Tour Distance / Golf Ball / Slow Play DISCUSSION

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The topic around the golf ball, distance Tour players are hitting it and slow play is a hot topic again in the golf space.

 

Interested in your thoughts as golfers who love the game so dearly and play as much as you can. Here's three questions for you:

 

1. What do you think is the main culprit of slow play?

 

2. Are Tour players hitting it too far?

 

3. Are you in favor of "rolling the ball back" for everyone?

 

Go...

 

 


@ryanlauder66
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1. What do you think is the main culprit of slow play?

On Tour, or in general? I they're separate discussions. In my opinion, competitive golf is vastly different than casual golf and should be held to a different standard. I don't understand why people think Tour golf needs to be a hit and giggle hurry-up event. This is a job and these players are playing for a lot of money. Some guys play fast, but others need to be analytical and thing through a shot. I'm okay with that (within reason).

 

On the everyday side of the fence, what I see at my club is that the average players just aren't that good. There are a lot of shots taken and they're often playing from the wrong tees. When the course setup is challenging (e.g., tough hole locations, longer rough, etc), it can really slow things down. I also don't feel this is a new problem. I can remember very slow weekend rounds at the 9-hole course on which I played growing up (primarily caused by these same issues). This isn't meant to be a knock on those players because I want them on the course enjoying the game. Good players have the opposite problem. Many guys I know go through their full tournament routine on every shot because that's how they know how to play. That also slows things down.

 

However, one thing I'll note is that the perception of playing slow is a lot different when everyone is using carts instead of walking. When people walk there is a natural cadence to the round and the time it takes to walk to your ball gives the group in front of you a chance to get to their ball and hit the next shot. In a cart, it seems like you're always breathing down the neck of the group in front of you. There's a "hurry up and wait" feeling.

 

2. Are Tour players hitting it too far?

No, I don't believe there's such a thing as hitting it too far. Distance is a skill. The game has changed a lot in the  20+ years since Tiger came along. There is so much more money to be made in the game which has attracted a different, more athletic type of player than in the past. Athletes who could have played other sports are now playing golf (e.g., Koepka). With this increased athleticism and better training comes more club head speed. You can't put the genie back in the bottle at this point.

 

Secondly, I don't agree with commentary that suggests the Tour has had to move events to large, "boring" venues because the ball goes to far. For the most part, there hasn't been much turnover in the courses used. Mike Johnson from Golf World tweeted that excluding majors, 23 of the courses used in 2000 were still used in 2017, and had an average distance increase of only 152 yards per course in that time-span. The reason we have a lot of boring cookie cutter venues is because those are the courses that can handle the logistics of hosting an event. Many older courses simply can't handle the off the course aspect of a modern Tour event. It wasn't distance that made them obsolete.

 

3. Are you in favor of "rolling the ball back" for everyone?

No, the everyday club player is not hitting hit so far that they're making courses obsolete. This is a fallacy that bleeds over from a discussion of length on tour. The everyday player needs as much help as they can get to make the game more enjoyable. Hitting it farther (and straighter) is something that makes the game more enjoyable for them. If anything, existing equipment rules and restrictions should be relaxed to offer the everyday player even more assistance from their equipment.

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rbauchman
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Good questions, and my responses will be based solely on the professional ranks.

 

1. What do you think is the main culprit of slow play?

I think it's all about the cash. We just saw Kevin Na get hammered on slow play at Riviera  few weeks ago, even though he has been known to have this issue in the past, and part of his explanation was that 1 stroke could have cost him $300k. The pros are playing for serious money so they're going to do everything they can to make sure they bring in the dough.

 

2. Are Tour players hitting it too far?

Far, yes, but not too far. Just like the rest of the world, the game of golf will be enhanced and evolve with new technology. The pros also spend a lot of time honing their skills and getting stronger, so it's only natural that we'll see them hit it farther when technology and physicality collide. Plus, they're just making the courses longer and harder for the pro's, which makes it more interesting as a spectator. I've played on a few courses that the pro's play on and it's impressive to see firsthand how well they perform on these challenging tracks.

 

3. Are you in favor of "rolling the ball back" for everyone?

No (see also answer to question #2 above). Honestly, some of us amateurs have no business playing the balls the pro's play, as they are designed specifically for their game. Amateurs shouldn't be penalized for technological advancements, which should be aimed at game improvement and enjoyment. The Project (a) ball is a great example of this.

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Frequent Contributor

@jll62wrote:

1. What do you think is the main culprit of slow play?

On Tour, or in general? I they're separate discussions. In my opinion, competitive golf is vastly different than casual golf and should be held to a different standard. I don't understand why people think Tour golf needs to be a hit and giggle hurry-up event. This is a job and these players are playing for a lot of money. Some guys play fast, but others need to be analytical and thing through a shot. I'm okay with that (within reason).

 

On the everyday side of the fence, what I see at my club is that the average players just aren't that good. There are a lot of shots taken and they're often playing from the wrong tees. When the course setup is challenging (e.g., tough hole locations, longer rough, etc), it can really slow things down. I also don't feel this is a new problem. I can remember very slow weekend rounds at the 9-hole course on which I played growing up (primarily caused by these same issues). This isn't meant to be a knock on those players because I want them on the course enjoying the game. Good players have the opposite problem. Many guys I know go through their full tournament routine on every shot because that's how they know how to play. That also slows things down.

 

However, one thing I'll note is that the perception of playing slow is a lot different when everyone is using carts instead of walking. When people walk there is a natural cadence to the round and the time it takes to walk to your ball gives the group in front of you a chance to get to their ball and hit the next shot. In a cart, it seems like you're always breathing down the neck of the group in front of you. There's a "hurry up and wait" feeling.

 

2. Are Tour players hitting it too far?

No, I don't believe there's such a thing as hitting it too far. Distance is a skill. The game has changed a lot in the  20+ years since Tiger came along. There is so much more money to be made in the game which has attracted a different, more athletic type of player than in the past. Athletes who could have played other sports are now playing golf (e.g., Koepka). With this increased athleticism and better training comes more club head speed. You can't put the genie back in the bottle at this point.

 

Secondly, I don't agree with commentary that suggests the Tour has had to move events to large, "boring" venues because the ball goes to far. For the most part, there hasn't been much turnover in the courses used. Mike Johnson from Golf World tweeted that excluding majors, 23 of the courses used in 2000 were still used in 2017, and had an average distance increase of only 152 yards per course in that time-span. The reason we have a lot of boring cookie cutter venues is because those are the courses that can handle the logistics of hosting an event. Many older courses simply can't handle the off the course aspect of a modern Tour event. It wasn't distance that made them obsolete.

 

3. Are you in favor of "rolling the ball back" for everyone?

No, the everyday club player is not hitting hit so far that they're making courses obsolete. This is a fallacy that bleeds over from a discussion of length on tour. The everyday player needs as much help as they can get to make the game more enjoyable. Hitting it farther (and straighter) is something that makes the game more enjoyable for them. If anything, existing equipment rules and restrictions should be relaxed to offer the everyday player even more assistance from their equipment.


Jesse and I have had part of this conversation off-line. And I agree with his answer 100%. So much so that I gave him a Kudo. That extends his lead over me in that category. (Boo!) There are lots of guys that can hit it long, really long. But, a select few that can keep it in the fairway and post a score! That is a skill. And I would hate it if that ever was changed. 

 

I grew up watching all kinds of racing. When NASCAR went to restrictor plates to limit the horsepower, I hated it. Still do. It used to be that you could bring any motor you wanted to the Indy 500. Turbine power, V-6 Supercharged, little known fact, those engine blocks were found in junk yards, taken out of V-6 School buses. But the engineers knew that could withstand that boost pressure. Al Unser Jr was clocking 250+ down the straightaways. but, its all cookie cutter now. Races are won on pit strategy. Not the fastest car.

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