There has been much swarming around the world of golf that the USGA chief wants to roll the golf ball back. Is it really necessary that this happens? There are many reasons why today’s golfers hit the ball a lot further than they did 30-40 years ago. The real question is, is it a bad thing that golf balls fly farther today?
30-40 more yards on average today than 1980
Back in 1980, the average golfer hit the golf ball between 250-270 yards. The PGA leader in 1980 in driving distance was Dan Pohl and he averaged 274 yards off the tee Jack Nicklaus in 1980 was 10th place in that stat category with 269.
Also, a notable stat the scoring average leader in 1980 was Lee Trevino with a 69.73 scoring average per round and his driving distance was 259
Fast forward to 2018 and the leader so far this season is Trey Mullinax with an average drive of 319 yards. 52 guys on tour this season are averaging 300 yards or better per drive with 150 guys on tour averaging 290 yards. Simply put almost everyone on tour hits the long ball. Yet its worth mentioning that the leader in scoring average Dustin Johnson is only averaging 69.20 for the season.
Longer drives don’t necessarily mean lower scores
The courses today are playing longer than they did in 1980. Augusta National is playing 400 yards longer than it did in 1980. The average course inevitably playing longer than it did in 1980. I would be very surprised if there are any courses playing the same distance or shorter than it did in 1980.
So the drives get longer, they make the course longer and they are designing courses built today to be longer due to the evolution of the game. It’s simply not the case that 100 men on the PGA tour are going out every week and breaking course records. The first 59 was shot in 1977 by Al Geiberger. Since then only 7 more men on the PGA tour have shot a 59 during offical tournament play, and Jim Furyk in 2016 shot the only 58 in PGA history.
The .5 lower scoring average by the leaders is very negligible. It’s just not worth the effort and the money that rolling the golf ball back measures would likely take.
Progression is happening in almost every sport
Golf isn’t the only the only sport where things are progressing. Nascar is a sport that comes to mind when I think of progression. The cars today go much faster than they did 30-40 years ago. Now Nascar has put the restrictor plate on certain tracks to make the cars slower but that’s more of a safety issue in my opinion.
Nascar isn’t the only sport. There are many sports where a leading metric has either increased in speed or distance. MLB Pitchers are throwing faster, Tennis players are serving faster, and the list goes on.
Rolling the ball back would hurt the sport
Think about it, every year millions are made in the golf industry by the new advertisement of the latest clubs becoming longer and being able to hit the ball further due to new technology. How many clubs do you think would be sold if Taylormade produced “classic distance” irons and drivers that hit the ball 10% less.
If Bridgestone came out and produced a ball that is 80 percent of today’s ball. I can just hear the commercials. Hit the ball shorter and have an even tougher time scoring pars. It just wouldn’t be a draw for the average golfer, and inevitably I don’t think they would roll distances back for the normal amateur player.
So why would they do it for the pro sport? How many people would want to go see Dustin Johnson drive the ball 275 yards? I just don’t see that selling more tickets. There aren’t too many players on tour right now outside a name few that really draw huge crowds in 2018. There isn’t a dominant player on tour who is standing out so much further than Tiger did during the 2000’s.
We thought it was going to be Jordan Speith, but he has hardly dominated this year with zero wins and his best finish at the Masters in 3rd place. We have all been waiting for the next Tiger Woods, and a player of that dominance might not present themselves for a long while.
Golf fans loved when Tiger Woods was the front-runner, it was fun to see a consistent winner. Tiger Woods is obviously still golfing and I do believe is making a major comeback, but he obviously won’t return to the dominance era again at this point in his career.
The point I’m getting at is I just don’t see any good coming from rolling the ball back 20-30 yards. It would do more damage to the game than it would help. I have yet to hear one compelling, complete argument to how rolling the ball back would benefit the game.
If you want to roll the ball back, take an unregulated approach
If you want to roll the ball back, there are other ways of achieving this. One way I’ve heard suggested is cutting the grass in a way that would slow the rolling of the golf ball on the fairways or some other measure that would effectively “roll the ball back” personally, I don’t think the game needs it and even the thought of it gives me a headache.
Is the PGA going to go to “one ball” and force all the players to play one brand of ball? I don’t even want to think about the ways they would attempt to “regulate this.” Bottom line, keep the game the way it is and don’t take any more regulation measures. The whole belly putter ban is still annoying to me, but it is what it is.
What do you all think? Leave me something in the comments below.
Until next time,