Tours Rolling Back the Professional Ball.... Opinions

So it appears the R&A and USGA are going to govern the golf ball for the Tour Events. I don’t really subscribe to this mode of thought. They should have never let the Golf Ball get so out of hand in the first place. The players that rocket the the ball prodigious distances with basically the same tools and physical abilities we have access to are what golf fans fascinate about and have aspirations of achieving. These Top 500 players or so in the world are (in our sport) elite athletes who have chosen a career path to exploit a certain talent they have and most of them PUT IN THE WORK, are assisted by today’s physiology and analytics and have honed their craft to make them Top of the Game. I’m going to share a story, this is going back now to 1989. I was a pretty good player in that year and had shaved myself down to about a 5 capper by then. Because I lived in the Township, back then, even though I was working at one course, I was a member of the Township course for about $300 a year dues! Wow! Anyway the course at that time played 6029yds, I have an old card. The local PGA had earmarked our course for one of the Big Purse events in the PGA pro area and it was a pretty big deal. The only drawback was they had to close the course for about a week to get the course Tournament ready. A few pros came out and played some practice rounds and I got hooked up with 2 of them. All they could talk about was that someone was going to break 60 on the par 70 layout. We’re in the bar and i’m sitting with the super and right in front of him, they were basically saying we’re gonna tear your course up, it’s going to be embarrassing. No doubt these guys were good, even though they were hitting different shots, yea they broke par easily. The super says to me F–K them, Watch what I do to them, no one is gonna break 70… I’m like okay. In the week prior he watered the rough, he DID NOT cut it, he grew the fairways taller, he shaved the areas encircling the greens, he narrowed landing areas, finally he did put in some very scary pins. The best score on Tourney day was a 69. 2 others shot 70… the rest were bitching about how difficult scoring was because of the conditions. My point is, you can manipulate the playing conditions to make it conducive where accuracy and shot making are paramount. I don’t care who you are hitting out of 3" rough is not going to produce great scoring. That’s not what maybe the public wants to see…we like bombs, we like birdie fests… no one wants to see pros chopping it out of tough lies… doesn’t make for good TV, but like I’ve been told 10000 times, don’t want a crappy lie, don’t hit it there! I say don’t take away the fun part of the game, allow them a few holes to bomb away, but don’t tell me you can’t force them to have to dial it back themselves. That’s my take…any thoughts?

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I’m not sure I agree with it. It definitely impacts the ball mfrs although I don’t really care what ball the pros play any way, unless it’s the LPGA where I see club yardages that look familiar to me.

I’m not sure there really is a distance problem and I don’t have a problem seeing these amazing players go low. But if they feel the courses are too short for them now there are other things that can be done. Tee boxes can sometimes be moved left or right to create a difficult angle. Fairways could be left a bit shaggier…I know you can’t get 50-75 yards of roll on any New England muni. Grow the rough and narrow the fairways. Plant more trees and have more OB. A player that hits it long and straight should be rewarded, but there should be risk. Make bunkers real hazards like public courses…some rock hard and others with too much sand lol. Don’t have the greens so consistently pure either. There are “short” courses on tour that these players don’t overpower. Heck the grounds crew would probably have less work to do to make the course harder.

I play a semi-private course that’s barely 5900 yards from the Whites. Par 69 so it’s not quite as short as you first think. I don’t really care for this, but the management tricks it up to make it play even harder. The rough is thick, but then banks are shaved so balls run OB. Lots of tees and OB. Greens are small and have a LOT of character. There are a few doglegs that a big hitter can go up and over making a longer hole short. They regularly move the tee box so they can’t get the angle. If they do have the angle that day it’s still a risk. They need to hit it long high and on the right line. If they get it right they have a great look at birdie and if they get it wrong they are re-teeing (from OB) or pitching out from the woods. Bomb and gouge doesn’t always work. It can be a grind, but for some reason no one likes their course to be scored on.


I don’t know what players comments might have been before the tournament but during the Canadian Open in 2011 the fairways were narrowed, the rough was allowed to grow longer and, of course, being on the Wet (West) Coast was lush. There were complaints then of the difficulty of play.

Just looked it up. Seems like when they play Shaughnessy and they let it grow a bit… no double digits under par… -4, -5 for the four days is the winner. See… no reason to govern the ball. Let them whack it at their own peril! It’s NOT the Players fault at all. They can and should play with the best toys out there. If you don’t want massive spin for these boys, you should have never allowed Square Grooves for anyone, If you didn’t want guys perfecting a stroke with a broom stick it should never have been allowed. Not everyone could putt with a broom stick or belly putter either! So you selectively took some people out. Same thing with the bombers. If you didn’t want players to perfect a swing better than your testing equipment, you should have never allowed the ball in the first place. So don’t penalize them for your miscues. I want to see 300+ yard drives. I want to see eagles and birdies on what are hard layouts as it is! We already know we can toughen them up, so why penalize the players and the viewers. No one wants to watch BORING golf. I’m the OP and I shouldn’t express myself twice… but this move struck a nerve with me.

I don’t always agree with Chamblee, but I think he’s right here when he says they haven’t shown that there really is a distance problem. I don’t mind seeing these pros suffer through a US Open and looking as fallible as my weekend foursome, but I also like seeing them make birdies and eagles. I love that Jim Furyk shot a 58 in my home state of CT.

I still love watching golf. I can’t say the same about pro basketball. I used to love watching it, but it boring. I’m not sure it got boring because players got stronger, faster, taller, etc, but I got sick of seeing them let players travel, back an opponent down under the hoop and just not pass the ball much. Golf is as good as ever IMO!

I volunteered at that tournament and was invited afterwards to play the course before it was returned to the members. Foolishly I tried to advance my ball out of the rough and only managed to get in deeper. Finally I wised up and took the shortest distance I could back to the fairway.

Surprised you didn’t hurt yourself hackin it out. Been there done that. Superintendents don’t have to trick up the course. They can not water greens and make them hard to hold. They can make them fast or even worse make them slow. The harder you have to hit a putt the more chance there is to go offline, and the more grain there is to take a putt offline. Deep rough is just a bitch. No other way to put it. They can reward a str8 drive by widening a fairway from 250 to 300. They can penalize a long drive of 300 to 325 that goes offline even slightly. The farther you hit it the harder it is to control too. I’m leaving the ball alone. Don’t penalize the athletes for taking advantage of their tools.

The local course I play at is a prime example of how a course can be made harder very easily. They play dogfight tournaments everyday on this course. When the course super was out on vacation they let one of the local high school golfers place the pins and he put them in some tough spots. Typically a four man team will win with minus 5 to minus 7. That went down to minus 2 or 3.
Also, we get points… 1 point for bogeys, 2 points par, 3 points birdie… the point totals per team plummeted just with pin placements on the greens and this course is nothing special so I think the ball is fine… just do what you guys are saying… make the courses play harder for everyone not just the bombers. Isn’t that what they do for the US Open?

Terrible even to suggest using a different golf balls for the professional tournaments.
MLB use the same ball, basically the same bat, Tennis use the same ball, why would golf want to create a division within the league?
We all know the set up for the playing condition of any golf course could make a difference to weed out and allow the best to triumph.
Changing the golf ball will only eliminate the slight advantage of the longer hitters.
Why would anyone in their right mind wish to impose this new restriction?

Ever since the beginning of the history of this game, players been seeking to gain more distance and consistency. From golf clubs to golf balls we were chasing the Holy Grail. Most the legends of the game are long hitters. This is from Bobby Jones to Jack Nicklaus, to Tiger Woods… No denying the amateur weekend golfers are also chasing the distance game.
The equipment manufacturers know this, by marketing their driver to the distance game, after the drivers are maxed out to the conforming limit set by the USGA, now they’re marketing the irons with the same theme.
The longer drivers will not make the golf courses obsolete. We could prepare the golf courses to make hitting drivers on every par4 and par 5, a risk and reward situation. which is fair to the field, and the more accurate driver and the one who took the risk, shall have an edge over the rest of the field.
This will be fair. to everyone.

The average golfers wish to use the same golf clubs, the same golf balls as the professionals. It’s what the fantasy is about. Allowing the consumers to use a different golf ball than the professional will be against the will and wish of the fans.

Making the golf course tougher for tournament play is the sensible solution. Professionals could show off their skill of accuracy and the ability to recover from difficult situations.
No one will remember a 350 yard drive a few year down the road, but we’ll remember Tiger Woods 6 iron from a fairway bunker 193 yards away to a shallow green fronted by water hazards. That is what a golf fan wants to see.
Not a variety show of long drive contest which turned the golf holes into a drive/pitch/putt.
Using a different golf ball for tournament only, will not work.
The players will resist it.
The fans could not relate to it.
The golf ball OEM will also resist it, why would they have a different line of golf balls which is sold to the tour players only and I’d bet no weekend golfers will purchase a different golf ball than what the professionals use, and if the new golf ball means less distance (whether it applies to a slower swing speed or not ), the average golfer will not embrace it.
It spells disaster all over.

Nothing ‘rolls back’ a golf ball more effectively than a well-placed tree.

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Agree, together with other means like taller rough and fairway bunkers.
At one of our local golf course, two old growth had been poisoned with arsenics. One was on the left side of a down hill par 3, the branches over hung 20% of the air space of the fairway. One was on the right hand side of the fairway of a short par 5 which will block the shots coming into the green from the right half of the fairway. Those two trees could not be replaced since they were over 120 years old.
It really change the layout of the golf course.

I am completely apathetic to the whole thing but find it interesting on some level.

First of all, I think the USGA and R&A are very reactionary. You have to only look back about a decade. Prior to 2012, there was no problem with anchoring a putter. However in 2012 the US Open was won by Webb Simpson and the Open Championship was won by Ernie Els, both using anchored putters. Add to that Keegan Bradley had just won the PGA the previous year and Adam Scott got the 2013 Masters victory. Then they had a problem even though anchoring had been allowed for decades.

This feels a lot like that to me. No real data to suggest that distance has changed the game fundamentally, but they don’t like the fact that Bryson completely blitzed Winged Foot and St Andrews is defenseless without steady winds. If you look at the data that Brandel shared that was compiled by Mark Brodie, it is apparent that this is just an attempt to flex their collective muscle. Which is really hipocritical to me because they set up the courses to be firm and fast. Baked out conditions are going to provide an opportunity for longer drives and boucing a 7 iron in from 210 if the player has control over the ball.

There are several different possible outcomes at this point and that is what will be interesting. How will the manufacturers react? Will some of them opt out? Regardless costs will go up and will that open up more opportunities for DTC brands to gain market share in ball sales? Is there an amount of pressure that will make the governing bodies back off? Get your popcorn and watch the show I guess…


A correct fix to the anchored putter is not to make the tournament greens smooth as a billiard table top. Have the surface back to the condition in the 60s.
This will make the putting impossible to just push the golf ball off the putter face, without a stroke. Putting is not just pushing the golf ball. without the elements like the sloped greens and/or wind, we’ll be witnessing a game of billiard instead of putting.