Tuesday Thoughts

Thoughts on Rolling Back The Ball and Ending The Golf Equipment Arms Race:

  1. I have concluded the only people opposed to ending the golf equipment arms race are those who profit from it.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

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39 Responses to Tuesday Thoughts

  1. Ken says:

    There’s guys out there who feel better about themselves when they can hit a ball a little farther. Makes them think they’re better than they are even though their increased distance is just from spending more money. (I think there’s a sports car/small penis analogy here, but like sports cars so I won’t use it.)

    I’d bet that these are the same people that tell you they shot 82, but don’t count lost balls and take “mulligans.”

  2. Ken says:

    Big sigh of relief at Golf Channel today. You know they didn’t want Spieth to accomplish something that only Hogan did before. They might have to actually cut into their Woods coverage.

    • lannyh says:

      I just now turned it on. I didn’t forget, I just didn’t have the stomach for a bunch of faux excitement about Zach Johnson winning. He’s one of the nameless, faceless players they mention about once a month; they’ll put him back in the trash heap in a day or two, but today they’ll be all “Golly Gee, Yay Zach!”

      I turned it on, thinking Shackelford would be on (and might discuss rolling back the ball), but now I realize it’s not Monday (when he usually appears).

      Morning Drive has too many “swing tip” segments if you ask me. They should leave those to the 30-minute or one-hour shows that specialize in that.

      If they need a topic today, why not discuss how Zach is a modestly-sized guy and goes against the meme many in golf push that “athletes” that are Lebron-sized should dominate golf. Zach is just one in a long line of winners who put the lie to that theory. But they won’t talk about it.

      • Ken says:

        I was surprised to read that Zach is 5’11”. He doesn’t look that tall. Not a big guy and certainly not bulky, but he’s not short. He’s got three inches on Rory.

      • lannyh says:

        I don’t believe the listed heights on most of the players; I think Rory’s “grown” three inches since they started listing him.

        The one that surprises me is Jason Day. He’s listed at nearly 6-feet. He may well be, I don’t know, but he always struck me as a few inches less than that. (Though I have not seen him in person.)

      • lannyh says:

        He’s taller than I thought, too, from the pictures I’m looking at now! I guess his limited distance off the tee colored my view. Anyway, I just pulled up some photos of him alongside Tiger Woods, and the two are identical in height. If anything, Zach is slightly taller. Woods is listed at 6’1″, Zach at 5’11”. Hmmm…

  3. Sports-realist2 says:

    After consideration with my staff, we have come up with a UNIQUE way of solving the equipment changes….
    Solution: The PGA should incorporate a MAJOR–ONLY golf ball……Sounds crazy? Not really….The Colorado Rockies, an MLB PROFESSIONAL baseball team for example, use a humidor to help keep their baseballs moist…..This has helped lower the crazy amount of home runs being hit there….So they ONLY use this humidor-ball at Coors field, while all the other teams use non-humidor baseballs…..
    Augusta should be the FIRST place to perhaps INTRODUCE such an idea….I’m sure places like St. Andrews and Augusta, and other Major courses would also go for it….
    Pro golfers could still use their normal golf balls for the other tournaments, so that shouldn’t affect golf sales ect……
    I look at it like the ‘anchored putter’…PGA golfers feel it gave an unfair ADVANTAGE, and they voted that out… Why wouldn’t a longer golf ball be considered an unfair advantage too….It’s really hypocrisy if they don’t see it that way……
    The TRICKY part would be implementing it…Let’s say Titleist, Nike, Wilson Staff, bla, bla, bla, would be told you have to create a MAJOR-ONLY golf ball for your players….There would have to be a way of testing the balls by the PGA, so people wouldn’t be cheating with their usual non-major golf balls…..There would also have to be an agreed upon ‘hardness’ or ‘woundess’ ect that is unmistakable for Major play….So let’s start with a 290-300 yard MAX range.
    You would also have to implement a NO TOLERANCE policy, which would state if caught, you are suspended for the rest of the year, which would promote the gradual acceptance of the LIMITED MAJOR ONLY golf ball…You would also state that ALL golf balls in the bag will be tested after each round of a MAJOR……

    • lannyh says:

      Sounds good to me! Augusta would have enough power to do that, too. Who would pass up the chance to win a major (with a limited field)?

      Here’s another idea: Remember the old one-on-one matches in prime time? Sergio vs Woods, and Duval vs Woods? How about have Rory (when healthy) and Jordan play one of those — using a rolled-back ball? To get the ball rolling, so to speak.

      • Sports-realist2 says:

        For sure, it’s time for a Spieth/Mcllroy contest….That would draw alot of interest, especially internationally….Play it at Augusta….HUGE ratings…..

      • Ken says:

        If would be cool to see today’s pros in one of those hickory golf events.

    • Bird says:

      Are Titleist ProVs and ProV1s the longest balls?

  4. DanishDude says:

    Your argument makes sense in regard to the courses, but the long hitters will still be longer, relatively speaking, than the shorter hitters. Calling this advantage “unfair” is plain silly imo.

    • Sports-realist2 says:

      Do you consider the anchored putter an ‘unfair’ advantage?

    • lannyh says:

      Oh, no, that’s perfectly fine. But today’s courses are often set up to allow long hitters to hit away, and shorter ones to dodge bunkers. The risk/reward is all messed up.

      Yeah, hitting long is just like putting, in that it’s an important part of the game. But…. If you had fairways filled with shallow sandtraps, with every green surrounded by deep sandtraps, it would tend to over-reward good sand players over all else.

      • Sports-realist2 says:

        I just cut/pasted this comment…..This is about PGA tour players and how distance has changed since 2000 to 2011:
        Not sure why the number of players included varies year to year but a couple things that jump out at me are:

        – the 2011 vs. 2000 comparisons are mindblowing.

        – in 2000 85% hit is 280yds or shorter…in 2011 a complete reversal, 85% hit it 280yds or longer.

        – in 2000 only 1% of the players hit it 290+ (2 players, Daly & Tiger, both were 10+ yds ahead of Davis)…in 2011 fully 56.5% hit it 290+ (Retief , at 107th, is the first player below 290).

  5. Sports-realist2 says:

    In 1980 and 1990 NO ONE on the PGA tour had a driving avg at 280 yards…..
    In 2000, 29 players avg at least 280 yards on their drives
    –1 player avg 290-300 yards.
    –1 player avg More than 300 yards.
    In 2011 169 players avg at least 280 yards on their drives..
    –84 avg 290-300 yards.
    –21 avg 300 or more yards.

    And we were told it’s just because of the players workout routines…Remember that?

    • Ken says:

      In 1995, there were all of five players who averaged 280 yards or more on a drive.

      In 1995, Mickelson and Els were young and considered long hitters. They averaged 270 and 275 respectively. Today they average 298 and 288 respectively. They don’t look like workout fanatics. At 45, they’re longer than they were when they were 25. Sounds like steroids. The balls are the ones juicing.

      • Sports-realist2 says:

        With St Andrews fresh on everone’s mind, someone put up a YOUTUBE video: Doug Sanders and Jack Nicklaus at The Open St Andrews 1970(Jacks first win here)… This is the British feed of the end of the 1970 finish, between Jack Nicklaus and Doug Sanders……..
        Doug Sanders was a human rain delay, worse than Garcia or Na…The announcers talk about it….Pretty interesting to watch……It’s 29 minutes long…

      • lannyh says:

        I’ll give it a look.

    • DanishDude says:

      Average driving distance, actually, hasn’t increased significantly the last 10 years.
      In 2005 86 players averaged 290 yards or more vs. 84 in 2015.
      Obviously the banning of spning-effect drivers in 2008 has had an effect.

  6. Sports-realist2 says:

    Tonight on the golf channel—you guessed it…Altered Course with the main attraction: the 2000 PGA Championship……smh..Seriously, is Steinberg the program director for that bafoon network…..I can see why they are losing ratings, as their programming is so behind the times…

  7. Barry Burn says:

    Is the 2000 PGA the one where Woods beat May in sudden death?

    If so, there is something about Tiger’s drive on the 18th (either in regulation or the playoff, can’t remember which) that is not right.

    Does anyone remember this? His drive went to the left and somehow wound up better. There was at least some conjecture that someone in the gallery helped him. Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, but I do recall some controversy.

    • lannyh says:

      I think that’s the one; I believe GC has been hyping that one. I don’t remember much about it, but your comment rings a vague bell. I think the guest commentator that wrote a piece about Woods and PEDs had something to say about it, but it was probably PED related.

    • lannyh says:

      Here’s what I was thinking of: “The drive that was sliced miles right on the 2nd hole of the 2000 PGA playoff against Bob May, which would have resulted in a bogey if for not the tremendous slice of luck afforded on the 2nd shot, in which Tiger’s ball hit the cart path and trundled on over the green into par-saving territory.”

      Maybe that “luck” is what you had in mind? Might be worth taking a look.

      • Sports-realist2 says:

        there was speculation that it got hit by a fan, sending it back in a better direction…..I remember that too….terrible drive that ended up with nothing in the way..

      • lannyh says:

        I just watched the video of it four or five times. Venturi definitely thought it got swatted. I couldn’t really tell; the video I watched was a bit grainy, and I wasn’t even sure which way the ball came from or was headed. That said, it did look very funny to see the kid run over to the bush then start running down the cart path. But, again, I don’t know what happened. If it hit a tree, it could have fallen when the kid went to find it, and bounced down the path. It was one of the Tiger Slam wins; they keep getting more and more tainted. The Rocki Ishii ball, this odd occurrence with the ball. Oh, well, I sense even the worst of the worst in the golf media have realized it’s time to move on. (He says as GC prepares to run a Woods major win repeat tonight…)

      • Sports-realist2 says:

        It was definitely the ‘grassy knoll’ moment for the 2000 season, with that kid hitting it…Ofcourse no one mentions what the announcer was saying, but an unplayable, would have meant starting from the tee at 3, and most likely at LEAST a bogey…

  8. Sports-realist2 says:

    Anyone know a good site to watch PAST PGA majors? I realize some our on youtube, but most of them are partial or very poor quality…

  9. Bird says:

    Chambers Bay only proved that shitty greens can help identify the best players. ha ha

  10. Greetings, Lanny !!!

    1. Anyone, including Jack Nicklaus, who believe in restricting equipment so as to diminish distance and other aspects of golf technology denies science. If that thought process were employed, NASA would still be trying to launch the Wright brother to the moon from Kitty Hawk !!!

    2. Rinaldi has to be one of golf’s greatest criticasters. He was TW’s “chosen interviewer” and by accepting that position, he will forever be one of golf’s worst. ESPN did a fine job with The Open, but everyone has an Achilles Heel and Rinaldi is as bad there as Chamblee is on TGC.

    Rock On !!!

    • lannyh says:

      Howdy, Chef. I had forgotten about Rinaldi-Woods. That explains a lot. About point #1… we limit the speed cars can drive far below the level of technology. And I can’t think of any sport where there are limits. There are, for example, restrictions on the shoes football kickers can use. Tour de France riders can’t use motorized bikes, etc. Certainly baseball doesn’t allow hitters to bring their own special baseballs to games.

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