Make a Professional Tour Ball
By AmateurGolf.com member Tom McKee
A clinic by Phil Mickelson opened the author's eyes to the distance issue
(PGA Tour photo)
In this great debate about reducing the flight of the golf ball, we should just create a ball for the professional tours. All the players would play the same ball, made and tested at tour specs, which could be printed with any manufacturer’s name, similar to any of the other professional sports like baseball, football, basketball etc.
This ball should have the characteristics of spin control, limited distance at the highest clubhead speeds, and good feel for putting. 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.
Related: Point/Counterpoint: Time for a Reduced-Distance Tour Ball?
Players of the highest caliber would have to "graduate" to a conforming ball to make their living at it. This is not unlike baseball where players graduate to wooden bats in professional leagues from the aluminum bats in little league, to COR reduced bats in high school and college.
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. We regular guys would try to get longer distances by shot shape and finding the area of the fairway that bounced better. Now when guys are playing a 540 yard five they are hitting short irons for their second shot – this is just wrong. They usually hit it past all the trouble that was designed to catch errant drives at 250 to 275 yards from the tee, which rewards even off-line hits.
The great amateur players who aspire to go professional would have to make a choice at some time to switch to that "Tour" ball. It would be interesting to see the USGA Amateur finals with guys playing the regular ball and then going professional right after and having to make the transition.
I would love to see at least one tournament on tour try this. They should take a course that is of regular length, with great designed holes, history of people playing great shots and see how it goes. It would be great if Augusta did this and really put some meaning into The Masters.
If it caught on, maybe we wouldn't have to ruin well-designed golf courses by adding so much length, tightening fairways to unhittable widths, or growing rough to crazy lengths and taking shot-making out of the game. Maybe the USGA and R&A will take notice and finally make a decision that would be good for the game.
I saw the effect of the "new-era ball" when the first prototype of the Pro V1 came out. Phil Mickelson was putting on a clinic at my club and he was testing the new ball. He said at that time this ball was going to change the game.
He hit nine balls – three of our range balls, three of the ball he was normally playing at the time (the Titleist Professional 100), and three of the new Prototype Pro V1. The range balls went about an average of 270 yards, the Professionals went about 280-290 yards and the Pro V1’s went 320, 325 and 335.
He carried the water on the dogleg par four and was almost able to carry it to the front edge of the green. This hole is designed as a 390-yard dogleg left with bunkers guarding both the left and right sides of the driving area and water down the whole left side, but when he could carry the ball 325 yards, he could cut the heart out of the hole, carry it over the water and make our #4 handicap hole an easy par four.
I really hope we can do something to keep the integrity of our great courses. I hope they don’t lengthen #13 at Augusta. Maybe Fred Ridley could put enough pressure out there for the governing bodies to make a move that Jack Nicklaus has been saying for years – Limit the ball!