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This Distance Report Is Here but Will Anything Change?

This week the USGA and R&A finally published their extensive report on distance and it's effects on the game. You can find the 102-p...

Monday, February 5, 2018

Too Much Partying, Too Much to Sort out, Too Much Distance

After Further Review: Shocker ... party at 16 backfiring | via Golf Channel Digital

Drowned out by the record crowds, there were a few comments from players this week that the light-hearted heckling has now become downright abusive.

Imagine that.

Putting 20,000 drunk and dehydrated fans in close proximity to players could actually backfire? Putting so much attention on one raucous hole has continued to up the ante, making each year more debauchery-filled than the previous one?


See? I'm not the only one who thinks the balance between good and bad at the Phoenix Open is starting to be a problem.

The Forecaddie: USGA, R&A not rolling out modernized rules until March | via GolfWeek.com

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After all, less than a year from now, golf will be a month into playing by new, modernized rules. While TMOF understands that way too many lawyers are involved and undoubtedly there have been negotiating hiccups between the USGA and their R&A buddies, those at the meeting told The Foreaddie (sic) to wait at least another month to see the final product.

It looks like all of the feedback the ruling bodies received from the public is likely to be introducing some revisions to the proposed rules after all. Otherwise, it wouldn't be taking so long to announce the new rules. Perhaps we'll finally see where the game is headed in a few weeks and then get to start arguing about it all over again.

USGA chief: 'We do not think increased distance is good for the game' | by Dylan Dethier for Golf.com

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"We do not think increased distance is good for the game," Davis said, citing the relentless pressures courses face to increase total yardage and expand their properties, leading to increased costs to battle the threat of irrelevance. "We've watched these footprints grow. What good has it done?... I don't want to see a headline next week saying the USGA is proposing going back to hickories and gutta-percha balls in the future, but it does make you wonder what golf courses will look like if we stay on this trajectory."

Ultimately Mr. Davis has put the golf world on notice that the USGA is no longer going to turn a blind eye to the impact that distance is having on the overall health of the game. Unfortunately, we've heard this sort of thing before. Davis even admitted that concerns over increases in distance goes back nearly 100-years. That alone has me less than convinced that actual changes can be expected anytime soon. More likely we'll see an effort to freeze distances where they stand instead of whacking the bees nest that would be any sort of rollback.

The key to all of this will be convincing manufacturers and their customers that there will be some sort of give that comes with the take. How will any new distance limits still allow manufacturers to innovate? "Longer" is easily the greatest term in golf marketing. If future equipment doesn't measurably perform any better than 2018 equipment, what will keep the market alive? If they take distance creep away then we're looking at trajectory, spin, and direction as primary innovation vectors. How long will it take for the problem to become the need for fairways to be 10 yards wide with foot-deep rough and greens made rock hard because "everyone" hits it too straight with too much spin?

Maybe Mr. Nicklaus is right? Much of this could be solved by changing the ball. Or, at least, having a variety of ball types that allow courses to handicap themselves when appropriate. This is certainly a story that isn't going away this time.

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