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Saturday
Aug042012

The Firestone Driving Distances...

The return of the WGC-Bridgestone to Firestone traditionally brings some of the deepest, most satisfying naps of the year, but it was hard to doze off with the silly driving distances and goofy shot values brought on by the amazing surge of athleticism that has overtaken PGA Tour bodies this week.

I've been trying to figure out what it is it about the plethora of 350+ yarders and 220-yard 7-irons at Firestone this year that makes it all seem so much more offensive than normal. (Randall Mell had the post first round breakdown here and Bubba's crazy 351 yard average, while Jim McCabe wrote about how oddly the 667-yard 16th has been playing).

A few things make the 400-yard drives look even more ridiculous than ever.

--The players have recently returned from the Open Championship where a soft, constraining course kept the distances in check.

--We see what it looks like when they play a "properly" firm golf course for a change, reminding us how rarely the PGA Tour plays fast conditions.

--Even certain members of the CBS gang, who normally gobble this stuff up and let their associations with manufacturers cloud their better judgement, seem a bit shocked and not particularly smitten with the surge.

--All of this is set against the far more compelling Olympic Games, where you do not see sports so clearly out of whack due to a lack of synergy between the playing venue and the way in which the players play the game. In the Olympic sports where things did start to change either because of player athleticism or technological advancements--tennis, swimming, javelin, etc...--tweaks have been made to prevent the technology or power from overwhelming the element of skill. In other words, the contrast is a reminder that golf needs to get its house in order before its Olympic return or the sport will be a laughingstock.

Which reminds me, tennis tweaked its ball and swimming took those silly high-tech suits away from the swimmers. And yet somehow, they are chugging along just fine. Miracles do happen.

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Reader Comments (28)

I don't think golf will be a laughingstock because most people either

1) don't care
2) think 350 yard drives are cool

These people I refer to are those who aren't really involved with the game and rarely play.

Golf may be a laughingstock to those deeply involved in the game, such as yourself Geoff, but I think it's a little dramatic to say the game will be a laughingstock to all.
08.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBeagle
To be fair, it's also downhill and downwind, but yeah these distances are goofy.

Everyone always complains about firestone and it's true the holes tend to all look the same. But they offer players a variety of ways to play them. There's enough room off the tee to encourage driver, but the course can also bite if you are off, or out of position. It's sort of fun to see a tournament where players are all hitting different shots, and that has actually allowed for some separation.
08.4.2012 | Unregistered Commenterelf
How is the pace of play this week?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVaYvNC6Eto
08.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterD.
And still one of the shortest hitters on tour is leading. And getting 80 yds of roll seems controllable by the grounds crew. Goofy long for sure.
08.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterA3
"these distances are goofy"

I guess they are taking driver measurements on Hole #16...if so, then yes...goofy is the word...if you go out and see this hole it is unique/goofy...if you hit a going draw off the right bunkers and it catches the downslope...it will go and go and go down the hill forever...envision the 18th at Kanapali with big trees...yowsah!
08.4.2012 | Unregistered Commenterrb
Bubba hit Driver, 8-iron into the 648-yard 16th today. Oh but they drew a line in the sand nine years ago.
08.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
The 16th at the South course is a terrible hole to measure driving distance...totally downhill.
08.4.2012 | Unregistered Commenterrb
It is I believe 8 and 14 as the official distance holes (at least today), but there are distances given for every hole obviously
08.4.2012 | Unregistered Commenterelf
Why only 2 holes to measure distance on? Now that they have Shot-Link they should be able to measure it on every hole, shouldn't they?
S&T, they measure every hole. Only 2 holes are counted for the Total Driving stat but the details are there on every drive for anyone that wants to dig a little bit. Most don't want to do that. The reason they don't, is because if they consider all the stats/variables it's obvious that You Know Who is the best driver of the golf ball in the game amongst players of note.

But that really doesn't matter, because he's washed up and is unlikely to ever win again. Tim Clark like straight shooters who wield the long putter in maestro like fashion will dominate the game going forward -- You Know Who cannot compete with this new breed.
08.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
I was there and those uber long ones like 8 & 16 were downhill and downwind. But 8, its a nice test of skill as to get that extra long roll off the downslope, you have to hit the proper third of the fairway or you roll off.

I was on a place at 2, where I've stood for many years, and Bubba flew the ball some 50 feet over my head. Had to be 335 when it hit HIGH in mature trees. If you watch on TV, in between the 2nd and 3rd bunkers on 2 is about 290-300 off the tee (235 in uphill).

Bubba and Tiger hit their drives past the downslope on 8, (but still downhill) and carried them 340. You have hot humid air and that ball was FLYING.

Also, Geoff, love the site, my #1 golf site, but man, did your ex lady run off with somebody from Akron? You are very passive agressive in your b-tchiness re: this event. It's a good event. Don't have to be catty in every post on it. It's like 3-4 years now you bag on it.
08.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterStreaky Putter
first the usga let the ball get past them, then they began changing all their testing protocols, higher clubhead speeds, then they came out with their Statement of Principals/BS, then their Myth memo soon followed, and when none of that was convincing they began their new mantra: The athletes today are bigger and better physically trained, that's why players at the pro level are flying the ball 340 yards.

Personally, I find this hyperbol rhetoric insulting, and here's my reasoning.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-league/post/sebastian-janikowski-ties-nfls-longest-field-goal-record/2010/12/20/gIQA7DROSK_blog.html

If any sport has seen much bigger, faster, quicker, stronger athletes in the past 33 years it's NFL football players, yet the NFL field goal record set in 1970 still stands today, 33 years later. Let the Blue Blazers choke on their morning donuts when they do a bit of research of their own. When a sport (Football) controls its competition ball, preserves its integrity, then actual comparisons from players in the past can be made against current players. The usga has failed the sport miserably, it's sooooo embarrassing watching them continue on, making excuses after excuses and mickey mousing the courses up, it's pathetically sad.

usga, boy have they lost the lot.....
I have to kind of agree with Streaky Putter...I have history with Firestone...going back to the All American Golf Classic, the World Series of Golf, etc... I caddied at Firestone just after the RT Jones re-design...on #17, the pros would aim the drive way right into the rough to get an good angle into the green...no trees over there then in those days! ...they could avoid that nasty bunker in front. I have seen tour pros hit 3 woods into some of the par threes...in 1960, for the PGA Championship, they cut practice putting cups into the back of the tees so the pros could practice putt during the practice rounds while waiting to hit off the tee box...the pros whined to no end in 1960 about #16..."The Monster", as being an unfair hole...it did in Arnold Palmer that year..he was supposed to win th Grand Slam...I was there...it is a boring course by some standards...but I notice it is usually a top pro that wins at Firestone South...it's not "exciting"...but it's hard work! Don't come down too hard on it Shack...it was a great course before you were a pup.
08.4.2012 | Unregistered Commenterrb
"The usga has failed the sport miserably, it's sooooo embarrassing watching them continue on, making excuses after excuses and mickey mousing the courses up, it's pathetically sad."

I just got my USGA "renewal" notice in the mail...predictably, 3 months before it expires...I have serious doubs about renewing...the blue blazer crowd is wearing thin on me.
08.4.2012 | Unregistered Commenterrb
Mr. DTF fashioning himself an expert on stats?!?

When You Know Who isn't bunting it out with a 2-iron cheater club, he is dramatically wider that his competition. He currently ranks 107th on tour in terms of distance from the center of the fairway.

And, the driving stats that You Know Who is placing high in at the moment have been dominated over the last decade by players on their way back to the Nationwide tour or by unproductive journeymen.

Are we supposed to ignore this in order to conform to your Tiggly Wiggly fantasies?
08.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHole in Three
Hey all I said is that the WGC at Firestone provides some of the best naps of the year...that sounds like a compliment to me!
08.4.2012 | Registered CommenterGeoff
usga turned the game of golf into an industry...and now that industry is failing...
08.5.2012 | Unregistered Commentergreg c
My offer from the other day still stands, you game?
08.5.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
350+ average for the week, 220 yard 7irons, and hitting a 667 hole with a driver and a short iron.

Must be all the time Bubba's put in the gym since becoming a major champion and an adoptive father...no evidence of out of control technology...nothing to see here....it's the new training regimes being taught by trainers who've never broken 70 in their lives...snake shaking is all the rage y'know....yeah that's it!

Enjoy your view from under the beach USGA/R&A...
08.5.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
Yup, Tiger is 107th on that list at 25'10". Ernie is 151st at 27'1".

The Top 10 on that list are Curtis, Weekley, Christian, Harman, Ames, Overton, Westwood, Pampling, Slocum and Gainey. Are these the "unproductive journeymen" that you reference?
08.5.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
marshalling a number of junior events in Northern California, I have seen a handful of the kids hitting the ball well over 350 yards in high school (warm Norcal summer days help)...generally, they do not have the short game/mental game to break par consistently...but modern equipment + strong mechanics = length
08.5.2012 | Unregistered CommenterElyse
Deepest naps, love it
I think it's time to extend, at a minimum, provisional Young Gun status to Keegan Bradley. Only 2 months past his 26th birthday, 3 wins in his last 33 events including a tough regular event, the PGA Championship, and a World Golf Championship. The kid is long, a real competitor, and wields the long putter with aplomb. Nice work big fella.

Small club, Keegan and Webb the only guys under age-27 to attain status.
08.5.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
This is what golf has become. They'll never put the genie back in the bottle when it comes to distance. That's why I'm rooting for rainy, windy conditions at Kiawah this week. There should be a few weeks a year where playing different shots matter and where not every par 4 is a Drive and a Wedge.
08.5.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHilltop
And in case you missed it, Ben Kohles has jumped into the fray among players to keep an eye on. Ben is aged 22.

Mr. Kohles turned pro 2 weeks ago and promptly entered the Nationwide event on the Scarlet at Ohio State...kid shot 12-under and won in a playoff.

Today at the Nationwide event in Omaha he shot 62 for a total of 24-under, and another win.

2 pro events. 36-under par in the regulation 144 holes. 2 wins. Rockets to #2 on the Nationwide money list. One more win the kid goes straight to the PGA Tour! Awesome.

As an aside, the yahoo sports site still has everything bannered with Nationwide, no mention of web.com anywhere. Oddly, no Nationwide stats or results either.
08.5.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Hilltop, did you hear Keegan's comment when interviewed immediately after play (and prior to signing his card)?

He says...."this is only my second week with new Srixon Z-Something ball and it's taken me to a new level".

I kid you not.
08.5.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
DTF What is the maximum age allowed to be in the "young gun" category and please explain what you need to join the group? Major obviously seems to be prerequisite. What else?
08.5.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBig John
Heck John, what do you think is fair?

Personally I think 27 or younger, 4 years or less on tour. 1 real major (faux majors don't count) and at least a couple other quality wins. Or no majors and maybe 5-6 quality wins (think R. Fowler if he goes on a tear).

Your thoughts? I'm open to suggestion....!
08.5.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF

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