Point/Counterpoint: Time for a Reduced-Distance Tour Ball?
The modern golfer: athletic, strong, and armed with equipment optimized for distance
(Dustin Johnson photo by USGA/Jeff Haynes)
Advances in technology and fitness have combined to allow golfers, especially those at the professional tour level, to drive the ball farther than ever before.
In his return to competition, Tiger Woods marvels that he is producing ball speeds higher than in his prime. Champions Tour players drive the ball farther now then they did when they were on the PGA Tour. Golf courses that have the room to do so are being lengthened; those that can't are falling off the list of tournament hosting venues.
The debate is growing louder about what, if anything, should be done about the increasing distances that fitter, stronger athletes using more technologically optimized equipment are hitting the golf ball.
The sport's governing bodies, the USGA and the R&A, turned heads last year by floating the idea of a reduced-flight golf ball. All-time greats like Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have both said that the golf ball is going too far.
Others have argued that at a time where participation in golf has been declining, taking away one of the joys of the game (hitting the ball a long way) or making the game harder in any way would be ill-timed.
R&A Chief Executive Martin Slumbers encapsulated the trickiness of the issue by saying, "There’s no doubt in my mind that the technology has made this quite-difficult game just a little bit easier, and at a time when we want more people to play the game, I think that’s a good thing. But we do also think that golf is a game of skill and should be reflective of skill."
Point/Counterpoint: Should a "Tour Ball" be Introduced?
In this article, AmateurGolf.com members Tom McKee and Chuck Schmidt debate introducing a reduced-distance "Tour Ball".
Make a Professional Golf Tour Ball
By Tom McKee
In this great debate about reducing the flight of the golf ball, we should just create a ball for the professional tours. Leave the ball alone for the amateurs – distance is their friend. They aren’t going to have to redesign golf holes and courses for the amateur game.
I have played amateur golf for over forty years, in USGA championships, college golf and now senior amateur events. There were always long hitters out there but then the longest hitters were 20 to 30 yards longer than the rest of us. Now those long hitters are 75 to 100 yards longer.
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Don't Destroy the Traditions of Golf
By Chuck Schmidt
I’ve been hearing the chatter recently about how tour players are hitting it “too long” and many of the classic courses are now obsolete. Many of those opining this suggest it is due to technological advances in the golf ball that are to blame.
Where I used to hear the “roll back the ball” argument, I am now hearing the “make the tour play a tour ball” one. In other words, “don’t take away my ProV1 or Chrome Soft, but take it away from DJ and Rory”. This argument is inconsistent with the historical traditions of golf and unsupported by recent data.
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