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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

The 5 best #GolfWRX photos on Instagram today



If you’re on Instagram, you’re hopefully aware that we are ‘gramming it up as well (@golfwrx). And if you’re not following us, well, that hurts our feelings more than a three-putt bogey.

Even if you do follow WRX on Instagram, however, you may not be aware that an abundance of equipment enthusiasts are hashtagging their photos #GolfWRX. We feel it’s only right to feature the best of the WRX-tagged imagery here.

And if you’re not on Instagram, well there’s no way you could see these photos, so think of this series as a handy filter for the best #GolfWRX photos from the past 24 hours.

Chris Trott shows off how he speeds up the drying process on a paintfill when pressed for time

Dave Nguyen with  his #newbabe

Pat Lucci displays his custom Lamont Mann putter cover

The Wedge Wizard reveals his “stone finish”

Andrew Halford‘s beautiful custom Newport 2

Don’t forget to tag your photos #GolfWRX. Golf gods willing, you’ll be featured here in the future!


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19th Hole

Tap the brakes on the Tiger Woods Express or “full steam ahead!”?



“Is Tiger Woods back?” This is the discussion among fans of this maddening game (even those whose heads explode at the question’s utterance).

GolfWRX member Kscarguy takes things a step further, suggesting that the field could soon be playing for second place, as was the case in Woods’ early 2000s heyday.

“I remember when tiger was at his peak and how he controlled everything related to golf. I remember interviews from various players and most of the questions asked to them was about tiger. Some if not most of the golfers got tired of answering same questions about tiger. When he was dominating the sport everyone was basically playing for second place. Just like when Hogan came back from the ashes of his injury so is tiger. But tiger is tiger and he will want to lay waste to all who tees it up during the week he plays. Is this the second (or whatever version we are at now) coming. I think we will see him dominate with scores, driving distance, short game. What does everyone else think?”

Yes, Tiger Woods is launching the ball off the tee Yes. His iron play looks excellent. Gone are questions about any “chipping yips,” and his putter looks pretty darn good. Yes, he finished tied for second at the Valspar Championship, his Sunday in his signature blood red coming up just short. Yes, he’s off to a strong start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

But is the roaring blaze of enthusiasm too much? Or is it not enough? Could we be on the verge of another period of Woodsian dominance? GolfWRX members debate.

Mjen43 says

“His strokes gained stats are comparable to a typical world #1 so I expected him to win a lot, health permitting.”

MarkfromtheUK says not so fast

“Golf has far greater strength in depth now, than when TW was in his heyday. He could get his game back to where it was before all the injuries, but he won’t win as often. The current crop of players aren’t scarred by week after week of beat downs. The aura has dimmed somewhat.”

DavePelz4 represents the contingent wanting none of it

“For the love of all that is good, make it stop.”

Z1ggy says

“Okay now people… I love Tiger like the rest of us but he’s had ONE good showing out of 3 as of late. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves… If he can finish in the top 5 this week I’ll commit to saying that “he’s back”. Until then, I’m remaining skeptical.”

Darth Putter says

“We are at the “let’s win a tournament” part. Let’s worry about the “Winning a major” and “Tiger 2000” steps when we get there.”

The discussion is just getting started at this point in the thread, so you’ll want to get your popcorn and click through to see what GolfWRX members are saying, and of course, let us know what you think.

Check out the thread. 


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19th Hole

A fan sent Tiger Woods’ doctor a fruit basket. What would GolfWRX members send?



The wait has been long and the setbacks many for Twitter user “claire rOGers” and Tiger Woods’ fans across the world.

So when Woods sent his latest thunderbolt into the golf mediaverse with his opening-round 68 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rogers decided it was time to give credit where it’s (partially) due: Tiger’s surgeon Richard Guyer of the Texas Back Institute, where the golfer had fusion surgery last April.

Roger’s note with the basket reads: “Dr. Guyer – THANK you for making TIGER WOODS great again!! Sincerely, a loyal fan.”

A quick survey of Rogers’ timeline reveals she is a card-carrying Tiger Woods superfan of the very first order. Check out this sparking gem of a tweet. Who approaches this level of mad devotion? Brilliance.

Now, the Edible Arrangment is one way to go, to be sure. A recent classic in the gift basket universe, yes, but we’d like to know what GolfWRX members would send Dr. Guyer for his resurrection of Tiger Woods.

First-born children? Inclusion in your will? Let us know in the comments below!


(h/t Golf Channel)

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19th Hole