NEWS The USGA Distance Insights Project

BigDill

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I have been watching most of this from the sideline and enjoying the discourse. While I see a bunch of discussion about whether distance is an issue, I do not see how rolling back equipment will actually grow the game. Equipment (both new and used) which helps people perform well leads to more enjoyment, and thus people playing the game. I wonder how many weekend warriors would stick with the game if they had to hit muscle backs every weekend.

I would hate to be the marketing head of a major equipment manufacturer if any of these changes occur. "Okay team, distance is dead. Our slogan for 2022 is 'Hit It More Traditionally-er.'''
 

Dr. Double

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I'm not saying the ball isn't a factor, but I sure won't say other factors like rock hard conditions, trackman revelations, strategies showing the advantages of bomb/gouge are just 'maybe' contributors. They're much more than that. The easiest, least 'ham-fisted' fix is to set up these courses differently than they do now when the Tour rolls through. It's relatively easy to make bomb/gouge strategy much riskier than now and to significantly limit roll out off the tee. It's actually much less work and cost than it is to get them in the shape they do for the tour now. So much easier and also would go over much much better with the general golfing public than forcing bifurcation or equipment roll backs. But it's the USGA, so odds are they'll screw the pooch again.
Could not agree more that the USGA is going to screw this up either way lol.

I would say that according to the strokes gained approach that almost every tour player uses, its better to be 60 yards from the green in deep-rough than 120 yards from the green in the fairway. I don't think growing rough would change the style of play, but I don't have any data to back that up so its pure speculation on my part.
 

Dr. Double

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I have been watching most of this from the sideline and enjoying the discourse. While I see a bunch of discussion about whether distance is an issue, I do not see how rolling back equipment will actually grow the game. Equipment (both new and used) which helps people perform well leads to more enjoyment, and thus people playing the game. I wonder how many weekend warriors would stick with the game if they had to hit muscle backs every weekend.

I would hate to be the marketing head of a major equipment manufacturer if any of these changes occur. "Okay team, distance is dead. Our slogan for 2022 is 'Hit It More Traditionally-er.'''
First, I think that rolling back clubs is a terrible, terrible, terrible idea. I think it should just be changes to the ball.

Second, as someone in marketing, I would relish the opportunity that comes with a golf ball rollback. If you are any company other than Titleist this would be great news. They have dominated the ball industry with something like 75% market share. This is a great opportunity for brands like Callaway, Taylormade, or even direct-to-consumer brands like Vice to adapt quickly and grab more market share. That's probably a discussion for a different thread though.
 

Dr. Double

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Right. Shots being stuffed on the green. Take away scoring opportunities by putting longer irons in the players hands, there will be a lot less of those highlight approaches.
Its the variety of shots stuffed that's important. A wedge hit to 6 feet is awesome. A wedge hit to 6 feet after seeing 100 other wedges hit to 6 feet is not as awesome.
 

radiman

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Its the variety of shots stuffed that's important. A wedge hit to 6 feet is awesome. A wedge hit to 6 feet after seeing 100 other wedges hit to 6 feet is not as awesome.
But these guys aren't hitting wedges into all of these holes.
 

Dr. Double

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But these guys aren't hitting wedges into all of these holes.
I don't remember the last time I saw a pro hit anything longer than a 7 iron into a green unless it was a par 5. Are you seeing a lot of long and mid-irons into greens?
 

InTheRough

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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.
(sarcasm) Maybe they should just ban going to the gym; ban Butch Harmon; ban Trackman, Flightscope, and Foresight and whatever; make pros smoke and drink alcohol while they're playing tournaments. Ban everything they've promoted over the years. That should take care of the problem. (/sarcasm)
 

InTheRough

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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.
We had solid core balls beginning in 1968. The Spalding Executive. They were first two piece performance golf ball. They were consistent and durable. They also made the cheaper Uni-Core. For hackers they were fantastic because you didn't smile them every time you thinned a shot. The Uni-core went further than the balatas and held the those fluffy greens pretty well too. The Executive had a urethane cover. Why they didn't catch on back then I'll never know. Golf is a conservative sport and is slow to accept change. It took almost 40 years for solid core balls to become mainstream on the tour.
 

InTheRough

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I don't remember the last time I saw a pro hit anything longer than a 7 iron into a green unless it was a par 5. Are you seeing a lot of long and mid-irons into greens?
Have you watched the LPGA? They hit 7 irons, 5 irons, and some hybrids at times.
 

Dr. Double

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Have you watched the LPGA? They hit 7 irons, 5 irons, and some hybrids at times.
I apologize, I should have specified a pro on the men's tour. Personally I am a huge fan of the LPGA and the club/shot making variety.
 

tahoebum

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I don't remember the last time I saw a pro hit anything longer than a 7 iron into a green unless it was a par 5. Are you seeing a lot of long and mid-irons into greens?
A lot of approach shots are hit with mid or short irons but it's really about how close they hit it to the hole because the average make percentage for putts over 25' on tour is only 6.48%. If you don't hit it close your not making many birdies and it's damn tough to hit it close even for the best in the world.

I think your average golfer overestimates how close PGA Tour pros hit it to the hole.

The stats from 2019 PGA Tour season:

Rod Pampling led the tour for proximity from 100-125 at 15'8" and the average was almost 20 feet.

Best proximity to the hole from the fairway - 32'6"(average is 36')
Best proximity to the hole from the rough - 37' (average is 44')

Best scoring average was Justin Thomas at 68.99 and Tour average is 70.28.

BTW 15 years ago when the agronomy was less advanced and course conditions(especially greens) were on average worse the scoring average was 69.11(Tiger) and 70.99 and a decade ago it was 69.43 and 70.59.

My conclusion: Golf is hard and old man par is safe.:)
 

Dr. Double

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A lot of approach shots are hit with mid or short irons but it's really about how close they hit it to the hole because the average make percentage for putts over 25' on tour is only 6.48%. If you don't hit it close your not making many birdies and it's damn tough to hit it close even for the best in the world.

I think your average golfer overestimates how close PGA Tour pros hit it to the hole.

The stats from 2019 PGA Tour season:

Best proximity to the hole from the fairway - 32'6"(average is 36')
Best proximity to the hole from the rough - 37' (average is 44')

Best scoring average is Justin Thomas at 68.99 and average is 70.28.

BTW 15 years ago when the agronomy was less advanced and course conditions(especially greens) were on average worse the scoring average was 69.11(Tiger) and 70.99 and a decade ago it was 69.43 and 70.59.

My conclusion: Golf is hard and old man par is safe.:)
Totally agree. Golf is incredibly hard ha.
 

Canadan

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Well first of all muscles don't equal athleticism. Have you seen bodybuilders try and throw a football? It's laughable. Athleticism is, as you mentioned, "finesse, timing, execution, lag, fluidity, etc etc" and being able to do them at an incredible rate of speed. Its basic physiology. The older you are (most of the time) the slower your body works (most of the time). Bodies atrophy, that's what they do. We as human beings breakdown and become slower and more fragile. That's why athletes peak when they do.

I want to refer back to my Fred Couples example. He is hitting it farther now than he did in his twenties. His swing looks exactly the same, his body looks exactly the same. The only variable that has changed is his age. Unless you can point to something I have totally missed in regards to a new workout regiment or a dynamic swing change, the only variable that has changed in his game is the equipment. He is hitting the ball farther because of the equipment and ball he is using, not because he all of the sudden became stronger and better at golf.
I think we'll have to agree to disagree with this one. I've got a lot of confidence that Couples' efficiency and understanding of the mechanics of the swing has dramatically improved. Now it's not to say that i don't think equipment has helped - it surely has during the course of his career - but I do think he's done more than just be stagnant in how he has adapted to the game from a swing perspective. I'd argue it is a solid combination of them both.

He's also a total anomaly. There's absolutely no one out there like him... and I love it.
 

Canadan

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@BubbaWatson

I bet he can't do more than two pull-ups or 25 push-ups. Hit's a cut off the tee and is longer than Rory, lol.
Bubba is nice 'freak of nature' sample. Nothing even remotely orthodox about him, but he uses all of it just about every time haha
 

Turtlerancher

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I think we'll have to agree to disagree with this one. I've got a lot of confidence that Couples' efficiency and understanding of the mechanics of the swing has dramatically improved. Now it's not to say that i don't think equipment has helped - it surely has during the course of his career - but I do think he's done more than just be stagnant in how he has adapted to the game from a swing perspective. I'd argue it is a solid combination of them both.

He's also a total anomaly. There's absolutely no one out there like him... and I love it.
Fred Couples defines the adage" Slow is smooth, smooth is fast" when it comes to the golf swing!
 

Canadan

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Fred Couples defines the adage" Slow is smooth, smooth is fast" when it comes to the golf swing!
Him, Ernie Els... They made it work for a LONG time based purely on technique.

That said, neither of them are anywhere close to needing a roll back of product.
 

Dr. Double

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I think we'll have to agree to disagree with this one. I've got a lot of confidence that Couples' efficiency and understanding of the mechanics of the swing has dramatically improved. Now it's not to say that i don't think equipment has helped - it surely has during the course of his career - but I do think he's done more than just be stagnant in how he has adapted to the game from a swing perspective. I'd argue it is a solid combination of them both.

He's also a total anomaly. There's absolutely no one out there like him... and I love it.
Totally fair to agree to disagree. Hope there are no hard feelings! I just enjoy the debate. Great points on both sides for sure. I also can't argue that Couples is a phenom, he is absolutely incredible.
 

DataDude

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And here is why growing the grass out is a bad idea. Firm and fast makes courses difficult and fair for every type of player to compete. Growing grass out in the fairway will certainly make a 280 yard drive stop quickly, but firm and fast means it could roll into the gnarly rough or a bunker if it's not on a perfect line. Riviera is a classic example of how a course should play on tour. Yes drives can go 330 on a roll out, but the lines for that to work are tiny and should be rewarded if the player finds them. The vast majority of these shots are ending up in Kikuya rough though. Those shots get a bogey while the other shots set up a birdie chance. Contrast that with some of the setups we see where the fairways are overseeded and slow and the rough is lame and then it's a bomb and gouge paradise. There is no bombing and gouging going on this week. The players love it too.

https://www.golf.com/news/2020/02/16/riviera-country-club-produces-another-great-tournament/
 

Golf Ghost

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Crossfield can be hit or miss for me, but I must say, I agree with a lot of his take here. It's also interesting that he mentions his match with Westwood. Sort of look at a tournament is golfer vs. golfer, not golfer vs. par (the course), which the USGA seems to focus on too much.
 

93civiccpe

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Crossfield can be hit or miss for me, but I must say, I agree with a lot of his take here. It's also interesting that he mentions his match with Westwood. Sort of look at a tournament is golfer vs. golfer, not golfer vs. par (the course), which the USGA seems to focus on too much.
Wow.. Something I agree with Crossfield on.. What is this world coming to!
 

RetiredBoomer

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What about the millions who enjoy watching those few hundred elite players?
They can enjoy watching those players trying to break sixty.

My opinion, obviously, will reflect my own view of golf, which is that its primary importance is as a recreational game more that as sports entertainment.
 

LICC

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They can enjoy watching those players trying to break sixty.

My opinion, obviously, will reflect my own view of golf, which is that its primary importance is as a recreational game more that as sports entertainment.
PGA Tour golf is sports entertainment. That is not a matter of opinion, it just states what it is.
 

RetiredBoomer

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PGA Tour golf is sports entertainment. That is not a matter of opinion, it just states what it is.
I totally agree. That's definitely what it is,
so if that's what you prioritize, you might have one opinion,
and if you couldn't care less about the tour but enjoy golf as recreation, you might have a different opinion.
 

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