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USGA and R&A unveil Distance Insights Report

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On Tuesday, golf’s governing bodies released the “Distance Insights Report” in which the two ruling authorities found the “continuing cycle” of the “100-year trend of hitting distance increases in golf” is “detrimental to the game’s long-term future.”

The Distance Insights Report is a 102-page document, which includes data and information from 56 different projects that was co-released by the USGA and R&A and which hints at potential significant changes in the equipment rules over the coming years following a “broad review of both clubs and balls.”

In a key findings statement released by the USGA and R&A, the organization revealed that “after extensive stakeholder research, the report features more than 100 years of data, informed by a library of 56 supporting documents.”

Here were the key findings of the report per the USGA and R&A

  • There is a 100-year trend of hitting distance increases in golf, as well as a corresponding increase in the length of golf courses, across the game globally The USGA and The R&A believe this continuing cycle is detrimental to the game’s long-term future.
  • The inherent strategic challenge presented by many golf courses can be compromised, especially when those courses have not or cannot become long enough to keep up with increases in the hitting distances of the golfers who play from their longest tees. This can lead to a risk of many courses becoming less challenging, or obsolete.
  • Increased hitting distance can begin to undermine the core principle that the challenge of golf is about needing to demonstrate a broad range of skills to be successful.
  • If courses continue to lengthen, it is at odds with growing societal concerns about the use of water, chemicals and other resources
  • Longer distances and courses, longer tees and longer times to play are taking golf in the wrong direction and are not necessary for a challenging, enjoyable and sustainable game.
  • A concern has been identified that many recreational golfers are playing from longer tees than is necessary relative to their hitting distances, and, in particular that the forward tees on many golf courses are very long for many of the golfers who play from them.

The USGA and R&A have also stated that with these findings “a broad review of both clubs and balls will be conducted to understand and assess a full range of options for addressing these issues relating to hitting distance.”

The review in question will highlight the following areas in particular (again, language directly from the USGA and R&A)

  • The review of overall conformance specifications for both clubs and balls, including specifications that both directly and indirectly affect hitting distances. It is not currently intended to consider revising overall equipment specifications in a way that would produce substantial reductions in hitting distances at all levels of the game.
  • The assessment of the potential use of a Local Rule option specifying the use of reduced-distance equipment. Such an option could be available as a choice at all levels of play for competitions, courses and individual players.
  • Guidance on the availability of short enough forward tees and the appropriate tee-to-hole playing distances for golfers of all levels.
  • Several other topics including equipment testing processes, potential guidance on how design, agronomy and setup can affect hitting distance, and others.

“Bifurcation” has been a hotly discussed toping amongst recreational golfers but was not addressed directly in today’s report.

Bifurcation could potentially lead to both Tour pros as well as recreational golfers playing clubs and balls manufactured to different regulations, but both organizations stressed during a Monday press conference the preference for a single set of rules across the sport.

Tuesday’s review stated that it was “not currently intended to consider revising the overall specifications in a way that would produce substantial reductions in hitting distances at all levels of the game.”

Speaking on the report, Mike Davis, chief executive officer of the USGA stated

“This is not about the last few years or the next few years but rather about the long-term future of the game. This report clearly shows a consistent increase in hitting distance and golf course lengths over the last 100-plus years. These increases have had a profound impact on costs to build, modify and operate golf courses and they have impacted golfers at all levels. 

We believe this problem will continue unless this cycle is brought to an end. With collaboration from the entire golf community, we have an opportunity to stem this tide and help ensure golf remains sustainable and enjoyable for generations to come.”

The full 102-page Distance Insights Report is accessible here.

What do you think, WRXers?

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Gianni is a freelance writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Diploma in Sports Journalism. He can be contacted at gmagliocco@outlook.com. Follow him on Twitter @giannimosquito

47 Comments

47 Comments

  1. 8thehardway

    Feb 6, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    Ban drivers. No clubs under 16* or over 44 inches allowed in tournaments and maybe ban ’em for handicap purposes.

    Recreational golfers’ score lower, play appropriate tees and save billions on clubs and millions on lessons. Golf is easier, more people play.

    Courses don’t need to build longer, maintenance reduced and Tom Kite has another chance to win the British Open.

  2. Ell

    Feb 5, 2020 at 6:43 pm

    Suggest getting the 1986 book ‘Search for the Perfect Swing’ by Alastair Cochran and Jhn Stubbs. Chapter 26, page 170, Table 26:2, “The computed effect on various drives of using a lighter ball”. The table compared the differences in Carry and Total Yards between a 1.62 ounce ball and a 1.3 ounce ball. I also agreed with changing from 18 holes to 12 holes, as per the original golf round.

  3. Paul Shirley

    Feb 5, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    for all pro tour players courses just start tapering the fairways starting at 250 yards out 20 yrs wide , 260 15 yds wide , 270 10 yds wide , 280 and up 5 yds wide , with the rough 4″ deep off the fairway , also make the greens harder , i am 82 yrs old with usga 10 handicap , avg drive 225yds .

  4. HappyDuffer

    Feb 5, 2020 at 6:05 pm

    And what a surprise the governing bodies fail to understand what the data is really showing them and see only what they want to see. That said… increasing pro course lengths is not the answer. Perhaps they should reduce the cor limits for the pro tour only?

  5. A. Commoner

    Feb 5, 2020 at 12:29 pm

    Quite a report! Part I: things you already know…Part II: ‘thingees’ we are going to look at. I think, with all the lead-up, many people expected more.

  6. Marty

    Feb 5, 2020 at 11:28 am

    The USGA and the R&A are doing nothing more than moonwalking across the stage. Well at least they have their white glove on – for what good it does them. Now they need to actually go out and play a round of golf and see how that squares with their report.

    They also need to rollback the ball and raise the goal another five feet in the NBA.

  7. Kevin

    Feb 5, 2020 at 10:02 am

    The most important thing that the R&A/USGA have not talked about is how the distance the pros are hitting it is hurting recrational golf due to pace of play. There are countless golf hacks, we’va all seen them, cargo shorts, shirt un-tucked, hat on backwards… They see Koepka, McIlroy, Woodland hit it 330+ on tv and think,’I can do that too’. They get to the course thinking they will impress thier playing partners, play from ‘the tips’ and come out of thier shoes when they swing. Yes, they hit it 300+ but nowhere near the fairway and into the deep hay, trees, bushes etc. Then spend 10 minutes (not 3, they don’t know the rules) looking for that $4 ProV1 (that they probably found on the previous hole during THAT 10 minute search). These are the guys that turn a 4 hour round into 5+ for EVERYONE behind them and that is the biggest threat to the game we love. I wish i had a easy solution to this problem but I don’t. Trying to educate these guys about playing for the correct tees, playing within themselves and limiting ball searches to 3 minutes is probably futile. More marshalls would helo but that will cost each course more $. Rolling the equipment back so the guys on TV are hitting it 275 off the tee? Maybe.

  8. CPG

    Feb 5, 2020 at 8:38 am

    Dial equipment back? So you want to take a guy that swings it 95 from hitting a 7 iron to a 5 iron and a guy that swings it 125 from a wedge to a 8 iron….makes perfect sense.

    • YouSoSully

      Feb 5, 2020 at 9:57 am

      Realistically the current 7 irons have the loft of some older 5 irons. It shouldn’t really matter what number is on the club you hit, it should be more about loft. When I hit my 48* PW 15+ yards shorter than my groups 43* PWs I don’t blame the tech in my equipment.

  9. Patrick

    Feb 5, 2020 at 7:08 am

    USGA and R&A are completely right on this subject. Stop complaining about “what the governing bodies need to do is….blah blah blah”. Your like that Boomer at work that bitches just to get through the day.

  10. Alex

    Feb 4, 2020 at 11:18 pm

    USGA is out to lunch. Clubs are at their limit. So players are getting longer via better training and or better fitting by knowing what produces better results.
    Longer plays will still be longer even if you roll the ball back. In fact they will be even longer in comparison to the shorter players. PGA tour pros are whiney little b___s. They complain about courses being too tough all the time. So when you have more players that are stronger than in the past with courses allowing you to hit the ball all over the map, this is what happens.
    And then USGA is wasting money doing these stupid studies.
    Maybe USGA should not allow trackmans and gyms on tour. I dont see ATP complaining about Fed Nadal and Djok being the best 3 of all time. Maybe ATP should change it so you can’t play into your 30s.
    As ohers have said make it tougher at 300+ yards if Rory can hit it 330 dead center than hats off to him.

    • Regis

      Feb 5, 2020 at 7:46 am

      If the USGA is “out to lunch” then its obvious you have been refused service at the restaurant. Golf courses have been closing at an alarming pace for 20 years , That includes private clubs. Real Estate is too valuable and environmental restrictions and maintenance costs are forcing owners out of business. The alternative is to raise fees, Tough to do where participation peaked about 20 years ago and nothing seems to attract new interest. Nicklaus started raising these concerns 25 years ago. Biggest complaints offered as to lack of interest Too expensive. Takes too long. All tied into golfers demand for “championship” courses ” carpeted fairways and pristine greens. People will learn to adapt to electric cars (Aaagh).Real Golfers will learn to adapt or give up the sport.

  11. JB

    Feb 4, 2020 at 9:29 pm

    We do have to do something to prevent further distance gains. We don’t necessarily need to roll things back, but distance gains at the current rate are bad for the game.

    • Vincent Collier

      Feb 5, 2020 at 7:02 am

      Why? How?

      Maybe for the top 120 freaks of nature who spend their days conditioning /practicing and have companies fitting them with radar and 3D modeling

      But for the 99.997 rest of the golfing public? Not so much

  12. JThunder

    Feb 4, 2020 at 8:40 pm

    So, two problems identified are that 1. courses are becoming obsolete because of distance gains and 2. too many amateurs play courses at longer tees than they should.

    And no one spots the contradiction?

    “Golf needs to be easier for amateurs” is NOT in the spirit of the game. The game, for hundreds of years before modern manufacture, was difficult for everyone. Games – and sports for that matter – are *supposed* to be a challenge. If they were easy – “point and shoot” – then why would anyone bother? Why accept any rules or keep score? Want to make golf “easier” – take a mulligan on any shot you don’t like, “gimme” anything inside 20 feet, and refuse to write down anything worse than bogey. Done.

    If you want to protect “courses” (ie; the egos of designers and club members) at the elite level, the only solution still possible is a “tour ball”. The ball itself is only a small part of overall distance gains – along with clubheads, shafts, fitting, customization, fitness… etc. BUT, some of these cannot be rolled back and the industry would not accept others.

    I think “bifurcation” is a shame in a game that’s always prided itself otherwise. But when capitalism outpaces regulation and common sense, I guess the results are often shameful. (Driverless cars, anyone? Delivery robots?)

    OR – just accept that tournaments are still won by the person with one less stroke than everyone else. Because that is always true regardless of whether everyone shoots 59 or 82.

  13. Deacon Blues

    Feb 4, 2020 at 8:14 pm

    It’s really quite simple. Either eliminate the concept of par altogether (as proposed in this April 2018 GolfWRX article: http://www.golfwrx.com/495034/lets-retire-old-man-par-a-modest-proposal/), or aggressively modify par (instead of course setup) at elite male events so that winning scores are at even par or slightly better. The USGA has done this at the US Open for years, but neither they, nor the PGA Tour, nor the other pro tours should feel compelled to make each course a par 70 or more. Augusta National should probably be a par 68 at this point, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

  14. ShortKnocker

    Feb 4, 2020 at 7:56 pm

    Roll back the ball. It is 98% of the problem. Golf isn’t supposed to be easy and amateurs will always suck regardless of how far they hit it. If I can only hit it 200 yards then perhaps I should swallow my pride and move up a set of tees. Every week I see folks who can’t hit it out of their own shadow playing the back tees. Shame.

  15. I know donkeys

    Feb 4, 2020 at 6:16 pm

    Matt Kuchar sucks big donkey.

  16. simms

    Feb 4, 2020 at 5:40 pm

    Killing the distance is easy but will it also add more shots to the amateurs playing the same course? Any course the pros play can be made harder by adding water, sand and waste areas full of bushes and trees. You Put 50 yards of penalty area starting at 290 yards to 340 on 490 plus par 4’s and 600 yard par 5’s and you add 3 to 4 shots around to the pros average round. Killing the 300 yard plus drive on par 5’s would end the distance problem overnight. But would that same waste and penalty area 230 to 280 from amateur tees hurt that game more?

  17. bravo

    Feb 4, 2020 at 4:47 pm

    I feel that distance at an elite level is reflection of many variables. In all sports the athlete over time just is better than what it was 5, 10 years prior…but the state of golf does not accept this – the evolution of technology and how to apply effectively to the modern athlete is what is driving the ball farther..Its not killing the game of golf in fact I feel it has revitalized the game than it was say 5 years ago..the perception you have to make golf courses longer is bs: thats limited thinking / pure laziness on the course designers part…considering that the courses that are being built will never see a major event/competition.. why make it longer? Golf is a dying sport and unattractive if you are at a loss of time. To develop the necessary skills to be basic on the course is a challenge and to get a round in against other amateurs is long and tedious -This has nothing to do with the course being long. The problem in general is with how it is being interpreted… The Tour dictates how tough the courses play, they want the pro’s to score and use what skills they have…to say it is not a skill to drive the ball within a window to at least wedge it on the green – YOU are f**king stupid especially swinging at the speeds they do… The governing bodies want to place blame* lets call it what it is – the old guard of golf is what is killing the game…

  18. Mat

    Feb 4, 2020 at 4:27 pm

    “But if you slow down the equipment (I’m looking at you, ball!), don’t you mess up recreational players? Don’t you need to bifurcate the game? No, you don’t. First, it’s already bifurcated. Recreational players typically don’t get fitted for their clubs, they use a ball wrong for them, and they’re not the ones making courses obsolete. They won’t be affected by a slower ball because they can’t hit it with purpose anyway.”

    This paragraph is __EXACTLY__ why the USGA is out of touch. The USGA has bought into the fantasy that 25-cap players have bought into… somehow the weekend hacker is too long. The hard truth is you need to hide the long tees from the average player. Frankly, if a few more 59’s show up on tour, who cares? If you get players breaking 90 more often, you’ll have more golfers. Do it with appropriate tees, and for goodness sakes, leave things generally alone. Data sets are better now, but really, how much “longer” do you think the 25-cap crew is compared to 2010? Zero. That’s what. We already hit a maximum, we’ve lived with it for 10 years, and the world hasn’t ended. Why punish us now?

  19. Mat

    Feb 4, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    This is insane. It’s all a setup to change equipment rules. It’ll drive a lot of people away from the game.

    Bifurcation should be in the game *rules*, not the equipment. If the USGA wants to impose a ball restriction, fine, but it has to be for EVERYONE. Changing to “only the pros use this equipment” is a death sentence to the health of the game. Golf is the one game where absolutely no one wants to be seen as a cheater (sans Patrick), so at what level to you require “tournament balls” or “tournament clubs”?

    If the USGA wants to “roll back” the ball, fine. But it needs to be EVERYONE. No exceptions. I’m not interested in KickX balls.

    • Vincent Collier

      Feb 5, 2020 at 7:12 am

      A death sentence? Hardly…

      How about this scenario, a large manufacturer decides it needs to sell clubs and sees the USGA/RA as impediments to that. And decides on releasing an “unlimited” line of clubs/balls.

      At some point distance will reach its theoretical limit… physics dictates that. Why fight it. Baseball limits rebound by requiring wood bats; the limit has been reached there.

      Grow the rough, bring back the second cut, narrow landing zones, and firm the greens for tournament play… THAT is a whole lot more practical than whatever will come out of the USGA/R&A

  20. Retired Cart Boy

    Feb 4, 2020 at 4:03 pm

    Bifurcation today, bifurcation tomorrow, bifurcation forever!

    I don’t understand why this is so difficult. The game needs to be made easier for most amateurs, and harder for the professionals. You’re not going to be able to accomplish this with both groups using the same equipment.

  21. hempyhill@gmail.com

    Feb 4, 2020 at 3:27 pm

    I’m a 76 year old Passionate golfer who’s recovered from 2 strokes & I normally play 4 times weekly & practice on days I’m not in some doctor’s waiting room. This schedule can be substantially less during our winter months (like today 10 degree chill factor with 25mph north wind).
    I took particular note of one comment in the Distance Report:
    “We have a particular concern that the forward tees at many courses are very long for the hitting distances of many of the golfers who play from them.”
    My average Driver distance is 175 yards, including rollout on medium firm fairways. At 70 YO I started playing the “white Tees (old man Tees (5644 yds)., but after a few years & a bad stroke I was no longer able to reach most of the par 4’s & a few par 3’s in regulation using a 3-wood.
    A golfing friend of mine suggested I consider playing the Red Tees (“Women’s Tees”).After a few weeks of trying to set my male ego aside & deciding I would just have to be tough enough to suffer the “Slings and arrows” of others I took the leap & I’m not sorry that I did. Wow, it was so refreshing & energizing/confidence building to be able to hit a few mid irons into some of the par 3’/4’s. I felt like I was back to playing golf instead of just trying to survive another bad round.
    There’s a few other old Hackers in my golf group that need to move up, but, their male egos are dominating them, IMO.
    I make these comments that the rules makers of golf give serious consideration to us hackers. I quit trying to buy new clubs every year or 2 in hopes of regaining some distance. Fact is, I quit trying because I can’t hit the new Pricey wonder clubs any better than my current equipment & I can’t afford it either.
    I liked the analogy about baseball in comparison to Golf. It helps clarify the issues if Distance. except distane does not apply to equipment changes in baseball

    Thanks
    Fastfade (the Hacker)

  22. Bob

    Feb 4, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    2013 US Open at Merion Rose won at +1. Why? Short course that demanded you hit the ball in the fairway or you weren’t going to hold a green or at the very least have a good look at birdie. How long have the same restrictions been on these golf clubs? Quite a while now. The athletes are better and there are many more known ways to increase distance by putting in the work. Quit crying about distance. Phil has more club head speed now than ever and he hasn’t done squat since he’s gained the speed. Eliminate 1st cut of rough and make it an absolute penalty to miss a fairway. You’ll start seeing longer irons into greens and a premium on iron play and shot shaping. Tbh on a week to week basis I dont see the issue with some low scoring rounds of golf. This isn’t the balata and persimmon era even though no one complained when they were shooting low scores. Sports evolve and the athletes obviously get better. Make the courses tougher and not longer.

    • Vincent Collier

      Feb 5, 2020 at 7:15 am

      Amen

      Grow the rough, bring back the second cut, narrow the landing zones and firm the greens… change the conditions for tournament play

  23. Jeff Allen

    Feb 4, 2020 at 2:39 pm

    Yes, because I want to see Mike Trout using Ty Cobb’s glove, or Usain Bolt running in Jessie Owens’ shoes. Let it be

  24. DJ

    Feb 4, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    Require each manufacturer to make a tour only ball with restricted characteristics if you can’t/don’t change the course layouts. Reduce the number of clubs allowed from 14 to 12. Don’t allow wedges over 56 degrees. Reduce the number of holes on a layout from 18 to 14 allowing for longer holes or 90 degree dog legs. Design the holes to run uphill at 10 degrees up to 340 yards then drop down a bit to the green – eliminate some rollout. Mow the fairways back towards the tee box to influence the grain.

  25. 19_Majors

    Feb 4, 2020 at 2:11 pm

    Webb Simpson beat Tony Finau in a head-to-head playoff last week. One of the shortest hitters on tour vs. one of the longest hitters on Tour. If distance was everything, Webb would’ve had no chance of winning. But Webb ended up in that playoff, and Webb won. How far golfers hit it clearly isn’t the only thing that matters. We don’t need to reel in ANY equipment or make golf courses ANY harder until there is a clear trend of WINNING TOURNAMENTS favoring only long hitters.

    • Progolfer

      Feb 5, 2020 at 8:04 am

      Webb averaged 8.5 yards less than Finau in the WMPO. No offense, but that debunks your argument.

    • Dyson Bochambeau

      Feb 5, 2020 at 10:09 am

      Compare the top 10 in distance to the top 10 in the world

  26. Kim Hay

    Feb 4, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    The whole argument is summed up in the second bullet point of the key findings “golfers who play from their longest tees”. So, the USGA and the R&A is focused on the 5% or less golfers who play from the longest tees and that the courses may not be challenging enough for them.

    It is time for these bodies and golf clubs in general to focus their efforts and marketing on the recreational golfer, those who carry a handicap from 5 to 48. Ask them if courses are too tough or if they need longer tees. Golf clubs should be promoting quality, fun courses from 4000 to 6300 yards for the 95% of the people who will come to play. Let the “championship” courses chase the 5%. Keep operating costs down and promote your product to families, juniors, seniors and the occasional golfer.

    This game will not survive without a complete re-think of who it is for and how we can provide that product. I do not see the USGA and the R&A doing much to in that regard.

    • GMatt

      Feb 4, 2020 at 3:58 pm

      You’re asking the USGA to think? Good Lord that would be like putting lipstick on a pig… they’re incapable of relating to their membership (which I refuse to be one) and only focused on the top less than 1% of all golfers… They are way out of touch

  27. PaulVL

    Feb 4, 2020 at 1:59 pm

    You don’t need to make courses longer, or change equipment/balls, just make the courses the pros play on more difficult. Put more dog legs, left and right that cannot be cut off by long hitters. Make the landing area for long hitters smaller, with tall rough, or difficult fairway bunkers with a greater risk, than reward. Unfortunately, money is the key motivator for the manufacturers, players and PGA, so I doubt little will change.

  28. Club Pro Guys Neighbor

    Feb 4, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    As a PGA Professional, this report does not speak to what is important to continuing to grow the game. Making the game harder is not the answer. You have the PGA trying to include everyone and the USGA trying to make it more difficult which would disproportionately affect the average golfer not the competitive golfer. While courses could be outdated because of length there are many things that can be done to make courses more difficult at there 300+ distances off the tee ie. trees, bunkers, penalty areas. This obstacles would make the course tighter and more difficult for longer golfers, but would maintain less of a degree of difficulty for the higher handicap and shorter players while also reducing the area of the course that requires significant input from water and chemicals.

  29. Rich Douglas

    Feb 4, 2020 at 1:35 pm

    Use baseball as a comparison. In 1930, the entire American League hit .300. In 1968, only one person (Yaz) did it. In other words, players didn’t necessarily get better and better. Fences are still the same (or similar) distances as they were 50 years ago. Hitting .300 or batting 30 homers is sill a big deal. Why? Why haven’t things changed? Why, except for the steroid years, aren’t players hitting it 400 feet?

    Because of the pitchers. See, as hitters got better, stronger, and bigger, so did pitchers. They got faster. They developed more breaking pitches. They got better.

    Golf has no such off-set. It is the player against the course. The only way to hold back the players–who get stronger and more fit all the time–is to (a) slow down the equipment or (b) make the courses harder or longer. But if you do (b), you run the risk of ruining courses or making them unfair (rewarding and punishing shots almost at random). So what to do?

    You have to do something about the equipment. Some measures have helped, like limiting what the driver can do. (Irons are already pretty self-limiting.) But the players keep getting longer.

    But if you slow down the equipment (I’m looking at you, ball!), don’t you mess up recreational players? Don’t you need to bifurcate the game? No, you don’t. First, it’s already bifurcated. Recreational players typically don’t get fitted for their clubs, they use a ball wrong for them, and they’re not the ones making courses obsolete. They won’t be affected by a slower ball because they can’t hit it with purpose anyway.

    The problem here isn’t what it will do to recreational players. It’s what it will do to equipment manufacturers who sell fantasies to those players. And those companies seem to rule the game. Good luck changing that!

    • ewfnick

      Feb 4, 2020 at 1:41 pm

      This.

      • Dick Ruggles

        Feb 4, 2020 at 2:39 pm

        They raised the mound and pitchers dominated 1968. They lowered it in ’69 and hitters improved.

        Wound ball. Persimmon woods. Steel shafts. No 60* wedges. Golf fixed.

    • Thomas A

      Feb 4, 2020 at 2:24 pm

      Webb is not one of the shortest on tour anymore. He’s been working on his body and swing for the past two years and has gained substantial distance.

    • Shallowface

      Feb 4, 2020 at 2:48 pm

      I thought you were going to get this right, but you missed.
      The reason baseball hasn’t changed has nothing to do with the athletes.
      Baseball didn’t allow it’s equipment to change as golf has. Neither the bat nor the ball.
      There is a good reason for this. Baseball stadiums are by and large built and maintained by taxpayers. Baseball can’t come to the taxpayers and ask for new and bigger stadiums because they didn’t have enough sense to keep a handle on equipment.
      I would submit that pitchers have gotten worse over the 50 years I have been following baseball, not better, but that’s a discussion for another place. There are no Seavers or Gibsons out there throwing 15 complete games in a season with ERAs under 2.00.
      Truth is I don’t know why the USGA bothers. If they attempt to shorten the ball, the PGA Tour will choose to ignore it, and the buying public will follow, rendering the USGA even less relevant than it is today.
      The USGA will do nothing, and like it.

    • Jeff Allen

      Feb 4, 2020 at 3:06 pm

      Only partially correct look at a 1930s era glove vs today

      • Shallowface

        Feb 4, 2020 at 4:54 pm

        My comment was “neither the bat nor the ball.”

        Gloves aren’t relevant when the discussion is about stick and ball distances.

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News

13-time major champion Mickey Wright passes away at the age of 85

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@wilsongolf

LPGA Tour legend and Hall of Famer Mickey Wright passed away on Monday after suffering a heart attack, according to the AP.

Wright won 82 titles on the LPGA Tour including 13-major titles in a career which began in 1955 and ended with her retirement at the age of just 34.

Per the 13-time major champion’s lawyer, Sonia Pawluc who was speaking to AP, Wright had been hospitalised for the last few weeks after suffering a fall.

The sporting legend is the only LPGA Tour professional to hold all majors at the same time, and Ben Hogan once described her swing as the finest in the game.

Speaking on the news of her passing, LPGA Tour commissioner, Michael Whan said

“We are deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Mickey Wright. We lost a legend, but we may also have lost the best swing in golf history today. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.”

Wright’s long list of accomplishments in the game includes the most victories in a single LPGA season (13), four consecutive LPGA money titles (1961-64), 14 successive years with an LPGA victory (1956-69) and a stunning 44 wins from 1961 through 1964.

She was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1976.

 

 

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Morning 9: Tiger: Bad week inside ropes, good week outside | Scott, Park end droughts | CBS’ coverage panned (again)

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and golfwrxEIC on Twitter.
February 17, 2020
Good Monday morning, golf fans.

 

1. Scott gets first Tour win since 2016
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner with a succinct breakdown…“Scott started the day in part of a three-way share of the lead, and he suffered an early stumble with a double bogey on the fifth hole. But the notoriously wobbly putter steadied his nerve down the stretch, burying birdie putts on Nos. 13 and 17 that proved to be the difference. Scott earned an unofficial victory at Riviera in 2005 when he won a 36-hole, rain-slogged event, but now he has an official title as part of his Riv credentials. It’s back-to-back worldwide wins for Scott across two calendar years, as the veteran closed out 2019 with a victory at the Australian PGA Championship. But after a number of recent near-misses, the Aussie now has his first PGA Tour win since March 2016, when he went back-to-back at Honda and Doral.”
2. …and Down Under, another title drought endeth
AP report…”Seven-time major champion Inbee Park saw a seven shot lead shrink to two shots Sunday before winning the Women’s Australian Open by three strokes to clinch her first LPGA title in almost two years.”
  • “Park started her final round three shots in front of 19-year old South Korean compatriot Ayeon Cho. She bogeyed the ninth hole but still turned five shots ahead of the field and went out to a seven shot lead early on the back nine at the Royal Adelaide Golf Club.”
3. …and on the Korn Ferry Tour
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Andrew Novak birdied each of his final two holes to earn his first career Korn Ferry Tour victory at the LECOM Suncoast Classic.”
  • “Novak, 24, started the final round in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., one shot off the lead, and he was part of a crowded leaderboard as the tournament entered the closing stretch. But thanks in large part to birdies on Nos. 17 and 18, two of the seven hardest holes at Lakewood National GC, he closed with a 6-under 66. That left him at 23 under, one shot ahead of John Chin and two shots clear of Taylor Montgomery, both of whom closed with rounds of 64.”
4. Not the weekend he wanted
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill…”It was another week to lament at the famed course where Woods started his PGA TOUR career as a 16-year-old. He faded on the back nine of his rounds on Thursday and Friday and then shot 76-77 on the weekend to be 11 over par, some 22 shots behind winner Adam Scott.”
  • “Woods was full of praise for the event he and his foundation put on in its new elevated status, but could only try some self-deprecating humor when asked of his personal on course efforts.”
  • “I did not do much well today. Good news, I hit every ball forward, not backwards, a couple sideways. But overall, I’m done,” he said. “I’ve been in this position many times unfortunately. Just keep fighting hole by hole, shot by shot and try to make some birdies, which I did not do.
ESPN’s Bob Harig on what he saw…“Woods was still not moving great. While he looked good at times, his overall game was a shell of what he produced three weeks ago at Torrey Pines, let alone in December at the Presidents Cup or October at the Zozo Championship.”
  • “This was simply a day to endure, not make matters worse — and then hand the tournament trophy to winner Adam Scott, who finished 22 strokes ahead of the tournament host.”
  • “And it was yet another reminder: Woods is 44 years old, has a fused spine, had three previous back surgeries prior to that, and counts himself lucky to be playing the game at all, let alone a high level.”
Full piece. 
5. Chubb champ: Scott Parel
Greg Hardwig of the Naples Daily News…”Scott Parel lost two opportunities at victories last year in playoffs. He wasn’t going to take that chance Sunday in the Chubb Classic.”
“Parel, 54, birdied six of the first 12 holes to come back from five shots off the lead and went on to win at The Classics Country Club at Lely Resort for his third PGA Tour Champions victory. Parel tied the tournament record at 17-under 196 on the par-71 course, and won $240,000 out of the $1.6 million purse.”
6. Rave review for CBS’ golf coverage…
Joel Beall with a (incomplete) tally of some of the (many) errors…
  • “An incorrect score board from the LPGA’s Women’s Australian Open, caught by No Laying Up. The tournament ended Saturday night.”
  • “A singular Korn Ferry Tour highlight, featuring a putt from Peter Uihlein. Although Uihlein entered the day with the lead, he finished T-20 at the Suncoast Classic, which had already been decided when the event update was televised.”
  • “Delayed footage of Harold Varner III topping his tee shot at the iconic 10th hole. Varner was tied at the time of the miscue, which was noted by CBS Sports analyst Ian Baker-Finch. Varner’s top was eventually shown in a highlight package some 90 minutes after it occurred.”
  • “The relative broadcast absences of Max Homa, one of the more popular PGA Tour players on social media, and Joel Dahmen. As the Twitter handle Deep Fried Egg pointed out, at one juncture Homa, then a stroke back of the lead, had only a single shot televised while Rickie Fowler-who was not in the field-had two highlights during the program.”
7. Rory talks Brooks & more
Adam Woodard at Golfweek draws on more of Rory McIlroy’s conversation with journalist Paul Kimmage…a few morsels…
  • “So, I go out in the final round and my midset was . . . It’s another round of golf . . . a great opportunity . . . I’m going to try to play well. And I was beaten on the day,” McIlroy remembered. “Obviously, Brooks played great and shot 65 but I think, more than anything, I was beaten by his intensity and his desire. I was too relaxed.”
  • “Later on in the season, McIlroy learned of a text Koepka sent to his friends before the final round in Memphis: “I’m going to crush him.”
  • “Yeah, and f*** he sort of did,” said McIlroy. “Well, Brooks and I have always got on great – we do get on great – but he was obviously taking that mindset, ‘It’s me and him’. And I guess it was a good thing that he thinks highly of me, or not highly of me, if he was saying he was going to crush me.”
8. Unplanned break ahead
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”When Muni He triumphed at LPGA Q-Series last November, she seized control of something every professional golfer holds dear: her schedule…”
  • “He, 20, decided early on that she’d skip the first three LPGA tournaments that she was eligible for and start 2020 on a three-week stretch in Asia, playing off of sponsor exemptions in limited-field events in Thailand and Singapore and the Blue Bay LPGA in her native China.”
  • “No one could’ve predicted that her first three starts would be canceled due to threats from the coronavirus. That control He worked so hard for went up in a puff of smoke. She’ll now make her first start of 2020 in late March at the LPGA event in Phoenix.”
9. Genesis a big success for Tiger…outside the ropes
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport rightly points out…”It was not his week on the course, obviously. But Woods’ time here was about more than how he fared inside the ropes. He has hosted this event for the last three years in conjunction with his TGR Live venture, but this was the first year the tournament formerly known as the L.A. Open was no longer an open. It’s an Invitational now, which means a reduced field size to 120, an increased purse and an elevated status.
  • “And the first year was, by any measure, a marked success-four cloudless days, a challenging Riviera that flashed its teeth all week and a bunched leader board that didn’t sort itself until late Sunday afternoon, when Adam Scott prevailed for a two-shot victory.”
  • “From a tournament perspective, it couldn’t have gone any better,” Woods said. “We’ve had perfect weather, people have come out and supported this event. Our elevation, being a part of the new invitational status, look at the players that come out and supported this event that have played this week, we couldn’t have asked for a more dream scenario. The golf course was fantastic. Everything couldn’t have been any better from that side.”

 

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Tour Rundown: Scott’s grit and guile, Queen Bee, Wofford’s pride

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The PGA Tour’s Cali Swing came to a close for 2020, while the Champions Tour returned to the continental USA after a stint in Morocco. The ladies of the LPGA stood tall in Australia, just as the Korn Ferry tour also docked in the lower 48, after time spent in South America. As the world of golf considers the pros and cons of a world tour, it’s easy to look around and see how such a grand plan might come to pass. As the globe continues to orbit, we take our turn in running down this week’s results.

PGA Tour: Scott claims 14th tour title with grit and guile

Say what you must about the back nine at the Augusta National, but I will stand the inward half at Riviera as the ultimate gut-check site in golf. For starters, we saw Tiger Woods go out in 4-under par on Thursday, stoking the embers of bonfires of hope everywhere. El tigre played the inward half in 36-38-41-39, so we know which high-school crush still makes him nervous! Wasn’t much different for the rest of the field; play the inward half well and you stand a chance. How about Adam Scott? After an inexplicable 37 on Thursday, he back-nined Riviera for 31-33-35. For those (like me) not counting, that’s the essential difference between what Tiger tallied, and what the tournament victor posted. Scott had his hands full, as players like Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar, Rory McIlroy, and late to the party: Sung Kang and Scott Brown. Both Kang and Brown closed fast, reaching -9, joining Kuchar in a tie for 2nd. They call Riviera Hogan’s Alley, for the playing record of the wee ice mon over its 18 holes. It begs the question, which Riviera was Hogan playing, that he could get that good, that repeatedly, over these beguiling, 18 holes?

LPGA: Queen Bee secures 20th title in Royal fashion. Could gold be next?

Inbee Park has been many things over the years: Major champion (she won her first LPGA event at the 2008 US Open); Olympic Gold Medalist (yup, that was her in Rio, wearing the bling); and now, comeback kid. Park was injured in 2017, and despite a victory in 2018, has yet to capture the stature that thrust her to #1 in the world, and 18 tour victories. Watch out, world; she might be back. Park stood sooo tall after three rounds; 67-69-68 had her at  15-under par over the glorious, Royal Adelaide course in Seaton. Only Ayean Cho managed to find similar altitude, with 3 rounds of 69 for -12. Would Cho solve the mystery of the final round, the one that eluded her last week, when she gave back a lead over the final 9 holes? In a word, no. She closed with 77 and dropped to -8 and a tie for 6th place. All part of the learning curve, as they say. With her playing partner stalled, Park played things close to the safety vest. She finished with a +1 74 on Sunday, good for a 3-putts margin of victory over new runner-up Amy Olson of the USA. If Inbee is rounding into form now, she’ll be a certain threat to claim a second gold medal this summer, in Japan.

Korn Ferry: Wofford’s pride birdies final two holes for 1st victory

You know you’re small when … your small town isn’t the bigger of the two small towns in an arguably-metro region. Spartanburg ain’t no Greenville, says no one in those parts, but it’s true. And Wofford College is a charming, southern institution of higher learning, located in the middle of Spartanburg. And Andrew Novak found a golf and learning home at Wofford. And now, he has a title and Wofford again has a pro tour winner. Again? You mean another Boston Terrier has won on tour? Uh-huh, one William McGirt, at the 2016 Memorial Tournament. According to my researchers, that’s all. The dynamic duo of McGirt and Novak.

Right, back to Andrew Novak. He and 5 other golfers reached 20-below par at the Lakewood National (not to be confused with other, national golf clubs) near Sarasota. Greyson Sigg, Chandler Blanchott, and David Kocher ran out of gas there, and tied for 4th. Taylor Montgomery actually reached -22, before a bogey at the last dropped him to -21 and solo 3rd place. John Chin had 5 birdies throught 7 back-nine holes, but failed to summon a 6th, and ended his run at -22. And Novak? He birdied 17 and 18, to jump from 3rd to 1st in the blink of an eye. Novak moved all the way from 26th to 3rd on The 25 chase for PGA Tour cards. He’ll certainly earn his for 2020-2021, but might he manage 2 more victories, for a battlefield promotion? Keep closing and the answer will be uh-huh. #GoTerriers

Tour Champions: The ultimate grinder peppermills his third Senior victory

Bernhard Langer, Stephen Leaney, and Chris DiMarco went out on Sunday and shot wonderful rounds … for the conclusion of a US Open. Hovering near par, on any day, would not bring baubles at the Chubb Classic. Bob Estes went out and posted 64, his best round of the week by 3, to reach 15-under par. He blazed past the aforementioned trinity, but could not reach the brass ring. That plum went to Scott Parel, probably the only Georgia Bulldog who never was … a Georgia Bulldog. Parel posted 63 on Sunday, eclipsing Estes’ 198 by 2 shots. The victory was Parel’s 3rd on the late-stage circuit, and was his first since October of 2018. Parel graduated from the large, state school in Athens, but never competed for the varsity squad. He made his living as a computer programmer, but never gave up his dream of playing professional golf. As a size 50+, he is now living that dream. Langer salvaged a tie for 3rd (with Kevin Sutherland) at -13. Ironically, Parel has been in two Champions playoffs in his career, and has lost both of them … to Kevin Sutherland. Good thing for him that the California native could “only” close with 67

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