A ≠ C But A+B+Dx5 Does = C
Did I lose you already? Good. Hang in there. Ok, so I haven’t posted in 3 months and you’re wondering what has drawn me out of my cave of hibernation to do so on the biggest bar night of the year. Well, I’m sober as a church mouse so it isn’t the booze, for once. With the USGA announcing they’re looking into taking measures to roll back or limit how far the golf ball goes the interwebs are a buzz with opinions on the matter. What you see from Golf Twitter and other forums is that something has to be done because precious courses like Augusta National, St. Andrews, Shinnecock and Pebble Beach will become obsolete if we don’t roll back the ball. Slow your roll, folks. As America’s Pro – Michael Breed of the Golf Fix – points out, there are several other factors that have made golfers hit it further over the last 20+ years. The golf ball is only a small factor.
I agree with all of that, Trackman technology is another you could add to that list as it allows for precise refinement in launch conditions. I also think that agronomy is over looked too much as a variable. I see Tour pros get 65 yards of roll compared to the 2 yards I get on my home course. Can someone show me the increase in roll out yards from the tee over the last decade? The Tour courses play firm and fast and are prepped to be that way for months before a tournament. Public courses I play are over watered so they look good to the guy that just paid $80 to play on Saturday morning.
On top of what Michael has pointed out, check out this data from Golfweek’s David Dusek:
Club head speed going up is a big deal. When you look at a decade’s worth of driving distance data on Tour you can see that it has gone up, but it isn’t a huge amount within 5 to 7 year segments. It is only large over 20 years. That doesn’t scream “problem” to me. When you see the club head speed numbers going up over a decade that explains the distance gains more than companies “improving” their balls. In 2002 the numbers were about 110 mph and 161 mph for club ball speed. The trend is there. And that has nothing to do with improvements to the ball. Fitness and other equipment improving are much bigger factors which are exacerbated in the numbers produced by highly skilled pros.
In the same 15 years from 2002 to 2017 my handicap has ranged from +1 to 3 and is currently a 1. I play about 50 rounds a year down from nearly 100 in 2002. I’m still in my 30s and haven’t lost muscle mass yet. My club head speed is within 1 mph hour of what it was in 2002. Ball speed is similar. I still play the same irons from 2002. I hit my irons nearly the exact same distance that I did 15 years ago. Where’s the extra distance I’m supposed to be getting with the so-called ball that goes too far?
I’d bet dollars to donuts that if I spent money on some refined training techniques, fitness, and new irons I’d start hitting my 7 iron 185 instead of 170. Is the ball better? Yes. Is the ball the problem? No. Is there a solution? Probably not. The cat is out of the bag. The USGA limits the COR on a driver so perhaps they can come up with a similar measure on the ball to hold it in its place but it won’t go backward. There’s too much money in play for that to happen. In the meantime, tell anyone that will listen that they need to bark up a different tree and find a new argument to save St. Andrews from the nuclear bomb that is the newest Pro V1 (sarcasm). Golf will be fine, some people just need to complain and try to govern things they can’t control. Let them get it out of their system and move on.