Thoughts on Rolling Back The Ball and Ending The Golf Equipment Arms Race:
- I have concluded the only people opposed to ending the golf equipment arms race are those who profit from it.
- Some people are saying illogical things like, “DJ did not win at St. Andrews, therefore that proves there is no advantage to long hitters.” Anyone for whom that passes as logic needs to post at GolfChannel.com.
- The best example this year of how a golf course can give an unfair advantage to long hitters is No. 18 at Chambers Bay when it was set up as a par-4. You can refresh your memory here if you need to.
- Consider a hole that has a giant waste area consuming the entire fairway, from 150 yards to 300 yards. If you can’t carry 300 yards, you have to hit wedge, then 3-w00d, just to get across. (a) Would anyone deny that is an advantage to long hitters? (b) If one of the guys who had to lay up won, would that mean there was no advantage to long hitters? (c) When you play a course like St. Andrews, there is no giant waste area, but there are fairway bunkers. On certain holes, short hitters can sometimes avoid them, but long hitters always can.
- I recently said I could not understand why anyone would oppose rolling back the ball (while allowing the clubs arm race to continue). I said people would still buy just as many balls because they lose them or wear them out, so the manufacturers would not lose any money. My analysis was flawed. By beating the drum of constant “new and longer” golf balls, manufacturers are able to keep prices up. If balls became standardized commodities, the price (and profit margins) would drop precipitously. That would be great for golfers, but not for manufacturers, so the manufacturers use their influence to continue the arms race.
Challenge to Equipment Manufacturer Apologists: How is the game enhanced by clubs and balls that increase distance?
Common Sense: Increased distance through technology results in longer courses, which means: More water is required, more chemicals are used, more maintenance is required, and those things mean increased cost to golfers (and wear and tear on the environment). Longer courses also contribute to slow play.
Geoff Shackelford, Hypocrite? I have been thinking about Geoff Shackelford amid this recent attention on St. Andrews and the need to roll back golf equipment. He’s long been a proponent of rolling back the distance. He’s even written a book on the topic (an excellent book I read not too long ago). However, he goes on Golf Channel and gets paid (if not in cash, then in publicity), and that compensation ultimately comes from Golf Channel sponsors, which is primarily… the equipment manufacturers who fight tooth-and-nail not to roll back the distance. So he has a financial incentive in maintaining the status quo.
Rinaldi and Dunne: I’m preaching to the choir, but Rinaldi’s post third-round interview with Paul Dunne only gets worse with time. Rinaldi insisted on comparing the kid to Bobby Jones. The kid kept steering the conversation to “let’s keep it real,” but Rinaldi went on and on and wouldn’t stop. Well, Dunne didn’t even finish Low Amateur. Any objective person can tell that Rinaldi is not up to the task and needs to be reassigned. He makes Damon Hack or Gary Williams look like Dick Cavett. There’s got to be someone better. Rinaldi is just plain awful. It’s time for a different kind of interviewer: