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19th Hole

Tiger Woods: Roll back the ball!



Tiger Woods sat down with legendary Uconn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma for his “Holding Court” podcast.

And while the 14-time major champion was candid and conversational about a range of topics, it’s his remarks about the distance the golf ball is travelling that are getting the most attention

Rightfully so. Woods, who’s old enough to remember the days of persimmon and balata and was once the tour leader in clubhead speed and driving distance, spoke thoughtfully about the issue of distance at the professional level.

The coach asked Woods for his thoughts on modern golf equipment.

“The only thing I would say is that we need to do something about the golf ball. I just think it’s going too far because we’re having to build golf courses…if you want to have a championship venue, they’ve got to be 73, 7400 yards long and if the game keeps progressing the way it is with technology, I think that the 8,000 yard golf course is not too far away. And that’s pretty scary. We don’t have enough property to be designing these types of golf courses. And it just makes it so much more complicated.”

Woods says there’s plenty to be ironed out at the professional level  in the event of a rollback.

“The USGA is already looking at it. They’re doing some research on what the world would look like if you rolled it back 10 percent, 15 percent and 20 percent…the game of golf is on the kind of, there’s a down cycle as far as participation. We don’t have a whole lot of new golfers coming into the game. We don’t have any sustainability in the game as well. So, with that being said, you don’t want to give up the amateurs from hitting the ball further and straighter. But with the tour pros you might want to roll the ball back.”

“The talks we’ve had on tour with the Commissioner and our board is where is the line of demarcation. Do we have it at PGA Tour levels, do we have it at the Tour level, do we have it at the mini-tour level, so there is that debate as well. I don’t see it happening in the near future but at least there’s talks about it now.”

Woods sees tennis and tennis ball constraints as a parallel.

“I think a good analogy, or good comparison would be tennis. Back in 2001, 2000, somewhere in there, Goran Ivanisevic served over 200 aces for the fortnight, since then they’ve rolled the ball back, more fuzzy, a little heavier so the ball doesn’t travel as fast. They did the same thing at the U.S. Open, and the Australian Open.” 

“So they’ve made alterations to the ball to accommodate the strength and the power of the equipment and the strings and the racket as well as the pure athleticism of the bigger servers. Well that’s the ball analogy with another sport so why can’t we do the same thing with another ball sport, golf, and slow it down just a little bit.”

What do you think WRX members? With Jack Nicklaus and now TW strongly in favor of rolling back the ball (and seemingly bifurcation), is the era of the “tournament ball” approaching?

You can listen to the full interview via the tweet below.


(s/o to Geoff Shackelford for doing the yeoman’s work of transcribing Woods’ remarks)

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  1. Erik

    Nov 7, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    Amateurs need to play the same ball as the tour pros, to appreciate THE pro game.
    Im not interested in hitting shorter drives, it would definitely put me off THE game.

    • JB

      Nov 9, 2017 at 9:40 am

      Why do Amateurs need to play the same ball as tour pros to appreciate THE pro game?

      That is the stupidest argument I’ve ever heard. Lets draw parallels like TW did with Tennis.

      Why don’t you use full wooden bats and play baseball during your work sporting event? You need to in order to appreciate THE MLB game. Instead you use aluminum bats and play slow pitch softball as men…

      Why don’t you use full pads and NFL official size football during your work sporting event? You need to in order to appreciate THE NFL game. Instead you play flag football or two hand touch, and use any random size football from official size to a few sizes smaller…

      This doesn’t even account for people who don’t follow golf at all. What about the weekend warriors who play on any given day when they have a chance? What about those who don’t follow the pro game at all?

      So no Amateurs do NOT need to play the same ball as tour pros to appreciate THE pro game. It is always the same issue, you are out of touch with the common folk who play. A vast majority don’t care about the pro game and don’t NEED to in order to play a game of golf. If golf can’t figure that out, you’ll continue to see the trends in golf that you do now.

  2. Matt

    Nov 5, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    Roll it back.. be great for the sport. Shrink the courses back down. Shorten rounds. More finesse in the game. Win win win win

    • JThunder

      Nov 6, 2017 at 3:29 am

      Yes, but is it just the ball? How about the drivers and COR and shafts and spin & launch optimization? Will the Tour be playing Caymans?

      How will it look if a shorter-hitting Tour Pro playing a Tour Ball can’t drive it as far as an average 10-handicap with a Pro V1?

      If the scores are too low, maybe we should penalize good putting too.

      • JB

        Nov 9, 2017 at 9:48 am

        The ball is the easy solution that has long term effects. This also would only apply to the PRO level, which many are forgetting. The equipment helps, but not really. Course length plays a great deal.

        Take the same course and play the tees where the total yardage is below 6000 and then play it again from the tees with the total yardage above 6000 and you will see two totally different scores. A shorter course is easier to play with the current ball and equipment, and will result in lower scores.

        What TW is hinting at, is due to the ball at the tour level, the length of course is going up, and it shouldn’t go up. So fixing that, will causes courses to not go so big. If the ball is changed, there is no longer a need to lengthen courses.

        The solution is also a cheaper one, vs rolling back equipment.

  3. Bob DeLellis

    Nov 5, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    OR…we could do nothing and quit trying to make the courses longer. Just let the young guys play and let the quality of play dictate the scores. So what if old records are broken? Problem solved!! Maintenance costs stay the same, the rules stay the same for pros and amateurs, and the rules makers won’t have to stress over pissing off a bunch of amateur golfers, like they did with the anchoring ban.

  4. gticlay

    Nov 5, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    I’m fine with rolling the ball back. However, I do NOT want to play a different ball than the tour pros play. Two sets of rules or standards (and yes, probably different irons and woods for different ball designs) means I can’t go to a course the tour plays on, tee it up, and see if I can reach that par 5 in two from the same tees or compare my game in any way (which I have done now at a number of tour stops). So just make sure to apply the rules and specifications to all.

  5. Conrad

    Nov 5, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    I believe tigers thinking also extends to the feasibility of golf argument. Yes we could tighten holes, end fairways at certain yardages to “even the playing field”. I agree with these ideas; however, I believe it doesn’t address another issue, the affordability of golf. The major expenses related to golf (disregarding other offered amenities at many clubs) consists of land and maintenance components. If we could reduce the quantity of each of the aforementioned then golf would likely become a sport that is much more in reach for the majority. In an ever increasingly populated world, it would be beneficial to move towards more efficient ways to enjoy the game. The other hand of the argument is that the “average” golfer likely hits the ball less than 200 yards off the tee on a good day; however, I believe that the majority of course are not built around your average golfer.

  6. LAbillyboy

    Nov 4, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    Balls are fine and already limited by the rules. Simply employ the lawn mower…. End the fairway at 300 yards and don’t resume it until 350 yards…. Leave a few holes where they can let it out but overall you can easily shorten the course while maintaining difficulty. Methinks Tiger is a little jealous now that younger, bigger, stronger boys are better than he was in his prime.

    • ..........

      Nov 4, 2017 at 7:51 pm

      I don’t recall seeing many “current players” saying we need a roll back. Mostly retired or on the way out players, and course designers saying roll the ball back. But I don’t watch much golf anymore so WTF do I know….

    • Jeff

      Nov 5, 2017 at 2:24 pm

      Rolling the ball back allows for exactly what @Conrad said; decrease maintenance cost(less water, pesticides, gas for mowers, etc) and less land needed for courses.

      If 6700 yard courses could again become “long” for tour pros and anyone else who hits it long there really is no downside. Doesn’t require gimmicky stuff like you’re talking about to make work.

  7. DoubleMochaMan

    Nov 4, 2017 at 11:49 am

    If the ball is rolled back for the pros I will be very careful, going forward, not to buy any balls labeled as “Tour” this or “Tour” that.

  8. SV

    Nov 4, 2017 at 8:13 am

    Agree. The rollback would also help the average golfer. In building most new courses at 7000+ yards, the regular tees are also longer. This works against most players. Many older courses had back tees in the 6700 yard range or even less. Now regular tees are typically in the 6300-6700 range where they used to be 5800-6200. Since most amateurs don’t hit the ball as far as they think, more manageable yardages would help. One final thought, if the ball doesn’t go as far you won’t have to trek as far into the woods to find it!

  9. MW

    Nov 3, 2017 at 11:16 pm

    I have to agree. Never heard him complain when he was winning and out driving the majority of the field. Not that he can’t, well…sour grapes.

    • Judge Smeills

      Nov 4, 2017 at 12:21 pm

      either that or he has gotten into course design and he knows 8,000 yard golf courses are stupid

      • Jeff

        Nov 5, 2017 at 2:26 pm

        Bad for the game in the long run with rising land and maintenance costs.

        Nothing wrong with 6600-6700 being a long course and a long drive being 270 – 290.

  10. Andrew

    Nov 3, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    Easy for you to say now that you are washed up, Tiger. Say that 10 years ago. Nicklaus has been publicly calling for a curb on the ball for at least 5 years.

    • ..........

      Nov 4, 2017 at 8:01 pm

      I’m a huge TW fan but agree with your post 100%

    • matt_bear

      Nov 5, 2017 at 8:48 am

      The major flaw in your comment is that a roll back would apply to him as well.

      • bigwooly

        Nov 5, 2017 at 10:26 pm

        He’s done and he knows it, so he can push this idea with the hope of preserving his legacy

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19th Hole

What’s your favorite photo from the history of pro golf?



Golf history, as we know, is rich. Dramatic storylines, pithy anecdotes, iconic equipment, and storybook shots are all woven into the vibrant tapestry of the game at the professional level.

It’s no surprise, then, that from the rough black-and-white of Old Tom Morris, open-stanced, gazing past the camera to his target, to the present DSLR shots, the history of the professional game is peppered with great photographs.

WRX member Christosterone started a thread with the question, “What’s your favorite tour picture and why?”

He offered this shot of “three reverse-c idols and a Texan.”

Of course, it only took one response, for someone to offer up this classic shot of Arnold Palmer and Ben Hogan. One assumes that the fact that they didn’t care for one another only enhanced their badass postures.


Also, dicko999 (who better to post the following?), offered a cropped version of the legendary Presidents Cup streaker shot. Beyond the absurdity of the scene, the facial expressions make this shot great.

Just a fantastic thread that you’ll want to check out–and hopefully add a photo of your own to.

Check out the thread.


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19th Hole

Do you go high-five or fist-bump on the golf course? #YoGolfWRX



Equipment expert Brian Knudson and Editor Andrew Tursky cover a wide variety of topics including Tiger’s best swing, high five vs. knuckles and logo up or logo down?

Watch below (or click here if the embed doesn’t work for you).

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19th Hole

Parents in Montana can’t watch their children golf, and nobody is happy about it



In Montana, as you may have heard from an irritated friend at some point during the past month, spectators cannot watch high school golf.

Nick Petraccione of KBZK originally did a deep dive into the following passage from the Montana State High School Association Rulebook in November.

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Petraccione found the “designated” areas are generally the first tee box and the 18th green, but at some courses, there are no such area. Needless to say, as the KBZK report has been disseminated through the golf mediasphere over the past month, most are not in favor of the MSHA’s position.

Before drilling down into some of the dissent, it’s worth considering the logic of spectator restrictions. Per Petraccione:

“It comes down to a few factors: mainly that golf courses and tournament managers are involved in opening those spaces, not the MSHA. Other factors include parents being unruly, disrupting play, spectator safety, and illegally coaching players on the course.”

Fair enough. But the other side of the coin, beyond parents merely wanting to watch their kids play, is that the MSHA could be “trampling on civil rights,” per James Greenbaum, an attorney KBZK spoke with.

“The highest court has stated many times that difficulty of enforcement is no excuse for trampling on civil rights. They are discriminating against children and parents in an outrageous manner in violation of the federal and state constitution. That is a fundamental right, for their parent to bond with their child and encourage them in something as innocent as a sporting event. … How could you deny a parent that right?”

The outrage, as mentioned, is abundant. Major-winner Shaun Micheel tweeted his disbelief. Micheel also suggested the policy handicaps potential college recruits.

“Scores are only part of the bigger picture…That being the intangibles like attitude, etiquette and temperament. How does the player handle adversity? All of the extra things that are part of competing. Coaches aren’t able to evaluate those things by looking at just the final score.”

Chris Kelley, a parent of a high school golfer in Montana, created a petition aimed at bringing awareness and ultimately changing the rule. Dylan Dethier at filed a look at some of the petition’s signees, which include Xander Schauffele’s father and a handful of coaches. You can view the petition here.

The MSHA has declined to comment.

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19th Hole