I’ve had my say on this topic in a piece that I wrote yesterday (article is here) in the aftermath of the “key findings” of the distance report or project or whichever label that you want to apply to it. For the most part, the report was painfully obvious and nearly a joke. But I just wanted to write one more piece on this topic and then I hope that I will not discuss this issue again for some time.
But please allow me to shed a different light on this.
It’s really funny how so many sports can transcend each other. Golf has parallels with the casting motion of fly fishing. Golf has parallels with softball/slo-pitch and not from a swing mechanics point of view.
Back in the day when I played softball, it was at a time when baseball bats were getting away from aluminum and carbon composites were being employed. As this happened bat speeds got quicker and quicker. For pitchers, the game became dangerous because the exit speeds off of the bat were producing hits that made it tough to react in time to get your glove up and protect yourself (I was a pitcher). It actually got to the point where some of the softball bats were banned (Easton Synergy, Synergy+ and Miken Ultra to name a few). Over time, players started to “roll” and “shave” their softball bats and that made things even worse. It got to the point that the sanctioning bodies would have x-ray machines at major tournaments (Provincial and National Championships) checking to see if the bats were tampered with.
Eventually, the powers that be decided to roll the softball back. Instead of using a softball with a really hard core (Worth Red Dot) they switched to a slightly softer ball (Worth Grey Dot). It made things a little better but then some leagues adopted an even softer ball called a “RIF” (think of it as Local Rules for golf). The “RIF’ was a flight restricted softball that was often referred to as a “mush ball”. My league was one of them. Does this sound just a little familiar, golfers?
To protect the houses that backed onto the diamond there was a 30′ high mesh netting installed. The diamonds themselves were not “short porches” as they were 325′ down the lines. Think of MLB ballpark dimensions. Balls still routinely ended up in the backyards of the homeowners, balls bounced off of the roofs of the houses, and windows were still smashed.
Here comes the correlation as it relates to the distance report.
While there was the occasional player in the “D” and “Rec” Leagues that could still smash the ball out of the ballpark the majority could no longer do it. Meanwhile, the more elite players (“A” “B” and “C” players) were still routinely hitting homeruns into the homeowners’ respective yards. Sure the rec players had the same hardware (bats and balls) as the better players but they did not have the bat speeds of the upper echelon players. There were way more rec players than “A” players. Think of the “A” players as the “Top 1%”.
That’s exactly who the idea of rolling back golf equipment and/or the golf ball affects. The recreational player! Not the guys on the PGA TOUR, European Tour, Korn Ferry Tour, etc. Those guys, like the “A-ball” players, still have the speed and power to annihilate a rolled back golf ball. It won’t hurt them much but it will hurt the everyday golf consumer that buys the products and supports them and the manufacturers. It’s too late unless they’re going to go back to gutta-percha or dimple-less golf balls. Say, that would be fun, right?!
If the ball were to get rolled back, it would make it a little more important for golfers to play the right tees. But shouldn’t that already be a chief consideration before teeing it up on the first tee?
Until The Next Tee!!