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A case for a different kind of bifurcation



As most you know, I am a full time teaching professional and regularly write about instruction. But after watching the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am this weekend, I couldn’t help but think of the case some are making for bifurcation.

When golfers watch an event like the AT&T at Pebble Beach, the most celebrated pro-am in the world, they can clearly see the differences between amateur and professional golfers. There was one instance I saw where, because of the difference in the front and back tees, a drive of the pro and amateur came to rest very near each other. From there, the pro hit a 7 iron while the amateur was stuck with a 5 wood. In another case, the professional drove the ball 60 yards past his amateur partner who was a 7 handicap.

The pros are clearly playing a different game — no question about that. So the bifurcation debate, which is mostly about potential changes to the golf ball, rages on. Should the pros play a shorter-flying golf ball than amateurs to protect par and keep classic courses from becoming obsolete? Many say yes, and the fact that courses like Merion don’t play as tough as they used to for professionals makes me want to agree with them. But I’d like to offer a different strategy: let’s make the golf ball and the clubs that amateurs play more lively.

Let’s take 0.83 COR limit off for the amatuers, and let’s make a golf ball that flies further. We know we have the technology to do this, so let’s open it up. I mean, we have aluminum bats in baseball. We just don’t let the best baseball players in the world use them. Sound familiar?

With hot golf balls and hot drivers, the sky is the limit for how much fun golfers can have. Wouldn’t it be fun for the 240 hitter to hit it 280, maybe 300 yards, just to see how the pros play the course? Sure, 15 handicaps will still struggle with direction and distance control, but it seems we might interest a LOT of people in playing the game when they have the chance to reach a par 5 in two.

The other two options are not so good:

  1. Rolling back the distance the ball flies for pros, which does nothing to enhance the amateur game, or
  2. Accepting that the pros are the only ones who can play the course the way they do. After all, the pros already play a course that is maybe 500 yards longer, isn’t that enough?

I’m not so sure it is enough. We know the game is much less appealing when we ask most golfers to play shorter courses, but perhaps they equipment itself would allow for this to happen.

Golf needs more players. To do this, the game has to be more fun. I, for one, would like to see a golf ball and a driver that goes as far as is technologically possible. This is a win/win situation. As a teaching pro, one of my responsibilities is growing the game. I can think of no way better way to do that than to giving the average golfer more distance. At the same time, manufacturers would probably sell more balls and drivers each year since they would be free to make clubs that significantly boosted performance. We all would win.

Of course the State Golf associations, the local arms of the USGA and other governing bodies can make whatever rules they want for state, regional or national competitions. I can tell you from years of experience, however, that it is difficult to get non-competitive players to move up to the front tees when their group plays “the tips.” So let’s allow everyone to go back there and still have reasonable length approach shots into the green.

As always, feel free to send a swing video to my Facebook page and I will do my best to give you my feedback.

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Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional. Clark has taught the game of golf for more than 30 years to golfers all across the country, and is recognized as one of the leading teachers in the country by all the major golf publications. He is also is a seven-time PGA award winner who has earned the following distinctions: -- Teacher of the Year, Philadelphia Section PGA -- Teacher of the Year, Golfers Journal -- Top Teacher in Pennsylvania, Golf Magazine -- Top Teacher in Mid Atlantic Region, Golf Digest -- Earned PGA Advanced Specialty certification in Teaching/Coaching Golf -- Achieved Master Professional Status (held by less than 2 percent of PGA members) -- PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Golf Professional of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Presidents Plaque Award for Promotion and Growth of the Game of Golf -- Junior Golf Leader, Tri State section PGA -- Served on Tri State PGA Board of Directors. Clark is also former Director of Golf and Instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. He now directs his own school, The Dennis Clark Golf Academy at the JW Marriott Marco Island in Naples, Fla.. He can be reached at [email protected]



  1. bob

    Mar 29, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    What is needed is to stop calling the front tee box the “ladies tee”, and instead assign a handicap to each tee box and post it — i.e. the red tees are 20 hdcp and up, then 19 hdcp thru 13 hdcp for white tees, 12 thru 7 use blue ….6 thru 0 use can use black

  2. Double Mocha Man

    Mar 24, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Leave everything the same. Make the hole 1.63 inches wide for the touring pros.

  3. Dave Tutelman

    Mar 14, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Just did some calculations. No amount of juicing up the ball and the club will get the pro-am duffers hitting the same distance as the pros. Let’s go to the numbers:

    The PGA Tour average clubhead speed is 115mph. Not the big hitters, the average. At a COR of .83, that translates to a carry distance of 277 yards. (The guys shown on TV banging the ball over the bunker 300 yards out are the big hitters, with considerably higher clubhead speeds.)

    The Sunday golfer seldom has a clubhead speed over 100mph. But let’s be generous and compare a pretty strong 100-mph golfer with a just average 115-mph pro. At a COR of .83, that’s a carry of 233 yards. Yes, a big difference.

    Now let’s assume someone can actually build balls and clubs that have a COR of 1.00. (That defies the laws of physics; you can approach 1.00, but never reach it. And I doubt engineers could build to much over .90 today. But let’s assume anyway.) That would give a carry distance of 261 yards. Big improvement, but still 16 yards short of an average pro — worth almost two clubs on the second shot. And it’s harder to get the big COR for the iron they’re going to use on the second shot — so that’s undoubtedly more than two clubs difference.

    That’s just carry distance, you say. What about total distance? Under the same conditions, the longer-carry drive would roll out more as well. So the pros have even more distance advantage. But wait, there’s more. The pros play on deliberately baked fairways, that give lots of roll. The average amateur won’t get anywhere near the rollout of what they see on TV. Again, no comparison.

    So your proposal goes only partway to solve the problem you have identified. Others have questioned whether it is actually a problem — and I do, too. But I’ll restrict my comments here to my area of expertise.

  4. Rich

    Mar 11, 2013 at 11:20 am

    People, people! Bifurcation already exists in golf, and has for many years. It’s called a Handicap.

    Amateurs use them, pro’s don’t.

    Proper education on how to use the system, combined with golfer’s using the appropriate tees based on ability is the way to go. Courses have multiple tee decks for a reason.

    Equipment bifurcation is just a thinly veiled attempt to disguise the real reason that manufacturers have for wanting it. More equipment in the marketplace = more $$$ in their pockets.

    It’s infinitely more simple to “tweak” the exiting handicap system, if need be, than it is to create two sets of rules or “handicap” equipment.

  5. Andrew Graham

    Feb 28, 2013 at 3:49 am

    I see 2 problems …

    1. Dennis is talking about the very elite of playing professionals who do hit it miles, partly because of equipment and partly because they all very skilled and talented sportsmen.

    So what about the rest of the professionals? Not every professional hits it 280/300 yards. My driving distance is only 270 average, which is short by modern standards and I’m not alone either, at the lower end of the golf professional food chain there are lots of “medium” hitters who would be penalised even more than the long hitters would if the rules and regulations limited the distance using the golf ball. Sure, changing the 300+yard drive down to 270 might sound good in theory but that would drop my distance down from 270 to around 245 and that’s no good either – 270 is still a fair ol’ way but 245 just isn’t long enough to reach long par 4’s or the par 5’s, so the shorter hitters end up losing.

    2. The other issue with bifurcation is co-sanctioned events, i.e. US Open / British Open. It just won’t work. You’ll have professionals using one set of equipment and qualifying amateurs using another set of equipment. Well, unless, you specify what equipment standards are and that will mean qualifying amateurs will have to change equipment for the event and we’re talking your average amateur here, we are talking about the PubLinks Champion, US Am Champ, British Am Champ, etc. – these guys are not monkeys with a bat – these are seriously talented players who have to get used to new equipment for these events…

    In my opinion, bifurcation won’t work.

  6. Chris

    Feb 27, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    Argh! If I read any more proposals for equipment rule bifurcation, I fear I will suffer a stroke. Golf can be expensive which most assuredly can have a negative impact on participation. Pray tell, how can the further enabling of OEMs to sell 400 yard selfcorrecting drivers reduce those expenses? I prefer to golf outside and not in my living room on a HD television. Bifurcation in the equipment rules is not going to convince those who do not like the idea of going outside where they might be confronted by fresh air, wind, sun clouds, varying temperature or,Lord forbid, rain. Golf participation is declining. In that regard, golf is no different than baseball or pickup football.One need only to drive by any park to see empty diamonds and fields to understand the new recreational paradigm. 400 yard drivers are not going to induce the homebound to venture forth onto the wilds of a golf course. Golf takes time to learn and can never be mastered.400 yard drivers will not enhance anyone’s learning nor will it get anyone any closer to mastering the game.The actual pace of play needs to be spead up but how do 400 yard drives accomplish this goal? Their is a cry to make golf fun. I find it fun when in the face of all of my shortcomings I can still get my birdies. An earlier commentator expressed a desire to reach a par 5 in two so that they could “experience what a pro does”.I would love to run the mile under 4 minutes. Alas! I am most unlikely to do so. I can drive my car a mile in less than 4 minutes.I suggest that the feeling I derive from driving my car is substantially different than that I might have from running a sub 4 minute mile.The 99.9% of us who golf should not endeavor to demean the game so that we can feel good about ourselves. In short, unless one is either an employee of or a stockholder in an OEM, there is no good reason to bifurcated the rules governing equipment. Golf has problems. Bifurcation addresses none of those problems.

  7. Jack Pond

    Feb 23, 2013 at 10:52 am

    For our group, we use the rules we want to. Lift and clean anytime, 18″ gimmes, one mulligan front and back, modified stableford, and we have a blast.

    We only follow the rules strictly when we play a tournament.

  8. Adam

    Feb 21, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    I think a lot of pros are looking at their hay-day of golf growth, which was 98-2007. That was everyone’s hay-day if they are between the ages of 35-65. I’m not the first to say it, but “it’s the econonmy, stupid.” The arguments about “bifurcation” always come around with more ferver when there is a rule change. We’re discussing it now because of the anchoring ban; and the last time was with the new groove rules. Take a step back and look at the equipment that the pro’s are using, and realize there already is bifurcation. I don’t see any pro playing a distance ball, or a draw biased driver, or a wide soled, hybrid like 6 iron.
    If you assume that the economy can support more growth (I don’t, so I actually think pro’s ought to circle the wagons and make sure the rounds stay the same, so the game isn’t shrinking), then Pace of play is the issue, I live in Dallas, where there are a lot of people who can actually play, and my average round at a municiple course is 4 hours 15 minutes. If I play with my regular 4some on an empty course, we finish in 3 hrs 10 minutes. Telling the guy to pick up, if he has a 30 footer for triple, is the way to increase the pace of play. When I play with a buddy that can’t break 110, I tell him (her) that they have to pick up when they reach triple. Most really poor golfers don’t really like putting anyway, so it doesn’t effect their enjoyment. Also, the hidden benefit here, is that they have more realistic goals, because they want to hit the green in 3 or 4, which is more reflective of their skill level anyway. As a side note, I pick up at triple also when playing with my buddies.

  9. John Erickson

    Feb 18, 2013 at 4:42 am

    There was nothing wrong with the game of golf in the persimmon and balata era. The game was virtually unchanged from the 30’s to the early 90’s. Even early metal woods played basically the same as persimmon. The game maintained a historical relevance for over 60 years. Sarazen hitting a 4 wood into the cup at Augusta for the “shot heard around the world” was not much different that Jose Maria hitting 4 wood into the same hole 50 years later.

    The thing most people forget is that there was a reason golfers carried long irons. You see, a classic par 72 championship course is typically comprised of 10 four pars. Three long ones, meaning 2,3 or 4 iron approach shots. Four mid range, 5,6,7 iron approaches, and three short four pars leaving 8,9, PW. This was designed to properly test the skill level of a quality golfer, pro or good am player.

    Another point is that the shape of a par 4 and par 5 green are different on a quality classic track. This is due to the trajectory of shot coming into the green. A long par 4 need more depth to accept a lower shot. The par 5 can be designed with a shallower depth adding a risk reward situation. The same lower trajectory shot needs to be hit more precisely into a par 5.

    This whole idea of pros only hitting short irons into 4 pars is silly. Mostly mid irons into 5 pars is sillier. If you understand golf, the pro game is horrifically boring to watch these days.

    Was Rory’s US Open record really such a great feat on a course with light rough and greens that held like a dart board? While it may have been good for TV ratings an magazine sales, it belittles the efforts of the great players of the past. Hogan’s US Open record of 8 under par held for many years until Nicklaus equaled it. Hand Rory persimmon and balata with thick US Open rough and make him play under similar conditions and I can assure you he doesn’t shoot 8 under.

    With the ball going 15% farther, the classic 6900 yard course needs to be just shy of 8000 yards. What is the point?

    If weekend ams hit the ball 300, then the pros will hit it 400. Then you end up with the same absurd arguments.. and then the ams want to know what it is like to hit it like the pros do at 400, then when that happens the pros advance even further and it’s more of the same madness.

    A while back they handed Snedecker a set of persimmon and blades and had him play a classic track down at Hilton Head and he shot 80. He was a good sport about it, and commented how much appreciation he had for guys like Trevino who could use that gear and shoot 66. That is what impresses me.

    Then of course there is the whole other side of playing persimmon, the sound of it… the beauty and aesthetic. All that stuff is missing now.

    Longer courses become cost prohibitive over time, slower rounds, increase maintenance costs, environmentally unfriendly. People should also be encouraged to walk the game. If only for the good of your health.
    I’d rather pay a kid to caddy, and teach him a bit about proper golf.

    Grow the classic game. That I can agree on.

    • Eric

      Feb 18, 2013 at 12:48 pm

      Nice Reply

      Golfwrx, you need to give this guy the opportunity to expand on what he wrote in a full blown golfwrx article. It’s a perspective that sorely missing at golfwrx.

    • Casey Dean

      Feb 19, 2013 at 11:28 am

      Thanks for the sanity, John.

  10. Chris

    Feb 17, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    I am also curious as to why so many people think we are losing players or that the game of golf is not growing. I live in a town of about 400K in south Texas and there isn’t a tee time available at either of our municiple courses on a weekend unless you book a week in advance. Even weekdays are packed out and unless you get the first tee time of the day you better be planning on being there for at least 5 hours. The biggest problem IMHO is pace of play. I’m not sure what the perfect solution is but theres no doubt that something needs to be done.

  11. joro3743

    Feb 17, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Amazing responses to this statement. The Pros do play a different game, I know that for a fact having been on both sides of the fence. I was once a long hitting (with wood and Balata) and played in some events. Today I am old and frustrated because age and injuries has made the game difficult. Distance is a big factor and I know that it happens to everyone, but does really have to happen. Would you enjoy the game more if you could get more yards out of a shot, be able to Putt for Birdies again and enjoy the satisfaction of that?

    I know, move up to the forward tees, play the sr tees, or the Lady tees, but is that fun for a man, to logger up to the Ladies tees. What I am getting too is that the guy is right, have restrictions on the good competitors, but make equipment available that will allow the older, or not so gifted player enjoy the game also.

    I see no big deal about this and have to laugh at some of the posters who really think they are hot sh*t and above that. Most of them can’t break an egg anyway. Before you get nasty realize that I was a plus 4 for many years before turning Pro, and my low round is 64, and I have had 9 aces. My low aggregate score on my home course is 37 for 18 holes, but that was years ago and at 74 it would be nice to be able to shoot a good score again from the members tees, and enjoy popping one now and then.

    Thats all, and understand what I am saying before ripping me. :O)

  12. Eric

    Feb 17, 2013 at 8:20 am

    I think this article is a concession that advances in technology thus far haven’t done anything to improve the enjoyment of the game, so why think more “advances” will help? It’s fools gold at best. Either you get golf or you don’t. If you get golf then playing with technology from the 1950’s still makes for a fun game, if you don’t you probably never will.

    Why are we trying to change the game of chess into a 7 hour game of checkers?

  13. Alec

    Feb 17, 2013 at 2:01 am

    My gut reaction is ‘You’re insane’ but that simply isn’t the case. When you say that’golf needs more players’ you’re really saying you need more students and more income. ‘Good for the game’ has always meant ‘gimme more money’.. Maybe the problem is you’re not very good at your job, and PGA credentials don’t really impress me but thanks anyway. I’ve been a professional since 1996 and wouldn’t join the PGA on a dare, doesn’t really affect my business and I have to say no occasionally to new students because there aren’t enough hours in the day to instruct them. If you want amateurs to hit the ball further my best advice would be to teach them to do that if you can and if you don’t mind stop dumbing down the hardest game ever invented. It isn’t supposed to be easy, that’s the point.

  14. Don O'Brien

    Feb 16, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    I agree that letting hacks have longer equipment will just lengthen the time of play. How can you compare the pro game, anyway? They hit greens from 200 yards like I do from 100. No equipment is going to make up for that number. We could use a little help on having shorter tees, and naming based on your typical driver length. People should respect that – not their testosterone. I play whites at 5900-6200 but too often the reds are 5600-5800. My wife needs a 4800-5200 option to keep her coming back. From 5600, she takes 6 shots to approach the green on a par 5 480 yards – yes, they exist. Only a couple of private courses in the area have a green tee. If the muni’s want shorter rounds, encourage at least another tee box. If they blunted the ball, I’d have to move up. My wife will go back to gardening. Stop punishing the guy over a 14 handicap, someone needs to pay the bills. Not enough single digits to keep the courses open.

    The exotic courses can continue at 7300+ yards, but local courses need to feed their audience. And the USGA needs to come up with a better solution than cutting my distance to keep courses workable for the pros.

  15. Nate Eaton

    Feb 16, 2013 at 7:00 am

    Here is my thought on your proposal….

    1. What does this do for USGA events. What happens when the US Amateur qualifies for the masters and starts poking it by all the pros and wins.
    2. People have always wanted to hit it far but most golfers don’t want to play clubs that the Tour guys can’t use. Look at the new grooves rule. Every recreational player I see is playing the new grooves. They won’t even consider the old grooves even if you explain to them the advantages. The funniest part about all of this is the PGA Tour is already playing better equipment then every amateur golfer. They get the first drivers off of the mold, all their clubs are perfectly tailored to their swings, and they have unlimited data provided to them about the areas they need to improve.

    A ball restriction on the PGA Tour would be the best option. Something with limited flight capabilities but the same functionality around the greens. Look at Nascar and the steel block series or the MLB with wooden bats. Differentiations in equipment are also very costly. What if a player transitions from amateur to pro? They will are now responsible for coming up with all new equipment instead of just switching their golf ball. Even the new wedge rule was costly for a lot of amateurs at $120 a club.

    Food for thought. I like the changes but I don’t think changing the clubs is a good idea. The ball is economically safe and would be an easier change.

  16. Ryan

    Feb 15, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    OMG!!! Bang, Bang, Bang, let’s have order in the court… It seems many people have very strong opinions on this topic. First let me say; this was a very well written article by a person that has seen and met every different golf personality on Earth. Also, it was a question! Some of these comments are borderline (at-best), speaking about respect. Golf is a gentlemen’s game, let’s keep our golf blogs in a similar fashion.
    Back to the topic; we have bumpers in bowling, adjustable baskets in basketball, metal bats in baseball, oversized tennis rackets, training wheels on bikes, and we all love to drive those stock little stock cars around a small track. Do we think this is disrespectful to NASCAR? Or better yet, would you like to drive 200 MPH just to compare yourself to Jimmy Johnson? The idea of “bifurcation”, as Dennis used it, is only for those that CHOOSE to use it; whether that is juniors, seniors, or weekend-warriors. It does not impact players that are traditional idealists or choose to participate in competitions at any level. Do any of these aides listed above take anything away from their professional derivatives? The USGA and R & A both regulate what companies can make. What if any of these other professional governing bodies did not allow us to start or practice with these vices? We would not see the same stars in place today. The next Jack Nicholas, Tiger Woods, or Ben Hogan could be out there. At age 3-8 he or she could certainly use some positive reinforcement to keep their interest during a rough start to any new activity. The idea of allowing, those that choose NOT to compete and simply want a fun day in the sun, to play “hotter equipment” is a very good one. Dennis said this concept would simply make the game more fun for most! I wrote earlier and mentioned that 90% (that’s right, 90%) of golfers don’t keep a USGA handicap. Have we truly strayed that far from “gentlemen” that we are not going to allow people who are bad (or learning) at this game to even play??? There is a very old saying, “Golf and Sex are the only two things that you don’t need to be good at to have fun.” Just think about it for a minute.

  17. Dennis Clark

    Feb 15, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    just curious…would anyone buy a driver GUARANTEED to give 20/25 more yards? Legal or not?

    • yo!

      Feb 15, 2013 at 6:35 pm

      Are you trying to make the argument that golf equipment companies should make illegal clubs? Well, there is no rule that keeps them from doing it for recreational and amateur golfers. Yet you have to wonder why they don’t do it. There are balls on the market right now that supposedly are illegal and can go further (e.g., Bandit) or straighter (e.g., Polara) but they have not been too successful. There is no rule that says recreational golfers can’t use clubs with illegal grooves and the like. Why do we need to make rules that recreational golfers should use equipment deemed “illegal” for tournament play? Recreational golfers can use whatever equipment that they like (a range finder with slope). If that is so, the argument for bifurcation is essentially moot. The issue then becomes whether golf manufacturers should make drivers, clubs, balls that exceed the USGA limitations. I think if there was a true market for it, they would. I also think that because of the values and sensibilities of most golfers, Titleist making a driver with a 50 inch shaft, 0.9 cor, 600cc head may lose some credibility among most golfers.

    • 8thehardway

      Feb 16, 2013 at 7:54 pm

      No sale – I golf how I golf, so ‘guaranteed yardage’ is a deal breaker. But if you come to NJ I’ll be the first one on line for lessons.

  18. greg

    Feb 15, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Oh boy what a great idea. I don’t buy the, lets play the way the pros do, simply because we mere mortals do not in any sport. You may play near a 10 foot rim in basketball, but pros play above the rim. You may spike a volleyball at an 8 foot net but, this attack is not from 12 feet, nor is it at the same velocity. You can respect the integrity of the game while bifurcating the rules. I for one would love to experience what a pro does by reaching a par five in two, rather than three.

  19. yo!

    Feb 15, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    This is the first article from Dennis that I disagree with.
    There is a reason why there are different tees and why there are handicaps.
    One can always make analogies to other sport to support their position for bifurcation or not. For instance, I can make an argument that golf should be like tennis and not have any bifurcation with regards to equipment.
    A true golfer is one who enjoys the game and its challenges within his capabilities.

  20. Nick

    Feb 15, 2013 at 11:16 am

    I think there’s two problems with this idea. I take your point to be that equipment bifurcation might be a good idea because it would help participation by making the game more fun by helping amateurs play more like the pros.

    1) Would taking the tech restrictions off really make the game more “fun” and thus help participation? I think that’s a bit far fetched. I’d say there’s 3 main reasons people don’t play 1) the game is expensive 2) the game is hard 3) the game is slow. Changing the tech restrictions leaves 2 of those completely unchanged, and arguably wouldn’t do much for the one it might effect. Would biffurcation of equipment standards really make the game less hard for entry level players? I think not. The truth of the matter is, if you put a good swing on the ball you could play with a shovel. If you don’t, you could play with a driver that has a laser guidance system and still hit it OB right. Those who can’t stomach the difficulty of the game just aren’t wired to be golfers.

    2) That brings me to my next point. I think part of the joy of ANY sport is that, for the most part, you play the exact same game the pros play. Its why 99 percent of television golf viewers are golfers themselves. Only by playing the game can you appreciate the feat your seeing on television. When you hit a great shot or roll in a great put you get to feel like a pro for a few minutes until you hit your next duck hook into the woods. Then you get to feel like Jim Furyk in the Open last year. If you get too far into this bifurcation thing, the pro’s are playing golf and we’re playing something else entirely – be it rules or equipment. That’s not to say that some bifurcation isn’t acceptable, but you see that already – people play grooves that are now illeal, take gimmes, breakfast balls, ignoring stupid penalties like brushing a blade of grass on your backswing in a hazard.

    The system in place is working fine. When technology reaches a point where its going to outmode the game, COR, ball, etc, then the USGA needs to step in and for the most part it has done so when necessary. The problem with participation in golf is because you have to shell out a boat load of money and eat up 1/4 of your weekend (or more) to get a round in that will likely just show you that you need to devote more of your time to practice.

    Good marketing (like young faces like Rory and Fowler), Pace of play and keeping the game affordable are what golf needs to do to help its participation.

  21. Brockohol

    Feb 15, 2013 at 9:58 am

    2 Thoughts…

    1.) Golf companies pay players millions to play their equipment. Having the Pros play a different ball will make the ProV, Penta, Srixon, etc…ads useless because amateurs will say, “who cares what they use, its different than what I use.”
    2.) Many amateurs are “amateurs” because of their ability to score with their short game, not how far they hit the ball. Personally, my distances are equal to or more than half of the tour players…however, my putting, chipping, etc…is what makes them light years better than me. As a 3 hdcp, giving me a driver and/or golf ball that goes even further would just make playing the game stupid. Golf is challenging, lets keep it that way.

  22. The Maine Man

    Feb 15, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Yah, not in favor of letting the tech for Ams run a muck. The pros are long, and talented and the best in the world. I never bought the argument that classic courses are becoming obsolete because the .00000001% or whatever have out grown them. The regular am can still play them, and not from the tips either…

    This suggestion, however would absolutely make that fear a reality. I have no qualms with improving forgiveness and balls that improve flight, but leave distances alone please.

    Thanks for the contribution as always!!

  23. purkjason

    Feb 15, 2013 at 7:43 am

    I really don’t think that equipment changes will grow the game at all. Me, like so many others are middle class america. If you want the game to grow you have to find ways to lower the price per round. And equipment companies could find ways to lower manufacturing costs of equipment or just not have such a high profit margain. All I ever hear from people is “How Expensive” the game of golf is and how the only way to be a Tour Player is to be brought up into a rich family and be pampered your entire juvenile life etc., etc. which is partially true. I, for one usually have to go to Golf Retail Stores and hit demo clubs or used equipment and then go home and see if Ebay has want I want at an affordable price and I’m sure alot of people do the same.

  24. Mike h

    Feb 15, 2013 at 7:01 am

    It seems there’s different motives for this topic and everyone seems to lump them in or take a stance based on one. They really need to be separated and the best solution for each motive debated separately.

    1. The challenge provided playing a course. The tees I think should be played based on distance. As mentioned, it’s not fun for a low but short handicapper to play from the tips. Just as for me, if I play from the whites, all the hazards and carries are easily carried, so I play from the blue so I have to choose and manage the course during a round.

    If pros are hitting so far that course hazards and design is being effected than I would say the main competitiveness of the sport is being effected and should be addressed. Moving back the tees only effects their first shot. It might put the first hazard or carry into play, but the subsequent shots are still easier. How do we challenge pros to have the same difficulty on a course the way it was designed? I propose flight restriction. It already happens in other sports.

    2. Pace of play. I’m not sure what this has to do with bifurcation other than people who relate it because it’s a killer on the course. I’m not sure what a good solution for this for everyone is. I think it does involve more Marshall’s and pace of play enforcement. The problem is it tends to be a judgment call which is difficult for a bystander that’s not following a group closely.

    3. Growth of the game. Pros using different equipment is not going to kill the game. As mentioned very few pros use the same rules or equipment as pros in other sports and they thrive and it’s not an issue. Examples: baseball bats, hockey stick flex, I never wanna try a super g slolom course etc.

    The popularity of a sport is dependent on a) how many people play the sport. B) how many people develop an interest in the sport. C) how many people want to watch the sport.

    If you want to increase A and B you have to get it out there. Kids play soccer because there’s a field at every school and all they need is a ball. I can say the same about every popular sport in every country such as baseball, basketball etc. For a kid to play golf a parent has to drive them to a course / range and pay a user fee for the kid to play. The kid is not limited by the free time he has or his energy, but rather the bucket size or number of holes. If golf wants to grow it has to be more accessible. It’s as simple as that.

    To address the viewabity is a little harder. I’m not sure golf is a great tv spectator sport. What do you see when a pro drives? Or what do you think the 25 handicapper see’s? It’s not that tiger moved the ball up 1/4 in to hit a slight cutter. In fact you can’t even really see the ball or where it’s going or really where he’s even aiming. Other than what the commentator tells me, I can’t see the break of the green from my tv. Why watch?

    Maybe the solution for pros is not adjusting cor, it’s larger balls? They won’t fly as far, easier to see on tv, make putting harder. Other sports are doing what they can to make it easier to watch on tv. Tennis court colour, ping long ball size and colour. Broadcasters need to find a way to make golf easier to watch for the average person to make it more popular and more interesting for the everyday golfer. Imagine live flightscope style tracking on every drive and iron. A blue trail of where the ball is. How bout mics to pick up player caddie chatter? Know why they are playing a shot as it is. That’d be more i retreating to me than cutting to a swing shot in which I have no idea what’s going on other than a guy swinging followed by some zoomed out shot of who knows where and some ball sitting there.

    • Nick

      Feb 15, 2013 at 11:26 am

      Now this guy is on to something. Most people’s first intro to a sport is watching pros. A golfer likes to watch golf because he knows he is seeing some incredible feats of athleticism. A non player sees pretty pictures and swings that to them all look the same. I think the live flight scope, perhaps like a pitcure in picture thing, would be awesome. It would really show how the pros are shaping their shots etc. I could really get into something.Same for the green, can we get some 3d models to see what they’re putting on better? I think showing less shots and telling more of a narrative about the course and the shot would be much better in the early rounds where the scores don’t mean all that much unless a guy is on a great streak, in which case cut to that guy and explain it better so people can understand better how he’s cutting up the course.

      Micing the caddie chatter is also awesome. I’m sure the pro’s feel this is some trade secret stuff being talked about, so that might be harder to impliment.

      I’m not feeling the ball size thing because, as I said below, I don’t think bifurcation is a good idea but the recommnendations for improving the viewing experience are great.

  25. dapadre

    Feb 15, 2013 at 4:59 am

    Sorry dont agree AT ALL! Thats why we have the different tees and use a handicap system. Nothing stops an amateur from playing a tee shorter, then a long Par becomes easier. NO the game should be left the way it is. Thats why you have Super Game Improvement, Game Improvement and Players Clubs. Low compression balls etc etc. Cory Pavin was not a long hitter in his day but was a great player. Whats nexts, have balls that only go straight and make this allowable under play. Why dont we put chips in the balls and direct their flight.

    Pros are pros because they have put in the time and effort along with some knack for the game. I love reading stories of everyday Joes that make the Tour (Hahn). If you want to fantasize…..EA Sports.

  26. hardcaliber

    Feb 14, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    I don’t think hitting the ball further would make the game more fun at all. I have never played a round and thought “If only my drives went 280 instead of 240 this game would be so much fun” Or “I’m not having any fun because pros hit a lot farther than me”. Distance has nothing to do with enjoying golf.

    If pros hitting the ball a long way is really such a problem, why not grow the rough so that accuracy is rewarded over distance?

  27. Nathan

    Feb 14, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    I like the idea of juicing the ball for high handicap and weekend amateurs. It would strengthen the game even more and put the focus back on fundamentals such as approaches and lies. Reading the holes from tees to greens. Proper equipment through personalized fittings and lessons. How many ‘average’ handicappers tee off with a fairway wood? Use a 9.5 degree driver? I personally hit a lot of fairways now that I use a 10.5 degree driver! I lose a lot of yardage from the tee, but I gain it back using hybrids. The ‘juiced’ ball would give me an opportunity to hit a 7 iron from the center cut into a par 5 consistently.

    With this approach I could play Pebble Beach from the tips like Tiger!!!

  28. Mat

    Feb 14, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    Add me in to saying this is an awful proposal. As many others have said, hitting the ball further is counter-productive, less accurate, and will slow play.

    I’m waiting for someone to innovate with courses that are designed to play with those Point-3 balls. Hell, I’m thinking about playing a par-59 with one of those just to see what happens.

    Tour players should be playing 70-compression balls. End of debate.

    • Turn & Release

      Feb 15, 2013 at 8:57 pm

      The amazing things that Tour Players do are why we watch golf on TV. We all like to see history and follow stats. That’s why Sports Center is top rate show on TV every single year. Speaking to your point, why don’t be give professional boxers 40 oz. gloves so they are all judged on technique. We like to see the knock-outs; we like to see homeruns, the big hit in football. 300+ yard drives is Golfs’ equivalent to all of these things. If I wanted to see some one hit it 200-250 I can watch my club champion or club pro play any day of the week. We love to shock & awe factor of PGA Tour stars.

      • Mat

        Feb 28, 2013 at 1:11 pm

        Absolutely false. We may marvel at their 300yd drives, but we care about lower scores. End of the day, any round of 62 is more interesting than any one shot.

  29. Dennis Clark

    Feb 14, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    I don’t think handicaps would change much at all; it just might be more fun shooting the same scores! 5 woods and 2 hybrids into greens all day is a drag!

    • Matt Newby, PGA

      Feb 14, 2013 at 10:32 pm


      Thank you for creating this discussion. Whether for or against I think we have seen some good ideas here. How do you feel about Eli Callaway’s idea that different balls be used on different courses?

    • Nick

      Feb 15, 2013 at 11:31 am

      Dennis, agreed its a drag to hit the long stuff into greens all day but that just means you’re playing the wrong tees. If the furthest forward tee still has people hitting such long approach shots the answer is another set of forward tees, not balls with rocket boosters or drivers with trampoine faces. For your average hacker those will just fly further to either side, not down the fairway!

    • AJ Ellis

      Feb 16, 2013 at 4:22 pm

      If people play to their abilities and tee it forward they would enjoy the game and not have to hit woods into par 4s. A system is already in place to make every course playable for every swing but when a group decides to play from the blue tees when their abilities dictate they should be playing reds i have a problem with that. Ive seen it too many times at my local couse that has par 3s of 200 plus yards off the blue that most cant reach with a driver but they try to hit 3wood and proceed to slice multiple balls into the canyon until they finally give up and drop by the green. If they played the red tee they could hit an iron from a position with no forced carry and without making a par three take up to thirty mins to play. Its ego that slows play. Give a man a longer club and you feed that ego more. The club wont stop the skulls, chili dips, shanks and slices that are the problem. Practice and instruction are the answer. This article by kevin krook made more sense to me… Opinion: Courses must be proactive to speed up play

  30. Louielouie

    Feb 14, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Why was my previous comment taken down? There was nothing vulgar or obscene in it.

    I think this is an interesting topic. I also find it interesting that my comments were removed since they spoke about pro golers possibly using modified “tour” clubs. If baseball bats can be corked then why can’t clubs be modified? The PGA doesn’t check every club at the front door. With so much money involved in this sport, there has to be some cheating going on.

    Amatuers are going to play by their own rules unless they are in tournaments. If someone enters an amateur tourney they typically want to play by the rules.

    • Matt Newby, PGA

      Feb 14, 2013 at 10:34 pm

      Very interesting observation. Something I never thought of but unfortunately I am sure you are correct on.

  31. ryebread

    Feb 14, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    I don’t think the baseball analogy is a good one at all. One can make a strong argument for player safety in the banning of aluminum bats. It’s not just about the hitting numbers and protecting the records. The eras are different regardless due to other factors such as mound height, steroids, weight training, specialization of pitchers, ball park designs, etc.. Aluminum bats also have clear cost advantages which are important at the lower levels, but just don’t apply to the major leagues.

    I’m all for bifurcation, but not of the type described here. If anything this only serves to mask the difference in skill between a pro and an amateur. We already see this in the difference in green speeds, tee placements and pin placements for the pros (when compared to the same course on a regular day). If the USGA and R&A want to continue to let the money flow in for the pros, then people need to see them as clearly superior.

    There’s another option for bifurcation that I think would be better. Interestingly, I don’t see this advocated as much.

    – Let the equipment continue to evolve, but be okay with the pros putting up great numbers: I don’t care if the pros are shooting 20 under. If anything it shows me just how impressive they are relative to the average golfer. Performance output in any sport changes due to the era and advances in technology, training and diet. Why should golf be different and artificially held down? I’m sure the OEMs would be happy about this and all players would be happy with better gear.

    – Bifurcate just the rules: To grow the game, pace of play needs to increase and the game itself needs to be simpler. Golf started as a game of but just a few simple rules. Take it back there for amateurs, which will also speed up the pace of play. Moving from amateur to getting on a tour requires passing qualifying school, so differences in scoring due to rules differences will play out there. Knowing the difference in the rules can also be a part of qualifying.

    This solution seems to be in the best interest of everyone. It is simple, elegant, should grow the game and make all of us happier as golfers.

  32. William W. Wood

    Feb 14, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    I’ve thought for a long time that the balls have become too hot and the woods and irons too forgiving. Be that as it may, your idea for bifurcation of the game is silly. Just take your clubs and balls, go out and play the course as you find it, and try to shoot the best score you can. If a person works hard enough, has some talent and a lot of luck, he or she might someday play as well as the professionals. That is how you measure your progress. Quit over thinking this concept of parity. That is not want this game about. It’s about hard work and enjoying the rewards of progress.

  33. Duster

    Feb 14, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Adding distance to meet technological limits for AM is a very bad idea. Most weekend warriors take 5-6 hours rounds as it is. Give them something livelier will make them play even longer looking for wayward shots.

    Chasing distance is the most ridiculous thing out there. OEM Marketing is where all that comes from and they are all guilty. Clubs and Muni’s should enforce playing the tees more appropriate to your distance and skill level. Separate rules/equipment won’t solve anything.

    Most need to face facts that they are not Tiger/Phil/Bubba/Whatnot. Pace of play is what will drive people away more than anything else (if rising greens fees doesn’t first).

    • HB

      Feb 14, 2013 at 4:06 pm

      I agree with you that it’s a bad idea. I’m a low to mid handicap (varies from 8-12 range depending on how much I get to practice etc) I hit the ball a long way already and I compete in local ReMax long drive competitions and finished top 5 locally more than once (never advanced to regional though, yet). I have quite a good short game (that saves me often) and where I add stokes is from wayward tee shots. I can tell you and everyone here that from my personal experience (plus I’m sure there is data somewhere to back me up) the longer you hit it the harder it is to find the fairway. Sure, (to the author) go ahead, add massive distance to everyones game and they’ll just be hunting for their ball deeper in the trees, or wherever, depending on the course.

  34. Augustine

    Feb 14, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    i don’t think this game needs longer flying balls or higher COR clubs. if you are saying that the long hitting pros are making the older courses obsolete, I would imagine that when even a recreational player can “bomb and gouge” a course then it’s truly the end of classic courses.

    So instead I suggest the pros and competitive amateurs should be made to play with shorter balls and lower COR clubs so we are watching raw power and skills rather than whos’ got the better equipment, sort of like the NASCAR idea of level setting everyone but not go as far as making everyone play the same clubs or types/brands of clubs.

    Imagine if pros are only able to hit their drivers 280 instead of 300+ while the recreational golfer can reach 250-260 from time to time, at least they won’t be so focused on chasing distance and instead focus on the scoring part of the game – chipping and putting!

  35. Ronald Montesano

    Feb 14, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    I have the great fortune to also write for and I commend Dennis for taking the time to put his thoughts in writing. As writers, we hope for this type of controversy, as it keeps our topic on the edge of the frying pan. I hope that he is not put off by the at-times argumentative nature of the commentary. I suspect that, as an employee of the game, Dennis has many experiences and opinions that will either benefit us or anger us enough that we respond.

    • Alec

      Feb 17, 2013 at 2:09 am

      Great, writers that don’t believe their own words and only write to gin up hits.. Just what the internet needs. At least I can make a note not to bother reading anything you write in the future, thanks for the heads up.

  36. Gregg

    Feb 14, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    This is why golf is slowly dying too many elitists preaching “protect the game” In a few years there won’t be much of a game to protect, maybe you should check out the stats put out showing the number of rounds decreasing, and the number of golf courses that are going under because of no play… Maybe it is time to make some changes, we all don’t have to imbibe, or even agree but the fact remaining is the popularity of golf is slowly dwindling and no one can dispute that

    • NL

      Feb 14, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      Gregg I’m not sure these “elitists” are the cause of the game slowly dying if that’s what you are implying. My reality is our current economy, time commitments, family obligations, work, money for recreation, etc. I think if more people had the time to commit 4+ hours and the $ involved to purchase equipment, and pay for greens fees, you’d see more people participate in the game of golf. The cost of the game is a huge leap for someone to make when they are on the fence about the game. Why make the commitment when you know you can only get out once a month. Times are changing, I see the current trend as part of a cycle with it’s ups and downs, not- as the beginning of the end.

    • pablo

      Feb 14, 2013 at 6:46 pm

      Not sure I understand why we need to ‘grow’ the game – we play once or twice per week and it seems we’re always waiting for someone in front us to hit. If there are that few people playing, it would seem that that would not be the case, and I would not want the courses more crowded than they already are.

    • SB

      Feb 14, 2013 at 7:55 pm

      Gregg, I don’t have this problem in Utah. Too many golfers, too many rounds cramped together, and too many golfers over estimating their abilities draggin out rounds to 5 and 6 hours. I do know many golfers’ complaints are primarily directed pace of play and would play more if only it didn’t take so long.
      Bifurcation seems to be more like putting an AK-47 in the hands of someone who’s never held/used a gun before. “Hot” drivers and balls will only send those slices/hooks that much further offline; instead of the deep ruough now it will be 1-2 fairways over.

  37. SB

    Feb 14, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    instead of bifurcation, let’s look to legitimizing the handicap system here in the US, much in the same way as Europe in the UK. how many of us have shown up to the first tee to follow a foursome who decides. “what the hell, let’s play from the blues today”? We then spend a punishing 5.5 hours following this group as they hunt for lost balls on every hole, every shot, and 4 putt the greens. Across the pond, this same group would be required to place the frontmost tees. Speed of play and game enjoyment would all be increased exponentially but instituting a proper, and rigorously enforced, handicap system. Tee colors in the US should no longer denote ladies, seniors, men, etc. doing so keeps ego in play. Instead, correspond tee color to handicap level and determine that the group will all play from the same tees if a majority plays to a similar ability. Everyone would benefit and we could get away from the “Wild West” approach that seems to permeate Sunday morning rounds.

    • Augustine

      Feb 14, 2013 at 2:46 pm

      I wholeheartedly agree. Too many “old fashion” tee naming and color systems have prevented high handicap men from playing the “ladies” or “red” tees. Even names like “Forward Tees” will not help. Just call it Tee 1, 2, 3, or A, B, C… etc. and place a handicap limit for each set of tees.

  38. TJ

    Feb 14, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Many high or low handicap golfers should try the short tees. It is amazing to me that even from shorter tees, some people still can’t break 80. It really isn’t the distance, it is the short game. A 2 foot putt counts the same as a 300 yard drive.
    My favorite quote was from a fellow golfer who said, you should play shorter tees until you can break 80 consistently, then move back. I advocate the players play from short tees regardless of handicap differences (handicaps help adjust fairness).
    I like the rule of thumb that sets the tees based on the longest par-4, your average drive should reach 150 yard marker. You don’t need to have longer balls/clubs to reach 150 yard marker, just move up to shorter tees.

    • Augustine

      Feb 14, 2013 at 2:49 pm

      I think “graduated licencing” concept should be adopted. If you play a course the first time, you have to play from the middle set (or shorter). If you are able to shoot within the handicap you claim to be then next time back you are allowed to play from the longer tees. Vice versa, if you shot higher than your claimed handicap then you have to play the shorter one next time…

      • Socorr4

        Feb 14, 2013 at 9:15 pm

        The point of handicaps is to make all players net average scores as close to par as possible. It seems to me that shooting to your handicap means you played the correct tees and should continue from them next time. Only if you consistently shoot net scores below par would you be encouraged to try a longer set.

  39. Socorr4

    Feb 14, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    The author must be a relatively young man. The ability to achieve distance on golf shots is an athletic skill requiring speed and coordination of the diverse elements in a golf swing.

    Depending on where one plays, the number of players who have the skills varies a great deal. Younger men might play for the thrill of crushing a drive 300+ yards and hitting sand wedges to the greens on par 4s. Certainly, this was a great allure for me when I was young. We seniors simply cannot do that any more. So we should use appropriate tees and take pleasure from accurate shots and GIR’s that come from mid to short irons just like Bobby said above.

    Mr. Clark concludes his comments with the note that he wants to increase the appeal of the game, yet he remains fixated on the equation of distance is what makes people play. This is fuzzy thinking for any amature player over the age of 50.

    We can’t run as fast, throw as far or jump as high as when we were in our 20’s or 30’s. This is a fact of life, and there is no elixir for retained or restored youthful prowess as Ponce de Leon discovered in the sixteenth century or futile as the Greek myth of Tithonius poignantly described 3000 years ago.

    All that said, the reason more people don’t play golf regularly is that most don’t have time or desire to spend five or six hours a day on a hobby that requires an outdoor setting and daylight hours. That’s too big a chunk out of the working day and more out of a day off than lots of people care to commit.

  40. Greg

    Feb 14, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    I’ve really enjoyed this series of expanding the game and making it more enjoyable have been great reads. However before doing rules changes and bifurcation I think we in the industry can do more like:
    -Properly fit members, even if it means altering their current clubs
    -Find the proper shaft for players. Example is my dad, for years he played stiff shaft. Now at 62 he has changed shafts and is hitting it as long as me (290+). Getting a proper shaft makes a huge difference.
    -Move up the tees. I admit this one is harder. I’ve had members whine that ‘Sign says 425 from blue, its playing 399’. In most cases those guys shouldn’t be playing blues anyways, but just simply moving the tees up so a guy is hitting in from 135 as opposed to 155 can go a long way.

    Changes like that might go a long way before rules changes.

  41. Matt

    Feb 14, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    I’m only 6′ tall and can’t dunk, we should go to a smaller basketball and lower rims at my rec league.

    I mean come on, seriously? This game has thrived for centuries under the auspices that it IS a difficult game that one can go hack around on the weekends for fun, or can take at various levels of seriousness to improve.

    Bifurcation is being pushed by manufacturers who want every amateur dumping their current clubs and upgrading to the newly “legal” offerings they will be hawking. Now all the hard swinging kids I see will be hitting it even further out of bounds, or worse, into other groups on the course. This will just result in further flawed fundamentals, retarded development of skills, and frustration.

    As mentioned above, set the teeboxes up by handicap to get rid of the perception only seniors or ladies belong at the front tees. If you’re a weekend hack that hits it 200 yards, why torture yourself playing from the pro tees? This isn’t rocket science folks. Forward tees provide amateurs with limited physical ability a way better chance to score and enjoy the game. Hitting it 240 from a tee 40 yards back vs hitting it 200 from a tee 40 yards forward. Isn’t it the same net result? Without having different sets of equipment to use?

    The pros are pros for a reason. They are the freaks of nature that have talent that far exceeds the vast majority of us. It is ok to be in awe of their ability yet still take pride and enjoyment in learning the proper way to play and improving.

    If classic courses are being obsolete with the current distances why not have a rule where pros can’t carry a club lofted stronger than say 13* or 15* for that particular event? Doesn’t that make a lot more sense than having them play different equipment or a more limited ball than currently? Course too short? Ok take your driver out of the bag. Problem solved.

  42. NL

    Feb 14, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Despite the advances in technology, the average handicap remains virtually the same. How about instructing amateurs how to constructively lower their handicap by improving their short games? -or- enlightening them that most golf courses have different sets of tees that may be more appropriate for them to play?

    Shooting lower scores, lowering your handicap – that’s fun. Hitting the ball 50 yards further off the tee, ok..yes please. But if one considers that I suppose you could say someone may definitely hit more greens in reg IF they keep it in play and as you alluded to in your article, the longer hit it, the larger your misses are. So, I still think a 15 handicap will remain a 15 handicap despite the gain in distance. Help him/her lower their handicap the way pros have been doing it since the beginning of golf. Short game -even more important for the amateur, which I am btw.

    There are many amateurs that approach or exceed the average PGA Tour driving distance average. You want to give them an extra 40-60 yards? The high handicap on the other hand will not be able to benefit from the added COR because they can’t consistently hit the sweet spot on their clubs. These high handicappers will be even more discouraged after being outdriven by 100+ yards by a lower handicap power player. On the other hand some of the best low handicaps I know don’t hit the ball very far by today’s standards.

    There’s too much here to disagree with. Interesting to think about, but I don’t know that we would succeed in gaining new players to the game. I think it’d be a circus of sorts.

  43. Brandon

    Feb 14, 2013 at 11:54 am

    I hope at Merion this year the fairways are super tight and the rough brutal long and slick firm greens will get the bombers thinking of a different style of golf. I think the groove rule was a joke, just made for a lot of hassle and made alot of classic Iron sets no longer legal. I think the people raving about all the new technology is a bit over done. Its mostly marketing. Hybrids have been around for alot longer than than people think they just changed the name to hybrid. Golfers are alot bigger and stronger now, but Tiger was hitting as far in 1997 with his 43.5 inch King Cobra as he does today with all the fancy shafts and 460 adjustable club heads. I think the pros could go back to all steel shafts and smaller club heads would change the game some, and separate the best ball strikers and bombers would go away. Everybody these days say wow I hit my pw 150 yards now look what technology has done for the game. The thing they dont take into account is today’s pw is 46 degrees and probably 2 inches longer than a pw back in the 90s that was 50 degrees. Is basically like saying the pw is now a 8 iron, with a pw stamp and so on. Tons of smoke and mirrors in the golf industry today.

  44. Ryan

    Feb 14, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Let me first start by saying; I totally agree with Dennis on this idea. The game would be more fun and participation would increase because of it. After reading all the comments and posting here, I think that many people have taken this the wrong way. This is not hurting the tradition or integrity of the game. There are roughly 25 million golfers in the US; however only 1/4 of them have a registered USGA handicap, only 2.5 AVID (playing 2 or more times per week) golfers, and only 25,000 players compete in events governed by the USGA Rules of Golf. I think Dennis is simply saying that all those millions of golfers who do NOT play golf for “score” or to “compete” would vastly enjoy their experience more by getting extra distance from their equipment. Most recreational golfers are not following the letter-of-the-law, in regards to the USGA Rules of Golf anyway. Allowing these people to hit it a little further should not concern those of us compete on any level or do embrace and love the challenge that this wonder game gives us.
    Secondly I would like to mention that, as a low handicap golfer myself, I don’t think that extra distance would lead to better scores or lower handicaps. Accuracy is still the key to playing at a high level. This would not impact the game from 100 yards and in, this being where most players use 60% or more of their strokes. Let’s keep in mind people; the average USGA handicap is 19 for men and 28 for women (and like I said before 75% of all golfers do NOT even keep a USGA handicap). Let’s let those golfers who are just out to enjoy their day simply enjoy it a little more.
    Great article Dennis I think it is part of a PGA Professionals’ job to find ways to expand the base of this great game.

    • HB

      Feb 14, 2013 at 12:19 pm

      “This would not impact the game from 100 yards and in, this being where most players use 60% or more of their strokes.”

      That’s actually the problem as I see it, the pro’s should have to play more of a variety of approach shots instead of 60% or more from 100 yards and in. Rolling back their distance (such as their C.O.R. either club-face, ball, or both) would achieve this and preserve more courses from becoming obsolete and maybe even bring some back into play.

      • Ryan

        Feb 15, 2013 at 9:06 pm

        Pros don’t play “60% or more” from 100 yard and in. (Not good ones anyway) And, C.O.R means “Coefficient OF Restitution”. The ball is not involved. It’s the spring like effect on the face of the driver, FW’s, and irons. A solid club; (a blade) has NO C.O.R. That’s why I was saying that handicaps would not improve for amateurs that got extra distance off the tee. You still have to get the ball in hole, and that is where these people struggle most. I think you may have miss understood.

    • Dennis Clark

      Feb 15, 2013 at 6:19 pm

      thx Ryan, like your thoughts!

  45. Matt

    Feb 14, 2013 at 11:04 am

    We shouldn’t have to change the game to accommodate ego’s. Like others have said the courses and USGA should step up and post big signs by the first tee assigning handicaps to specific tee’s. Most muni courses that do have marshal’s are also not paid but compensated with free play. Why not do the same for every course to have a starter to direct the groups to their tee’s. I’m sure a few retired folks would love to take on that roll for free play. I think we need to have that awe factor when watching pro’s. Not figure out ways to change equipment more for the average golfer. I would love to get more people interested in golf as well but if public courses aren’t going to stress POP and having 5+ hour rounds then why should we be anxious to grow the game more? One last thing on equipment, I don’t have a problem with these big companies making money but $400+ on a driver, $600+ for irons that they try to push 1 or 2 models a year…….really? How about they sacrifice some of there profits and lower the price of clubs if they really want to get people interested.

    • HB

      Feb 14, 2013 at 12:13 pm

      I know a a few older players (not seniors) that are scratch and they play from the closer tees because they don’t hit it that far. So under your system because they are scratch players they’d have to play specific tees (probably the back tees)? I don’t think a one size fits all handicap system quite answers it. I hit the ball a long way and compete in local ReMax long drive qualifiers (was 5th place in both of the last two I entered but didn’t move on to regionals) My handicap hovers between high single digits and slightly above. Sorry but if I was limited to play closer tees due to my handicap I’d not play anymore because I’d have to wait for people to clear the greens on par 4’s too often. I agree with you that we shouldn’t be trying to find ways to change equipment for the average player. I think it would be better to limit the equipment for pros. Roll their C.O.R. back a bit say .800 or slightly less instead of .830 and that could be all that’s really needed.

      • Matt

        Feb 15, 2013 at 6:35 pm

        I know it isn’t a perfect system but of course if scratch players wanted to play forward tee’s no one would stop them. My idea is more for keeping the high handicappers off the back tee’s or anything over say 6500 yards. You of course are a rare exception being that you compete in LD competitions but the fact that you are a high single to slightly over shows you know what you are doing and maybe Long Drive competitors can have some sort of tag or stamp. I just really hope someone figures out a system that works soon and that courses enforce it because going back to the original story I feel pace of play is way more important than equipment but then again I really don’t care what any weekend golfer is using whether it be a hot driver or straight golf ball, it’s just not for me.

    • Matt Newby, PGA

      Feb 14, 2013 at 10:26 pm

      Great Idea here as POP definitely is one of the biggest barriers to gaining new golfers. Unfortunately the paying rangers in golf cannot be an acceptable solution as this is 100% illegal. While I agree with you that this certainly would help it just cannot be implemented at an industry wide level, courses just do it and hope they don’t get caught.

      • The Berg

        Feb 16, 2013 at 8:39 pm

        What are you talking about being illegal exactly? Nobody is going to jail for letting someone play for free after keeping some 20 cappers from hitting from the tips (at least I didn’t cover that particular law during law school). Not trying to troll, just not understanding your point.

        • Matt Newby, PGA

          Feb 20, 2013 at 6:21 pm

          As far as what specific law it goes against I do not know the answer to that. My best educated guess would be something to do with labor code. Honestly I do not agree with the law either, if a retiree is willing to work for free golf I say let him. However because it “technically” is illegal we just would not be able to incorporate as an official industry policy.

  46. Bobby

    Feb 14, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Isn’t this why we have different tee markers on a golf course? I consider myself to be an average golfer, a bogey golfer. I always play from the white tees. My father-in-law, plays from the ‘senior’ tees because he doesn’t hit the ball as far as he used to. He keeps it in play though, and he hits all of the clubs in his bag, not just woods and hybrids. Our drives are respectively close to one another’s, so we typically play our second shots from about the same yardage. If I’m paired up with guys playing from the blues, I suck it up and play from the whites. Maybe the tee markers shouldn’t be referred to as ‘ladies’ and ‘seniors’ tees. The colors should apply to a golfer’s handicap. Golf is a game of honesty – if you know you drive it 200 yds on a good day, you shouldn’t be teeing it up on the blues. If more amateurs played from the proper tees, they would enjoy the game more, pace of play would improve and the group behind them would be smiling. But please don’t pair me up with an amateur who can spray the ball all over the course at whopping distances just because he has a ball and/or driver that lets him crush it. That’s not what the game should be about.

  47. Flip4000

    Feb 14, 2013 at 10:01 am

    I kinda of noticed that alot of people said in this topic and in others basically are saying they dont want things that may potentially make the game “easier” for hackers. I say “may potentially because who knows if things like this would really help (most likely not). I mean weren’t we all “hackers” at one point? (at least when when we were learning the game?). Is the reason we are so against changes in traditional golf such as anchored putters, longer balls, and drivers because we have all worked so hard at the game to play decent golf and we want other new golfers to not get any potential “short cuts” to better golf and want them to understand the struggles we all faced learning the game? I am not necessarily in favor of any changes in the game myself, but I am just throwing that question out there.

  48. Dennis Clark

    Feb 14, 2013 at 9:51 am

    The game might be more fun if the average recreational player hit it a little further; nothing about bowling or drinkng or narcicism- just a more fun way to play golf…

  49. munihack

    Feb 14, 2013 at 9:43 am

    The game is already bifurcated. I’ve been to pro events and the conditions are not anything like the municipal courses I play. The ball is a problem but not just its distance. The newer balls are much more stable in the wind and tend to mute sidespin flaws. That is why players can swing so hard at the driver- no fear of hitting it sideways. On the tour accuracy off the tee use to matter, now distance alone tends to be a big advantage. TV replayed the ’99 Ryder Cup (the last wound ball Ryder Cup) and the first hole was 440 yards. Phil and Tiger played. Their swings on the 1st tee looked 75% of their efforts now. Why? They were trying to hit the fairway!
    As for non conforming equipment it already exists. You can buy oversize drivers and illegal balls.
    Golf is losing people because it costs too much and takes too long.

    • Pablo

      Feb 15, 2013 at 2:18 am

      I agree – along with equipment rule changes for amateurs, making the game cheaper, more accessible, and quicker in areas where golf is popular and especially in areas with little to no golf influence is key to improving the game!

    • rjh

      Mar 24, 2013 at 1:53 am

      i had just as much fun hitting a wood that was made out of wood and irons that i got on sale at jc penny’s. actually shot par a few times with them after i took some lesson and spent a little time practicing. the game has always evolved. if it hadn’t, we would still be hitting the feather ball. by the way im sure they had a good time hitting those too. I will agree a little on one statement there are to many people on the coarse that have never learned the etiquette of golf. first fix your divots and ball marks and if you see one that some dummy did not fix,fix it. the putting green is not happy hour down at the local pub. have fun but be courteous. last if you want this game to continue invite a young junior player to play with you. you’ll be surprised by by how simple they make this game look. and may teach you a thing or two.

  50. Steve

    Feb 14, 2013 at 7:42 am

    HMMM. Not sure about this one. I have been hearing ‘bifurcation’ for a long time, and I have never been for it – to me, it is just an extension of ‘making sure everybody’s a happy winner’ at the expense of the integrity of the sport. The truth is that some folks just shouldn’t be playing this game – they should play something else. It is kind of like music – I worked hard to play guitar for many years – but at some point I just had to admit I didn’t ‘have it’. Same is true of sports. Not everybody is good at it.
    Two points:
    1. This bifurcation discussion seems to always come from someone who stands to gain financially from it – whether it be the courses who want to cram more folks in, or instructors trying to make a buck, or equipment manufacturers who want to sell more stuff. I always try to look at the motivations.
    2. I think it is a shame that the game of golf is so desperate as to consider slashing the game in order to avoid going the way of, say, equestrianism. Everybody knows golf is trending downward right now, but to employ a ‘slash-and-burn’ approach is, in my mind, not the best way to preserve the game.

    The Pebble Pro-Am? Yes, there were some amateurs that didn’t have a great game – so what? The pathos suggested by the author is simply incorrect, and I (for one) refuse to be categorized in that way.

    • paul

      Feb 14, 2013 at 9:13 am

      If this whole bifurcation thing happens, they should label pga allowed clubs as “pro” models and the rest can be called whatever they want. The people that want to compete will know which ones to buy and the average hacker will go buy the clubs that he sees in the ads on tv. Most hackers don’t read golfwrx or educate themselves about golf and won’t care if they’re using a club that doesn’t conform to the pga standards. i know people have golfed for 20 years every Sunday and don’t know anything about clubs.

    • Pablo

      Feb 15, 2013 at 2:14 am

      Unfortunately, my 3-point shot isn’t up to the standards of an NBA player like Ray Allen, not even up to the standards of one of the better or average players at any local basketball court. Are you suggesting that I shouldn’t play basketball because I’m not that good in order to preserve the “integrity” of the game, even if it’s a very fun and healthy activity for me and my friends? Anybody who plays a particular game and suggests making it overtly difficult for the majority of its participants to enjoy, or even saying certain people shouldn’t play because they suck, don’t care about “integrity” – they care about exclusiveness and elitism. If that’s what people want from golf to keep up appearances, that’s their opinion, but I’d like to stop seeing the word “integrity” being used so lightly for such a serious discussion.

      If anything, things such as making equipment cheaper/more widely available in neighborhoods with little golf influence, making courses and instruction cheaper, would do the most in making golf more popular; still, making equipment more forgiving or hotter for non-competing amateurs beyond the current rules only makes sense if golf wants to become a worldwide sport popular with the masses. Easing up the rules slightly while keeping a sense of reasonable self-officiating, along with measures such as “Tee it Forward” would help speed up play and increase participation. Once we get past the current generation of golfers and officials with such archaic ideas about the rules and reach of golf, there can be much more progress that eventually makes the game even better. Golf’s a unique game – let’s not mess it up for everyone else because of some people’s pretentiousness!

      • sami

        Feb 18, 2013 at 10:33 am

        Not to be ‘pretentious’, but following your logic, the 3-point shot you were referring to should be moved up to, say, foul line length, right? And why not lower the basket by a foot or so, then we’ll all be able to dunk as well. Oh, and might as well increase the size of the cylinder while we’re at it.

        Making sports ‘easier’ isn’t the answer – the inherent challenge of any sport is what draws people to them in the first place, and makes them want to continue to get better. Regarding ‘easing up’ on the rules, just how far do you suggest it should go? Can’t you see the slippery slope you are suggesting the game embark on?

        And your suggestion to make premium equipment, instruction, and golf courses ‘cheaper’ is a sure fire way to put the industry out of business. Why not let the market determine prices like it does in any industry? Trust me, if prices are ‘too high’, the market will correct them in a hurry. Prices staying where they are only means that the laws of supply and demand are working properly – there are courses and equipment to fit any price level.

        Speeding up play, any way it can be done, is the best and easiest way to keep people playing and to increase participation. Playing from the proper tees is a great first step towards that goal. Another possibly great idea that has yet to be done is breaking courses up into three 6-hole ‘sides’, which would allow busy people to get in a quick ’round’ in an hour and a half. How many more people might come out before or after work, or late in the day on a weekend?

        Those are the type of ideas that can increase participation in golf, not changing the rules or making the game easier. You’re absolutely right when you say that golf is a unique game, and a challenging one – the best way to ‘mess it up’ is to dumb it down to where it loses those two qualities.

  51. Svensson

    Feb 14, 2013 at 6:40 am

    That is an insane proposal, and a very irresponsible one coming from an instructor. It would ruin the game of golf as we know it. Just take a look at history; increasing distance (and, conversely, lengtening courses) is the main factor to why the state of golf has been deteriorating over the last two decades. What we need is bringing the pros back to the tees we play or perhaps a couple of yards further back. Not 500-1000 yards per course. Indeed, something needs to be done about the COR, MOI or what have you abbreviation of choice. But we do not need an increase; rather the opposite. Bring 460cc down to around 300cc. Outlaw hosels that let you finetune lie, loft and so forth.

    Stop confusing the amateurs with insane amounts of options and custom fittings. Golf is about learning how to play the game in varying wheather conditions on different types of soil in a variety of slopes and inclines. A case can always be made for having “the perfect equipment for you”, but if I throw a ball out on the deck on the course of your choice you will still need to make adjustments to your stance and swing depending on how it lies and where you want it to go. Work towards getting better at that rather than buying a new, huge driver that will get you 10 yards closer to the hole.

    Bottom line; as someone said “bring back blades and balata”. I’d rather play a game of golf where I’m constantly challenged to shape my shots and overcome obstacles than hitting dead-straight 350 yard drives on a course resembling a highway. If I wanted to do that, I’d go to the nearest field and fire away.

    • Pablo

      Feb 15, 2013 at 2:00 am

      I hope this was sarcasm, because then it’d be the best sarcastic post mocking people with this kind of opinion. On the other hand, if this was a serious comment, then I’ll be praying for the game of golf to not be taken over by this regression in attitude!

  52. luke keefner

    Feb 14, 2013 at 5:46 am

    I dont see any reason to change anything in golf beyond dealing with slow play and cost. If they roll back the ball for the pros they will lose gate receipts at tour events, evidenced by the fact that there is virtually no one following Charlie Wi and the people are packed 10 deep to watch Bubba launch one. There is already a huge chasm in resources, they have launch monitors and practice Pro V1s while we beat our brains out on frozen range rocks. But,thats all part of the dream isn’t it? Relax and enjoy the show!

  53. AJ Ellis

    Feb 14, 2013 at 1:24 am

    pros are pros because they put in the effort. if you cant hit it a decent length its because you havent practiced enough and/or your playing the wrong tees. have respect for your fellow golfers. longer clubs and balls would equal shots further into the trees, more hackers waiting for the greens to clear that they could never reach and just longer rounds in general for all of us. focus on pace of play!

    • pablo

      Feb 14, 2013 at 6:31 pm

      I totally agree with ‘waiting for the greens to clear that they could never reach’ – I see it every weekend!

  54. Ron MH

    Feb 14, 2013 at 12:40 am

    Most amateurs don’t have a problem with distance (if they play from the appropriate tees). They have a problem with accuracy. That would only be magnified by “hotter” equipment (be that be balls or clubs).
    Today’s slightly off-target misses (draws, fades) become tomorrow’s outright massive hooks and slices going even further off into the rough or out of bounds! That’s a recipe for frustration – and that can’t be good for the game.

    • Chuck

      Apr 10, 2013 at 3:29 pm

      Exactly. And more to the point, a lot of casual/bad golfers ripping it 300 yards off-line — into the woods, into water, out of bounds, beyond their ability to find balls — is a recipe for seven-hour rounds of golf.

      That will do nothing for the cause of increasing play, boosting the number of rounds and the frequency of play or the enjoyability of of the game in general.

      This is a bad idea; a borderline preposterous idea. Like every rotten bifurcation idea, it interposes another layer separating recreational and elite players. And that is not good for the game. One of golf’s greatest charms is everyone — Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, you and me — playing by one set of rules.

  55. rochgolfer3

    Feb 14, 2013 at 12:01 am

    Amateurs play against amateurs, generally, unless they can afford to buy a pro-am spot @ Pebble. IMO There is no better feeling an improving amateur player gets than knowing that when he/she hits the shot of the round, a shot tight to the pin, a long drive, etc. that he/she did so with equipment that’s the “same as the pros”. FYI: Custom club fitters tweak every pro’s clubs to their specific standards anyway, giving them every advantage in length, solid contact, trajectory, etc. Seems an even better argument for suggesting amateurs to do the same.

  56. Lanny S.

    Feb 13, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    Interesting article Dennis. I agree with you 100% about taking the restrictions off of the drivers and the distance balls can fly. I’m 30, a + handicap, and I can hit it around 290-300 flat out swinging at it; would I make the switch? No. But I would love to play with my father and see him hit the ball moderately long again as well as see people who didn’t have the luxury of growing up with a golf club in their hand stripe it out there and have some fun.

    After all, who’s “game” are we protecting here? The health and continued longevity of a sport is derived from the masses, not the elitist few of us who accidentally turn out to be decent golfers.

  57. Alec Hilliard

    Feb 13, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    I agree for the most part, but much of the marketing for OEM’s comes from tour players, in fact, most all of it does.

  58. Gdog

    Feb 13, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Completely agree with the last 2 comments…..I cant believe a teaching pro would even suggest something so ridiculous. I can see the people with homes on golf courses cringing at the thought of a hacker who’s idea of golf incl. drinking a six pack every nine holes, having a driver that launches an extra 50 yds sideways into their houses.

    You wanna grow the game make it more accessible to the average person period, rather then a game which the privileged get to play on gorgeous courses while the rest of us can barely get a tee time. Ex $500 to play pebble….give me a break.

    • Andy B

      Feb 14, 2013 at 6:36 pm

      I agree with your comments about bifurcation, but I do not agree with lowering the prices for exclusive courses. Think about what you are saying for a second. Yes, it is a dream of mine to play pebble beach just like almost every serious golfer would like to do, but they cannot lower the price of a round of golf at these beautiful perfectly manicured courses to be “affordable”. If every joe schmo could afford to play there because it is their dream course it would destroy the prestige, condition, and over time drive the course to close. Prime real estate like pebble beach is extremely expensive, not to mention keeping grass growing in the state it is next to salt water. As much as I would love to play, Pebble, or Sawgrass, etc, etc. those courses are expensive to one, pay for the perfect condition, and two, keep it as respectable and classy as possible. Generally speaking people who will pay a premium to play at a course such as pebble, will have respect for the course and the golfers and staff. If it were 100 dollars to play at these famous courses you would have beginner golfers hacking 130 strokes and tearing the place up, not to mention showing up in jeans and t shirts to play. Unfortunately golf is an expensive game. Just as we can’t hit like the pros, we shouldnt expect access to the same quality courses as the pros. I love playing basketball, but I am not mad that I cant go play in madison square garden.

  59. Sam

    Feb 13, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    The fact anyone can make a case for bifurcation is amazing to me. Isn’t it the case with any game we play (golf, bowling, ping-pong, basketball etc, etc) that the reason you love to play is to get better and joy that comes from improvement…that’s why I play any sport? I suck at bowling but I love to do it…and I still go. If you gave me a ball that was 2 feet wide so I could knock more pins down…would that make me bowl more??? No. Do we lower the basketball hoops for high school cause you cant dunk..No? This is the story of our entire culture…dont work harder, just give it to people. Incredible that they want to dumb the game down so “everyone can feel better about themselves”.

    • Chris

      Feb 14, 2013 at 9:42 am

      I agree, the joy of playing a sport is getting better whether you have a shot at the big time or just want to be the best B Flight golfer at your local club. Even if they did make the equipment longer, distance control is only 25% of the equation. More amateurs have issues with accuracy than distance. A juiced up COR factor driver is only going to make this typical amateur defect more apparent and in turn make the game more frustrating for them.

    • Paul O

      Feb 14, 2013 at 12:02 pm

      I’m not sure basketball and bowling are the best analogies. Basketball has different three point and “paint” dimensions than the amateur level. I would not argue that it does anything to diminish the “integrity” of the college ball because of this. (footnote: remember Lew Alcindor and no dunking in college basketball)

      I don’t bowl much, but when do you recall the ball not reaching the end of the alley (trust me, I come up short all the time of the green).

      However, I think there is an inherent safety issue with allowing the average amateur to add 50 yards to his already wayward drive.

      I would lobby for more speed of play related rules (e.g. allow local ball drops to be allowed in competition without having to be adopted in the tournament rules).

    • Al

      Feb 16, 2013 at 7:02 am

      I think you’ve missed the point. Bifurcation is not being proposed to allow folks to “feel better about themselves’, it is to make the game more the game more enjoyable. Play by the rules you want, you do anyway as do most folks, but to demean folks is out of line.

  60. george

    Feb 13, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    really you want to destroy the integrity of the game ? if you cant hit it far try bowling – too many non athletic people trying to play golf – no eye hand coordination , and many have no business on a golf course – i say make the game harder – bring back blades and balata !

    • Joey

      Feb 14, 2013 at 9:02 am

      So you are saying that only the athletic should enjoy the game. Yeah, that will really help the game. NOT

      Saying that many have no business on the golf coure is a egotistical stance, I’m sure you are a bundle of fun to play with.

      Many play the game because it’s so much fun, few want to play to compete. The game is where it is due to the recreational golfer, they do more for the sport financially than the narcissistic maniacs like yourself.

      • Dennis Clark

        Feb 15, 2013 at 6:13 pm

        very true; there is no game without the recreational player! great point.

    • John Aiello

      Feb 14, 2013 at 5:48 pm

      George, so you are saying that if you can’t hit it far then give up the game? It’s this kind of stupid thinking that will kill golf. I don’t hit it 300 yards. I hit it about 220 – 230 on a good day. I enjoy the game very much and honor it’s traditions. I think that there should be rules for both pro and amateur. George you are actually bad for golf and this site.

      • Bill

        Feb 16, 2013 at 1:49 pm

        I suspect George is a little bit toungue in cheek with his comment but I don’t think electrifying amateur equipment is the answer. Shorter tees are the answer and we already have them. I’m thinking of safety for the folks in the neighboring fairways that Joe Weekend (I’m one of them)hits way off line. No longer into the trees but over the trees into harms way. Not to mention six hour rounds would become the norm while everybody looks for their ball in the weeds, trees, next fairway, parking lot etc.

    • Kyle

      Feb 17, 2013 at 5:15 pm

      Why is this game so addicting to people? Why do people get the golf bug even though they go out for the first time and shoot 150? People like to be challenged. People are terrible at golf but they keep coming back for more. The reason this game has always been so successful is because it’s really hard.

    • ned

      Feb 25, 2013 at 9:25 pm

      penalize 3 stroke penalty after 40 seconds! No more rules officials, no more cheating, if you don’t know the rules, play badmiton- 5 stroke penalty if you ever drop your iron or wood during your swing- (10) if your name is tiger!
      Everyone putt out like normal humans- marking your ball on the green adds 75 -90 minutes to a round- a joke! If you can’t break 80- and tee off after noon- just like europe! Slow players pay more green fees!
      post snipers in trees around the course with .243 varmit rifles, first time someone does not fix there ball mark on the green- POW! No walking to the green from more than 10 feet- hit the ball!

      Ban furyk, na, crane, and all jesus freaks-etc.. from tv broadcast-

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Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: Off-Season training + Exciting announcement for Wisdom in Golf



There’s a time to play and perform in golf. Then there is a time for a break and group; then there is a time for training so that when the season for playing golf returns you are more PRO-ficient than ever. This is the anti-stagnation system.

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On Spec

On Spec: The DIY episode talking fitting, and personal launch monitors



This episode is all about giving you, the golfer, the opportunity to better understand your equipment and club fitting. Topics range from club length, lie angle, wedge fittings, all the way to diving into personal launch monitors.

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Opinion & Analysis

WRX Insider: How the Callaway tour staff matches up golf ball and irons



It’s not something that is widely explored. When it comes to the golf ball, we typically prioritize driver numbers, wedge numbers, and feel. In actuality, however, it’s a player’s irons that need to be optimized more than anything. Full shots, 3/4, fades, draws—the shot varietal with irons is all over the map.

So, when testing players, how does the team at Callaway dial in the ball and the irons to work in harmony with each other?

With the new Callaway X Forged and Apex MB just hitting the scene, it seemed like a perfect time to understand how the players on tour fit the ball to the irons and vice versa.

I had a chance to speak with Callaway Golf Ball R&D specialist Nick Yontz and Director of Tour Operations Jacob Davidson on dialing in the ball and the irons to match up with the best players in the world.

JW: How much do you depend on Nick’s expertise throughout the season, especially with new irons (X Forged and Apex MB) having just hit the market?

JD: Any time we launch a new product, it’s essential for the tour team to know how the new product will perform. Nick provides in-depth data on how our golf ball will perform with the new products. When you look at the golf bag, there is one constant variable and that’s the golf ball. Our ultimate goal is to collaborate with the iron engineers and golf ball engineers to design a product that works together to help golfers play better. Nick Yontz is a tremendous resource for our tour team and has worked closely with several major winners in his career. We lean on him weekly for insight into in-depth product performance and future prototype products.

JW: When considering the spin off of the irons for a player like Xander, is he working around one number or are the multiple spin windows to hit?

JD: Spin rates can vary from player to player depending on clubhead delivery and launch numbers. Currently, we’ve worked hard to get Xander’s iron spin rates into a range that we feel allows him to hit a variety of shots to play his best golf.

JW: Let’s look at an LPGA profile for a player like Anne van Dam. Where does Chrome Soft X benefit her the most? 

NY: The Chrome Soft X has blended with Anne’s club set up in a way that she can be an excellent driver of the golf ball, while better controlling iron and wedge spin rates compared to her previous golf ball.

JW: If a player is looking for a higher launch window with the irons, what tweaks are you making, all while honoring the specific DNA of a player’s bag?

JD: There are several different levers we can move in order to raise the launch window. However, in order to determine which lever makes the most sense you have to fully understand the player’s bag. In order to do this, each club has to be studied deeply to know the cause and effects of a change. After we have completed this process, we will look at what options will best fit the player.

JW: As you look at the numbers, where do you see the improvements (gains) with the CS X vs what you saw with previous balls?

NY: Across the board, we’ve seen measurable ball-speed gains on the launch monitor during player testing sessions. It’s exciting for them and us when they reach driver ball speeds (and distances) that they couldn’t before!

JW: On the PGA Tour, is there an overall RPM profile that all players chase or is it player specific?

*question based on general rule of number on club x 1000 RPM IE 7 iron spins at 7000 RPM

JD: Our goal at Callaway is to move all of our staff players into optimal ranges in an iron spin. Our 2020 golf ball and the iron lineup has allowed us to move several players bags into a more optimal range this year. We work closely with the player, instructor, and caddie to constantly find ways to improve performance.

JW: In regards to working with a Champions Tour Player that has gone from Balata into CSX. Is that player still playing out of the same launch windows that he has for years or is he having to adjust for new technology?

NY: There are some differences in modern equipment that we hear from players that have played over multiple decades. The shape of the trajectory is an example. Current trajectories can look flatter or may get up higher sooner in the flight than a balata did. Players who have experienced balata and modern balls also talk about the amount of lateral movement being less today.

JW: Discuss how you guys work together on a week to week basis. What does it look like?

JD: Nick is an excellent resource for the tour team. Each week, we are providing feedback and observations to him from what we are seeing and hearing across all the major tours. Throughout the year, Nick will attend several tour events allowing us to work closely together with players on the range tee or on the golf course.

NY: Jacob and the entire tour team knows each tour player at the deepest level. For example, knowing each player’s swing tendencies and look preferences enhances the raw numbers we collect. Tour players are the best product testers in the world that push us to make better equipment.

JW: Can you both talk to me about the importance of spin with your irons?

JD: It’s much easier to take spin off than to add it from the fairway. The majority of shots that a tour player hits during a round of golf will be off-speed. When you reduce speed, spin also reduces. We’ve found that when we are fitting a player to a golf ball and irons, it’s imperative to pay close attention to how much reduction in spin comes from off-speed shots.

NY: Completely agree with Jacob. While we will do work on the driving range with a player, we need to see how it performs on the golf course in different situations as well (fairway/first-cut/rough, headwind/downwind/morning dew…)


It may seem trivial, but to me, this is the secret sauce of really making a bag and fitting work for you. Pay attention to ball speed and launch but mostly spin rates. If the ball doesn’t spin you can’t control it—I don’t care how high it goes or steep it lands.

In the past year, I have focused way more on proper spin with my irons than ever before. What I have found is when 4-PW are in the right spin windows, which for me is around 6,800 RPM with a 7 iron, my iron play has improved dramatically.

See the PGA and LPGA TrackMan averages from 2019 below. At my age and speed, I actually strive to stay right in between the averages for both tours. It’s not only realistic for me but also has actually helped.


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