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19th Hole

USGA Distance Report: Jimmy Walker, Lucas Glover sound off

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We heard what the USGA had to say about distance in the game on Monday. Most significantly with respect to the pro game, the governing body stated, “any further significant increases in hitting distances at the highest level are undesirable,” while pledging further review.

Largely skeptical responses from the PGA Tour, the PGA of America, and Titleist followed soon thereafter.
Now, some players are keen to do anything but roll back the ball of incredulity, instead, (to mix ball metaphors), Jimmy Walker and Lucas Glover are running with the ball.

Walker, in an Instagram post Tuesday, suggested the USGA’s data doesn’t paint the full picture.
His, which also references Rule 14-1b, reads in part

“Too many variables in an outdoor sport to grasp what is actually happening,” Walker said. “What I do know is the USGA does not have their fingers on the pulse of the game. Taking away a putter that helps many many people enjoy the game is wrong. Rolling back the golf ball 20 percent is another bad idea. Ask the normal golfer how much they would enjoy the game if they flew it 20 percent shorter. I’m asking. Would you enjoy that? Changing golf for the masses because a small few who play it a different level is wrong. The greats and USGA have it wrong.”

Walker was joined by a fellow major winner, Lucas Glover, in voicing his disapproval. Glover tweeted

The plot thickens, and the debate continues. Expect to hear plenty more responses to the USGA’s report with player interviews at the Valspar Championship beginning today.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. John

    Mar 9, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    Jimmy Walker hit the nail on the head. I agree completely & have stated the same thing myself. You can’t punish 99% of the golfers because a small minority hit the long ball.

    • bill

      Mar 11, 2018 at 4:40 am

      jIMMY missed the point. USGA is proposing to regulate the ball used by tours, not the balls used by everyday players. Older courses are running out of real estate to lengthen courses to accommodate driving distances by tour level club head speeds

  2. blake

    Mar 9, 2018 at 9:25 am

    i will play golf even less if they do this. F the usga.

    • Glenn D

      Mar 10, 2018 at 10:47 pm

      This shows how ignorant some people can be. I don’t think the everyday playerscourses are being lengthened to accommodate them. It’s mainly for the pros. The answer isn’t 8,000 yd courses….. cost to maintain and slower play will be the result.

  3. GolfGui

    Mar 7, 2018 at 11:08 pm

    Yes, the way these guys train and the level of athlete has changed through the years. It is also true there’s Trackman and 3D analysis. These things can’t be stopped. It’s not a legit argument to change anything. What can be changed, probably tomorrow if need be, is the ball. Change the compression, the aerodynamics and the ball doesn’t fly as far. Many Tour guys against rollback try to make an argument that the amateur would be hurt most by this, but no one is calling for a throttled back ball for amateurs, just Tour guys, so that’s not a good argument. Nor is it a good argument to say the USGA allowed it in the first place, so they don’t have a right to correct their mistakes (cough cough Lucas Glover). Also, the idea of tightening fairways goes against the very nature of the game, which is strategy and angles. I know Jimmy Walker says he hits his 8i the same distance he did when he was 24… Fine, the problem is that 8i you’re hitting is into a Par 5, which when you were 24, that same hole you probably were hitting a 5i or more. The way I understand the science behind the modern ball, the faster one swings, the more one gains from the longer clubs… And by a lot. But when players get to the shorter irons / Wedges the modern ball doesn’t react much differently than balls from 10/15 yrs ago. To me that completely sounds like a compression / aerodynamic issue in regards to the ball. Throttle the ball back 10% (10% off an average Tour Drive) for Tour guys and be done with it. They still will be the best players in the world and courses all over the planet will remain relevant without needing major reconstruction.

    • DougQ

      Mar 8, 2018 at 11:18 am

      I get what your saying but it’s not the ball. Each ball it hit with the iron byron and can’t go further then the distance cap of 02′. Also guys could hit the ball further but going to less spin, but the mid 2500 is sweet spot for distance and accuracy which they figure out long ago. Use 1000 spin and your accuracy is like long drivers.
      So what do you do get a ball that goes less and less distance every few years to make up for the increases athleticism. Guys will keep getting taller and fitter as it’s an advantage.
      Making a shorter hitting ball will only absolute the short hitters like Kuchar type.

      At the end of the day golf is a game and which the least strokes wins, who cares the par of the distance, it’s just ideology stuff. It’s still easier to make a par on a 525 yard par 4 then to birdie the same hole as a 530 yard par 5.

      • Daniel

        Mar 11, 2018 at 5:10 am

        Its easier to make 4 on a 525 yard hole than to make 4 on a 530 yard hole… ummm doubt 5 yards makes that big of a distance.. kind of a stupid comment

  4. TheOtherPhilM

    Mar 7, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    The lack of logic in the responses to a proposed ball wind back from the pga and pros like Walker/ Glover is staggering. Plenty of reports show that amateurs are not reaping the benefits of new equipment and balls like the pros are. It will not make much difference to amateurs if the ball is wound back. What is bad for golf is the increasing gap between pros and amateurs and the costs of increasing ball distances. Talk of bigger stronger players as the cause of distance gains rather than equipment is also nonsense, the fact that Champions tour players are hitting 20% further in their sixties compared to their 30s tells the real story no one should hit further when they are 30 years older in the normal course of events.

    • UNMgolf

      Mar 7, 2018 at 7:15 pm

      you’re probably old. old people think this way.

    • BD57

      Mar 7, 2018 at 7:39 pm

      What’s “nonsense” is the “get off my lawn” response of people such as yourself.

      From what I’ve heard, when comparing “apples to apples” – that would be driving distances in 2016 vs. 2017 at events contested on the SAME COURSE BOTH YEARS – and there’s practically no difference whatsoever.

      Apparently, the driving distances at Augusta in 2017 were little different than 2016 as well, but the distances at the US Open, British Open & PGA were longer in 2017 than 2016, with the US Open being significantly so, and accounting for the lion’s share of the “huge jump.”

      The typical tour pro in the 70’s wasn’t the size of Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, etc., they certainly didn’t have the benefit of multi-material clubheads, graphite shafts and so on, and they didn’t train the way the guys train now. The notion that “It’s just the ball” – THAT is a “lack of logic.”

      As is the idea that somehow, manufacturing a ball which steals distance from the most expert players will leave the rest of us alone, that it “won’t make much difference.” Steal 20% of the total distance . . . . you turn a good amateur’s 250 yard drive into a 200 yard “bomb,” his 6,500 yard course into a 5,200 yard “monster.” When the typical am takes a mighty swipe and can’t hit the ball out of his shadow – golf is going to become a far less attractive game for a lot of people than it is now.

      This notion that we have to make the game less enjoyable for MILLIONS because, somehow, we’re having a problem maintaining “Old Man Par” as a standard for he best players in the world on the 100 golf courses in the world where they play . . . . how shortsighted.

      How foolish.

  5. DeezNutz

    Mar 7, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    Just grow the rough out.
    Pebble is a short course.
    guys light it up in Pro-Am because it set up for Bill Murray.
    During the US Opens there you can win with Par.

  6. MVB

    Mar 7, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    USGA put a distance cap on balls and equipment in 2002 or 03.
    There is a sport science show on ESPN where Rory hit a persimmon with an old balata and he loses like 15 yards.

    Its just old dudes that don’t understand science and body physics.
    Now golfers are athletes, taller bigger and train specifically for golf.

    I think the distance cap on equipment was good, it can’t increase.

    What they gonna say when some Anthony Davis looking guy makes it to the PGA.
    You’re too tall create too much leverage we’re gonna give you a different ball?

  7. dat

    Mar 7, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    Mark Crossfield had a great video the other day on this. The two data collection periods were not even close to one another for this YOY comparison. One was primarily on wet, shorter, narrower course. The other was on firm, long and more open courses. Gee, I wonder why there was a 17 yard increase? Must be the golf ball!

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19th Hole

Greg Norman is appearing in ESPN’s Body Issue, like he told us he would

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As he said he’d consider doing when asked by Michael Williams on our 19th Hole podcast, Greg Norman is set to appear in the ESPN “Body Issue.”

The 63-year-old will follows in the footsteps of Gary Player, as well as number of other golfers, including Camilo Villegas, Belen Mozo, Carly Booth, Sandra Gal, Suzann Pettersen, and Christina Kim.

Here’s what Norman told our Michael Williams when asked about appearing in the annual corporeal showcase

“Would I do it? Of course I’d do it. I think I like being fit. I think on my Instagram account I probably slipped a few images out there that created a bit of a stir..And I enjoy having myself feel good. And that’s not an egotistical thing, it’s just none of my, most of my life I’ve been very healthy fit guy and if somebody like ESPN wants to recognize that, yeah of course I would consider doing it.”

Well, folks, he’s doing it. Never change, Shark, never change.

Click here for a full list of the athletes to appear in this year’s issue.

 

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19th Hole

WATCH: Phil Mickelson gets the Happy Gilmore meme treatment

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Maybe it’s too soon to find humor in the Phil Mickelson’s behavior on the 13th green during Saturday’s third round of the U.S. Open.

That said, the initial image of one of the game’s greats running after his golf ball and playing hockey in the manner of a child at mini golf was both shocking and humorous to most observers.

Perhaps not surprisingly, then, the meme producers at SPUN have put together this riff on Mickelson’s putting and post-round remarks, leveraging footage from the great golf masterpiece “Happy Gilmore.”

Check it out.

 

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19th Hole

Hot takes on Phil Mickelson’s Saturday antics continue to fly

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Yesterday, Phil Mickelson played a bit of field hockey on Shinnecock’s 13th green that continues to be the talk of the golf world… Mickelson didn’t do much to quiet the murmurs with his refusal to talk to the media following his final round and his celebratory antics after a made putt at that hole, Sunday.

Regarding the left-hander’s violation of Rule 14-5, we have a thread that’s 18 pages long and 516 replies deep at the time of this writing. It spans the full spectrum of opinions, from staunch support for Phil to outright condemnation.

A poll among golf WRXers saw 41 percent of responders say Mickelson should have been disqualified. 49 percent said he shouldn’t have. 9 percent said Mickelson should withdraw.

MtlJeff had this take

“Imagine if a young player did it. We’d be ready to euthanize all millennials for their horrible tantrums.”

Ssfranny said

“I have to kinda think Phil just gave a big middle finger to the USGA and pin placements.”

Teetogreen

“Frustrated as he may have been, he’s no better than the field. Everyone has to play the same course. I know Phil’s a fan-favorite, but that was wrong and disgraceful.”

Nessism said

“Pure frustration. I feel sorry for him. A momentary lapse of awareness will now cost him endless scritany for years to come.”

Golfgirlrobin quickly perceived what would be Mickelson’s eventual explanation

“Or maybe brilliant. Ball goes all the way down the green into the fairway and taking the penalty might actually have ended up being the better play.”

HolyMoses said

“Phil said he hit the moving ball intentionally so it wouldn’t get behind the bunker again. If he’s that defiant, he should be DQ’d. That’s cheating, plain and simple.”

Moving from WRXers’ takes to a few from other realms.

On Twitter, Lee Westwood played the devil’s advocate with this slippery slope (appropriately) argument.

“Here’s a scenario…Thoughts everyone??? here you go….. over the back on 15 at Augusta. Chip it too hard, run over before it gets to the water and knock it on the green so you don’t have to hit it again or go the drop zone!”

Writer Alan Bastable introduced the specter of Rule 1-2.

“Meanwhile, just two years after the DJ rules fiasco at Oakmont, the USGA blue coats were left to explain to the world why Mickelson hadn’t been disqualified for such an egregious breach of the rules. Indeed, under Rule 1-2, the Committee could have deemed that Mickelson’s actions gave him “a significant advantage,” and therefore warranted a DQ. “I would have lobbied for disqualification,” former USGA executive director David Fay said on the Fox telecast.”

The portion of Rule 1-2 Bastable referenced states.

“A player is deemed to have committed a serious breach of Rule 1-2 if the Committee considers that the action taken in breach of this Rule has allowed him or another player to gain a significant advantage or has placed another player, other than his partner, at a significant disadvantage.”

Golf Channel’s Randall Mell discussed Mickelson’s communication with Mike Davis late Saturday after some scribes floated the idea that the golfer ought to be disqualified.

“Phil really did want to understand how the rule operates,” Davis said. “Frankly, as he said to me, `Mike, I don’t want to play in this championship if I should have been disqualified.’” Davis said he assured Mickelson that Rule 14-5 was correctly applied, and that a two-stroke penalty is all that was required.”

With respect to the claims that Mickelson ought to withdraw, ESPN’s Ian O’Connor wrote this.

“There was a problem with Lefty’s story — a fairly big one. His playing partner, Andrew “Beef” Johnston, said he told Mickelson, “Sorry, but I can’t help but laugh at that. It’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.” Johnston also had this to say of his exchange with Mickelson: “He said, ‘I don’t know what that is. I don’t know what score that is or what happens now.’ And he started speaking to the rules official. It was one strange moment.”

“The standard-bearer with the group, Connor Buff, a 19-year-old from Smithtown and a student at the University at Albany, said he heard Mickelson tell the rules official, “Whatever I get, I get. Just let me know what it is.”

In other words, according to O’Connor Mickelson was both attempting to gain advantage and, for what it’s worth, lying about his thoughts during the field hockey moment.

And of course, Global Golf Post’s John Hopkins.

Amy Mickelson told Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols

“He has been pretty under fire,” she said. “A lot of people have been pretty rough. … . It’s not like we’re in his shoes and understand what he has gone through. You and me, we are looking at it from the outside, sitting in the press room or family dining. … They’re playing sports for a living, but still in the moment it’s a very heavy week, an intense week. A lot happens over the course of 24 hours every day.

Golf Digest’s Joel Beall wrote this about Mickelson’s mock celebration at the 13th, Sunday. He could just as well have written it Mickelson’s explanation and the whole ordeal

“His critics would call it the act of a charlatan. His fans would say he was being an entertainer. Part of the Phil Mickelson Experience is not knowing which is right.”

What do you think, GolfWRX members? Is there more to be said about the matter? Or, with the U.S. Open wrapped up, should be draw the curtain on all this as well? Do any other takes merit mention?

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