2020 US Open

steveluck7

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they could make the course more difficult in other ways, too. If guys bombing it is an issue, they could shorten the fairways to "punish" guys who are just trying to get as far down as possible. At least then they'd be hitting form the rough.
They could also more strategically place fairway bunkers.
 

FL4WL3SS

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I'm really not sure what the solution is. It's likely some changes to the ball, but it's just cosmetic to make the players fit back into the courses. It won't change who the best players are. The same players will keep winning no matter what equipment there is, because they're the best golfers. They'll adjust to the new equipment and make that work too.
I'll just start by saying that I don't agree that a solution is needed, the game is fine. It's entertaining, have fun golfers to watch, and get a variety of golfer types winning. I mean, shit, we just had Morikawa win the last major.

However, I completely disagree with your last statement. It all depends on the changes they make to the ball. The modern swing is tailored to modern equipment and wouldn't work with a super spinny ball. I'm not saying they are going back to balata, but you'd see guys really struggle with that type of ball that never grew up with it.

I don't know what "rolling the ball back" means. The ball has changed drastically mainly due to better materials and more layers. If you want to limit the number of layers, then fine, but that's not going to stop the distance problem. It's just going to force guys to decide whether to play a harder ball for distance or a softer one for feel.

They could limit the amount of compression, like they do for equipment, but I still don't think that solves any perceived problems. I also don't think distance is going to continue to trend like it has in the past.

Personally, I think all professionals should have to play a traditional blade. Standardize the equipment like every other sport. You want to see these guys care about the rough again? Force them to play less forgiving clubs. Hybrids and iron technology is what is changing the game, these guys aren't scared of rough anymore. The ball and distance has nothing to do with that.
 

jercra

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I'll just start by saying that I don't agree that a solution is needed, the game is fine. It's entertaining, have fun golfers to watch, and get a variety of golfer types winning. I mean, shit, we just had Morikawa win the last major.

However, I completely disagree with your last statement. It all depends on the changes they make to the ball. The modern swing is tailored to modern equipment and wouldn't work with a super spinny ball. I'm not saying they are going back to balata, but you'd see guys really struggle with that type of ball that never grew up with it.

I don't know what "rolling the ball back" means. The ball has changed drastically mainly due to better materials and more layers. If you want to limit the number of layers, then fine, but that's not going to stop the distance problem. It's just going to force guys to decide whether to play a harder ball for distance or a softer one for feel.

They could limit the amount of compression, like they do for equipment, but I still don't think that solves any perceived problems. I also don't think distance is going to continue to trend like it has in the past.

Personally, I think all professionals should have to play a traditional blade. Standardize the equipment like every other sport. You want to see these guys care about the rough again? Force them to play less forgiving clubs. Hybrids and iron technology is what is changing the game, these guys aren't scared of rough anymore. The ball and distance has nothing to do with that.
I'll also echo your sentiment. I don't think a solution is needed. I also don't think ball improvement is the biggest factor. Move back to steel shafts in drivers and you'd see all the big hitters revert. Shaft technology has moved a lot more than ball technology IMO.

However, limiting professionals to "standardized" equipment is a non-starter. These guys make more money from sponsorships than they do from golf and those sponsorships rely on the rest of us playing the same equipment as the pros (eventually). Almost all other sports have a different dynamic than the PGA Tour where they have a steady salary complemented by sponsorships. The PGA Tour has no guaranteed money for playing the game so the sponsorships are where the steady money comes from.

The thing is that this will solve itself in time if there's something to solve. There are COR restrictions and there are size restrictions on clubs already. A few other minor tweaks to equipment limits like limiting shaft lengths, tee heights maybe iron head sizes and this is as far things will get. There's a physical limit to clubhead/ball speeds.

It's been sort of mentioned a couple of times, but one notable thing is that Bryson won by hitting the fewest fairways of any Open champion ever. While that's indicative of the point people are trying to make, it also means that the course set up perfectly for his game. If there were any OB or water anywhere on that course, he probably doesn't win in that style. And if you're in that situation where deep rough is your only defense, how about we remove the ball spotters? How many balls would any of us have lost in the rough over 4 days? (I know it's unrealistic as it would make for terrible TV, I just think hitting the fairway would have been a lot more important if people were losing golf balls left and right)
 

TFP

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I'll just start by saying that I don't agree that a solution is needed, the game is fine. It's entertaining, have fun golfers to watch, and get a variety of golfer types winning. I mean, shit, we just had Morikawa win the last major.
This is actually where I land too. I'm good with what they're doing now, hell just lean into it.

Would be interested to see them starting to play shorter courses too. It actually gives the shorter players a chance to compete. Make Torrey play at 7000 yards, and everyone is in it. If it's 7800, then it's really only the bombers who have a chance.
 

cshea

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they could make the course more difficult in other ways, too. If guys bombing it is an issue, they could shorten the fairways to "punish" guys who are just trying to get as far down as possible. At least then they'd be hitting form the rough.
They could also more strategically place fairway bunkers.
Fairways don't really matter though. DeChambeau hit 23 fairways all week, Wolff hit 19. Wedge from the rough is better than mid-iron from the fairway.
 

steveluck7

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Fairways don't really matter though. DeChambeau hit 23 fairways all week, Wolff hit 19. Wedge from the rough is better than mid-iron from the fairway.
Definitely. I guess the question becomes his approach when the thought goes from “bomb it and maybe I’ll hit the fairway” to “if I bomb it, I won’t hit the fairway.”
 

FL4WL3SS

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Tiger has played a blade his entire career and played inferior Nike equipment (of which has since gone up in flames) and nobody did more for the growth of the game and sales of equipment. I don't agree that they need these guys playing the same equipment because they already basically don't. They have access to equipment and shafts that the average golfer doesn't and we all know that and still go out and buy the latest driver.

I also think it's time for the Tour to reconsider how guys are paid and supported. They don't need to keep throwing money at the top players at the end of the year, there is enough money available to provide a standard level of living for these guys. It's not really fun anymore to hear about guys sleeping in their cars while DJ gets to pad his account with another $20m.
 

BaseballJones

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The problem is in part that courses need to get longer to keep up. Winged Foot played 7,477 this year. 7,264 in 2006, and 6,930 in 1984. At some point the classic tracks run out of real estate.

I don't exactly think creating equipment rules/standards around the top 100 players in the world when millions play the game without this being an issue is a good idea though. The game is more fun than ever for us amateur types and it's in part because the equipment rocks compared to what was available even a decade ago.
No, you do what you do with baseball. Pro players have to use wooden bats. Amateurs can use whatever technological wonders they can get their hands on.

Same as golf. You make the PGA Tour pros play with restricted equipment because yeah, courses run out of land. It's actually a matter of available SPACE, not a matter of philosophy. But the rest of the golfing world can use whatever Callaway dreams up.

It's really not that hard.
 

FL4WL3SS

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The amount of money that the OEMs spend on R&D every year is insane. It's why it's impossible for anyone to enter the market. They need to keep selling because of this. It wasn't a problem when everyone played persimmon and blades. It's a self-inflicted problem for them.
 

cshea

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I also think it's time for the Tour to reconsider how guys are paid and supported. They don't need to keep throwing money at the top players at the end of the year, there is enough money available to provide a standard level of living for these guys. It's not really fun anymore to hear about guys sleeping in their cars while DJ gets to pad his account with another $20m.
On the flip side. people buy tickets and watch the broadcast to see DJ, not Kevin Tway.
 

jercra

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Tiger has played a blade his entire career and played inferior Nike equipment (of which has since gone up in flames) and nobody did more for the growth of the game and sales of equipment. I don't agree that they need these guys playing the same equipment because they already basically don't. They have access to equipment and shafts that the average golfer doesn't and we all know that and still go out and buy the latest driver.
Well, yeah, that's the point. Nike ONLY sold golf equipment because Tiger agreed to play it. We buy the latest driver that we saw on Tour last year. For manufacturers, the players are advertising spots and nothing more. Before Bryson would even answer a question last night, he thanked like 6 sponsors. Which leads to ...

I also think it's time for the Tour to reconsider how guys are paid and supported. They don't need to keep throwing money at the top players at the end of the year, there is enough money available to provide a standard level of living for these guys. It's not really fun anymore to hear about guys sleeping in their cars while DJ gets to pad his account with another $20m.
100% agree with this. Same quick research and math tells me that if they carved out 10% of the total purses this year and paid out equally to all golfers who hold a tour card (~200/yr) would pay those players a salary of $175k/yr. Obviously you'd have some prorating and players need to pay caddies and there should probably be an income cut off, but the point is that it wouldn't hurt a damn thing when it came to prize money for winning.
 

Phragle

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You guys don't think they could put a cap on the ball the same where there are caps on the heads?

I'm w Lomb, you can't make it harder for amateurs. The sport is already struggling, or at least it was before covid. Amateurs love hitting it long so I wouldn't roll anything back but capping things so the problem doesn't get worse makes sense to me. If the joes quit land is going to be the least of our problems. That's the sustainability I'm worried about
 

Phragle

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Well also no one bought Nike clubs. They started making some nice stuff at the end (some of it still in bags) but if Tiger and Rory couldn't sell it no one can
 

Phragle

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For you guys that want the ball rolled back you should root for Bryson. Nothings going to get the rules changed quicker than Bryson hitting chip shots into 2, 5, 9, and 13 at Augusta.
 
I'm w Lomb, you can't make it harder for amateurs. The sport is already struggling, or at least it was before covid. Amateurs love hitting it long so I wouldn't roll anything back but capping things so the problem doesn't get worse makes sense to me. If the joes quit land is going to be the least of our problems. That's the sustainability I'm worried about
The manufacturers can easily enough change the ball (or driver technology) in such a way that would limit distance for pros but have virtually no effect on amateurs. It's the massive swing speeds that generate the disproportionate distance - it isn't the case that taking 30 yards off of a 300-yard drive will automatically take 20 yards off of a 200-yard drive. (It might take 1-2 yards off of it.)

For those of you who think everything is fine and no changes are needed, what do you think about all of the classic golf courses which have become obsolete with regard to hosting professional tournaments? What about the average club that sees a "6" at the start of its back-tee yardage, worries that this is a sign that it isn't keeping up with the Joneses (and/or maybe has designs, however unrealistic, of hosting a tournament of some sort itself) and undertakes corrective measures which a) cost an unnecessarily large amount of money, b) create more land which need to be maintained at additional cost, and c) achieve no real effect except to push some golfers to play from a longer set of tees than they had previously, and which they should be playing? This isn't just about what pro golf looks like - it's about what golf for everyone looks like, and how both pro golfers and the tournament venues they play on model behaviors which are copied by average golfers and their clubs.

By the way, not to sound like a No Laying Up parrot again, but the guys last night pointed out that on a course like Winged Foot with greens that you can run the ball into, being in the rough as a pro can actually be an advantage particularly on a windy day, because a ball coming out of the rough with less spin is a lot easier to start and keep on line. If you're better off in US Open rough than out of it...what are we even doing here?
 

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I’m in the “there’s not a problem” Camp. WF was WF to everyone but one player. Pebble seems to have survived Tiger.

It’s not like BC has dominated every course this year. And perhaps bomb and gouge/ or generally swinging really hard at all your shots takes a physical toll on players that ultimately is a negative (Koepka, for example).

Agree the open fronts at WF made it easier to deal with the rough. Having to carry things on front of the green would have changed what BC and others could have done, or added risk to those wedge shots that could not be stopped with spin. But I’m not advocating for changing WF’s design at all.

Not sure what the answer is regarding equipment changes - I see merit to both sides of the argument.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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Adding sand at 280-320 will cut down on the big swingers, but how often will this investment come into play at these courses? Once/year when the pros are there? Less often on the courses that are part of a rotation?
 

jercra

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To me, I just don't see the problem with low scores. I mean, what's the difference between -2 and -20? The golfers are playing against each other. Do we lament baseball because pitchers throw it so much faster in 2020 than they did in 1920?

To that end, I don't think any courses are obsoleted. And cry me a river for the membership of places like Winged Foot or Colonial or Augusta having to fork a little extra to protect their elite event they hold just to say they held an elite event. How many regular, public access type courses host events where capital investment is needed to keep that event? It also requires no additional land to make a lake or a stream nor does it take more land to let a patch of rough go to seed and turn into a wild area. Courses can a lot for a small amount of money to make it harder for pros if they want to.
 

MeddlePAL

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Shrink greens
Make greens faster
More challenging hole positions
Jack the rough up considerably around the greens

That said, I don't really think the game is broken. But those are some solutions without messing around with the equipment
 

jercra

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I just had what may be an interesting thought for those who want to change the game for the pros but not the rest of us. What about limiting the number of clubs they can carry from 14 to something like 10 or 11? It wouldn't hurt equipment manufacturers. Everyone would keep their drivers and low wedges so nothing about the fundamentals of the game would change, but I think there would be a LOT more missed greens and hit hazards as lots of tweener shots were required all over the course.
 

FL4WL3SS

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For those of you who think everything is fine and no changes are needed, what do you think about all of the classic golf courses which have become obsolete with regard to hosting professional tournaments?
I care about obsolete golf courses the same way I care about rotary phones. Time passes us all by at some point. It's unfortunate, but there's always another course waiting for it's shining moment. If we cared too much about those courses we'd never get a Whistling Straits or Bethpage Black.

What about the average club that sees a "6" at the start of its back-tee yardage, worries that this is a sign that it isn't keeping up with the Joneses (and/or maybe has designs, however unrealistic, of hosting a tournament of some sort itself) and undertakes corrective measures which a) cost an unnecessarily large amount of money, b) create more land which need to be maintained at additional cost, and c) achieve no real effect except to push some golfers to play from a longer set of tees than they had previously, and which they should be playing? This isn't just about what pro golf looks like - it's about what golf for everyone looks like, and how both pro golfers and the tournament venues they play on model behaviors which are copied by average golfers and their clubs.
This is beyond silly. Your average course doesn't care and the average golfer doesn't hit it far enough. Golf for everyone is fine, you're making an argument for a problem that doesn't exist.
 

barbed wire Bob

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For those of you who think everything is fine and no changes are needed, what do you think about all of the classic golf courses which have become obsolete with regard to hosting professional tournaments? What about the average club that sees a "6" at the start of its back-tee yardage, worries that this is a sign that it isn't keeping up with the Joneses (and/or maybe has designs, however unrealistic, of hosting a tournament of some sort itself) and undertakes corrective measures which a) cost an unnecessarily large amount of money, b) create more land which need to be maintained at additional cost, and c) achieve no real effect except to push some golfers to play from a longer set of tees than they had previously, and which they should be playing? This isn't just about what pro golf looks like - it's about what golf for everyone looks like, and how both pro golfers and the tournament venues they play on model behaviors which are copied by average golfers and their clubs.
How many courses have been dropped from the PGA because of their length? My guess is that most, if not all, of the former tour events were dropped either because of a lack of sponsor or because they didn’t draw enough people and bring in the money. And if you look at the current list of courses on the PGA, there are only 23 courses on the tour that can be played by the public and 21 of the 23 are associated with resorts. There are only two truly public golf courses on the tour: Torrey Pines and TPC Deere Run. As FL4WL3SS says, this is a non-issue for the majority of golfers and the majority of golf courses To me the best way for the PGA to deal with the super length of the pros is to build special stadium courses designed to challenge the pros and provide a good viewing experience for the spectators
 
I'm not just talking about PGA Tour venues, past and present and would-be. I'm talking about courses like mine, a final Open Qualifying venue (a useful label for attracting golfing tourism) as recently as 2013 which is surely too short now to ever have that honour again, particularly as we have no land on which to potentially expand the course even if we wanted to. Or Gullane Golf Club just up the road: it is just about still able to host the Scottish Open by fashioning a composite course (which members and visitors don't ever get to play) out of holes on the two of its courses, but which now seems likely to be discarded in favour of the newer and bigger Renaissance Club around the corner, which has no tradition and inferior turf quality but has the advantage of expandable length.
 

FL4WL3SS

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Why should we care though? I don't care that your course gets another qualifying or Gullane gets another Open. There are other courses that will fill those spots.

Father time catches up with everyone. We shouldn't stop progression to fit outdated antiques of the past.
 
I'm on my phone and posted that prematurely...but anyway, this isn't just about overseas courses. It's also about potential USGA local qualifying or State Amateur or college tournament venues, titles which confer status on private clubs and resorts alike. And it's also about creating a model for golf's sustainability over time - shouldn't the default be that courses ought to remain pretty much the same in perpetuity, rather than e.g. seeing the sort of constant tinkering that Jack is doing at Muirfield Village?

On NBC the other day, Bones apparently said that any parent looking to teach his kid how to be a golfer should focus on only one thing: swing speed. The fundamental inequality between big hitters and average golfers is only going to get worse unless the technology is reined in, and I'm pretty sure the consequences of letting the professional arms race continued unchecked are going to be more significant and unintended than we think.
 

FL4WL3SS

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The number of courses that are making significant changes due to distance can be counted in the tens.

If you want to talk sustainability then that's a different conversation that has nothing to do with length. The number one expense for a course is labor and water. Moving dirt and planting grass is not that expensive. A course can drastically reduce it's labor needs by eliminating bunkers and reducing precision mowing. Coore and Crenshaw are building sustainable courses and it has nothing to do with length.

More waste bunkers, better/tougher grass, browner courses, more rough (less mowing).

I don't know man, you're making a pretty obscure argument and using Jack's course as an example is pretty inane. Jack makes that decision and that course has a very well-to-do membership. It's an exceptional case.
 

Doug Beerabelli

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I guess it depends on who is doing the assessing. I’m guessing 99+% of the people playing these course that are at risk of losing prestige in such a manner don’t have a lesser experience because of prestige discussions that might be emanating from the mouths or keyboards of a few golf talking heads or from inside the board room of the USGA or R&A.
 

Comfortably Lomb

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And it's also about creating a model for golf's sustainability over time - shouldn't the default be that courses ought to remain pretty much the same in perpetuity, rather than e.g. seeing the sort of constant tinkering that Jack is doing at Muirfield Village?
I don't agree at all with the premise that courses ought to remain pretty much the same in perpetuity. They're not museum pieces.
 

jercra

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I'm also confused by the talk of qualifying courses. How many under par do you need to shoot to qualify for a US Open again? Oh right, you play other golfers on the exact same course, and the ones that play it best get through to whatever the next challenge is. I'll ask again, why does it matter what the score is that wins?
 

jercra

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I'm on my phone and posted that prematurely...but anyway, this isn't just about overseas courses. It's also about potential USGA local qualifying or State Amateur or college tournament venues, titles which confer status on private clubs and resorts alike. And it's also about creating a model for golf's sustainability over time - shouldn't the default be that courses ought to remain pretty much the same in perpetuity, rather than e.g. seeing the sort of constant tinkering that Jack is doing at Muirfield Village?
.
Why would golf be special in this way? Most stadiums are like 20 years old at best. Even the older ones have gone through plenty of change over the years, as have some of the newer ones. And the adjustments have been to accommodate specific players (bullpens at Fenway) or specific trends in the game (fences moving in or out). I'm all for seeing cool new designs and how designers might fight back against pro distances.
 

Deathofthebambino

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I'll tell you how to stop bomb and gouge.

Put them on courses where, instead of thick rough and a coupe of skinny little trees around the fairways, throw them on a course where a few yards off the fairway, you're in the woods, or dropping out of a lake. There was basically nowhere at WF last week that you had to take a penalty stroke, and almost no chance of ending up in the trees or losing a ball.

As I tell the scratch or better golfers I play with that overpower these 7,000 yard courses, "Anybody can hit from where you are, come hit a few balls from where I am, buried under a pile of leaves, on top of a broken branch, surrounded by roots, with a 4 inch window to advance your ball 7 yards, and let's see if you shoot 69."
 

The Needler

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I'm also confused by the talk of qualifying courses. How many under par do you need to shoot to qualify for a US Open again? Oh right, you play other golfers on the exact same course, and the ones that play it best get through to whatever the next challenge is. I'll ask again, why does it matter what the score is that wins?
Maybe it shouldn’t matter, but it does to the USGA. The current minimum for US Open and US Am qualifying courses is 6,800 yards for par 70, and 7,000 for par 72. That leaves out, for example, Pasatiempo, which tips out at 6,500. Which is a shame, and means its last qualifier for the Open was probably in 2012, when coincidentally Bryson was one of the five that advanced to sectional qualifying.
 

jercra

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Maybe it shouldn’t matter, but it does to the USGA. The current minimum for US Open and US Am qualifying courses is 6,800 yards for par 70, and 7,000 for par 72. That leaves out, for example, Pasatiempo, which tips out at 6,500. Which is a shame, and means its last qualifier for the Open was probably in 2012, when coincidentally Bryson was one of the five that advanced to sectional qualifying.
Well shit. That's a stupid and arbitrary set of distinctions. I mean, there's a shit load of courses that meet that qualification, but 7000 yards in Denver in August plays a lot shorter than 6300 yards in Seattle in April. And 18 island greens at 6000 yards would be the hardest course on earth. I would have expected slope/rating to be the defining factor over length. Oak Tree National, just outside OK City and former host of a PGA Championship, is 6900 yards from one up from the tips and is a 76.5/153 from those tees. Winged Foot from the tips is 75.7/141. 16 players finished under par in that PGA Championship (in 1988, so obviously different times and from right at 7000 yards) but that's without US Open conditions/setup.
 
Why would golf be special in this way? Most stadiums are like 20 years old at best. Even the older ones have gone through plenty of change over the years, as have some of the newer ones. And the adjustments have been to accommodate specific players (bullpens at Fenway) or specific trends in the game (fences moving in or out). I'm all for seeing cool new designs and how designers might fight back against pro distances.
What happens when Augusta National runs out of land and, e.g., the 15th hole completes its transformation from one of the great risk/reward par 5s in golf to a drive and a pitch? Is that kind of obsolescence OK too? Should ANGC start growing thick rough or loads of trees, or should The Masters just move somewhere else? (Or should we just give up on the entire concept of the strategic risk/reward par 5?) What about the Old Course? Are you looking forward to 30 under par winning the Open Championship there the next time they go four days without wind? Or should the R&A just shut up shop and move somewhere else as well? Traditions actually do matter in sport - and I think they ought to matter more in a sport which took its current form more than 250 years ago.

Comparing baseball stadiums to golf courses in this context is ridiculous, by the way. For one thing, you seem to be advocating that spending hundreds of millions of dollars (usually at the taxpayer's expense) on new stadiums is a good thing. But more to the point, baseball is a sport which modifies its technology to keep hitting and pitching in balance - and that definitely includes messing around with the baseball itself. Imagine a world in which bat and ball technology evolved to where 50% of all routine fly balls turned into homers, which in turn incentivized all hitters to prioritize bulking up and maximizing the distance they get at the expense of making contact more often, which in turn would make the three true outcomes (HR, BB, K) increasingly the only three outcomes of an at-bat. Would you not think something had gone wrong with the sport itself?

I mentioned the death of the strategic par 5 in passing: they still exist in places, the 13th at Augusta National being a great example (although just wait until Bryson and his ilk start carrying the corner completely...), but it's curious how that particular torch has now been passed to driveable par 4. There have always been great short par 4s like the 10th at Riviera, but at some point in the past 20 years, the USGA figured out that you could take a normal mid-length par 4 like the 14th at Torrey Pines, move the tees way up to bring the green within range, and create strategy and drama out of holes that didn't really have any. This is a welcome development in many ways - strategy and drama are good! - but even this is relatively one-dimensional, insofar as the decision point for everyone is absolutely the same, with no judgement of lie or relative distance or angle of approach required. I mean, I'll take it, but this sort of strategic calculation used to be commonplace for pros on normal par 5s even when they found the fairway. And golfers in US Opens past used to have to make this sort of strategic calculation on pretty much every tee shot: do I lay up with an iron or fairway wood to give myself a 90%-ish chance that my next shot will be from the fairway, or do I hit the driver, hoping to be able to attack the flag on my next shot but understanding that any screw-up will likely result in at least a half-shot penalty? For me, that question is the very essence of golf: you assess your own limits, you take on as much risk as you feel comfortable taking, and you try to execute to the plan you've set for yourself. But Bryson and other very skilled golfers have figured out that if you hit the ball far enough, you don't need to be strategic, because if you can get close enough to the green and hit the ball hard enough and control it well enough even out of the rough, there's no reason to try anything else (except on those few occasions where water hazards or out-of-bounds might be involved). You still need to be a good enough putter and iron player, etc., to really compete - you can't *just* be long to win. But increasingly, you have to be super-long to give yourself any chance of really competing on a week-in, week-out basis - and as more and more young bombers like Wolff get onto the Tour, that will only become even more the case. And you also don't have to think as much: you can just grip it and rip it off the tee, all the time. I just don't see how that is a good development for golf, or why rolling back the golf ball and thereby increasing the mental challenge of professional golf is in any way a bad thing.

(I really ought to stop posting about golf on SoSH. I've thought and probably said that before, but when truths like "The increasingly one-dimensional nature of professional golf is a bad thing" that I - and so many of the other writers and podcasters and even golf course architects I trust - hold to be self-evident are not only challenged but derided as often as they are here, I should probably just step back for my own sake.)
 

Zomp

Dope
Dope
Aug 28, 2006
12,525
The Slums of Shaolin
If overpowering the course meant that today's golfers could miss the fairway by 40 yards and still be okay then I'd agree that there was a problem, but lets give Bryson some credit here. Someone (I think TFP) said he hits it so far but also straight. Even when he was missing the fairway, he was in the rough with a shot to the green. Even when I was growing up playing, if the choice was to have a 6 iron in from the fairway or a 9 iron/PW in from the rough, you'd choose the rough. When Nicklaus first started (Fat Jack version) didn't he hit it further than almost any pro on tour? Lengthy players have always had an advantage. Now if you want to say that the advantage is getting bigger, I'd buy that. The difference, though, is that hitting it a long way in golf is a skill. Is it probably the most important skill to winning on tour? Sure. That doesn't mean the game is being ruined.


I just think its a bit of a stretch to say these guys aren't being strategic. They are. Their strategy is to take the chance with the driver because the risk is worth it.
 

johnmd20

mad dog
Lifetime Member
Gold Supporter
SoSH Member
Dec 30, 2003
47,663
New York City
If overpowering the course meant that today's golfers could miss the fairway by 40 yards and still be okay then I'd agree that there was a problem, but lets give Bryson some credit here. Someone (I think TFP) said he hits it so far but also straight. Even when he was missing the fairway, he was in the rough with a shot to the green. Even when I was growing up playing, if the choice was to have a 6 iron in from the fairway or a 9 iron/PW in from the rough, you'd choose the rough. When Nicklaus first started (Fat Jack version) didn't he hit it further than almost any pro on tour? Lengthy players have always had an advantage. Now if you want to say that the advantage is getting bigger, I'd buy that. The difference, though, is that hitting it a long way in golf is a skill. Is it probably the most important skill to winning on tour? Sure. That doesn't mean the game is being ruined.


I just think its a bit of a stretch to say these guys aren't being strategic. They are. Their strategy is to take the chance with the driver because the risk is worth it.
I agree wholeheartedly. It's incredible the Bryson is swinging so hard but not spraying the ball all over the place. I think CP has made a solid emotional point. But I do not agree. Things change and this was one tournament. Golf is in fine shape and comparing bombs off the tee to baseball doesn't hold any water and it's not a fair comparison. Because not only is Bryson keeping it relatively straight, but he's a tremendous putter, too. There is a lot that went into his dominant win this weekend. Bombs off the tee is just one of the aspects. For example, Wolff hits it further than Bryson. I haven't looked at the stats but Rory and DJ probably did, too. Or at least they are in the same vicinity. They didn't putt as well. Ergo, they got smoked by a guy who can hit bombs and putt the ball into the hole.

And this isn't even an issue because what Bryson is doing is not sustainable. He is going to get injured. It happened to Tiger. It happened to Brooks. It happens to every player who over works their body.
 

barbed wire Bob

crippled by fear
SoSH Member
I agree wholeheartedly. It's incredible the Bryson is swinging so hard but not spraying the ball all over the place. I think CP has made a solid emotional point. But I do not agree. Things change and this was one tournament. Golf is in fine shape and comparing bombs off the tee to baseball doesn't hold any water and it's not a fair comparison. Because not only is Bryson keeping it relatively straight, but he's a tremendous putter, too. There is a lot that went into his dominant win this weekend. Bombs off the tee is just one of the aspects. For example, Wolff hits it further than Bryson. I haven't looked at the stats but Rory and DJ probably did, too. Or at least they are in the same vicinity. They didn't putt as well. Ergo, they got smoked by a guy who can hit bombs and putt the ball into the hole.

And this isn't even an issue because what Bryson is doing is not sustainable. He is going to get injured. It happened to Tiger. It happened to Brooks. It happens to every player who over works their body.
Regarding the bolded, there‘s the question of whether or not Bryson’s bulking up is actually helping him. As you have pointed out, other golfers were actually outdriving him and they have no where near the body mass Bryson has. Wolff, for example, is listed as weighing 165lbs. From what I saw of Bryson, he looked very stiff swing the club and, as he bulks up even more (he said he wants to put on even more weight), I see a greater risk of injury.
 

FL4WL3SS

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2006
12,091
Andy Brickley's potty mouth
We have this same argument anytime a big hitter wins. We weren't having these conversations when Spieth was winning every other major a few years ago or when Morikawa won a month ago. It's mainly driven by one poster and the media, I don't think the rest of the golf world thinks it's a problem.

Lengthening Augusta is done to protect an arbitrary concept of par. If they feel they need to keep lengthening 15, then make it a par 4.

In 2003 Hank Kuehne (who?) lead the tour in driving distance at 321y. Was anyone complaining about distance? How about Scott Hend in 2005? Bubba? Garrigus? Luke fucking List? John Daly lead the tour in distance for a decade and won only a couple majors and barely anything else.

It's not a problem.
 

cshea

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 15, 2006
27,135
306, row 14
To your point, Bryson led the tour in driving distance at 321 in 2020. The average is up, 296 to 285 in 2003 but the long hasn't moved much.

Also, Augusta would just buy up all the land in the state of Georgia if they had to to lengthen the joint.
 

Doug Beerabelli

Killer Threads
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
(I really ought to stop posting about golf on SoSH. I've thought and probably said that before, but when truths like "The increasingly one-dimensional nature of professional golf is a bad thing" that I - and so many of the other writers and podcasters and even golf course architects I trust - hold to be self-evident are not only challenged but derided as often as they are here, I should probably just step back for my own sake.)
To this point, I think it's a fair question to ask if the "one-dimensional nature of professional golf is a bad thing" -- in regard to professional golf. Expanding the argument about the one-dimensional nature being bad for all golf is a less focused discussion, and one that will be less sympathic to your side of things. And you're pulling your point lockstep from a small set of people with, to at least some degree, have a built in bias to want professional golf to be popular -- so more people listen to their broadcasts and read their blogs and articles. As for the architects, is their motivation to design great courses, or design modify great courses for professional players?

No need to step back for our sake - your points are worth discussing. But understand your audience here. If there's no value being offered to you by this discussion, or you are 100% all in on your opinion being correct regardless of what others think here, that's your choice whether or not to continue to be part of it.

EDIT: To clarify, CP - I enjoy and find value in what you bring to these discussions, and this thread.
 
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barbed wire Bob

crippled by fear
SoSH Member
To your point, Bryson led the tour in driving distance at 321 in 2020. The average is up, 296 to 285 in 2003 but the long hasn't moved much.

Also, Augusta would just buy up all the land in the state of Georgia if they had to to lengthen the joint.
And to your point, I remember reading this little tidbit about Jack Nicklaus.
It can be hard, then, to picture Nicklaus as the longest player on the PGA Tour. But that’s exactly what he was in his heyday. Consider this: In 1963, Nicklaus won the long-drive contest at the PGA Championship with a 341-yard blast. “That drive was 341 yards, 17 inches. I do remember that, too,” he told Golf Channel in 2013. “That was an 11-degree wood driver, 32.75 inch Dynamic Edge shaft.”

Max Homa won the PGA Championship long-drive contest in 2019 at Bethpage Black with a 318-yard shot, but that came on a cold and wet spring New York day. The year before, in the throes of a St. Louis summer, Bryson DeChambeau, armed with his optimized launch angle and state-of-the-art driver and ground-force maximizing swing, hit one 331 yards to win.
There’s always going to be long hitters on the tour and I’m guessing there is a practical speed limit on how fast any human can swing a club regardless of how much muscle mass they have. But what seems to be happening is that technology is making the clubs more forgiving of miss hits and that is allowing the average tour players to hit the ball longer, and also more straight. Does this make the game worse? Imo, no. If anything it probably makes the game better since it allows the average tour players to be competitive. I sincerely doubt you will ever see again one player like Jack or Tiger ever dominate the golf world again.
 

jercra

No longer respects DeChambeau
Gold Supporter
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2006
2,621
Arvada, Co
What happens when Augusta National runs out of land and, e.g., the 15th hole completes its transformation from one of the great risk/reward par 5s in golf to a drive and a pitch? Is that kind of obsolescence OK too? Should ANGC start growing thick rough or loads of trees, or should The Masters just move somewhere else? (Or should we just give up on the entire concept of the strategic risk/reward par 5?) What about the Old Course? Are you looking forward to 30 under par winning the Open Championship there the next time they go four days without wind? Or should the R&A just shut up shop and move somewhere else as well? Traditions actually do matter in sport - and I think they ought to matter more in a sport which took its current form more than 250 years ago.
I mean, you just watched a US Open at Winged Foot where a hole that is a par 5 for members is a par 4 for pros. Augusta National doesn't have to do anything. If -20 wins the Masters then it does. Or make 15 a par 4 and then, magically, -16 wins the Masters without changing a single thing. And sure, why do I care if -30 wins at the Old Course? If there are 5 or 6 guys at -28 coming into 18 and there's some real question as to who's going to win the tourney and one guy manages an eagle by draining a long putt or something, that would be awesome to watch.

Comparing baseball stadiums to golf courses in this context is ridiculous, by the way. For one thing, you seem to be advocating that spending hundreds of millions of dollars (usually at the taxpayer's expense) on new stadiums is a good thing. But more to the point, baseball is a sport which modifies its technology to keep hitting and pitching in balance - and that definitely includes messing around with the baseball itself. Imagine a world in which bat and ball technology evolved to where 50% of all routine fly balls turned into homers, which in turn incentivized all hitters to prioritize bulking up and maximizing the distance they get at the expense of making contact more often, which in turn would make the three true outcomes (HR, BB, K) increasingly the only three outcomes of an at-bat. Would you not think something had gone wrong with the sport itself?
I can't tell if this is tongue in cheek or if you just haven't watched much baseball in the past couple of years.

I mentioned the death of the strategic par 5 in passing: they still exist in places, the 13th at Augusta National being a great example (although just wait until Bryson and his ilk start carrying the corner completely...), but it's curious how that particular torch has now been passed to driveable par 4. There have always been great short par 4s like the 10th at Riviera, but at some point in the past 20 years, the USGA figured out that you could take a normal mid-length par 4 like the 14th at Torrey Pines, move the tees way up to bring the green within range, and create strategy and drama out of holes that didn't really have any. This is a welcome development in many ways - strategy and drama are good! - but even this is relatively one-dimensional, insofar as the decision point for everyone is absolutely the same, with no judgement of lie or relative distance or angle of approach required. I mean, I'll take it, but this sort of strategic calculation used to be commonplace for pros on normal par 5s even when they found the fairway. And golfers in US Opens past used to have to make this sort of strategic calculation on pretty much every tee shot: do I lay up with an iron or fairway wood to give myself a 90%-ish chance that my next shot will be from the fairway, or do I hit the driver, hoping to be able to attack the flag on my next shot but understanding that any screw-up will likely result in at least a half-shot penalty? For me, that question is the very essence of golf: you assess your own limits, you take on as much risk as you feel comfortable taking, and you try to execute to the plan you've set for yourself. But Bryson and other very skilled golfers have figured out that if you hit the ball far enough, you don't need to be strategic, because if you can get close enough to the green and hit the ball hard enough and control it well enough even out of the rough, there's no reason to try anything else (except on those few occasions where water hazards or out-of-bounds might be involved). You still need to be a good enough putter and iron player, etc., to really compete - you can't *just* be long to win. But increasingly, you have to be super-long to give yourself any chance of really competing on a week-in, week-out basis - and as more and more young bombers like Wolff get onto the Tour, that will only become even more the case. And you also don't have to think as much: you can just grip it and rip it off the tee, all the time. I just don't see how that is a good development for golf, or why rolling back the golf ball and thereby increasing the mental challenge of professional golf is in any way a bad thing.
I think we all get what you're saying. You pine for the olden days of hickory sticks and gutta-percha balls where a 375 yard hole was a true par 4 and the greens rolled at a stimp of 4. Or is it just steel shafts, persimmon woods, and balata balls? How far back do we need to go to reach the golden era you're trying to preserve? This happens to every game. Watch an NBA game from the 50s. The size, skill and tactics are all totally different than today. Watch Superbowl 1 for a similar effect. How many homeruns do you think Babe Ruth would have against modern pitching staffs? Sports evolve and it's a really tough to know when that sport has evovled further than where you want it to go. The issue is that you're making it sound like a universal truth that it's gone too far and pretty clearly, that's not the case.

(I really ought to stop posting about golf on SoSH. I've thought and probably said that before, but when truths like "The increasingly one-dimensional nature of professional golf is a bad thing" that I - and so many of the other writers and podcasters and even golf course architects I trust - hold to be self-evident are not only challenged but derided as often as they are here, I should probably just step back for my own sake.)
Well, I for one hope you don't. This is a place for discussion and the golf discussions here are pretty fun. You're a big part of that.
 

MeddlePAL

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 14, 2006
100
/dev/null
What happens when Augusta National runs out of land and, e.g., the 15th hole completes its transformation from one of the great risk/reward par 5s in golf to a drive and a pitch? Is that kind of obsolescence OK too? Should ANGC start growing thick rough or loads of trees, or should The Masters just move somewhere else? (Or should we just give up on the entire concept of the strategic risk/reward par 5?) What about the Old Course? Are you looking forward to 30 under par winning the Open Championship there the next time they go four days without wind? Or should the R&A just shut up shop and move somewhere else as well? Traditions actually do matter in sport - and I think they ought to matter more in a sport which took its current form more than 250 years ago.
Are you watching the tournaments to see players get beat up by the course or to compete against each other? The rest of your post clearly puts you in camp #1.

But at the end of the day this is competition golf. The US Open is fun because the USGA tries to torture the players but that is the US Open's gimmick. The rest of the time these guys are trying to beat each other. Who cares if they shoot +2, E, -4 or -30 as long as a few guys are right there in the same range. That's what keeps these things interesting, the closeness and the competition.
 

BaseballJones

goalpost mover
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
10,955
I think some of it is when we see the pros have to hack around a little, it makes them seem more human. But yeah, at the end of the day, who cares if the US Open winner shoots +2 or -6 or, as others have done, -16? Sometimes you set up a course a certain way and the weather conditions make scores something totally different than what the USGA wanted. It happens.

I want to see guys fighting each other for the win. But I do like it when there's penalties for not hitting the fairways or greens.