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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

Tiger at the Masters: The 3 that got away



This time last year, Tiger Woods earned his fifth green jacket at the 2019 Masters, breaking a 14-year drought at Augusta National and completing a storybook career comeback (see Tiger Woods’ 2019 Masters WITB here).

Between his 2005 and 2019 victories, Woods gave himself several chances to reclaim the green jacket, but for one reason or another, the championship continuously eluded the 15-time major winner.

Looking back on that drought, three years in particular stick out in my mind where Woods (being the ruthless closer that he is) could, and maybe should, have capitalized on massive opportunities.

2007 Masters

A unique tournament broke out at the 2007 Masters with chilly and windy conditions meaning we would see an over-par score winning the event for the first time in a generation.

Unusually however was the fact that Tiger Woods had got himself into a fantastic position heading into the final day’s play—one stroke back of the lead and in the final group.

By the first hole on Sunday, Woods had a share of the lead. A couple of holes later, and he was the sole leader. But instead of the game’s greatest ever closer doing what he does best, we saw the first small chink in Tiger’s major armor.

Unable to keep up with the improved scoring on Sunday, Woods finished the championship two strokes behind Zach Johnson. It was the first time Woods lost a major in which he held the lead at some point in the final round.

11th hole Sunday. Woods saved par.

Summing up after the round why things hadn’t turned out the way the entire golf world expected, Woods said

“Looking back over the week I basically blew this tournament with two rounds where I had bogey, bogey finishes. That’s 4-over in two holes. The last two holes, you just can’t afford to do that and win major championships.”

2011 Masters

In one of the most exciting final rounds in Masters history, an electric front-nine charge from Woods coupled with a Rory McIlroy collapse saw the then 35-year-old tied for the lead heading into the back nine.

After back-to-back pars on the challenging 10th and 11th holes, Woods found the green on the 12th before it all slipped away. A disastrous three-putt was followed by a deflating five on the par-5 13th and an agonizing near-miss for birdie on 14.

In typical defiant fashion, Woods then flushed a long iron on the par-5 15th to give him five feet for eagle and what would have been the outright lead. But he couldn’t find the cup.

Directly following his round, a visibly miffed Woods said

“I should have shot an easy 3- or 4-under on the back nine and I only posted even. But I’m right there in the thick of it and a bunch of guys have a chance. We’ll see what happens.”

What happened was eventual champion Charl Schwartzel did what Woods said he should have done—shooting 4 under on the back to win his first major.

2013 Masters

Luck, or lack of, is a contentious topic when it comes to sports fans, but at the 2013 Masters, Woods’ shocking fate played out as if those on Mount Olympus were orchestrating the tournament.

Woods entered the 2013 Masters as the World Number One, brimming with confidence having won three out of his first five tournaments to start the year.

By Friday afternoon, Woods had cruised into a share of the lead, before crisply striking a wedge on the par-5 15th as he hunted for another birdie.

In a cruel twist of fate, Woods’ ball struck the pin and ricocheted back into the water. “Royally cheated!” shouted on-course announcer David Feherty. Nobody could argue otherwise.

A subsequent “bad drop” turned a probable birdie into a triple-bogey placing Woods behind the proverbial 8-ball for the rest of the tournament. The game’s ultimate closer should have been in the lead with two rounds to play on a front-runner’s paradise of a course; instead, he was in chase-mode. (From 1991-2012, 19 of the 22 winners came from the final group).

Woods tried to rally over the weekend, but if he didn’t think the 2013 Masters was ill-fated for himself by Friday evening, then he would have been excused to do so on the eighth hole on Saturday.


Had Woods’ golf ball missed the pin at 15 on that hot and humid Spring afternoon in 2013, then he not only wins, but he likely wins going away.

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19th Hole

The 6 best #GolfWRX photos on Instagram today (4.7.20)



In this segment, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best #GolfWRX tagged photos on Instagram. In case you aren’t already, there’s a whole load of action going on at our page, so follow us: @golfwrx

Let’s get to it then, here are six of the best #GolfWRX photos from the past 24 hours.

“Flow inspired” from Goodwood.

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Flow inspired. ????

A post shared by Goodwood Golf Co. (@goodwoodgolfco) on

Awesome Tiger King giveaway from Rawhide Golf.

Beautiful looking work on this flat-stick from The Golf Garage.

Pre-orders now available on Bettinardi’s Queen B 6 SBS.

Frank mallet covers from MSquare Design.

Masters themed copper plated Studio Design 2 from Embrace Putters.

Get hashtagging your golf posts #GolfWRX for your chance to feature in our best of Instagram posts in the future!

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19th Hole

All the details of the Masters coverage being broadcast this week



The 2020 Masters may be postponed until November, but during what was initially scheduled to be ‘Masters week’ there’s still plenty of ways for you to get your fix from the iconic championship.

Full final-round coverage of both Tiger Woods’ 2019 victory and Phil Mickelson’s 2004 triumph are just two of the highlights you can look forward to this weekend, with a bundle of action being showcased across different networks.

Here’s a full rundown of the coverage various networks are putting on this week.

*All times ET*

Golf Channel


  • 2:30PM: 1960 Masters highlights, Arnold Palmer
  • 4:30PM: 1962 Masters highlights, Arnold Palmer
  • 6:30PM: 1964 Masters highlights, Arnold Palmer
  • 8PM: Celebrating the Masters


  • 2:30PM: 1974 Masters highlights, Gary Player
  • 6:30PM: 1978 Masters highlights, Gary Player
  • 8PM: Celebrating the Masters


  • 10AM: 1968 Masters highlights, Bob Goalby
  • 12:15PM: 1970 Masters highlights, Billy Casper
  • 6:15PM: 1986 winner’s news conference, Jack Nicklaus


  • 10:30AM: 1987 Masters highlights, Larry Mize
  • 12PM: 1977 Masters highlights, Tom Watson
  • 1.30PM: 1981 Masters highlights, Tom Watson
  • 4.30PM: 1962 Masters highlights, Arnold Palmer
  • 6.30PM: 1964 Masters highlights, Arnold Palmer
  • 7:30PM: 2012 winner’s news conference, Bubba Watson 
  • 11PM: 1997 winner’s news conference, Tiger Woods


  • 10AM: 1980 Masters highlights, Seve Ballesteros
  • 11:30AM: 1983 Masters highlights, Seve Ballesteros
  • 6PM: 2013 winner’s news conference, Adam Scott
  • 11PM: 2005 winner’s news conference, Tiger Woods


  • 9:30AM: 1989 Masters highlights, Nick Faldo 
  • 1:30PM: 1986 Masters highlights, Jack Nicklaus
  • 6pm: 2004 winner’s news conference, Phil Mickelson


  • 6PM: 2019 Live From the Masters



  • 1:30PM: 1975 final-round highlights, Jack Nicklaus 
  • 2004 final round, Phil Mickelson 


  • 12:30PM: 2019 final round, Tiger Woods 



  • 3PM: 2012 final round, Bubba Watson
  • 7:30PM: 1997 final round, Tiger Woods 


  • 12PM: 2013 final round, Adam Scott
  • 6PM: 2005 final round, Tiger Woods

All final round broadcasts from 1968 through 2019 are also available to watch now in their entirety on The Masters YouTube channel.



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