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19th Hole

Tony Finau says he’s hitting 8-iron the same distance he did at 16; no need to roll back ball



Tony Finau is currently second on the PGA Tour in driving distance. He pounds his driver an average of 317.6 yards off the tee.

18Birdies’ Josh Hayes spoke with Finau on the aptly named 18Birdies podcast about distance in the game and proposals to roll back the golf ball.

“Where are you at with the distance debate?” Hayes asks. “Do we need to roll the ball back? Do we need to leave it alone?”

Finau says we should leave the ball alone, saying “We have to believe in evolution,” and adding, “athletes get better and stronger. To this, Finau adds the thought that technology gets better and players have more knowledge and technology at their fingertips to enhance performance.

“Things progress…part of that is guys hitting the ball farther,” Finau says. “Maybe there’s a debate that the average is a little bit longer, but guys have been hitting it far for a really long time. John Daly was hitting it 300 yards 15-20 years ago.”

He did make an interesting point with respect to distance across all clubs.

“If I look at how far I hit an 8-iron today, I was hitting my 8-iron the same distance when I was 16 years old…I don’t know if the debate is about the ball or the driver. From what I hear, it’s the ball, and I don’t know if I believe that. The only club I’m hitting farther is the driver.”

Finau also mentioned that he doesn’t think rolling back the ball will help grow the game or make it attractive to new players, “Kids like to hit it far…hitting it 280 yards isn’t even cool,” Finau said, adding, “It’s not as fun to watch someone hit it 280 yards as it is to watch Dustin Johnson.”

Finau agreed with Josh Hayes that the responsibility to challenge players lies with the PGA Tour and course setups, rather than with governing bodies imposing regulations.

You can check out the full pod below

What do you think, GolfWRX members? Certainly, it’s interesting to hear what one of the Tour’s most impressive natural athletes and longest hitters has to say. Do you agree with his remarks? Should his opinion carry extra weight given his “bomber” status? Less? Let us know!

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  1. Uhit

    Apr 29, 2018 at 4:24 am

    Our golf club is planning to move the tee boxes closer to the green of our second longest par 4…
    …because the reality shows, that currently (with our current equipment) almost no one is able to reach the green in two, or to cut the dogleg – with current balls!

  2. Rekklss

    Apr 25, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    OMG. Tony hits his 8 iron the same distance ? No one talks about the LOFT.
    I think consensus is … grow the rough more … like 6″ deep … around 300 to 350 yards as well as the rough around the greens. This solution is so obvious … the USGA & R&A … bunch of lawyers trying to leave their ‘mark’ on our game. Just grow the rough !

  3. Donn Rutkoff

    Apr 25, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    Leave equip alone. Pros play such a diff skill level. They almost never hit longer than a 8 iron on a par 4. I think pro tournaments should be on courses where they can put higher risks around 300 yards out on a few holes to make more players hit longer 2nd shots. Hazardize up the long distance landing areas from the tees. I think we fans would like to see more skilled iron shots to the green and not the monotonous driver. wedge, on par 4s.

  4. Kirk

    Apr 25, 2018 at 11:01 am

    Get rid of the dam face flexing – club face material should have to be 1cm thick rigid material – then we will see if these guys are any good!!!

  5. TigerJr

    Apr 24, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    Fowler plays a 43.5″ driver…..allot of the guys out there dont play over 45″. This is so dumb….the middle of the face doesnt matter at 460 or 430cc

  6. Maxfli HT

    Apr 24, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    But when he was 16, was Tony only making half swings like he does now?He is basically swinging at 70% of what he could right now.

  7. GolfGolfGolf

    Apr 24, 2018 at 8:54 am

    just stop with the distance talk. Leave it alone… If anything someone needs to look at Langer still anchoring. They messed up that rule. Should’ve limited the length of the putter. My 2 cents

  8. Gill Weir

    Apr 23, 2018 at 10:22 pm

    Harbor Town is proof that you do not need to roll the ball back. Golf is hard enough WTF are these people thinking?

  9. Tim Armington

    Apr 23, 2018 at 10:01 pm

    Leave the ball alone and leave the clubs alone. Fans dont want to pay good money to come out and watch DJ bomb it 275!
    If anything…put more of a premium on accuracy. Grow the rough and narrow the fairways a little. Not to the point where tour guys are hitting iron off every tee, but enough to where a shot hit long but off line is penalized a little bit. Its a very fine line, but the guys that will ultimately make the decision are very intelligent people.

  10. John

    Apr 23, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    I just dont understand… why? They want to alter the rules of the entire game possibly even bifurcation because the egos of the people who own golf courses are getting bruised? It’s insane…. I dont want to hit it shorter, but i also don’t want to play a different game to the pros – my interest in golf will waiver if i’m playing a boosted ‘amateur ball’ or if i’m hitting it shorter. Who cares if people who look like athletes are shooting -10 instead of -5? How many fat guys you see out there these days?

  11. ROY

    Apr 23, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    But is he more accurate now?? Almost every PGA player will tell you they were longer in college than on tour – learned that accuracy is far more important. So at 16 was he hitting an 8 iron 175 yards with a 95% swing, and today hits one 175 with an 80% swing??

  12. Blake

    Apr 23, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    Totally agree its the driver. There should be tour only heads of smaller size. what size that is is up for debate.

  13. Sven Hallauer

    Apr 23, 2018 at 3:37 pm

    I totally agree with what Tony says. If excessive distance is an issue on Tour then the Tour should limit driver head sizes, and maybe limit the max shaft length. For example changing the max head size to 430cc instead of the current 460cc will limit forgiveness and size of the sweat spot thus reducing average driver distance. Similarly limiting shaft length to a max of 44″ from the current 46″ would limit driver club head speed thus limiting the max distance the ball could travel. Changing the ball is a non-starter as it separates the Pros from the Amateurs in ways that will reduce fan connection with the sport.

    • ROY

      Apr 23, 2018 at 5:24 pm

      SO you think pick up basketball suffers since most pick up games dont have a 24 second shot clock, same as the pros??

      • punny

        Apr 24, 2018 at 12:24 am

        hahahah, worst analogy ever. At least say not regulation size backboard or college 3 point line in local pick up game.

        This about equipment.

    • J Zilla

      Apr 23, 2018 at 8:27 pm

      The pros ability alone separates the connection between them and the fans.

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19th Hole

How could a child hitting a golf ball off his father’s face go wrong?



We’re bringing you this video in case you haven’t seen it elsewhere: Young Sam Blewett attempts to hit a golf ball off his father’s face, and…

Now, most people are assuming that this three-year-old lad had no idea what he was doing. His father orchestrated the video, told the son, who had never held a golf club nor had any concept of the game to hit the ball, and wood-chopping at the ball followed.

Hot take: I don’t think that’s true. The Instagram account is the three-year-old kid’s (managed by his mother), and he certainly knows how to hit a golf ball properly. See?

So, I’m positing that the kid saw an opportunity to whack his dad in the dome with a golf club and couldn’t pass it up. Yes, young Sam knew exactly what he was doing.

And more power to him. Cunning AND capable with a golf club.

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19th Hole

Only 24 percent of golfers are women. 18Birdies, LPGA Tour partner to do something about it.



Women make up 50 percent of the population but only 24 percent of golfers. Why is this? A joint effort between the LPGA and 18Birdies attempts to understand what limits women’s participation in the game and how to do something about it.

Announced today, the 18Birdies-LPGA partnership seeks to leverage the two organizations’ resources to boost the number of female players.

18Birdies and research firm, Fusion Hill, conducted a joint ethnographic research study, “It’s His Game, Not Her Game,” that underpins the partnership. The study looks at barriers to women’s golf participation and motivations among women who do play.

Among the study’s findings…

  • Many women golf under the guidance of someone more experienced and thus don’t have a passionate sense of “ownership” of their games.
  • Many women often lack the social network that’s key to enjoying golf for many men.
  • Many women feel guilty prioritizing golf over traditional family needs.
  • Women often enter the game knowing less about golf and sports in general, making them less confident.
  • Most women learn golf from a significant other who is relatively advanced, thus from the start, golf is “his thing.”
  • Many women say golf is an expensive sport in terms of greens fees and investing in equipment/clothes for infrequent play is a barrier to entry.

Based on these data points, 18Birdies and Fusion Hill put together the following recommendations to engage and retain the female golfer.

Even ardent skeptics who would suggest the company is merely trying to find a way to get more women to download its app have to acknowledge the value of the heavy lifting 18Birdies has done for the golf industry.

Heck, even if you disagree with the specific recommendations (which I think are on point), at worst, industry organizations, club manufacturers, courses, and pretty much everyone under the “golf biz” umbrella now has a heap of actionable data at their disposal for dealing with something few would say isn’t a big problem.

What do you think, GolfWRX members?

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19th Hole

2 golfers are among the 10 most famous athletes in the world, according to ESPN



ESPN released its third-annual “World Fame 100” earlier this week. There are two golfers inside the top 10 on that list: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

ESPN concocts a secret ranking stew that’s one part Google trend score, one part endorsement money, and one part social media impact.

The 42-year-old Woods comes in at No. 6 on the list. His estimated $45 million in endorsement money is well above the list average of $12.6 million. Likewise, his search score of 88 is more than double the list average of 35. Woods’ social following, however, at 6.3 million, is below the list average of 10.6 million.

Mickelson, 47, is 10th on the list. He earns an estimated $50 million in endorsements annually (more than Woods, according to ESPN’s research). His search score is a mere three, however, well below the list average of 35, and he has no presence on social media.

Other golfers on the list: Rory McIlroy (15), Jordan Spieth (16), Justin Rose (69), Sergio Garcia (73), Rickie Fowler (87). Michelle Wie (97) is the lone LPGA Tour member.

Rankings like these are always good debate fodder, and when they’re the product of panels and consensus, there’s plenty of disagreement to be had. However, as this ranking is (theoretically, at least) objective, and built from ESPN’s algorithm, there’s no real debating players’ relative positions.

Critics could only take issue with the algorithm itself. And as we only understand the calculations in their broadest strokes, there’s not a ton to say except, maybe, asking: Is internet fame the same as real-world fame?

Anyway, the world of golf has to be pleased to have Woods and Mickelson inside the top 10, and perhaps even more pleased (from a “future of the game” standpoint) to see Spieth and McIlroy inside the top 20.

See the full ranking here.

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19th Hole