set to 16)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS T1100 6.5 (95 grams)
Length: 42.25 inches

Irons: TaylorMade UDi (2), TaylorMade Tour Preferred MB ’14 (3-PW)
Shafts: Project X HZRDUS Black 6.5 (105 grams), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (3-PW)

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52-09 and 60-10)
Shaft: KBS Tour Wedge 120S Black Nickel

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Black
Grip: SuperStroke Pistol GT 1.0
Specs: 35 inches, 2.5 degrees, 69 degrees, E0

Johnson told Taylormade he has an “If it ain’t broke…” attitude toward his bag set-up ahead of the Masters. While he may not tinker with his weaponry to take on Augusta National, rest assured that we’ll let you know if he does.

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RELATED: See DJ’s full WITB with pictures here.

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68 Comments

68 Comments

  1. Dave R

    Mar 27, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    Pactricknorm, glad your son played in the NHL but what’s your point ? I hope I didn’t miss it. Thanks.

  2. moses

    Mar 27, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    236 yard 4 iron. WOW!!!!!!

  3. Pete

    Mar 27, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    He can easily hit these distances. Just go watch some D1 golfers hit the ball today because they can absolutely pound it. They all work out with trainers and can really move the ball out there. They are much better athletes than in past years because of how specialized their training has become.

  4. Sean

    Mar 27, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    Remember, these numbers are provided by a company trying to sell golf clubs.

    • Michael

      Mar 28, 2017 at 3:59 pm

      So you doubt the veracity of them after watching them him the last few years?

  5. JE

    Mar 27, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    Replayed the final round yesterday. He hit an 8 iron on a 155 par 3. Downhill.

    It did wind up about 10 yards past the pin.

    • Steve

      Mar 27, 2017 at 7:14 pm

      And you really think that represents his “normal” 8 iron?

      • Jack

        Mar 27, 2017 at 10:15 pm

        Who knows how he hit that, perhaps flighted it somewhat to avoid the wind? I don’t doubt his distances, but yeah in tournaments many of his iron shots like 9 iron etc are pretty regular like 160 yard shot or a 140 yard PW. Clearly he varies his shot/swing to hit a specific distance, but those averages are probably all his full swing averages that TM asked him to hit for marketing purposes.

  6. Jmizzle

    Mar 27, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    TV needs to just say swing speed/loft at impact. Those are the 2 things amateurs can’t put together. I’m a low handicapper that struggles with
    distance. I spent time on a launch monitor to see what ‘moves’ would create more speed. None did. No matter what i did, I could not go from 103 mph to 110. I play in a lot of scratch leagues, no one is sniffing 120mph, except some young 6’3″ college kids. For the high speed players i know, none can de-loft the way these guys do. They flip, scoop or slap that ball.

  7. Patricknorm

    Mar 27, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    Here’s a little perspective for the doubters here. My son played in the NHL and watch a 3 handicap when he was 14 because he could hit the ball so far. Using a Taylor Made Burner driver with a steel shaft he won a junior long drive contest with a drive of 282. He could hit a 7 iron 200 yards and he never carried a 3 wood because his 3 iron was about 270. In hockey numbers his slap shot was measured at 97 mph and he was measured on a (golf) launch monitor with a 127 mph swing speed.
    He chose hockey because it was a virtual guarantee career wise. I’m not near as long and I can tell you seeing a drive go 350 yards is a thing of beauty.
    Ironically I’ve seen Dustin Johnson a few times live and he’s impressive. He’s a perfect NHL defenceman, 6’4″ maybe 210 and probably mean as a pit bull. Clearly Johnson made the right choice. He’ll play longer and make far more money in golf. He’d probably be good in many pro sports. Doesn’t hurt Wayne is his father in law either.

    • Barry

      Mar 27, 2017 at 7:14 pm

      No, but he is likely from Canada or the northern US where it is still winter and the people have basically gone insane by this point

      • LOL

        Mar 28, 2017 at 12:10 am

        To someone who got woken up in the middle of the night this comment was great.

      • bachvo

        Mar 29, 2017 at 4:40 am

        best comment by far

        • DeShamBeau

          Mar 29, 2017 at 5:22 pm

          This comment in bonkers and the replies are amazing. Well done, everyone.

    • Steve

      Mar 27, 2017 at 7:15 pm

      What has Dustin Johnson ever done or said that makes you think he’s “probably mean as a pit bull”? Everything I’ve ever seen/heard from him would argue the exact opposite.

    • Jack

      Mar 27, 2017 at 10:20 pm

      Clearly he wants us to know his son played in the NHL and could achieve clubhead speeds up to 127 mph. Proud dad this one.

      Similar comparison would be Sadlowski (though of course Jamie is more talented having won the long drive championship). He can also hit his 7 iron 225. But he can’t make it as a pro golfer on the tours. Distance isn’t everything, but of course it helps. DJ can be long and accurate which is what’s impressive.

    • Michael

      Mar 28, 2017 at 4:03 pm

      First, besides you, who do yo think cares what your kid does? Answer: No one except his mother.

      Second, find somewhere else to hang out. No one here cares for your how to win friends and not make enemies strategy.

    • Michael

      Mar 28, 2017 at 4:04 pm

      There is none other than letting us know his head is inflated beyond the size of the Goodyear blimp.

  8. Mark

    Mar 27, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    85 degrees. No wind. Hard fairways. Downhill on a tour spec course. Come to my home course. Soaking wet, cold, damp air. Remember these guys do this for a living and don’t do a days work before playing. Usain Bolt runs very fast and people don’t expect to run as fast as he does so don’t expect to hit it as far as a Pro. And I will have a bet on DJ for the Masters!!

  9. Bob

    Mar 27, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    Lots of folks in denial saying these can’t be accurate but go watch him hit balls on the range and report back. I’m talking in person too. Only egotistical morons would watch him and think these couldn’t possibly be accurate.

  10. Christopher Feltham

    Mar 27, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    I played St Anne’s links, Dublin last monday in a gale….a proper course. They’re off to shelter at the least sign of adverse conditions in the states….Michelson’s shown he can handle British/Irish conditions….come and show us DJ…if your soft enough.

    • Steve

      Mar 27, 2017 at 1:29 pm

      You do realize that sending them “off to shelter” in adverse conditions has more to do with the idiot spectators than the players, right?

  11. Dave

    Mar 27, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    And I have to agree with bandrz, I’ve seen DJ up close and personal at a tournament, both on the range and on the fairway. This dude is tall, and his hands must be 7 ft. in the air when he’s winding one up. There is no one in this comment section that could clean his clubs, much less hit any of their clubs similar distances. DJ is an animal 🙂

    • bandrz

      Mar 27, 2017 at 1:38 pm

      It’s uncanny. And he isn’t missing many fairways right now either. Almost all of these guys bomb it, but DJ stands out and that is hard to do. Rory does too. Thomas Pieters? dude is huge!

    • Bob

      Mar 27, 2017 at 2:27 pm

      Saw him in Austin on Thursday and he was punishing balls into 20 mph winds on the range. Was also completely floored by his size in person. We all know he’s tall and lanky but he appears to be pure lean muscle now. Then you incorporate his flexibility too and he’s just completely different from anyone else. It’s a broken record at this point talking about how he’s such a freak athlete but it really can’t be said enough.

  12. Dave

    Mar 27, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    Well, downhill as Johnny Miller said, he smoked a drive 426 yds. Sunday against John, and got beat since Rahm sent his 438. I don’t care if it’s downhill or not, that’s some impressive distances, and straight down the middle for both of them. I’ll bet they didn’t have 30 yds. wide landing area, and they both hit it. Dang

  13. bandrz

    Mar 27, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    Having seen DJ up close on several occasions, these look about right. If you haven’t seen these guys play in person, I don’t know what to say. Yes, they are that much longer than you.

    • Robin

      Mar 27, 2017 at 8:01 pm

      Years ago, maybe 20, a friend dragged me to an event where John Daly was teamed with another player and they played against two other players . back then Daly was 50 to 75 yards past the other 3 every single hole… Daly hit 330 or better on at least 3 holes with the other 3 out about 270 max. What we see in Johnson is nothing new just better equipment (for sure the ball) better conditioned players…

    • Tom

      Mar 28, 2017 at 11:32 am

      there ya go first hand report…witnessed

  14. Tom

    Mar 27, 2017 at 11:22 am

    Damn! there’s a lot of denial on here

  15. chip

    Mar 27, 2017 at 10:16 am

    those numbers are inflated. he does not hit his 7 iron 200 yards, nor his pw 160.

    • DJ

      Mar 27, 2017 at 12:39 pm

      u do know that his club head at impact is de-lofted which is why he can hit those numbers with those clubs.

    • Michael

      Mar 28, 2017 at 4:07 pm

      You know this how? … Because you say so? Just as I thought.

  16. Jim

    Mar 27, 2017 at 9:56 am

    He’s way longer than these numbers if he wants… from 95-2000 playing mini-tours & section events I averaged 296 off Tee w/ Callaway GBB 9 degree and 45.5 AJ Tech shaft… Callaway BB 1iron 270-275 with AJ Tech also…didn’t carry 3wd for 7 years….

    My PowerBuilt TPI or Titleist DCI irons were close, but 46 PW was full swing 150…

    BALLS….Spalding Tour Edition or Precept EV Extra Spin.

    Bottom line, it’s mostly about speed

    • Jim

      Mar 27, 2017 at 6:22 pm

      Jack, Arnold, Julius could all hit 7irons 200+ They just would’ve had 2 ir trajectory and never stopped on a green….The equipment has changed so much that the swing (at impact) did too. 45 years ago the hackers were fighting the ‘flip’ just as they are now.

      the goal of a low hcp player was to ‘turn an 8 into a 7’ at impact….

      the club head designs, grooves and balls make it so a skilled player can turn an 8 into a 5&3/4 at impact and the gear will produce a ‘tour trajectory’ ball flight that will drop and sit on a green

      the flippers picked up a few yards as the lofts on their 8’s are about what a 7 iron used to be, and the ‘better ones’ can at least keep ‘an 8 an 8’ and not add too much loft at impacr, often getting into the low single hcps with regular play

  17. Johnny

    Mar 27, 2017 at 9:49 am

    Would love to see DJ on Trackman hitting Tour Balata 100’s and Professional 90’s like was done here.

    http://www.andrewricegolf.com/andrew-rice-golf/2011/08/evolution-of-a-golf-ball

  18. Dat

    Mar 27, 2017 at 9:25 am

    If these yardages are true, we are going to continue to see the trend of longer courses, and the longer hitter will always win. Time to change the BALL for tour pros only.

    • Jim

      Mar 27, 2017 at 9:46 am

      GAME BALL! Long past due…Just like every other sport. Won’t affect anyone’s endorsement deal for “their favorite ball / gear”…

      Only ball on practice tee / green, fill up your bag before 1st tee.

      2 year exclusive contract….same ball all year, every event.

      • Steve

        Mar 27, 2017 at 7:18 pm

        Maybe I’m confused, but it sounds like you want everybody to play the exact same ball on the golf course. IF that is indeed what you’re saying, how would that not affect anyone’s endorsement deals? Also, who decides which company makes the ball they play? There is WAY too much money in ball sales for this to ever happen.

        • Jim

          Mar 28, 2017 at 10:33 am

          Just like tennis…Player’s endorse – Wilson, but the tournament ball is Penn…

          golf is SO much more touchy feely it would be a constant source of aggravation AND WHINING if the ball changed every week. I’d be pissed too…
          SO there’s a big contest between the mfrs… trials with various balls for feel etc and – whoever – picks the one for the next season or 2…

          game ball….no problem

      • Gorden

        Mar 28, 2017 at 12:08 am

        And who ever made that game ball would sell millions of them to every foursome in front of me and behind me every Tuesday because they all think/act like their on tour…I keep leaving messages in the club house..”Come on people tour players do take more time to read and make their one putt, lets hurry up the read on that forth putt please”…

        • Jim

          Mar 28, 2017 at 11:01 am

          And that would affect what? They’re already playing some overpriced ball ’cause some tour player does – I’ll bet 70% would drop the ‘tour ball’ in three or four rounds if if cost them 15yds off the tee (make the ball ‘need to be hit reeeally square’ to ‘work best’) or even 5 yds with an 8 iron

    • Robin

      Mar 27, 2017 at 8:11 pm

      NEVER HAPPEN PGA Golf is a business and a business is there to make money…equipment companies are not going to pay the PGA or the players to hit a TOUR ONLY BALL. Do you ever wonder why the pros play 90% of their tournaments on courses even an amateur (not the same length of course) could score better then on most local public courses….and do not bother telling me I am wrong because I have played on 3 pro tournament courses a week after the big boys and 3 out 3 times I beat my handicap. (15). why, because the lies were perfect and on the greens the ball just rolls perfect.

      • Jim

        Mar 28, 2017 at 10:52 am

        No one has to pay them to play it. It’s the official league ball.. If they want to piss and moan and quit the tour because there’s a standard (no doubt excellent) ball they have to play at that level, let em. Not a single one will.

        ya don’t let the loonies run the asylum – even if their money’s paying the rent. What are they going to do? NOT play?….

        Either end this perennial whining about whether or not the ‘ball is legal’ or too hot and have a game ball, or STFU…

        They can’t keep lengthening the courses to a point where extremely talented but not monster long guys have no chance….Increase premium on accuracy (make the rough thicker/deeper from 275-320) throttle down the club a bit, have a game ball – OR like any other physical sport, deal with the fact that someone’s always gonna be stronger and longer, but the field stays same length…

    • Looper

      Mar 28, 2017 at 1:56 pm

      No way… What, make football fields longer, baseball pitchers mounds further back? Nonsense, only a few hit it like a tour pro…

  19. DB

    Mar 27, 2017 at 9:24 am

    I still don’t believe that his driver is 45.75 inches. It sure doesn’t look that long.

    • Teaj

      Mar 27, 2017 at 10:31 am

      I thought the same thing but it could be it looks short just in comparison to his arm length which from what I understand is large. Could be wrong but the only reason I can think of because it does look short.

  20. Jack Wullkotte

    Mar 27, 2017 at 8:44 am

    How can they say the golf ball is legal? Drives in the 350 yards to 400 yards are ludicrous. In the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, I was considered a “long hitter.” My drives averaged about 280. In those days, the longest average on tour was about 290. Pitching wedge distance was about 115. Sure, lofts were about 4 degrees weaker on irons, but that would only pick up about an additional 12 to 15 yards. Johnson’s pitching wedge average is 158 yards. It’s not the club, believe me.

    • Shallowface

      Mar 27, 2017 at 8:19 pm

      Finally someone here who knows what he’s talking about. Welcome, sir!

    • Shallowface

      Mar 27, 2017 at 8:22 pm

      If you haven’t already, please visit the “Classic Golf and Golfers” section of the forums. You would be most welcome there.

    • Jack

      Mar 27, 2017 at 10:30 pm

      Currently the longer average drive is 316, not 350-400. Helps to compare apples to apples. There’s been massive changes in ball and equipment as well as athlete fitness (especially golf where they refused to call golfers athletes in the past) over the years. People are also taller and stronger than in the past. Did you see any 6’3 golfers in the 60’s?

  21. Travis

    Mar 27, 2017 at 8:35 am

    I highly doubt these distances are accurate. To win the US Open he took a 6-iron from 190. That was a full swing under-pressure with adrenaline. By this chart above he should have take an 8-iron…

    I’m sure Dustin can hit these numbers if he swing full out, but I highly doubt DJ’s everyday smooth 7-iron is his go to 200y club…

    • Steve

      Mar 27, 2017 at 1:31 pm

      “To win the US Open he took a 6-iron from 190. That was a full swing under-pressure with adrenaline.”

      I’m willing to bet that wasn’t a “full swing… with adrenaline.” Just because it looks like he may be going after it with a full swing on TV doesn’t mean he actually is. I 100% guarantee you that he hits his normal 6 iron over 190 yards, and that’s without the extra adrenaline.

  22. Adam S.

    Mar 27, 2017 at 8:20 am

    The length of the 3-wood at 42.25″ is surprising to me given DJ’s height.

    • CCTxGolf

      Mar 27, 2017 at 9:09 am

      It’s really a 4 wood (3hl) but the length still seems short for how tall he is.

  23. Smitty

    Mar 27, 2017 at 12:16 am

    Might want to watch this video, he carries one of his drives 324 yards at the range:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3YpSSL2R57Y

  24. The dude

    Mar 26, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    No way they are carry yardages………

    • Jack

      Mar 26, 2017 at 10:36 pm

      Yeah I think I’ve seen his trackman numbers where he was hitting some driver and also some irons in the past and the carry distances weren’t that far. TM gave his total distances, and WRX just did a little word play indirectly making people think it’s carry by saying he would have no problem carrying it 320. Actually, I think he would. He would normally hit it carry 300, and 20 yards extra would probably be his max considering he already swings it 120 mph clubhead speed. And max is definitely not a no problem proposition.

      But 158 PW? We normal amateurs have a better chance of achieving pro distances on the shorter clubs because they are easier to hit, but it’s still pretty hard to hit it 158. He hits muscle back clubs too. Try hitting a 47 degree muscleback PW 158 lol. He averages that.

      • Halteclere

        Mar 26, 2017 at 11:59 pm

        I mean he did hit his two iron 300 yards carry in Mexico, granted it was altitude, but it was extremely impressive nonetheless.

        • Jack

          Mar 27, 2017 at 8:49 am

          LOL yeah those distances were crazy in Mexico. Fun for us to watch. Pretty difficult for them to figure out initially. No doubt, DJ is both long and pretty accurate. His total driving is up there. What’s more impressed has been his strokes gained from tee to green, almost 2.5 strokes on the field. Another half stroke with his putting validates his wins this season and number 1 status. He’s dominating.

          • James

            Mar 27, 2017 at 10:37 am

            That might be where these come from, to be fair. The elevation in Mexico would suit these ´averages´

      • Jim

        Mar 27, 2017 at 9:29 pm

        22yrs ago my PW was my 150yd club. I’m not quite as tall – nor lanky and long armed as DJ – and not as delofted at impact. No doubt he’s avg 158 carry – easy.

        flat straight hole on a course I was on staff at in ’96 had a creek running across fairway. 290 from tips & you were in, 312 you were over. As long as i wasn’t hitting into any real wind, ~IF~ I put a good ‘102%’ swing on it, I could clear it most of the time. There’s no doubt this cat is longer than I was, and I had a record 369 yd drive (although I do believe it got a good ‘assist’ from a sprinkler head) 😉

        On the ancient tech from 97, I was swinging 45.5 – 46″ drivers 126 – 130. I have no problem believing those numbers from him

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Podcasts

Gear Dive: Legendary club builder Larry Bobka speaks on Tiger’s old Titleist irons

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Legendary club builder Larry Bobka joins us in the first episode of our new podcast called “Gear Dive,” hosted by Johnny Wunder, GolfWRX’s Director of Original Content. Gear Dive is a deep look into the world of golf equipment, and Wunder will be interviewing the craftsman, the reps and the players behind the tools that make up the bags of the best golfers in the world.

Bobka, our first guest, is a former Tour rep and club builder involved in some of the most important clubs of the past 25 years. From his days at Wilson Golf working with legends such as Payne Stewart, Hale Irwin and Bernhard Langer, he transitioned into the Golden Age of Titleist/Acushnet building clubs for Tiger Woods, Davis Love, David Duval and Brad Faxon. He currently runs Argo Golf where he builds and fits handmade putters for Tour players and amateurs alike. He’s one of the Godfather’s of modern golf equipment.

Skip to 45:30 for the discussion about Tiger’s Titleist irons.

Check out our podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Gary Player joins our 19th Hole podcast, talks past and future of golf

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Hall-of-Famer and career Grand Slam winner Gary Player joins host Michael Williams for an exclusive one-on-one interview at the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf tournament and Big Cedar Lodge in Branson, Missouri. Player talks about the past and future of the game, including his take on everything from reigning in the golf ball and golf courses, to advocating for more testing for performance enhancing drugs on the Tour. Steve Friedlander of Big Cedar Lodge also appears.

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Opinion & Analysis

Let’s Retire Old Man Par: A Modest Proposal

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In 1729, Jonathan Swift wrote a satirical essay entitled “A modest proposal,” in which he suggested that the Irish eat their own children. As might be expected, the piece drew a great deal of discussion and controversy. He was of course not serious, but simply attempting to make a point. As you will read this piece contains “A Modest Proposal” as well, but it is not intended to be satirical. I am for the record dead serious.

The golf industry is wringing its hands, trying to find a way to bring new players into the game, while at the same time keeping those that are in the game from leaving. They have initiated any number of programs designed for this purpose. How successful have they been? I would venture that they have barely moved the needle.

Barriers to the game

What we do know is that today there are three major barriers that confront the industry. They are first, the time required to play the game; second the costs associated with playing the game; and third the difficulty of the game.

There are among those adults that start the game, three distinct different groups:

  1. Those who would like to start playing golf but for any number of reasons decided not to take up the game.
  2. Those who once played more frequently but have reduced the number of rounds that they play.
  3. Those who started to play the game but then after a short period decided to leave it.

Those who leave the game

Those in the golf industry, the hand-wringers, have developed any number of programs to bring new players to the game. I would ask the question, “What is the point, when almost an equal number of players that start playing the game each year, decide to give it up within a span of a few months.

Does it make any sense to continue to put water into a bucket when there is a hole in the bottom? Of course not, but that is effectively what is being done. The first question to be ask, why do these new players quit the playing after a short time? In my opinion, the number No. 1 reason is the method of scoring being used.

Were an exit poll to be conducted asking these people why they quit playing, I seriously doubt they would answer truthfully. Who would want to admit that they were discouraged by their inability to succeed at any endeavor? The two answers that would be given the most often would be 1) that golf is too expensive to play; or 2) that they simply didn’t have time.  In this case both answers serve to preserve the individual’s dignity. And who could blame them?

The concept of par

Why did these individuals find the game difficult? The short answer is that while golf is a hard game to learn, there  is a more compelling reason.  I would venture, that the underlying reason they quit the game is that it ceased to be fun because of how they viewed their performance. And for one central reason… the concept of par. The idea that an amateur golfer, especially a beginner, should measure their level of success against an imaginary set of numbers that represents what an expert player would score on each hole is on the surface ridiculous.

You might imagine a beginning player scoring an eight on a par-four hole after hitting six good shots and then two putting for an eight. In the context of their ability, they should be ecstatic — but of course they are not (because as their playing partner reminds them) they were four-over par on that hole. The time has come for Old Man Par to retire. And retire permanently. He is killing the game.

Perceived failure

In another scenario, the beginning player scores sixty for nine holes, which is an excellent score given the short amount of time they might have spent playing the game. And yet their nine-hole score was 24-over par. How would that make you feel? Would you be encouraged or discouraged? You might imagine yourself back in school and regardless of the amount of work that you put into a given class you always receive an “F.” At some point, would you give up?

Why should every golfer be judged by the same standard when there is such inequality in their ability? The equivalent would be placing a high school freshman in a graduate-level college course, expecting that they could perform at the same level as the other graduate students. The disparity in knowledge, based on age and experience, is precisely the reason why there are different grades in school. The same disparity exists among golfers. In this case, the difference being the ability to perform on the golf course as opposed to the classroom.

What about the second group of players that now plays less than they did in the past? Could it be that they are no longer having fun playing the game?And then there is the third group, those that consider playing the game but abandon it for another sport. Could it be that they are intimidated by the scoring system, knowing that as a beginner par is an absolute impossibility?

Old man par 

The legendary Bobby Jones was the first to coin, perhaps with the help of his friend O.B. Keillor, the phrase “Old Man Par.” Jones was, of course, the greatest amateur to have ever played the game. He won the Grand Slam in 1930, retiring then at the age of 28.

The time has come to retire “Old Man Par” and devise a new system for measuring a golfer’s progress in the game. I know that those in the USGA. would reject the concept immediately for fear of, and here is a $10 word used primarily by attorneys, “bifurcate” the game. What that word essentially means in this context in having more than one standard. The USGA is responsible for preserving the nature of the game, but at the same time it should be equally concerned with preserving the future of the game.

Personal par

What I would suggest is a system based on the principle of what might be termed “personal par.” This was essentially the system that was used to groom a young Tiger Woods. As a young child, he was not capable of reaching the longer holes in regulation, making par a virtual impossibility. Consequently, his coach wisely devised a system in which par was adjusted upward based on his ability at a given point in time. This served to keep the young child feeling good about his performance and subsequent progress.

This is the type of system that needs to be devised for the health of the game. The system would begin at a nine-hole level using a par of thirty-six as a basis. The actual numbers are not as important as the basic concept. There would be within the nine-hole and the eighteen-hole groups five different levels as follows with assigned par for each hole and eighteen holes roughly equal with the player’s ability.

As players improved, they would graduate from one level to another based on their total score. The handicap system would work in similar fashion as it does now with a single modification. The strokes give from one player to another would depend on the level in which they fall and the par assigned to that level.

The personal par handicap system would not be as exacting as it is presently used, but it would be sufficient to allow players to be reasonable competitive without any significant sacrifice. There would then be two scoring systems then, allowing players to choose which one they wanted to use. Or a recommendation might be given that until they reach a given scoring threshold that they use the personal par scoring system.

There would, of course, be the usual concern with something new being injected into the system, but the proposed change would be no greater than when the system of equitable scoring was introduced or when courses were first assigned a course rating number.

A few years ago, when life-long teacher and educator Dr. Gary Wiren was inducted into the Golf Teacher’s Hall of Fame, he wanted to pass along a single piece of advice to those teachers in the room. “Gentleman,” he started and then paused for emphasis. “We must find a way to make the game more fun for our students.”

I’m in full agreement with Dr. Wiren. The question is, “What is the best way to accomplish that goal?” I believe that that the first step in that direction is to change the scoring system so that golfers experience more satisfaction and accomplishment. That is what makes learning fun.

And so, I would have you consider “The Modest Proposal” that I have put forward. And rather than attempting to find reasons why a revised scoring system couldn’t never work, for the benefit of the game, look for the same number of reason why it could work. The time has come for Old Man Par, as we know him, to retire. He has served us well, but he has become an anarchism. He is as obsolete as the horse and buggy. Let’s hand him his gold watch and let him enjoy his golden years in peace.

And at the same time, let’s welcome the “new kid on the block” who will pave the way for the next generation of golfers pioneering a scoring system that promises to make the game more “fun.”

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