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19th Hole

Phil Mickelson: Rolling back the ball would unfairly punish longest hitters



In the midst of a generally diplomatic take on the USGA’s distance report, Phil Mickelson made an interesting point during a call-in with the Dan Patrick Show.

Mickelson said he agreed with Patrick about the idea that classic courses becoming obsolete due to current driving distances is troubling. He also seemed to suggest that 2003 USGA limitations on COR and MOI have effectively halted the year-over-year equipment-related distance creep and that recent increases are more the product of player fitness.

However, Lefty made an interesting point regarding a proposal that’s being floated in some corners: a golf ball that flies 10 or 20 percent shorter.

“If you reduce it [the ball] 10 percent…the guy who hits it 280 yards, he’s going to lose 28 yards. The guy who hits it 330, he’s going to lose 33 yards, so you’re going to punish him more.”

The take is an interesting one: Longer hitters will suffer proportionally more. This is a counter for those who say, “the longest hitters will still be the longest if we roll back the ball.” Yes, but if Mickelson is accurate, they won’t be proportionally as long. That doesn’t seem fair.

For Mickelson’s part, he concluded with, “I don’t really have a strong opinion, because I know of have feelings both ways on it [the distance debate].”

Check out the left-hander’s full talk with Patrick below (h/t Geoff Shackelford).

What do you think about Mickelson’s remarks, GolfWRXers?

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  1. Gally

    Mar 9, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    There are 3 types of people in the world……those that are good at math, and those that aren’t so good at math.

  2. matt_bear

    Mar 9, 2018 at 11:43 am

    In order to take Phil’s comment seriously, we would first have to answer if the long hitters benefited disproportionately on the “way up” with the technology improvements.

  3. ski_co

    Mar 9, 2018 at 11:38 am

    Stop the changes now and leave everything as it is.

  4. Judge Smeills

    Mar 9, 2018 at 9:55 am

    by the same logic the shorter hitter from 10 years ago got disproportionately affected by the equipment improvements

  5. Old Redtop

    Mar 9, 2018 at 9:45 am

    The comments here demonstrate perfectly the problem with changing the ball. Too many unintended consequences for the overall enjoyment of the game. The fix is easy… set the courses up for the pro and elite amateur tournaments so that drives over a certain distance don’t run out. Manage the distance by course setup. Stop the 30+ yard roll outs after the ball carries 300 yards. Raise the grass height in the fairways at 300+ and the rough. Problem solved.

    This can be done on all holes or selected holes. If you still leave a couple of “bomber” holes, then the equipment manufactures can still sell “distance” to the rest of us… 🙂

  6. youraway

    Mar 9, 2018 at 9:04 am

    Let’s see 10% of 300 equals 30 and 10% of 250 equals 25. So we’re talking about 5 yards difference. Wow!

    • kevin

      Mar 9, 2018 at 9:27 am

      its actually less than that because the gap between the longest hitter and shortest is less than 50 yards.

      based on 2017 data, Rory avg drive was 317. Spencer Levin was 175th at 278yds. Thats 39 yds.

      10% rollback seems a bit drastic. if anything i say we increase the spin of the ball and limit the size of the drivers on tour to 400cc. let the big hitters swing away but decrease the forgiveness in their equipment. separate the best ball strikers from the average on Tour.

      • Jae

        Mar 9, 2018 at 1:49 pm

        Have you ever seen a tour players clubs after 100 or more rounds? They don’t miss the sweetspot, like ever.

  7. Ro

    Mar 9, 2018 at 3:00 am

    Lets just go back to rubber wound and persimmon.

    • Ro

      Mar 9, 2018 at 3:02 am

      Oh oo oh and also get rid of graphite shafts. Steel only. And no, they also have to be at least 120 gram shafts. No more of this light weight stuff

    • The Taint

      Mar 9, 2018 at 10:00 am

      Ro, these rules would not apply to hackers like you. I know you want to feel like a pro when you swing your tour issue clubs, but get over it. Tour players can hit 400cc drivers. Take a week off and find another game.

  8. RG

    Mar 9, 2018 at 1:18 am

    Watched the opening round at Copperhead today. One player at 4 under, 1 under is top 8. More guys at 4 to 5 over than there are under. Tell me again how to much distance is hurting the game cause it seems like it ain’t helping these guys to much.

  9. Jerry Chang

    Mar 8, 2018 at 10:57 pm

    I spoke to Tiger this morning about rolling back the ball. Tiger is in favor of it and truly believes it will help the game. He thinks that the manufacturers should make balls spin more. Adding spin to balls will penalize the longest hitters and may actually help amateurs. He and Jack have talked recently and are in agreement that this will bring back the lost art of shotmaking. Peace out.

    • Ro

      Mar 9, 2018 at 2:58 am

      OK. I’ll make the ball spin more.
      But I’ll also talk to the USGA and R&A, and advise them to roll back the grooves on irons and wedges so they must not be any shape other than a V, at a specific angle to impart the minimal amount of spin possible without jagged edges and set at a specific minimal depth, and also to take away surface milling and roughness as well; the surface of those clubs must be uniformly smooth so that the ball wouldn’t be grabbed by such things.

      • Rich Douglas

        Mar 10, 2018 at 4:58 pm

        U Grooves only matter out of the rough, where they wick away moisture from the clubface. They don’t really matter from the fairway.

  10. H. Vardon

    Mar 8, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    This is a mathematical misnomer… The 330 hitter giving up 33 vs 280 hitter giving up 28 is equivalent in % terms, and the 330 hitter is still 10% (or more) longer, net net….


  11. 8thehardway

    Mar 8, 2018 at 9:11 pm

    So the average golfer’s going to drop to 185 off the tee? Yeah, that’ll grow the game.

  12. DeezNutz

    Mar 8, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    Leave the game alone, I also think this would really hurt the LPGA and growing there game should be a big priority in golf.

  13. JThunder

    Mar 8, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    The “easy answer” of “rolling back the ball” leaves a specific unanswered question; HOW will it be “rolled back”? Under what launch conditions, based on what swing speeds, etc – how will it achieve it’s goal? Will it fly a percentage shorter, or have a built-in distance limit? Who will lose the most yards or percentage based on their swing speed and current driving distance?

    In other words – the eternal question – exactly how does one put a genie back in the bottle?

    Also, what exactly makes a golf course “obsolete”? This must refer only to the top few hundred golfers in the world – ie, only in the context of Tour Events – since the average handicap isn’t going down and average driving distance among recreational golfers isn’t anywhere near “dangerous”.

    When it comes to Tour Events – regardless of par or the winning total – doesn’t the player who wins have to score at least one stroke less than everyone else? If there a golf course that doesn’t allow that to happen? Or is this entirely and only about Almighty Par and our subservience to it’s protection?

    Good luck keeping spectators interested and drawing people to the game with Tour Pros driving the ball 250. y. a. w. n.

  14. Nack Jicklaus

    Mar 8, 2018 at 6:24 pm

    I think the shorter hitters get punished more. The longest hitters will still be able to easily hit par 5’s in two but the shorter hitters will really have no chance now.

    • DeezNutz

      Mar 8, 2018 at 8:46 pm

      Golf is fine. Everyone is using the equipment and most people are working out.
      What few course are being obsolete last i checked scores were pretty high at pebble, oakmont with USGA set up.

  15. Al Czervik

    Mar 8, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    I am assuming that Phil did not graduate ASU with a math degree. If you take the above example the long hitter hits it 18% further then the short hitter and magically 18% further with the 10% ball reduction.

    • Al Czervik

      Mar 8, 2018 at 6:13 pm

      I take it back. It is not Phil’s issue. The problem is with the writer of the article who incorrectly uses the word “proportional.”

    • ToeJam

      Mar 10, 2018 at 9:24 pm

      Hey Big Al, I take it that you did not graduate high school. Please stop playing golf and find another forum that makes you feel smart.

  16. Skip

    Mar 8, 2018 at 5:50 pm

    WTF. So, the 330yd Bomber goes to 297yds and the 280 guy goes to 252. Any you’re saying the Short hitter is better off, or punished less? OK.

    • DeezNutz

      Mar 8, 2018 at 8:48 pm

      nah hes saying 252 on a 7500 yard course you’re in trouble 297 you’re fine.

    • ogo

      Mar 8, 2018 at 8:51 pm

      Mickelson doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The effect of limiting the ball is not a 10% distance decrease for all distances. The big hitters will lose 10% but the shorter hitters will lose less proportionately.
      The 300 yard drive may lose 10% down to 280 yards. The shorter 280 yard drive may only lose 5% down to 266 yards. A golf ball can be designed to do that.

      • JThunder

        Mar 9, 2018 at 1:48 am

        It would depend on who designs the ball and how they design it. If there is to be one standard “Tour Ball”, this could be achieved, but it would still differ by launch conditions, etc. That doesn’t necessarily seem fair – should there be a “Tour Shaft” and “Tour Head” as well? If pros can no longer choose their ball to suit their game, doesn’t that unfairly penalize those whose game doesn’t “happen” to fit the “Tour Ball” specs?

        And if it doesn’t change anything in terms of big hitters vs short hitters, then this is all and only about the golf courses? So what club a few dozen guys hit into the odd par 5 every few weeks leads to THIS? I don’t know if there’s such a thing as an extremely slow knee-jerk reaction, but this would be it.

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19th Hole

Check out these limited-edition Ryder Cup Adidas Tour360 shoes



Here are GolfWRX, we love our Ryder Cup swag. Gianni brought you news of the U.S. squad’s apparel and some goodies from Puma last week. Today, we have more Ryder Cup-related gear news for fans of golf’s most storied team competition: Adidas is launching a limited edition Tour360 to commemorate the showdown at Le Golf National.

Available Sept. 24, the shoes draw their inspiration from the famed Ryder Cup trophy. The 10-cleated TPU outsole is designed to look like the wood grain finish at the trophy’s base, and the TPU top plate is shiny and gold like the trophy itself.

While the exterior of the shoe is the same whether your support the United States or Europe, the fortunate souls who snag a pair of the limited-edition shoes will be able to choose their preferred sockliner. One features the American flag and the final scores from every Ryder Cup since 1979, the other, the European flag.

“We know how much the Ryder Cup means to fans all over the world,” said Masun Denison, global footwear director, adidas Golf. “It’s the most competitive event in golf, and brings out a level of emotion that you don’t normally see in the sport. Possession of the Ryder Cup trophy is what both of these teams and fans are after, so we looked to it for inspiration.”

The shoes (MSRP $220) will come with a limited-edition shoe bag and will only available online at

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19th Hole

Rope hat fans, rejoice: Titleist’s Tour Rope Flat Bill is here



The rope hat is having something of a moment, isn’t it? As the mesh trucker fades to the periphery and the outer recesses of hipsterdom where it belongs, the good old-fashioned cotton rope snapback is stepping up to fill the void in vintage-inspired headwear.

Titleist is getting into the rope hat game with its Tour Rope Flat Bill, worn perhaps most prominently by Cameron Smith recently, but seen adorning the heads of Adam Scott, Jason Kokrak, and Rafa Cabrera Bello.

Check ’em out.

The Tour Rope Flat Bill is available on Titleist’s website for $30 now in black/white, navy/white, and white/hunter green colorways.


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19th Hole

GolfWRX Members analyze (and roast) Cosmo Kramer’s golf swing



Kramer Hickok’s win last week on the Tour brought to mind the greatest golfing Kramer of them all: Cosmo Kramer, of course.

Jerry Seinfield’s singular “hipster doofus” next-door neighbor flirted with the great game on occasion, if you recall: Beating ball into the Atlantic (which ultimately factors into George’s great “marine biologist” ruse), Stan the Caddie, playing Westchester, and a handful of other angles.

It’s during the “Marine Biologist” episode that we get a look at Cosmo’s action, and it is something to behold. The fluidity of Snead, here, folks.

We asked our GolfWRX members to fire up their V1 and give us their best breakdown of Kramer’s “driver off the beach” swing. Here are some of the best replies.

BewareTheGlowball writes

“On takeaway the hands get a little too close to the body, which would lead to a tendency to move over the top on the downswing. In this case however, Kramer makes a great move to put the club back on path from the top of his swing. Nearing impact his weight shifts backwards, which he owns and holds it like it was a classic swing of old…Better than about 75% of swings on the driving range when I go out.”

D1bound says: “Looks like he had a seizure.”

Getair23 says: “It’s so bad, he can’t even hit the ocean from the beach!”

ThunderBuzzworth says

“Horizontal takeaway equals more space for that flying elbow and massive hip turn. Then notice his transition and how he violently thrusts his upper body backwards into a silky smooth back-snap finishing with ALL his weight on his rear leg. Considering he is on the beach… take notes on the unorthodox ground impact location which happens to be 10 inches behind the ball to dramatically reduce spin.”

PowderedToastMan knows his Seinfeld: “That swing has the power to kill a whale, literally.”

Nony noke does as well: “Almost as good as Larry David’s swing. Preeettty, preeeettty good.”

And Gioguy21: “Kramer’s reverse C finish is simply poetic – if only he had the man hands necessary to release properly.”

And DavePelz4: “He’s not the Master of his Domain…or his swing.”

ZAP may have the most concise and spot-on breakdown.

“Stack and realaaaaaaaaaaalllllllly tilt.”

Thanks for the analysis, GolfWRX Members! And if anyone else would like to chime in on Cosmo’s club swinging motion, please do. Also, if there’s another swing from the big or small screen you’d like to see scrutinized, let us know.

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19th Hole