I read with interest this recent story in the Wall Street Journal by John Paul Newport about the pending rollback on the distance of golf balls, at least the rumoured pending rollback on the distance of golf balls.
The current great controversy, the proposed ban on anchored putting, has been in our faces for the past year or so, but the rollback on golf balls has been simmering for years, although there have been indications it will happen, with the support of some of the biggest names in the game.
I get their argument.
Classic golf courses could become obsolete with all the bombers on tour these days. The alternative is longer courses — with not near as much character, I might add — that not only require more land, but more maintenance, which drives up the costs of greens fees/memberships.
Of course, affordability in golf is an issue with the masses, not the guys on tour, and the way the governing bodies of the game operate, recreational players aren’t that big a deal, even if they are the lifeblood of the golf industry.
In this case, however, rolling back the ball would reduce the need to retrofit a classic golf course and make the investment that goes along with that, so it could be argued that there’s no need to jack up fees.
On the other hand, golf tends to concentrate on the elite levels of the game instead of the people who actually pay for greens fees and memberships and a good many of the latter group are looking to gain distance, not curtail it.
The difference between the proposed anchored putting ban and any controversy that may arise over a rolled back ball is that not everyone anchors, but everybody does need a golf ball, be it a tour pro or a 20 handicapper.
Should that handicapper be forced to play the same rolled-back ball as the tour pro?
One would assume, although it certainly hasn’t been verbalized, that the USGA will still be dead set against bifurcation of the rules if you recall the stand taken by executive director Mike Davis last year.
If that’s the case, would the governing bodies insist that golf ball manufacturers go along with any edict they hand down on a rollback? Would golf ball manufacturers go along with forcing recreational players who crave more distance to use one designed for just the opposite purpose?
If it did come to that, would that affect growth of the game?
The questions are plentiful and there are few answers at this point, but we’re going to ask your thoughts on one aspect of this potential controversy. Will any rollback of the ball force bifurcation?
Will a rollback on distance make it necessary to have two different types of golf balls available, one for elite players and others for recreational golfers?
- YES (54%)
- NO (46%)
As always, we welcome your thoughts on this subject in the Comments section below.