2020 US Open

jercra

No longer respects DeChambeau
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Jul 31, 2006
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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.
This is the point I was trying to make when pointing out how they made a par 5 into a par 4. Par and scores relative to par is arbitrary. That being said, I do know that the Tour does actually care. The Players was right after Bay Hill this year and I happened to have the opportunity to play TPC Sawgrass right before the Players and then be all over the course on Wed and Thu of the Players and I can tell you that course conditions during the Players were a LOT easier than when I played and that it was a direct result of the players getting their asses kicked at Bay Hill the week before. The tour pros were not going to have high scores at their own tourney.
 

Average Reds

Dope
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Dope
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Sep 24, 2007
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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.
You raise some interesting points and I'd like to (try) to address them.

First, I understand (and share) the reverence for the Old Course, but it's important to remember that the OId Course isn't where the Open Championship was started. That would be Prestwick, which held the first 12 Open Championships before the R&A and the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers decided they needed in on the action, and the first Open rota was born. The facilities at Prestwick were eventually deemed to be insufficient for the Open (specifically, the course couldn't hold the crowds) and it hasn't been played there since 1925. And if the Open moves on from the Old Course, the game will be just fine.

It's also important to point out that the Masters isn't an event controlled by the PGA Tour, PGA of America or USGA. It is a private invitational run by Augusta National, which means that it will never be moving. And while I find the physical appearance of the course to be a huge part of the attraction, we should remember that Augusta National has a long history of fucking up the course for years at a time. As an example, I give you the 8th green from 1956, when the mounds were (temporarily) removed so spectators could see better:




Augusta National will continue to evolve as conditions demand. If they make mistakes, they call the architects back in, reverse themselves and find a different way to address the problem.

I should mention that I don't rule out that they will place restrictions on equipment for their tournament, just because they can. If they work, it's almost certain that the major organizations will adopt their changes, which will address many of the issues you identify.

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'll admit to having sympathy for this argument, in the sense that players are getting so strong (and good) that they can completely overpower certain courses. And I think we'll have some tweaks to "Bryson-proof" courses to prevent him from cutting the corner at 13 (as an example.)

At the same time, this reads as if you just don't like the fact that a one-dimensional golfer was able to defeat the plans of the USGA and win the US Open in "non-strategic" fashion, which is ignoring the fact that DeChambeau was, in fact, extremely strategic in his approach. You just don't like the strategy. Which is more than fair - I don't like it either. But let's own it. What bothers me about DeChambeau is that he seems like an arrogant ass. And if he were packaged differently, I'd probably be a fan, in the same way that I was a big Tiger fan in his heyday.

(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.)
(This is a message board. Declaring that you're going to withhold future commentary because people don't agree with what you have declared to be a self-evident truth strikes me as a bit much.)
 

cornwalls@6

Less observant than others
SoSH Member
Apr 23, 2010
2,388
from the wilds of western ma
I'm increasingly warming to the idea of some equipment rollbacks, to keep the young bombers like Bryson from completely rendering too many courses obsolete. And I assume/expect that if the rollbacks ever did occur, they would trickle down to casual/amateur players that take the rules seriously enough to want to be in compliance with the major governing bodies. But, under no circumstances, am I going back to hitting rocks with my dad's hand me down, circa 1970, Wilson tour blades and persimmons;)
 

BaseballJones

goalpost mover
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
11,046
I've shared this story before, but about 5-7 years ago I heard an interview with Craig Stadler on the radio. He was asked what he averaged off the tee when he was in his majors-winning prime, and he said about 260. He was then asked what he averaged off the tee as about a 60-year old, and he said over 300. Which is NUTS. Obviously and correctly, he attributed the increased distance to the technology.

It's a different sport.
 

Zomp

Dope
Dope
Aug 28, 2006
12,544
The Slums of Shaolin
Just heard a pretty good stat. Bryson's driving accuracy this week was 41.1% which is the lowest driving accuracy for someone who won the US Open. However, the field's driving accuracy this week was 39.3%.
 

jercra

No longer respects DeChambeau
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Jul 31, 2006
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Arvada, Co
Bryson was 3rd in strokes gained off the tee, 3rd in strokes gained on approach, 2nd in strokes gained around the green, and 18th in strokes gained putting. He didn't just overpower the course as a 1-dimensional player.

"Rolling back" anything is silly to me. Restrictions on new equipment would be fine though, just as they did with 460 CC heads, COR, etc. Some restrictions on ball mfg to say they can only have so much COR and spin would be pretty easy to implement and wouldn't hurt ball manufacturers' sales ability. That won't stop distance gains but it should limit them severely.
 

Phragle

wild card bitches
SoSH Member
Jan 1, 2009
13,016
Carmine's closet
I'm increasingly warming to the idea of some equipment rollbacks, to keep the young bombers like Bryson from completely rendering too many courses obsolete. And I assume/expect that if the rollbacks ever did occur, they would trickle down to casual/amateur players that take the rules seriously enough to want to be in compliance with the major governing bodies. But, under no circumstances, am I going back to hitting rocks with my dad's hand me down, circa 1970, Wilson tour blades and persimmons;)
No I disagree. If we're going to roll it back, roll it all the way back. I'm looking forward to woods that are in fact wood

Bryson was 3rd in strokes gained off the tee, 3rd in strokes gained on approach, 2nd in strokes gained around the green, and 18th in strokes gained putting. He didn't just overpower the course as a 1-dimensional player.
Easy for you to say. @Zomp, please make Jercra's tagline "Bryson Fanboy"

"Rolling back" anything is silly to me. Restrictions on new equipment would be fine though, just as they did with 460 CC heads, COR, etc. Some restrictions on ball mfg to say they can only have so much COR and spin would be pretty easy to implement and wouldn't hurt ball manufacturers' sales ability. That won't stop distance gains but it should limit them severely.
I'm an idea man
 

jercra

No longer respects DeChambeau
Gold Supporter
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2006
2,622
Arvada, Co
Easy for you to say. @Zomp, please make Jercra's tagline "Bryson Fanboy"
Hah, I can't stand him actually. I begrudgingly respected him until this morning when I read about his COVID party with the Trumps. He can go fuck himself.
 

Comfortably Lomb

Koko the Monkey
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Feb 22, 2004
10,888
The Paris of the 80s
No I disagree. If we're going to roll it back, roll it all the way back. I'm looking forward to woods that are in fact wood
On the subject of persimmons, DJ hit Jack's old driver a couple years ago and carried it 290 with rollout to 318. He said he could have hit it further but didn't want to break it. :eyeroll:


I'm assuming he used a modern ball. 100% modern drivers and balls are technological marvels but these guys take really hard cuts at the ball too.
 

barbed wire Bob

crippled by fear
SoSH Member
On the subject of persimmons, DJ hit Jack's old driver a couple years ago and carried it 290 with rollout to 318. He said he could have hit it further but didn't want to break it. :eyeroll:


I'm assuming he used a modern ball. 100% modern drivers and balls are technological marvels but these guys take really hard cuts at the ball too.
For comparative purposes this is DJ’s distance chart for 2017.
And while TMag didn’t offer a full profile of lofts, here’s a look at his distance gapping on his average full-swing shots.
M1 Driver: 312 yards
M1 3-wood: 282 yards
M1 5-wood: 267 yards
2-iron UDI: 261 yards
4-iron: 236 yards
5-iron: 225 yards
6-iron: 212 yards
7-iron: 200 yards
8-iron: 186 yards
9-iron: 172 yards
PW: 158 yards
What I would love to see is a comparison between the old clubs and modern clubs when miss- hitting the ball because I think the biggest advantage modern clubs provide is their forgiveness.