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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

Nicklaus: Tiger’s swing is better now than ever



Jack Nicklaus is teeing it with his grandson, G.T., at the PNC Father/Son Challenge. As has been the case since, well, at least 1997, the Golden Bear was asked about the man closest to his record of 18 major championships.

Beyond weighing in on Woods’ win at the Tour Championship or whether he thinks Tiger has a shot at 18 majors, Nicklaus offered his perspective on Woods post-spinal fusion swing, and he likes what he sees…a lot.

“I think his swing is much better now than it ever was. The reason for that is Tiger was very much up and down with his head and I think that put a lot of pressure on his back.

“The fusion that he had, obviously was something he didn’t want but it was something he needed. … I didn’t think he would ever play golf as well as he’s playing.

“I never dreamed that he would play quite as well as he has and that the operation actually leveled out his head and leveled out his swing.”

High praise, indeed! What do you think about the 18-time major winner’s remarks, GolfWRX members?

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19th Hole

Looks like Little John Daly is a “Long John” as well



John Daly’s 15-year-old son is again the talk of the PNC Father/Son Challenge. JD and LJD first teed it up in the event together in 2016, and Long John the Younger, with Loudmouth Golf attire that matches his father’s, has been a minor sensation ever since.

Oh, and he can absolutely rip it. Check out Skratch TV’s video from the range at the Ritz Carlton Golf Club in Orlando.

“Thank God I’ve got him on my team this week,” you can hear Daly the Elder say after his son’s missile.

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Proud papa.

A post shared by SkratchTV (@skratchtv) on

And if you doubt the kid has game and think this is mere puffery, consider he won the IJGA Invitational at Harbour Town last year, triumphing in a five-man playoff.

Or, you can check out this video of Daly talking about his son’s golfing prowess. (However, if you’re offended by a liberal use of the f-word, you may not want to do so)

The pair tee off with Retief and Leo Goosen at 9:36 a.m. tomorrow in the two-day, 36-hole competition. Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera, Jr. won the tournament last year.



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19th Hole

Adam “Pacman” Jones talks handicap, lowest score, shows off new clubs



The trick-shot artist, golfing dynamo, and general internet phenomenon that is Matty sat down for a quick nine questions with veteran NFL cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones, who plays to a 14 handicap.

Check out their conversation below.

Matty also took a peek at the fresh set of clubs in Jones’ bag. It looks like Matty, who is affiliated with Bridgestone Golf, has made sure the veteran cornerback has the company’s latest wares, including custom Tour B X-CB irons and custom KBS Tour shafts.

Hopefully, Matty will follow up with an Adam Jones WOTW (What’s on the Wrist). Holy Rolly, Pacman!

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19th Hole