NEWS The USGA Distance Insights Project

Snowman

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All I've learned from this USGA report is that they aren't happy that technology and golf education/fitness has gotten much better in recent years.
What I'm getting from it so far is that the USGA is leaning toward taking the same tone deaf, ham-fisted approach they did to wedge grooves and anchored putters - making decisions that affect the entire golfing population based upon an issue that's relevant to about 0.00000001% of the actual golfers.
 

MWard

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Do you think Fred Couples did not know how to hit his driver in 1992, but now he does?
I think when people were teaching hit down on it, vs now where we're told to hit up on it.. Yeah. I'm sure he made an adjustment, or his equipment sure did.
 

GoldenBuff

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I haven't read through every word of the report but have scanned it. Here's a question:

Does USGA say distance is currently an issue or are they saying the trend is such that it will become a problem if thy don't take action soon than later? I'm not clear on this distinction. Have we crossed the threshold or are we moving toward some problematic distance threshold (for some male tour players)? This is important because if the trend is the issue, trying to find current problem examples is a waste of time. Debating what a possible future threshold of issue might be is a more meaningful debate topic.

I also see a couple of points that I believe are important in the debate:
  • The issue is with some male tour players. Distance is not an issue for all other golfers.
  • Bifurcation as part of a solution seems like a terrible mistake. The fact that amateur and tour players can use the same equipment and play the same game is strength of golf. Please don't change that USGA.
  • Setup changes for tour events does not have to impact amateur golfers and can likely go a long ways toward moderating the trend with male tour players. This comes up over and over.
  • New equipment limitations should be a last resort, or at least phased in over significant periods of time, if necessary.
 

LICC

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So if one was to go to a qualifier, you have to get these balls somehow to play with the correct equipment.
Do tour trucks show up to every qual or do pro shops stock Tour and Amatuer balls?

Bifurcated equipment sounds easy but starts to fall apart once you start diving into it.

If anything, USGA could just set limits to the equipment that ends where it's all currently at today.
No need for a second ball, no need for new clubs to legally play in a tournament.
OEMs can figure out from there how to sell new clubs but it won't force people to buy a whole new set to "keep the integrity of the game intact".
Sure- if you play in a qualifier, you use the required conforming equipment. Whether it be conforming balls or a conforming sized driver or whatever else.
 

LICC

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Training most definitely has helped increase distances at the Tour level.
Everyone remembers Jack's size during his younger days, that's almost every guy on the Korn Ferry tour.

The equipment has helped as well but that's from years of learning about real ball flight laws, launch monitors, and much better manufacturing.

All I've learned from this USGA report is that they aren't happy that technology and golf education/fitness has gotten much better in recent years.
Name one Tour player who added significant distance from strength training that he wasn't doing previously.
 

JMB3

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Name one Tour player who added significant distance from strength training that he wasn't doing previously.
Literally Bryson DeChambeau this past offseason?
 

LICC

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Literally Bryson DeChambeau this past offseason?
Too early to tell. We will see at the end of the season how his distance numbers compare to last year. I'm guessing it won't be much different.
 

Long Shot

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Literally Bryson DeChambeau this past offseason?
He definitely did. He will be a good case study to see if his distance gains help improve his overall performance.
 

radiman

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Name one Tour player who added significant distance from strength training that he wasn't doing previously.
They grew up training. They've been prepping for this level of play their entire lives. There is a reason that these younger guys are swinging faster. Pre-Tiger era, very little was done in terms of strength training.
 

Turtlerancher

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Pick one.

LICC

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They grew up training. They've been prepping for this level of play their entire lives. There is a reason that these younger guys are swinging faster. Pre-Tiger era, very little was done in terms of strength training.
So you can't name any. Or explain the Champions Tour players hitting it greater distances. Or LPGA too.
 

Tevenor

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So you can't name any. Or explain the Champions Tour players hitting it greater distances. Or LPGA too.

**cough cough**.....Korn Ferry.....**cough cough**
 

radiman

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So you can't name any. Or explain the Champions Tour players hitting it greater distances. Or LPGA too.
Why do I have to. Look at them. They are a lot more in shape than golfers of years past. Swing faster too. Average swing speed is up. But, I suppose those hot faces are causing that too...
 

GoldenBuff

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Question about players like Tiger and Phil. Did their swing speed increase after they started started strength training or did strength training help them sustain swing speed? The other part of the swing speed (and thus distance) is whether or not the equipment could play at higher swing speeds. In other words, did new equipment facilitate players to increase speed?
 

JMB3

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So you can't name any. Or explain the Champions Tour players hitting it greater distances. Or LPGA too.
I mean, Scott McCarron is pretty famous for his workout regimen, which started once he hit the Champions Tour. So many of these older players have changed their bodies and claim to be in the best shape they've ever been in.
 

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Golf is unlike many sports though, right? In other sports, you're in top physical conditioning by the time you're in your third year, whereas in golf, guys in Couples' era were not exactly on fitness or diet regimens. For those guys, it was more about maximizing swing potential with what they had.
I agree that golf is unlike most other sports, but not when it comes to driving the golf ball. Driving, especially in regards to distance, is solely an athletic achievement. Specifically regarding Couples, its important to take note that he was ranked 20th in the world in January 2000. That puts him right in the middle of the golf ball revolution when the Pro V1 was introduced and directly coincides with his rise in driving distance. You can also look at him as a person, he is in worse shape now than when he was ranked #1. He has never been a gym rat, especially considering his constant back issues. The only logical explanation you can draw is that the introduction of new equipment specifically the solid core golf ball and the improvements of that ball considerably changed his driving distances. The ball flies farther now than it ever has, the ball spins less now than it ever has, the clubs are more forgiving than they have ever been. This is incredibly good for the amateur game, but I don't think it bodes well for the pro tour which is the main draw of new golfers.
 

Dr. Double

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Question about players like Tiger and Phil. Did their swing speed increase after they started started strength training or did strength training help them sustain swing speed? The other part of the swing speed (and thus distance) is whether or not the equipment could play at higher swing speeds. In other words, did new equipment facilitate players to increase speed?
Equipment 100% changes how you play. If you have a ball that doesn't spin the penalty for a miss-hit shot is significantly reduced. This allows you to swing harder with less fear of hitting it out of bounds, not because you are striking the ball better, but because when you do miss-hit it you are only 20 yards off the fairway instead of 50.
 

radiman

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I agree that golf is unlike most other sports, but not when it comes to driving the golf ball. Driving, especially in regards to distance is solely an athletic achievement. Specifically regarding Couples, its important to take note that he was ranked 20th in the world in January 2000. That puts him right in the middle of the golf ball revolution when the Pro V1 was introduced and directly coincides with his rise in driving distance. You can also look at him as a person, he is in worse shape now than when he was ranked #1. He has never been a gym rat, especially considering his constant back issues. The only logical explanation you can draw is that the introduction of new equipment specifically the solid core golf ball and the improvements of that ball considerably changed his driving distances. The ball flies farther now than it ever has, the ball spins less now than it ever has, the clubs are more forgiving than they have ever been. This is incredibly good for the amateur game, but I don't think it bodes well for the pro tour which is the main draw of new golfers.
I think I would disagree to that assumption regarding the draw of new golfers. I don't think the game would look a lot more appealing watching guys struggle to hit the ball 280 with their driver. I think places like Top Golf and social media are drawing more people into the game than the PGA Tour is. Just a feeling I have. Could be wrong.
 

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There ya go!?
Nope, it was swing changes:
"Mickelson’s lower-body action has changed a lot over the years, especially when he was working with Butch Harmon, and it’s changes to his lower-body technique that have helped garner even more swing speed.

As he says below, Mickelson spent a lot of time this season working on straightening his lead leg as he comes into the ball. That straightening shifts his weight more to his back foot and allows his hips to spin more aggressively."
 

JMB3

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I think I would disagree to that assumption regarding the draw of new golfers. I don't think the game would look a lot more appealing watching guys struggle to hit the ball 280 with their driver. I think places like Top Golf and social media are drawing more people into the game than the PGA Tour is. Just a feeling I have. Could be wrong.
I agree. Same in other sports. Increase scoring, HRs, TDs, 3 Pt shots, etc. Easiest way to draw in casual fans. The diehards (me included) generally don't love those changes, but I suspect it happens for a reason.
 

JMB3

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All the disagreement on distance... some say its equipment, some say its the ball, some say its physical fitness, some say its swing changes. But can't it be some of all of that? Aren't they all contributing factors? And if so, would it really make sense to rollback just the equipment, for example? My opinion is no.
 

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