Is Increasing Driving Distance Ruining the Pro Tours? (KEEP RESPONSES CIVIL)

Recently the USGA and the R&A, who make the rules for golf, released their third annual report on driving distances on the professional tours. While their first two reports found consistent but not significant growth, that all changed with the most recent report, which cited all-time highs in 2017 on all five of the men’s tours (PGA Tour, PGA Tour Champions, Web.com Tour, European Tour and Japan Golf Tour). They also found an increase on the Ladies European Tour, although the LPGA Tour showed a small decline last year. The “unusual and concerning” record-setting distance numbers led the ruling bodies to call for more research on the issue. What do you think? Do you love to see booming drives and players trying to hit par fours in one and par fives with a drive and a wedge? Or has increased driving distance turned the pro tours into drive-and-putt games with none of the challenge of mid and long iron shots, let alone a fairway wood? And have longer drives made it harder to identify with the pros, who appear to be playing an entirely different game than most mere mortals, even while destroying the competitiveness of some of golf's most hallowed courses?
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Comments

  • Hawkeye77Hawkeye77 Countdown to The Masters! ClubWRX Posts: 17,669 ClubWRX
    PGA Tour definitely on the edge of bankruptcy.
  • farmerfarmer Members Posts: 7,843 ✭✭
    15 will be here in a minute.
  • North ButteNorth Butte Members Posts: 9,884 ✭✭
    Is your theory that if everyone on tour hit it 50 yards shorter more people would pay to watch?



    That seems to contradict both common sense and the historical trend. The tour and its players have never been more wealthy and they have never hit it farther.



    Correlation may not imply causation but it sure as heck doesn’t imply opposite causation!



    This whole idiotic media campaign seems to be based on the notion that it is inherently more entertaining to watch someone hit a golf ball 250 yards than 300 yards.
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  • 15th Club15th Club Members Posts: 1,664 ✭✭
    [background=transparent]This whole idiotic media campaign seems to be based on the notion that it is inherently more entertaining to watch someone hit a [/background]
    golf ball
    [background=transparent] 250 yards than 300 yards. [/background]




    No; it is just more interesting to watch a golf tournament at The Old Course, or Merion, or Shinnecock Hills, than it is to watch a golf tournament at the TPC of Wherever.
  • BrockPSUBrockPSU Members Posts: 243 ✭✭
    edited May 9, 2018 #6
    The best part about this is pros driving par 4's and par5's driver and wedge.....There is maybe one hole on every course that I have played that has something like this, which also follows risk reward all the time. Problem is people get salty that these guys, girls are that good that their miss is better(way better) then everyone on here and the general public. But when they do miss, you don't see them covering John make a bogey on that short easy par 4 because he missed in a bad spot. But you know the people that focus on distance are the people that usually never obtain it.
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  • ClintDaggerClintDagger Members Posts: 566 ✭✭
    I like it when one or two guys stand out as bombers. Today I feel like there are two dozen guys, maybe more, that have that bomber rep. Then there are probably another two dozen that are bombers but we never hear about them because they don’t contend.



    I wouldn’t say it is ruining golf because I love watching golf. But I think if reaching par 5s in two and driving short par 4s was more of a novelty rather than a routine happening, the game would be even better.
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  • ClintDaggerClintDagger Members Posts: 566 ✭✭
    BrockPSU wrote:


    But you know the people that focus on distance are the people that usually never obtain it.


    That’s interesting. When we have the debate at my club about rolling the equipment back it’s always the longer hitters that are all for it and the shorter hitters that don’t want it changed. The longer hitters want their advantage back and the short knocks enjoy occasionally putting it out there 300 plus when they have a nice breeze at their back.
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  • ferrispgmferrispgm Members Posts: 1,897 ✭✭
    I absolutely hate when people think that they need to roll back the distance for a couple of reasons.



    1. Do they limit how far you can throw/kick a football, shoot a basketball, how fast a hockey puck goes, etc.? No...so why would they limit how far a ball can go? We already have limits for COR in place for both the ball and clubs. Most of the distance gains in recent years is from people swinging faster because golf is attracting more athletes....are they going to tell people they can only swing at 118mph too?



    2. Distance isn't everything....if it was, DJ, Rory, Bubba and Gary Woodland would win 90% of the events.



    3. Distance increases could be easily offset by thicker/longer rough and slightly firmer greens which would place more of a premium on accuracy and hitting the fairway. The faster you swing, the wider your potential misses could be.
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  • Pepe8714Pepe8714 Members Posts: 168 ✭✭
  • TLUBulldogGolfTLUBulldogGolf Sasquatch Members Posts: 2,411 ✭✭

    BrockPSU wrote:


    But you know the people that focus on distance are the people that usually never obtain it.


    That's interesting. When we have the debate at my club about rolling the equipment back it's always the longer hitters that are all for it and the shorter hitters that don't want it changed. The longer hitters want their advantage back and the short knocks enjoy occasionally putting it out there 300 plus when they have a nice breeze at their back.




    Weird viewpoint, I don't feel that my length isn't an advantage still or that I have lost it due to the ball going farther. I think more people just hit the ball long nowadays especially in the competitive ranks. But the ball is only part of the equation. I definitely don't think a shorter ball would make the pro tours more entertaining.
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  • 15th Club15th Club Members Posts: 1,664 ✭✭
    ferrispgm wrote:


    I absolutely hate when people think that they need to roll back the distance for a couple of reasons.



    1. Do they limit how far you can throw/kick a football, shoot a basketball, how fast a hockey puck goes, etc.? No...so why would they limit how far a ball can go? We already have limits for COR in place for both the ball and clubs. Most of the distance gains in recent years is from people swinging faster because golf is attracting more athletes....are they going to tell people they can only swing at 118mph too?

    [background=transparent]
    [/background]



    But of course, nobody is spending millions in R&D budgets to sell farther-flying footballs, basketballs or hockey pucks. So that, in a word, is why your analogy fails. There are many more reasons. One good one seemed like enough.



    [background=transparent]
    ferrispgm wrote:
    [/background]

    2. Distance isn't everything....if it was, DJ, Rory, Bubba and Gary Woodland would win 90% of the events.

    [background=transparent]
    [/background]



    Aaaaand, as it always needs to be said, the notion of a ball rollback has absolutely nothing to do with any competitive advantage for any player or groups of players. The notion of a golf ball rollback is to protect the competitive and strategic integrity of historic, classic championship golf courses.



    [background=transparent]
    ferrispgm wrote:
    [/background]

    3. Distance increases could be easily offset by thicker/longer rough and slightly firmer greens which would place more of a premium on accuracy and hitting the fairway. The faster you swing, the wider your potential misses could be.




    Wait, you said "a couple"! Alright, you can have one more shot at it. But no, distance increases are not "easily offset" by longer rough and firmer greens. They already firm up the greens at every Tour stop. We mortals have no idea, how hard those greens are, without a big rain. (And the possibility of rain is a good reason to keep a course as dry and as firm and as fast as possible.) But beyond that, it is not easy, or inexpensive, or good for the game, to trick up golf courses in order to use those tricks to combat technological distance. The better, easier, cheaper thing BY FAR is to just correct the golf ball distance problem by changing the balls.
  • SkiSchoolProSkiSchoolPro Members Posts: 624 ✭✭
    edited May 9, 2018 #13


    But I think if reaching par 5s in two and driving short par 4s was more of a novelty rather than a routine happening, the game would be even better.


    I disagree...hitting par 4s in 1 and 5s in two rewards long shot accuracy (compared to a par 4 that is drive/wedge for most of the field). Often times there is a risk/reward tradeoff on these holes, so an inaccurate long shot can cost you a lot (which tends to be less the case on may drive/wedge par 4s). In short, if a course is all mid-length par 4s and un-reachable par 5s, short-iron and wedge accuracy is tested repeatedly, but long shot accuracy is only tested to a limited extent (as there is not usually that much reward for middle vs side of fairway, or even rough in some cases compared to a lot of reward for hitting it 2 feet from the pin from a long distance).



    What makes the Masters so great? 13 & 15 where long shot accuracy is rewarded and bad shots are penalized. Making it a novelty for a pro to go for it on these holes would not be an improvement.



    Personally, when I am swinging really well, I am good with the longer clubs into greens, but it is hard to get away with bad swings on these clubs into greens when I am not swinging well...much easier to get away with mediocre swings when hitting these clubs to the fairway rather than green.
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  • mjen43mjen43 Members Posts: 940 ✭✭
    No it is not. Those who think it is are typically has beens, never wass, or have a financial stake in the game. No courses have been “destroyed” either.



    Also, you are not supposed to relate to the play of tour pros.
  • Togatown22Togatown22 Saratoga Springs, NYMembers Posts: 2,764 ✭✭
    15th Club wrote:




    Wait, you said "a couple"! Alright, you can have one more shot at it. But no, distance increases are not "easily offset" by longer rough and firmer greens. They already firm up the greens at every Tour stop. We mortals have no idea, how hard those greens are, without a big rain. (And the possibility of rain is a good reason to keep a course as dry and as firm and as fast as possible.) But beyond that, it is not easy, or inexpensive, or good for the game, to trick up golf courses in order to use those tricks to combat technological distance. The better, easier, cheaper thing BY FAR is to just correct the golf ball distance problem by changing the balls.




    Or just grow the fairway grass longer, you know, the way fairways were cut when these courses were originally built.
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  • 15th Club15th Club Members Posts: 1,664 ✭✭
    mjen43 wrote:


    No it is not. Those who think it is are typically has beens, never wass, or have a financial stake in the game. No courses have been “destroyed” either.



    Also, you are not supposed to relate to the play of tour pros.




    You put "destroyed" in quotes but I'm not sure who you were quoting. I don't think that is a term that I used.



    And I want to make it clear again; if anybody thinks that there is a kind of a generational divide in the golf ball-rollback debate, it is only for one reason. Current players all have equipment contracts and most particularly there are a lot of contracts with a certain equipment manufacturer. If we are to play the game of "financial interests over the best interests of golf," look no farther that the Number One Golf Ball company in the world and the aggressive messaging of its former CEO.



    Jack Nicklaus -- winner of more majors than anyone, designer of more golf courses than any other great player, the Sports Illustrated athlete of the century, the most important figure in golf in our lifetimes -- knows exactly what I am talking about.
  • 15th Club15th Club Members Posts: 1,664 ✭✭
    Togatown22 wrote:

    15th Club wrote:


    Wait, you said "a couple"! Alright, you can have one more shot at it. But no, distance increases are not "easily offset" by longer rough and firmer greens. They already firm up the greens at every Tour stop. We mortals have no idea, how hard those greens are, without a big rain. (And the possibility of rain is a good reason to keep a course as dry and as firm and as fast as possible.) But beyond that, it is not easy, or inexpensive, or good for the game, to trick up golf courses in order to use those tricks to combat technological distance. The better, easier, cheaper thing BY FAR is to just correct the golf ball distance problem by changing the balls.




    Or just grow the fairway grass longer, you know, the way fairways were cut when these courses were originally built.




    "When these courses were originally built," most of them had no underground watering at all for their fairways. Depending on the weather, they might have been even faster on the fairways than what we see today.
  • Sean2Sean2 #TheWRX (Callaway Trip) Members Posts: 30,826 ✭✭
    Perhaps if hitting it the rough was actually penal these guys wouldn't just bomb it and gouge it. They would have to actually think their way around the course. That only happens in a few tournaments every year.
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  • mjen43mjen43 Members Posts: 940 ✭✭
    Sean2 wrote:


    Perhaps if hitting it the rough was actually penal these guys wouldn't just bomb it and gouge it. They would have to actually think their way around the course. That only happens in a few tournaments every year.




    Penal rough doesn’t create the need to think. If anything it does the exact opposite and encourages players to blast away considering you will always hit balls in the rough, regardless of what club you hit off the tee.
  • Togatown22Togatown22 Saratoga Springs, NYMembers Posts: 2,764 ✭✭
    15th Club wrote:

    Togatown22 wrote:

    15th Club wrote:


    Wait, you said "a couple"! Alright, you can have one more shot at it. But no, distance increases are not "easily offset" by longer rough and firmer greens. They already firm up the greens at every Tour stop. We mortals have no idea, how hard those greens are, without a big rain. (And the possibility of rain is a good reason to keep a course as dry and as firm and as fast as possible.) But beyond that, it is not easy, or inexpensive, or good for the game, to trick up golf courses in order to use those tricks to combat technological distance. The better, easier, cheaper thing BY FAR is to just correct the golf ball distance problem by changing the balls.




    Or just grow the fairway grass longer, you know, the way fairways were cut when these courses were originally built.




    "When these courses were originally built," most of them had no underground watering at all for their fairways. Depending on the weather, they might have been even faster on the fairways than what we see today.




    Depending on the weather? Yeah, depending on the weather many course conditions vary from faster to slower - 100 years ago and today. Overall, modern agronomy allows fairways to be mowed extremely low and kept fast. It's incredible to me how much run out these guys get on their drives.
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  • Sean2Sean2 #TheWRX (Callaway Trip) Members Posts: 30,826 ✭✭
    mjen43 wrote:

    Sean2 wrote:


    Perhaps if hitting it the rough was actually penal these guys wouldn't just bomb it and gouge it. They would have to actually think their way around the course. That only happens in a few tournaments every year.




    Penal rough doesn’t create the need to think. If anything it does the exact opposite and encourages players to blast away considering you will always hit balls in the rough, regardless of what club you hit off the tee.




    So your saying that every drive hit by a professional golfer, regardless of what club he uses, will never find the fairway? You're saying that a player doesn't need to think about what club to hit off the tee?



    I doubt that.
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  • ThinkingPlusThinkingPlus South TexasClubWRX Posts: 1,534 ClubWRX
    Golf is in the best place it has ever been. More media coverage at all levels, all tours doing great, lots of field depth, lots of great players, etc... . I am playing the best golf in my life. What is not to like?
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  • ZA206ZA206 Members Posts: 620 ✭✭
    I think most of the distance gains have come from the players themselves, NOT the equipment. Pro golfers today are high level athletes that put in a ton of physical training (not with a golf club), not a bunch of sloppy looking guys drinking their butts off in the 19th hole. Players today are bigger, stronger and way more fit than any other generation of golfers. Tiger was an anomaly back when he came on tour.... now, almost everyone is as fit as Tiger.



    If they want to protect courses, they should just narrow the fairways and get the rough grow a few inches longer. That will do the trick. You'd see alot of bombers being handcuffed off the tee and using 3W or long irons.... bringing more varied player types into contention.



    No need to mess with the equipment.



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  • mjen43mjen43 Members Posts: 940 ✭✭
    edited May 9, 2018 #24
    Sean2 wrote:

    mjen43 wrote:

    Sean2 wrote:


    Perhaps if hitting it the rough was actually penal these guys wouldn't just bomb it and gouge it. They would have to actually think their way around the course. That only happens in a few tournaments every year.




    Penal rough doesn’t create the need to think. If anything it does the exact opposite and encourages players to blast away considering you will always hit balls in the rough, regardless of what club you hit off the tee.




    So your saying that every drive hit by a professional golfer, regardless of what club he uses, will never find the fairway? You're saying that a player doesn't need to think about what club to hit off the tee?



    I doubt that.




    No. What I am saying is that when you institute penal rough into play, the penalty for missing fairways and being a long distance away from the hole increases exponentially, and given that no golfers are perfect, and even professionals miss fairways with 3 woods and 2 irons a non-insignificant amount, you are encouraging them to just move the ball down the hole as far as possible i.e. removing thought.
  • BrianMcGBrianMcG Members Posts: 2,260 ✭✭
    This is a new and interesting topic.
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  • heavy_hitterheavy_hitter Members Posts: 3,056 ✭✭
    edited May 10, 2018 #26
    15th Club wrote:



    [background=transparent]This whole idiotic media campaign seems to be based on the notion that it is inherently more entertaining to watch someone hit a [/background]

    golf ball

    [background=transparent]250 yards than 300 yards. [/background]




    No; it is just more interesting to watch a golf tournament at The Old Course, or Merion, or Shinnecock Hills, than it is to watch a golf tournament at the TPC of Wherever.




    That is your opinion. Merion is still a great course if set up properly. The problem isn't the course at a lot of the older venues. The problem is logistics of getting people in and out, places to stay, bringing seating in, tents in, etc. because there isn't enough room.
    Post edited by Unknown User on
  • ThinkingPlusThinkingPlus South TexasClubWRX Posts: 1,534 ClubWRX
    BrianMcG wrote:


    This is a new and interesting topic.


    You know if a bunch of threads just like this one were created we could discuss this interesting topic in even greater detail.
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  • 15th Club15th Club Members Posts: 1,664 ✭✭
    Togatown22 wrote:

    15th Club wrote:

    Togatown22 wrote:

    15th Club wrote:


    Wait, you said "a couple"! Alright, you can have one more shot at it. But no, distance increases are not "easily offset" by longer rough and firmer greens. They already firm up the greens at every Tour stop. We mortals have no idea, how hard those greens are, without a big rain. (And the possibility of rain is a good reason to keep a course as dry and as firm and as fast as possible.) But beyond that, it is not easy, or inexpensive, or good for the game, to trick up golf courses in order to use those tricks to combat technological distance. The better, easier, cheaper thing BY FAR is to just correct the golf ball distance problem by changing the balls.




    Or just grow the fairway grass longer, you know, the way fairways were cut when these courses were originally built.




    "When these courses were originally built," most of them had no underground watering at all for their fairways. Depending on the weather, they might have been even faster on the fairways than what we see today.




    Depending on the weather? Yeah, depending on the weather many course conditions vary from faster to slower - 100 years ago and today. Overall, modern agronomy allows fairways to be mowed extremely low and kept fast. It's incredible to me how much run out these guys get on their drives.




    Firm and fast fairways are good! What is not to like about firm and fast fairways? Firm and fast fairways force players to think; think about how a ball will move once it is on the ground. Think about how to play the angles, and set up the next shot. Firm and fast adds to the mental part of the game, it is another dimension of strategy and planning and shot-shaping.



    We want courses to be as firm and as fast as possible; and we can fix any consequent distance problems by fixing that really inconsequential part of the distance equation, which is the golf ball. Making the courses faster, and the balls slower = big fun.
  • 15th Club15th Club Members Posts: 1,664 ✭✭

    BrianMcG wrote:


    This is a new and interesting topic.


    You know if a bunch of threads just like this one were created we could discuss this interesting topic in even greater detail.






    I don't think that I have started a single one of these threads. They get started, repeatedly, because there is a regular drumbeat of commentary on the subject. And it is not going away. Not if you belive Mike Davis, and I think that when it comes to the Rules of Golf, and the rules concerning equipment, and the setup of championship golf courses, Mike Davis is a pretty good guy to pay attention to.



    It is the single most pressing issue, and probably the most globally-important issue, in golf today. (Pace of play and cost of play being constants.)
  • ThinkingPlusThinkingPlus South TexasClubWRX Posts: 1,534 ClubWRX
    15th Club wrote:


    BrianMcG wrote:


    This is a new and interesting topic.


    You know if a bunch of threads just like this one were created we could discuss this interesting topic in even greater detail.






    I don't think that I have started a single one of these threads. They get started, repeatedly, because there is a regular drumbeat of commentary on the subject. And it is not going away. Not if you belive Mike Davis, and I think that when it comes to the Rules of Golf, and the rules concerning equipment, and the setup of championship golf courses, Mike Davis is a pretty good guy to pay attention to.



    It is the single most pressing issue, and probably the most globally-important issue, in golf today. (Pace of play and cost of play being constants.)


    Agreed. You have not been the one starting fires. You do, however, spend an awful lot of time pouring gas on the ones already burning.
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  • Big BenBig Ben Members Posts: 8,972 ✭✭
    Now that we know what the players are capable of would it feel right to see them bifurcate rules and manipulate distance? And to what? So as a low handicap 49yr old should I be proud if I drive the ball same distances as the best players in the world do on tour? The answer is infaticalky NO. Let the boys ride...BB
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