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Chamblee doesn’t want to roll back the ball: Breaking down his argument

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Once an advocate for bifurcation, Brandel Chamblee sings a different tune in his year-end column for Golf Channel, ultimately saying “let’s let this sleeping dog lie” with respect to the distance debate.

But first, let’s give credit where it’s due: Chamblee’s column is very good, and it’s well worth a read (especially against the backdrop of end-of-the-year filler) and extends well beyond the issue in question.

Chamblee says he expects the distance/roll back the ball debate to come to a head this year. He begins with the oft-reported stat: Since 1980, the average tee shot on the PGA Tour 36 yards longer.

He then discusses how we arrived at this increase: titanium drivers, the switch to wound balls, and then he postulates “from 2005-17, players have picked up 4.1 yards for any number of reasons, but likely because most PGA Tour players now look like Greek gods.” He folds in improvements in agronomy, lighter shafts, etc.

Some of what Chamblee says after this is worth quoting at length. First, his point that what we’re upset about isn’t really distance or low scoring, but rather.

“…an outrage to the lack of something missing in the game, and in the games of the best players. First, the need to drive it in the fairway, as coming out of the rough with short irons is hardly a penalty. And second, the need for long-iron approaches on the occasional par 4. And finally, a return to relevancy of some of the game’s most sacred pieces of land, most notably St. Andrews.”

He also suggests that, essentially, ball manufacturers not named Titleist have a vested interest in rolling back the ball. This is true.

However, he falls into the trap of “what about-ism” and fires off a slippery slope argument all in the same paragraph.

“When I hear people scream, “Roll the ball back!” I first think, Why the ball and not the rebounding and forgiving metal woods? Why the ball and not the longer lighter shafts? And then I think, At what cost? Who is going to pay retribution to the manufactures whose products will be rescinded? Who will pay for the lawsuits?”

Not to take sides, but the argument is that making a ball that goes 10 or 20 percent shorter is simpler than additional regulation on equipment.

Chamblee’s final point is that “booming distance” is really only an issue at the elite level. If the Tour wants to combat it, it should add more challenging tees, slow down courses, grow rough, etc., not change the ball.

What do you think about Chamblee’s argument, GolfWRX members?

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  1. mad honk

    Dec 30, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    I get the concern about the ball, and I also got the concern about grooves when it cost a lot of club-makers hundreds of thousands in decimated inventory,and all of the other concerns like face design.
    My course is going through a re-design and it will add more challenges, but if the current ball wars continue, it will be obsolete in about ten years (and unplayable for normal human beings).
    I work with the elite and they are special people, but golf courses do not thrive on the greens fees from the elite; it is the average Joe six pack that pays the bills and keeps a course in bizniz. Making golf balls is easy, and changing course design is hard. It should be a stoopid simple solution. Smiles, MH

  2. gvogelsang

    Dec 25, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    It is probably time to make the ball a little lighter. Not as light as they decreed in 1931 (1.55 ounces), but lighter than now (1.62 ounces). 1.60 ounces might be a good place to start, or maybe 1.58. Yes, that would make the game a little more difficult in the wind, but overall modern equipment is so damn good….

  3. Rich Douglas

    Dec 25, 2017 at 10:01 am

    At the professional level the ball is really a problem, followed by equipment.

    At the local club/muni level, the equipment is what saves players. They get the forgiveness–extreme perimeter weighting, ultra-light shafts, offset, etc.–the pros often forego. The ball? Most can’t swing the club fast enough to access all the ball’s layers anyway, so it really doesn’t matter. Playing a tour ball is a waste of money for them. Even though they CAN access the cover for greater spin on short shots, their short games are so miserable it doesn’t really matter. They’re better off saving some money and playing the TopFlite D2 Gamer. In short: this discussion is irrelevant to them, unless the ball gets dialed back.

    The real question here is bifurcation. Do you want one set of rules or two? The men’s professional tours MUST dial back the ball. And no, tricking up courses to mess with the long hitters doesn’t help. It negates the bombers, but it’s unfair to them, bring them to the same level as the short-knockers. But if you dial back the ball, do you do it for everyone, or do you have a special ball for the tours?

    I would be really uncomfortable playing a “hot” ball while the best players used a dialed-back one. But I also don’t want to give up yardage to the hacker next to me either.

    One ball. Dial it back. Live with it.

    • stewart

      Dec 26, 2017 at 4:57 pm

      Great analysis about utilizing all the layers of the golf ball, but unfortunately for the rec golfer who claims to have a 200+ yard drive and doesn’t, he wants to play the very best and feeel what the pros feel even though he is a pathetic golfer with more money than brains or talent. Most golfers are pathetic deplorables struggling at a game they will never conquer… but they still have fun with their equally deplorable golfing buddies. They also buy the newest because they have pride in their WITB arsenal of toy weapons.

  4. Tal

    Dec 24, 2017 at 12:22 am

    I’m not a big fan of Chambles but he’s right about this. The “RTBB” campaign is driven by antiqiated thinking and jealousy.

  5. John

    Dec 23, 2017 at 1:48 am

    The people designing golf courses are old, therefore they think longer = harder because for them that’s true. For these guys who all have diet and exercise programs an extra 20 yards means nothing. There needs to be a rethink in course design – does it actually matter if the pros are playing shorter clubs off the tee because positioning and accuracy is more important? Instead of rewarding mega drives force them to play the way you intended them to play the hole. Add bunkers, smaller fairways, thicker rough, shave the green fringes, rethink course design. Watch the pros average over par this year on the 270 yard par 4 at Riviera and tell me i’m wrong. Lengthening holes just amplifies the problem.

  6. jkl

    Dec 22, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    If Tiger had been against rolling the ball back… Chamblee would have then been for it.

  7. LarryG

    Dec 22, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    “Chamblee’s final point is that “booming distance” is really only an issue at the elite level. If the Tour wants to combat it, it should add more challenging tees, slow down courses, grow rough, etc., not change the ball.”
    ————————–
    There’s the issue and solution, in two simple sentences! Make the long ball risk/reward factor higher, and only those who dare or are desperate will take risk. That would introduce drama and chaos into the Tour game.
    The Tour players don’t want change because they want to look good and because their sponsors want to sell fantasy to the gullible golfing masses who want to buy “the best”.
    “What wins on Sunday sells on Monday” — the Lemming Effect.

    • GM

      Dec 22, 2017 at 10:21 pm

      I love it. I’ve told my friends the same thing. Want to make it better/more interesting?? Put some traps out there at 320. Lets see some gambling! If you want a piece and think you can fit it in a 20 yard gap, go on and get you some! But all they have to do is add more trouble in that 300-340 range. Until J Vegas starts carrying it 345 of course!

      • DoubleMochaMan

        Dec 23, 2017 at 11:29 am

        Deep traps. Not easy-to-get-out-of traps.

        • DoubleMochaMan

          Dec 23, 2017 at 1:14 pm

          Or just put a dam* pond in every fairway at 300 yards out!

          • DoubleMochaMan

            Dec 23, 2017 at 1:16 pm

            Or a cliff, or IED’s or a lion’s den or a snake pit at 300 yards. That’ll work, too.

  8. Thomas A

    Dec 22, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    This quote, “From 2005-17, players have picked up 4.1 yards for any number of reasons, but likely because most PGA Tour players now look like Greek gods,” could also be attributed to driving accuracy. More fairways hit could account for more good drives counting toward fairways hit.

  9. Bob Jones

    Dec 22, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    The problem with Chamblee’s piece is that it is centered around the professional game. What happens on the PGA Tour is irrelevant to my golf and the golf of millions of other recreational golfers. I don’t need my 230-yard drive rolled back to under 200 yards. I don’t need to hit a 5-iron from places I used to hit a 7-iron. What would be gained by making me do that? Who is hurt by me hitting a 400-yard par 4 with a drive and a 5-iron rather than a drive and a fairway wood? Par 5s? I can’t get on in two, and never will.

    Sorry, this “roll back the ball” debate is happening because golf writers think the professional game is the game. It’s not. I wish a few of them, and a few of the talking heads, would acknowledge that.

    • Acemandrake

      Dec 22, 2017 at 12:57 pm

      Agreed. I’ll WATCH the pros but PLAY my game. To do otherwise is fantasy (not that there’s anything wrong with that…to each his own).

      My concern is the loss of older, classic courses for tournament golf. But, again, only the pros get excluded.

      Paul Goydos once said that course firmness is the only way to challenge pros & make them have to work/think more.

      • LarryG

        Dec 23, 2017 at 2:15 am

        Yup… they water down the greens to hold the ball and dry out the fairway to let the ball roll and roll and roll …. because the Tour pros must look good and to promote their equipment sponsors… plain and simple …!

        • Acemandrake

          Dec 23, 2017 at 8:57 am

          “dry out the fairway to let the ball roll and roll and roll …. ”

          Hopefully into the rough 🙂

    • Mike

      Dec 25, 2017 at 10:53 am

      I don’t really see the benefit in rolling the ball back but your problem is easy to solve. Moving the front tees closer is a lot easier than moving the back tees back.

  10. cody

    Dec 22, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    funny, this is what everyone on this forum has been saying.

    • LarryG

      Dec 23, 2017 at 2:19 am

      …. and everybody is interested for WITB and tell everybody about their next toy purchase and how it transformed their game with their new “best ever” forged clubs and adjustable driver heads. The whole thing is a farce!!!

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19th Hole

I wasn’t ready for the 2019 Rules of Golf

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We weren’t ready. We thought we were, but we weren’t.

For the last year, the USGA reminded us that in 2019 Rules of Golf were coming, but we didn’t listen. We heard the flag stick could remain in and we heard that you could take a penalty drop from knee-height.

But we didn’t listen.

I bet none of you have even practiced using your putter to flatten the entire green between your ball and the cup. You can do that now.

I’m also sure that you and I will continue to hover our club in all hazards, er, penalty areas. Yeah, we’re calling it a penalty area now.

The USGA went to the extreme depths of changing words all to simplify the game for you.

I don’t think the USGA listened either.

The rule changes were intended to speed up play and simplify golf for amateurs. Seems like a good idea. In turn, they may have bamboozled the PGA Tour while confusing the only amateurs who kind-of, sort-of knew the rules.

The pros didn’t need a new rule book, the amateurs just needed a simple one.

Us “locals” as the USGA refers to amateurs, do have one extremely fluid perk. When hitting a ball OB, or following a lost ball, you can drop with a two-stroke penalty instead of walking back to the tee. This of course, is dependent on your course, head professional, tournament conditions, and other factors including and not limited to what phase the moon is in.

If that’s somewhat confusing, read up, ask about your local rules, and buy a few extra sleeves. Reason being, in 2019, the limit on searching for a golf ball has been cut from five to three minutes.

2019-rules-of-golf

But wait, there’s good news.

Thanks to the USGA, if you accidentally move your ball as you frantically high-step through fescue, it’s no longer a penalty! What an exciting 180 seconds that will be!

If you somehow don’t find your golf ball in the hazard penalty area, the USGA tried to help us out, which they did, yet regrettably took away a more iconic portrait on the golf course.

The rigid, stoic stance and forceful drop of a ball at shoulder-height.

And we let it happen.

Now, we’ll watch a defeated man deliberately bend to his knees and gingerly drop his ball…Which, by the way, appears to be a convenient way for cheaters to “take a drop” that ideally doubles as “identifying my first ball”.

Don’t even get me started on the back issues this could flare up.

We heard in late 2018 that Bryson DeChambeau would use the flagstick when the odds were in his favor. He even laid it out simply for us.

“It depends on the COR, the coefficient of restitution of the flagstick.”

Simple.

We didn’t listen Bryson, we didn’t believe. We also have absolutely no clue what you’re talking about.

But hey, as Bryson would say, don’t hate the player, hate the game. Yeah, he’d clearly never say that, but here’s to hoping!

We heard he would do it, but we didn’t believe it. We had to see to believe. What we saw was DeChambeau first in strokes gained putting in the very first round he was allowed to do it.

Obviously, this trend will continue for DeChambeau, and others may join in, because what is golf if not a constant chase for a marginally better opportunity at success.

Watch your back, because those others that may join in could be closer than you think. You may turn around to find a fellow member asking for the flag on their next 12-footer.

It should be a fun year of commentary and confusion at your local club and on the PGA tour. Professionals will have constant questions for rules officials, and commentators will consistently question Bryson’s methods.

There is one real question I hope is answered this April.

What will we do when Bryson banks in a downhill putt at No. 2 of Augusta?

Will we be ready? Will Augusta?

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Tweets of the Week: Justin Rose shows off his Honma clubs, Justin Timberlake does Happy Gilmore and Barack Obama’s new swing

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ho-sung-choi-swing

Over the last seven days, Matt Kuchar brought home the bacon at the Sony Open, while golf fans got a look at plenty of new equipment releases for 2019. But here’s some things you may have missed, and some of the quirkier moments from the world of golf dished out in the Twittersphere in the last week.

Justin Timberlake’s Draw

Ten Grammy Awards, four Emmy Awards, and he can hit a perfect draw Happy Gilmore style. Bit annoying.

Rose Showcases His New Honma Clubs

Still waiting to make his first start of 2019, the World Number 1 is ready to go as a member of Team Honma.

Chez Reavie Goes Bananas

In case you missed it, Chez Reavie became the first player since the PGA Tour began keeping records to make three eagles on three par 4’s in a single round. The fact that he holed out each one from the fairway is quite incredible.

Obama’s New Swing

Barack Obama has had a bit more free time over the past couple of years, since, well you know, he’s not running the country anymore. How do you rate his swing, GolfWRXers?

Double Hit Rule

This video has caused much confusion over the past week on social media. The double hit rule may have changed in 2019, but this attempt is still illegal. Impressive either way you look at it though.

 

 

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19th Hole

Exploring Ireland: Where to golf, drink and stay on the Emerald Isle. Pt. 4. Bearna Golf Club, Galway

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In these series of articles, I will be taking you around the Emerald Isle providing you with great golf courses to visit in some of the loveliest spots in Ireland. I’ll also be highlighting the best and most authentic Irish bars in these spots, as well as places to stay, eat and how to get there. Whether you’re taking a golfing holiday to Ireland in 2019 or are interested in doing so sometime in the future, I’ll make sure to let you in on the best places to spend your time.

In Part Three of our Exploring Ireland Series, we went west and focused on Spanish Point Golf Club in Clare. Now it’s time for Part Four, and we’re staying on the west coast and taking the short trip up to County Galway.

Galway city is famous for its bustling nightlife, and in terms of bars to choose from, there are few better places in Ireland. Whether it’s a quiet night out and a meal, enjoying a few pints with some live traditional music, or a wild all-nighter you’re looking for, Galway certainly has you covered. Conveniently, the city also homes some top golf courses, which makes it a must-visit destination for anyone coming to this island.

Bearna Golf Club, Galway

@kevinmarkham

Galway Golf Club and Galway Bay Golf Resort are usually the two golf courses that people think of when they mention this county. But lurking under the radar is Bearna Golf Club, which will provide you with just as incredible an experience as those two courses, at a lower price.

Located within a 15-minute drive of Galway City, Bearna GC offers an authentic Irish golfing experience. Surrounded by bogland, you can expect your nose to take in all of the scents of Ireland as you navigate your way through the rugged land of humps, gorse bushes and ditches that will give your game a real workout.

@kevinmarkham

Creeks will appear on most fairways, so don’t expect to be able to turn up and grip it and rip it. Bearna is a golf course that is going to make you think, and with the challenges provided, will most likely test your patience as well as your skill.

The track offers five different sets of tees, all of which provide for a fun test. The course ranges between 4,897 yards and 6,271 yards and plays as either a Par 72 or 71 depending on the tees you choose. Thirteen holes feature water, and the one relief that you will find here that is different than other courses in the area is the lack of fairway bunkers.

@IrishGolfPhotos

Robert J. Browne designed the course back in 1996, and as well as the feeling you will have of being amongst nature, you will also have impressive views of the Aran Islands, Galway Bay and the famous Burren.

During the week, 18 holes around Bearna GC will set you back just under $50, while to play on the weekend the rate rises to $75. Don’t be surprised if after your round you want another crack at this deceptive course.

Food & Drink – Tig Coili, Galway

@DBloom451

There is no “best pub in Galway.” The city has an inordinate amount of amazing watering holes to spend your night, and it just comes down to personal taste and what experience you are looking to have for your night. As someone who loves the feel of an old traditional Irish pub though, Tig Coili gets my vote.

@stacy_sobieski

Located in the Latin Quarter of Galway City, this place will often have swarms of people flooding out from the bar onto the street. Traditional music plays here every night, with 14 music sessions each week. The pub prides itself on its music, with pictures of famous musicians that have played here in the past covering the walls.

Also, Tig Coili’s pint of Guinness is renowned for being one of the best in the area, and it’s what 90 percent of folks will be drinking for the night here.

@MeetInGalway

As for food in Galway, it can only be oysters. Described by multiple top chefs as the “best flavoured in the world,” the oysters here come from Galway Bay and are so popular in the city that should you visit here in September you can enjoy Galway’s three day Oyster festival.

You can hop into most bars in Galway serving food and throw back half a dozen oysters, but if you want to experience them for a sit-down meal then go and visit Oscars Seafood Bistro, where the flavour will blow your socks off. An early bird two-course meal of half a dozen oysters and a plate of steaming hot mussels with fries will cost just $20. The perfect drink pairing for oysters? Guinness. Ideal.

Where To Stay

My recommendation is to stay in the center of Galway. We’ve gone traditional in our visits to Donegal and Clare, but for Galway, the city is so alive that you will want to stay right in the heart of it. The Jury’s Inn is a solid option, which will leave you within walking distance of the best bars, restaurants and sights to see in the city. A double room here will set you back in the region of $100 a night.

@WriterVicYates

If you like to shop then visit Quay Street, where you can take in the shops while plenty of buskers on the street entertain you, while the bronze statue of Irish writer Oscar Wilde and Estonian writer Eduard Vilde is an imposing outdoor sight that is a trendy spot for a photo.

@IndoSport

But as we’re sports lovers, then when in Galway do whatever you can to catch a game of hurling. Galway’s hurling side are currently one of the best teams in the land, winning the All-Ireland title in 2017, and they possess some of the most passionate fans. Just try not to mention the last final when you get here.

How to Get There

Galway is about as accessible as it gets from anywhere in the island. You can take the train from any major city in Ireland, and it’ll take you right into the city center of Galway. A direct train from Dublin City will arrive in Galway in just over two hours.

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