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Jack Nicklaus: “Change the frigging golf ball,” not No. 13 at Augusta

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Reports surfaced in recent months that Augusta National, in a perpetual effort to improve upon Bobby Jones’ dream, is considering annexing the abutting Augusta Country Club in order to lengthen the 510-yard par-five 13th hole. The 13th traditionally plays as one of the handful of easiest holes at ANGC and the Georgia course’s second-easiest par-five (behind the 15th hole).

A late February Golfweek report indicated the club is seeking to purchase the territory bordering the 12th and 13th holes (Augusta Country Club’s ninth hole) in order to move the 13th tee back approximately 15 yards.

The price of the job? A reported $27 million.

It’s against this backdrop that six-time Masters champion, Jack Nicklaus was asked his thoughts on adding yardage to No. 13.

Here’s what Nicklaus, who is on the record calling for a rolling-back of the golf ball, said.

Well, you’ve probably got three or four different ways to handle that situation.  One would be very simply just make it a par 4. They could do that, which they are not going to do.

Number two is what they’re proposing to do, and of course that depends on whether Augusta Country Club will share their property with Augusta National or not. That’s another question. Depends on what the tariff is, not sure about that.

The third thing they could do, and they’ve got plenty of room to do it, is recreate the green back about 30 yards. They could do that very easily. Probably make the same hole.

Four, they could take and reroute the stream bed, push it out and put a few more trees in.

So they’ve got a lot of options of what they could do.  I’m sure that from a traditionalist standpoint, the best way is probably to lengthen the hole, and then you don’t change anything else. They have done that once, bought some land from Augusta Country Club and did that. 

I think with the length the guys hit today, it’s the only reason. I tell you, the simplest solution is change the frigging golf ball (laughter). The golf ball goes so far, Augusta National is about the only place, the only golf course in the world that financially can afford to make the changes that they have to make to keep up with the golf ball. I don’t think anybody else could ever do it.

It’s worth noting that, according to Chairman Billy Payne, the deal is far from done. When asked about the land deal Wednesday, Payne stated diplomatically:

“As we do every year…we are always looking at options for numerous of our holes … As a consequence, 13 is one of those holes we are studying. We have made no decision whatsoever.”

Also interesting: Alex Myers of Golf Digest, writing about the reported deal in February, included some very cool graphics, like the one below,  that detail the evolution of the 13th, which began as a 480-yard hole, and has been lengthened 25 yards since 2001.

augusta-2011

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57 Comments

57 Comments

  1. Mike

    Apr 11, 2016 at 11:53 am

    In all of the discussion(s) about equipment, balls, course length etc, no one has looked at a simple solution to negate those advances and that would be to reduce the size of the hole on the green. Off the top of my head, I think the current size is something like 4.25 inches. Just reduce that .25 to .10 In the long run, it would be the cheapest and easiest option.

    • Chuck

      Apr 11, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      What a ghastly idea! Who wants to watch a Masters or a US Open where all if the players are fighting the thought of 4- and 5-putt greens everywhere! Just to avoid scaling back driver distance by some reasonable percentage?!?

      Honest to God I think some people would sooner pull out all of their own teeth with their bare hands rather than entertain slightly different specs for the Pro V1.

      Hey I have an idea; instead of a hole, we have a big ramp on some greens, and players will need to putt up the ramp and into the mouth if a giant plastic clown? And in other holes, we’ll have a windmill with a passageway in the bottom, and players will need to hit it through the passageway in between the blades if the windmill. That will control scoring, right?

  2. Rich

    Apr 11, 2016 at 6:15 am

    This is a stupid discussion and I don’t care what JN thinks. Augusta National Golf Club is not the be all and end all of golf and we shouldn’t be changing the “ball” just because some green jackets and Jack are worried about one golf course and one tournament. I love watching the masters as much as anyone else and one day I hope I can visit but they don’t need to change a thing on that golf course. Each year it provides a terrific spectacle. Some years better than others but that’s got nothing to do with the 13th. If you make it longer, it only plays into the long hitters hands even more. When you add 10 more yards, you take the risk of the second shot out of the hands of even more players, not the Bubba Watsons or Dustin Johnsons of the golfing world. They’ll just hit 6 iron instead of 7. Changing 13 serves no purpose at all. Leave it alone. The Masters and ANGC are great as they are.

    • Chuck

      Apr 11, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      This is not a stupid discussion. Unless you are at such a pinnacle of golf that you think Jack Nucklaus, Gary Player, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Doak, Greg Norman and Geoff Shackelford are all golfing idiots. Because they have all spoken out about ball regulations.

      We are not worried about just one course. Augusta is just the canary in the coal mine. Or the gold standard. You pick a metaphor. Augusta is the avatar of championship golf courses; and we can’t afford to change all of them. We should know better than to change any if them, just to keep up with golf ball technology.

      And since this fight seems to have a vaguely generational tinge to it, let’s be really plain about why millennial-generation gol heros aren’t speaking out about golf ball regulations. There’s just one simple reason; they are all under contract to a major ball manufacturer with lots of valuable patents on a certain multilayer solid core urethane ball. So they can’t say anything.

    • ken

      Jun 3, 2016 at 12:13 pm

      The issue is not limited to AGNC and The Masters.
      On the regular tour, there are several courses that the players have turned into “bomb and gouge”….Driver or 3 metal off the tee, short iron or wedge to throw darts at the hole. Winning scores in excess of 20 under par. Not very entertaining.

  3. Diarra

    Apr 10, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    Agree with some of the commenters that I couldn’t care less if the 13th is lengthened. Augusta got a lot of criticism the first time they lengthened the course (about 2006-2007 I think ) but now, who even remembers it? You have to adjust to the times and not adjust the whole sport to one clubs traditions. I think the sport has grown and gotten a lot interesting since the players started getting fitter and driving longer, that is one of the reasons Tiger became so popular, his power game.

  4. Jnak97

    Apr 10, 2016 at 2:54 am

    It’s not like many pros even hit it that far. The average driving distance on tour is like 280 yards. For most par fours that still leaves between 175 and 200 in. Only a few people can hit the ball over 300 and even then they average like 305. I do not think changing the ball is going to be good for golf. For amateurs trying to make it competitively and go out on tour, they are going to have to change the way they play the entire game. Its not like changing a bat in baseball where the ball just wont fly as far. We are dealing with spin, bounce, wind effects, distance control. The precision that is required by the game of golf would take too long to re-learn once you turn pro.

    • Andrew Cooper

      Apr 10, 2016 at 11:04 am

      Jnak97. 100% agree. Average driving distance on tour is in the 280s and has hardly moved since the early 2000s. Sure there are players carrying 300 yards but they’re definitely in the minority- and the average hitters can still compete-e.g. Langer and Kjeldsen this week. The golf media, industry and much of the golfing public are obsessed with distance, and it is obviously in the interest of certain parties to feed this. But the smallest difference between a good level amateur and an average tour pro is the distance they hit, so having a different ball is a terrible idea-sorry Jack.

      • Chuck

        Apr 10, 2016 at 1:01 pm

        Don’t be silly.

        In 2002, just one player — John Daly averaged 300+ yards for the year.

        In 2016, current PGA Tour stats have 35 players all averaging 300+ yards off the tee.

        Measured drives, in both cases.

        • Andrew Cooper

          Apr 10, 2016 at 3:22 pm

          Chuck, yes but from 2003 little has changed. The ball is restricted as is the cor on drivers and there is only so much lighter and longer you can go. I’d put any increase since then down mostly to players being more athletic and, with 460cc and a ball that doesn’t spin half as much, more inclined to give it a rip. Coaching has probably changed a little too with more focus on power and less on plane, connection, controlling ball flight e.t.c.

          • Chuck

            Apr 10, 2016 at 4:21 pm

            People keep saying stuff like that.

            I can agree, but only to an extent. Let’s number them, to keep them in order.

            1. Yes, the Pro V1 hasn’t changed a whole lot since it took over golf in about 1999. But the Pro V proves what a specific “ball” problem this is. The modern distance explosion is related rather specifically to the ball, and incremental improvements in the ball. Distance was almost never discussed as a problem, in the forty years following World War II. Your positing the theory that “little has changed since 2003” overlooks the fact that there has been a big jump in distance before 2003, and only a slightly less-big jump since 2003.

            2. I have long been of the view that the USGA — and particularly Frank Thomas — blew it when the driver head-volume revolution occurred in the early part of this century. Frank Thomas infamously pronounced that driver head size was not a problem (back when head sizes were just over 300cc) and would not be a problem in the future. I think it would have been much better to limit head size closer to 300cc, rather than putting on the brakes at 460cc. The USGA is exquisitely sensitive to any ex post facto bans on clubs, and I can understand why. They do not want to be in the business of effectively banning a club that somebody paid a lot of money for, a year or two earlier. It’s regrettable how drivers turned out. There’s no good reason why drivers couldn’t have been limited sooner.

            3. Regarding all of the other things that help make players long in the 21st century: size, fitness, technique, launch-monitoring, agronomy, etc….

            I don’t doubt any of it; and it doesn’t change my mind one tiny bit, regarding golf balls. Balls are cheap, fungible, unmemorable, unimportant bits in the game of golf. If all of those other things are beyond any comprehensible “rollbacks,” we turn to the golf ball as one thing that we can regulate.

            • Andrew Cooper

              Apr 10, 2016 at 5:17 pm

              Chuck, I agree that the govening bodies were late in responding to the leap in balls and drivers in the early 2000s, but the chances of any roll back now are pretty much zero. The limits are more or less working now and I don’t see the game as being in such a bad place really. Certainly the equipment advances have made the game more fun for the masses. And for a lot of golfers getting their hands on some new toys each season in the hope an extra few yards is part of the fun and also what keeps the wheels turning.

            • Andrew Cooper

              Apr 10, 2016 at 5:59 pm

              Chuck, I agree that the governing bodies were slow to see the big advances in the early 2000s. But there is zero chance there will be any roll back now. The limits are in place and are working. Anyhow I don’t think the game is in such a bad place. Certainly for the masses the better ball and clubs have made the game more fun. And part of the fun for many is getting their hands on new toys every year in the hope of an extra few yards.

      • ken

        Jun 3, 2016 at 12:20 pm

        The difference is that looking back 20 years ago it took most players 5 or even a 4 iron to get to a green in regulation…Now these guys are going at these greens from 170-190 yards with 7 or 8 irons.
        Yesterday at the Memorial, I saw one player, can’t remember whom, use a 9 iron from 178 yards and fly the ball just past the flag. I am a mid level player and comparing myself to my similarly skilled golfing buddies, I am not short schnokcer. But 178 yards of carry for me on a GOOD day is a 6. Mostly I will hit 5 iron for that distance. That’s a difference of about 15 degrees of loft( 5 iron in my bag is 27 degrees, 9 iron is 43*)

  5. Steve

    Apr 10, 2016 at 12:21 am

    The leader is -3 thru 54 holes right now. Do we REALLY need to make changes? Seems like the course is holding up just fine to me…

    • Chuck

      Apr 10, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      ANGC is “holding up” now, because conditions have been very, very tough with the greens very dry, and the winds very tough.

      And, it is “holding up” because the club has cobbled enough yardage to turn a 6,900 yard layout into a 7,400 yard monster, and even that yardage is seen as insufficient now; witness the controversy over Hole 13. Yardage, and greens that are so fast that there have been a few days where high winds threatened to stop play when balls could be blown off greens.

  6. Bobby Boucher

    Apr 9, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    when we run out of water we will wonder why we have been watering 8,000 yards of fairway and greens on golf courses

  7. Mike C

    Apr 9, 2016 at 10:12 am

    Simple contour the fairway and add longer rough. This course has very little rough unlike all other majors. No One ever talks about rough when they talk about changes to Augusta

  8. DW

    Apr 8, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    Seems to me not altogether different from the restrictions in Major League Baseball where the players are not allowed metal bats, just wood. If you limit the professional players to a particular ball type while not the amateurs, what would be the harm there? Show off the skill not just the bashing abilities of the best of us, while allowing the rest of us to keep up if we can.

  9. Jason

    Apr 8, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Eventually we’re going to need binoculars to see where the balls land.

  10. Marsh

    Apr 8, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    Hi Everyone,
    I think Jack is spot on. Golf is odd in that players can use different balls from different manufacturers , have different compressions and different construction , yet all players are competing in the same competition. You don’t get this situation in other sports -tennis ,snooker football , rugby etc. There is in effect one match ball. What a farce it would be if different football players could use different balls to make a kick. For example at a penalty in soccer or a conversion in rugby. The kicker decides he will use a football with a different type of cover or construction .
    In order to keep traditional courses playing as they were designed to be played , it must be better to control golf ball construction , –real estate must cost way too much. It is getting to the stage where tour players will hit it around 400yds and only need a driver and a variety of wedges. No one will need to hit 6,7 or 8 irons into greens .
    By all means have a pro match ball and a different amateur match ball ,so the game is not spoiled for amateurs. I would go further and say that only one make of ball should be used for each professional tournament. They can rotate through the manufacturers from tournament to tournament.
    Maybe another old man opinion but here in the UK I think there are now more old guys on the course than youngsters most days !

    • john

      Apr 10, 2016 at 7:54 pm

      why exactly would anyone start hitting the ball 400 yards? golf balls and drivers are limited, you’re seeing the ‘tiger effect’ – kids who grew up believing the way to be the best in the world was to hit the gym and bulk up. You used to see tour pro’s like Stadler – huge FAT people, others who smoked while they played. Today they are healthy, fit athletes and this is how far they hit the ball. You will never see someone averaging over 400 yards unless a Happy Gilmore new type of swing is developed.

  11. Jason

    Apr 8, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    Jack is right, the length of courses is getting silly. As a teenager I drove the ball 220 yards. Now, 30 years later, I drive it about 300. How long before we need spotters with binoculars to let us know where our 450 yard drives are landing. For those who think jack is wrong, get over yourselves, your grip it and rip it mentality shows me that you shouldn’t be playing golf but instead entering long drive competitions.

  12. Adam

    Apr 8, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    I’m not sure why people think regulating the ball would make it harder for novices. In fact the opposite could happen. Write the rules so the pros have to use a ball simmilar to a “slow swing speed” ball. That’s likely the ball most people with a high handicap are playing and the ones with the low handicap will likely lose 20yds+ off the drive. It also allows for much of the already available balls to be used in competitive play.

    You can easily regulate the ball so that drives of 300yd+ become a very rare occasion while drives of 270yds are still quite commonplace. This would allow amateurs to drive the same distances as pro’s. It also makes stratagey and ball control more important to winning, it’s a “no loss” solution.

  13. cody

    Apr 8, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    i dont feel that the golfball needs to change, or courses get longer. All that needs to be done can be done via course design. pinch fairways, tuck pins, and block approach shots from the wrong side of the fairway. i dont know why this isnt done more.

  14. Chuck

    Apr 8, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    I caddied for Jack once, at the peak of his powers in 1973. I want to assure you that Jack was indeed long; one if the longest players on tour, and with lots of power held in reserve.

    But I also want to impress upon you something that Jack has said publicly and repeatedly; that even in his prime, Jack still played a game, distance-wise, that could be approximated by someone like the local club pro at a course he was visiting.

    And that is no longer the case. The tour pros (and some collegiate players) are far ahead of the rest if the game, to an extent unknown in the past.

    So I would respectfully suggest that changes with the golf ball in the Pro-V era are qualitative changes and not merely quantitative evolutionary things.

    And let us all remember that the Pro-V (and all similar urethane balls are a development that has done nothing for most average recreational players. The simple basis for my assertion in that regard is that most recreational players are not buying those balls.

  15. Double Mocha Man

    Apr 8, 2016 at 10:54 am

    Just let the advances in equipment take their natural progression. That will be good and invigorating for all the non-pros. As for the pros, their average scores will go down but eventually they’ll have to learn to hit a “throttled” driver or an iron or hybrid off the tee on certain holes. While the rest of us still get to hit the crap out of our driver! It’s a win-win. There are holes at my course where I have to dial it back because the fairway runs out early or a creek crosses the fairway. This is a course strategic thing. Without tricking out the majors courses do let them remain a chess game of sorts. I am not fond of the idea of bombing it off every par 4 and 5 tee. Make every pro learn the Ernie Els method of short putting.

  16. Fred

    Apr 8, 2016 at 8:30 am

    Rolling the ball back may help most amateurs. Play a course with just your irons and you will likely score lower over their long term. This is an oversimplification but could, in effect, be what a rolled back ball produces. In regard to lengthening courses, I think we’re talking about a small number of elite courses that have to adjust. None of the courses in my area have been changed in decades except a PGA venue. Without data I would guess that the average scores of amateurs haven’t dropped and may actually be higher on balance in the modern era. I coach golf and see plenty of club head speed send shots further into the rough. The middle of the fairway is still a lonely place.

  17. Ryan

    Apr 8, 2016 at 8:17 am

    For Chuck, and all the guys that think it’s a good idea to listen to Jack:

    I will respectfully disagree, here’s why.
    1. Some of the distance increase is attributable to equipment – duh. Also, some of it is attributable to enhanced egronomy, and I think a significantly overlooked factor is the physical conditioning of players these days. There were ZERO golfers 40 years ago who built their bodies like DJ, Rory, Jason. Want to regulate that? Good luck. You’ll make golf a sport that only super athletes can compete in, not good for the rest of us.
    2. Nobody is shooting 57s – in fact the scoring average on tour has literally stayed the same. Equipment is literally at the USGA limits – COR, MOI, ball speed. Any increases will be small and incremental from here on, but will have to do mostly with optimization – another factor that ZERO people thought about 40 years ago. Nobody looked at their launch conditions or spin rates back then, they pulled a driver off the rack that worked and stuck with it. Want to regulate people optimizing their launch conditions? Good luck.
    3. A “pro ball” (bifurcation) is the WORST thing we could do for our game. I believe that a key tenet of golf, especially at the high-level amateur play and mid-level amateur play such as state ams (where I try to compete), is that we’re playing by the same rules the big boys are and with the same gear (more or less). We’ll be relegating ourselves to NCAA baseball with aluminum bats. Who cares if ZJ is playing the new Pro-V1 if you can’t use it and have any hope of competing with your peers, who would be using the “old ball” or “hot ball”? It would be a hard blow to the industry, which isn’t exactly doing great right now. Oh, and we’ve tried bifurcation before. Remember the British ball? Square grooves? What happened there? The governing bodies (correctly) determined that golf should be played by one set of rules for all, and we’ve had relative harmony since. There have been some rules that slowly made it to the amateur ranks (such as grooves), but they’re making it – and most good players I know try to play by the big boy rules.
    4. If you go by my assertion that bifurcation is a bad idea, you are left with one option – roll the ball back for everybody. That would be disastrous thing to do for golfers in an era of declining participation. When aging players can’t reach par-4s in two from the whites anymore, some will move up a tee – and many will quit.
    5. Courses change. Even the good ones. I’m totally fine with Augusta pushing back the tee on 13 – so what? My memories of #13 are not of the specifics of the tee box; they’re of birdies and eagles, Phil Mickelson, Bubba, Tiger, hanging lies. Bumping back the tee 25 yards has ZERO effect on that. It will still be a great par-5.
    6. Old guys have old guy opinions. Most old guys I know don’t want things to change – even for the better at times. Jack is an icon, and people should listen to his opinions. But don’t take his opinion as the gold standard.

    Just my $0.02. We’ll be ok everybody. There will be changes, and we’ll change, and we’ll still be ok.

    • Chuck

      Apr 8, 2016 at 9:23 am

      Two quick things in reply.

      First, I very strongly agree that there should be no bifurcation of the rules. You have stated that case rather nicely.

      Second: even if I were to assume that the inordinate distances on Tour were attributable to things like “player fitness” or “agronomy,” the best solution is to adjust the golf ball’s performance.

      Because of course we are not going to regulate fitness, and we should always set up golf courses to make them play in the most interesting (not the most defensive) way possible.

      In a word, it is easier to adjust golf ball performance standards than Augusta or St. Andrews. The golf ball itself is the least interesting, least memorable, most unimportant part of the game.

  18. Brian

    Apr 8, 2016 at 3:52 am

    And when that (extended) hole becomes too short in x number of years time, what happens then?. Something has to change.

  19. timbleking

    Apr 8, 2016 at 3:00 am

    I heard that a lot of people stop playing golf everyday in the US and that it was a tricky problem, e.g. an economic problem. And we have in front of us one the most listened golf voices saying that we have to hit the ball shorter, making it harder for everyone. Where’s the logic?

    I know he did not talk about the amateurs, but One game, One rule, for everyone, no? What if we start to rule the game differently depending on your status?

  20. Ryan

    Apr 8, 2016 at 1:33 am

    Let’s make the game harder for 99.9% of the players, so the elite 0.01% have a toughr go at it. Get lost Jack..

  21. nic

    Apr 7, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    I agree with Jack! Pretty soon we will have 8,000 yard courses then 8,500 and so on. Something needs to be done. Distance is not related to the skill of the game, it is related to the talent/athletic ability of the game. Rolling the ball back or capping it as is will still give long hitters advantages.

    • john

      Apr 10, 2016 at 8:01 pm

      no not at all, it’s only because Jack isn’t a very good golf course designer. You don’t need to make par 4’s 550 yards to make them difficult – that’s an old man way of thinking about golf. Riviera has that short par 4 which regularly shoots over par, how come this is hard to grasp?

  22. Chuck

    Apr 7, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    I really like the equipment websites — like GolfWRX; I learn a lot here but when it comes to these issues involving the USGA, golf course architecture and equipment regulations I just shake my head.

    Geoff Shackelford’s great website has a little page called The List. He’s been compiling it for many, many years. With comments from dozens of people who have forgotten more about golf courses than most of us could ever hope to know. And they all have lobbied for better regulations for golf balls. Some have favored a competition ball; some have favored a bifurcation for elite players. And some want a ball rollback without any bifurcation.

    Link to The List: http://www.geoffshackelford.com/the-list/

    Personally, I think it is absurd and obscene, what now needs to be done to set up the great historic championship courses for major championships and golf course architecture, reading threads like this make me worry about the future of the game. As the one perennial home to a major, Augusta ought to be the choke-point for further distance advances. It is actually a pity, that there is so much wealth concentrated in the Club that they can buy Berckmanns Road and bribe Augusta Country Club to alter their own golf course. It’s too bad that an ocean, or some other immovable obstruction doesn’t force Augusta to deal with the ball.

    Obscene and absurd is of course the only description that could apply to the changes made to The Old Course, for it to host an Open Championship. Of the courses on the British Open rota, they have all been stretched and pulled almost to the absolute limit of available space. Of the courses that have hosted the U.S. Open, a great many can no longer host the event.

    Years ago, the USGA and the R&A together issued a Joint Statement of Principles on the subject of technology-produced distance in golf. Together, they declared that any further distance gains in golf would be undesirable. By that time, they had begun to closely measure the performance of solid core urethane golf balls. Driver heads were basically limited to 460cc, and the CoR testing would soon lead to CT testing for spring-like effects of clubhead faces.

    And yet we have seen further distance gains on all of the world professional tours, and indeed at all levels of elite golf where the solid core urethane ball has completely taken over.

    The Joint Statement of Principles: http://www.usga.org/equipment-standards/joint-statement-of-principles-892b2553.html

  23. Sheap

    Apr 7, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    just grow 4 inch rough all around the green and drop a couple of degrees at the front of the green toward the creek….in other words if you go over green you have such rough your not getting it to the hole..plus if the slop on front half of green is even more then now you can count on X number of shots from that rough going into creek. any hole over 400 yards with 4 inches or more of rough and say only 20 yards of fairway width between 290 and 360 will take care of the ball issue….

    • Chuck

      Apr 7, 2016 at 10:12 pm

      I don’t mean to single you out personally, but I do wish to single out your idea and call attention to it.

      Yours is the single worst idea in dealing with poorly regulated equipment technology. It would be better to do nothing, and let players shoot 57’s, 58’s and 59’s, than to do the things you suggest.

      Let’s review. Long rough surrounding narrow fairways, along with superfast greens, is how you “trick” a course into producing a certain score. It is also how you produce boring, repetitive, narrow-minded anti-strategic golf. What is the point of golf, if you are simply banging shots down a narrow alleyway?

      Narrowed fairways eliminate the choices and the strategy that all great golf course architects tried to build into their championship courses. There are no angles to choose from, when everybody tries to hit into a narrow place. There are reduced numbers of places to put flagsticks, when you make the greens so blazingly fast that they can’t be near any slopes. Rough (along with trees, which are yet another way to trick a course into a self-defensive mode) is just about the most useless hazard in the game. For ordinary players, it just slows down play terribly. For great competitive players, it produces dreadfully boring, defensive golf.

      Indeed, the way to make a course really the most interesting is to dry it out, so that the ball rolls and rolls. That brings in a whole new element — the geographical contours of the land itself — into the game. The problem is, that it makes the distance problem all that much worse. A dried out course can play very short, but also more fascinating. Think Hoylake (Royal Liverpool) which will very likely go down in history as Tiger Woods’ greatest Open Championship. Playing courses in that fashion make it all the more important to get a dramatic, and not just a modest, roll back in golf ball performance.

    • Philip

      Apr 8, 2016 at 12:23 am

      Yes, the most obvious defence is to grow the rough. Unfortunately, that goes against the illusion of the PGA Tour slogan “These guys are good”. To golfers we realize what it takes to do what these guys do, but to the average viewer, they truly have no idea and thus, the tour must ensure these guys never look bad – except for the US Open of course. It is a question of marketing and money – personally modifying the ball is likely the best option, but it will diminish the godly ability of the golfers. From a business point of view I do not envy the tour’s position.

  24. Bernard

    Apr 7, 2016 at 6:36 pm

    Several things to consider;

    The distance is an issue in that the intent of the layout is nullified by technology that allows talented guys to bomb past obstacles and hit little more than a wedge into a green. That was never the intent of the original designs. 2015 majors is a case in point. The two majors that were played on modern designs (built with modern tech in mind) ended up being more interesting and competitive ones over the two majors on classic courses.

    Distance is just a part of it though, the real issue is how the modern ball has neutered the wind. Wind is the X-factor in golf and the ball has killed the drama wind offers to championship golf. And when there is wind then guys need to work their shots more, so in effect the game gotten dumbed down on some level.

    Having a tournament ball and maybe even tournament sticks is completely doable and desirable. The amateur can still play what he desires and the pros can play the game the way it was intended. Spectators get to see higher quality competition. Companies get to sell a new line of equipment. Everybody wins.

  25. Matthew Bacon

    Apr 7, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    Funny Jack wasn’t advocating for the gutta percha in his day when he was bombing it past his fellow competitors. While I agree a “tournament” golf ball is an interesting idea. I would also add technological innovation has gone hand and hand with the game of golf.

  26. Bernard

    Apr 7, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    He has been saying this for over 20 years.

  27. Double Mocha Man

    Apr 7, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    With all due respect Jack, I say don’t limit the length of the pros. It’s fun to watch. Just make our balls much longer and mess with the COR of our drivers so we can crush it 320. All is good.

  28. Boh

    Apr 7, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    Slide the tee farther left forcing players to take it out right. Change the angles players have to use. I think have an eagle opportunity on 13 makes for an exciting Sunday.

  29. Jon

    Apr 7, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Why not just use an eraser to remove the 5, write in a 4 and use the member tees? I’m sure it would save the club a few million bucks.

    • Jon

      Apr 7, 2016 at 5:48 pm

      Thank you for reminding me. WTH was I thinking?

    • Philip

      Apr 8, 2016 at 12:24 am

      That is not a bad option as PAR is just a number.

  30. Jordan

    Apr 7, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    They should just be like major league baseball and make all the pro’s use wooden clubs. Leave the precious metals to us amateurs…… I’m kidding….. or am I?

    Vokey SM8’s in Maple – $650 in hyper-inflated Bernie Bucks.

  31. Joshuaplaysgolf

    Apr 7, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    He’s been calling for this for years. For example, there was an interview in Feb. ’14 where he said the same. The game keeps getting longer, and if you think about how longer golf courses cost more to build, both for the land and development, more to maintain, and more water…is that sustainable? But can we get over our egos enough to knowingly accept hitting the ball shorter? And how does that effect the average player? Does the USGA make pros play with different (restricted flight) balls than the rest of us? It’s a really interesting debate.

  32. cody

    Apr 7, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    with all respect jack. Shut up.

    • Lol @ Cody

      Apr 7, 2016 at 2:20 pm

      You clearly have no uden what you are talking about.I do agree but it’s too late now. They should have had regulations redone when the USGA tested the Pro V1 and saw how much farther it was going against the professional or revolution back then. To have everyone hit it 5 percent less and spin more will just hurt the average amateur. It’ll help courses and the pro level but you can’t kick the amateur game down.

      So I agree. Change the friggin ball.

      • cody

        Apr 8, 2016 at 11:39 am

        I will admit that i do not know everything. what i do know is that pro golfers are not hitting the ball any farther today than they did ten years ago. Look it up. the player with the longest average all time is Hank Kuene (spelling). now, if he simply stated the ball goes straighter i would agree with that. Also, look at the golfers today verses 20 years ago. they are fitter, and stronger. i do not agree with him. I love jack (the golfer) i do not like when old guys want to pipe up and hold back a sport. I admit it bugs me.

    • MarkB A

      Apr 7, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      Jack is still the ambassador for golf. The golf balls are out of control. The Masters is still a tough enough course that they probably could leave the hole alone. Watching Rickie and other struggle out there. It is very tough.

  33. Bernard

    Apr 7, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    Amen.

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GolfWRX was on site for the final regular season (that’s pre-FedEx Cup Playoffs) event, the Wyndham Championship.

On the ground in Greensboro, we have eight general galleries for you dig into, WITBs for 10 players — including Jooyhung Kim — and a look at some new putters from Odyssey/Toulon.

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GolfWRX is live from our backyard PGA Tour event: the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club.

So far this week, we have five general galleries for you to digest. You can also check out nine WITB galleries, including the always interesting Geoff Ogilvy and Bo Van Pelt. We also have an in-hand look at Rickie Fowler’s Scotty Cameron putter and Henrik Norlander‘s prototype PXG 0317ST irons.

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GolfWRX headed across the pond this week for the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club.

In one of our rare overseas forays there was plenty to see — and to that end, keep an eye on our Instagram and TikTok for some cool content from the land of the Scots, like the video tour of North Berwick Golf Club, below!

@golfwrx Inside of the North Berwick Golf Club, the 13th oldest golf club in the world. Founded in 1832. #golf #golftiktok #golfwrx #scotland ? cheerful day in the Scottish village – Kendorfine

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@golfwrx More views from the West Links Course at the historic North Berwick Golf Club! #golf #golftiktok #golfwrx #scotland #travel ? Paper Birds (3 min) – Jordan Halpern Schwartz

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