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Thursday
Nov162017

Bridgestone CEO: Standardize The Ball For Pros

We'll ignore all of the business motives momentarily and just take in the first-ever CEO suggestion of a tournament ball in golf.

The comment came during a Golf.com interview with Ryan Asselta where Bridgestone CEO Angel Ilagan said the time has come.

"As it relates to the Tour...there needs to be something to standardize [the ball] because the guys are hitting it way too long," Ilagen says.

This marks the first time the chief executive of a ball company has called for a dialed-back ball. 

And he offered this:

"I think there is an option to have a ball that is played on Tour, and a ball that is played casually," he said, adding that he gives a standardized ball a 50-50 chance of appearing on Tour in the near future.

There is the very reason possibility Bridgestone has made such a ball, perhaps even for the governing bodies to use in their studies and that it could be the basis for a competition ball concept.

That said, the standardized ball concept mentioned by Ilagan would not be relegated to one manufacturer, meaning brands with more market share and golfer loyalty would still be likely leaders in what sales there are for such a ball.

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Reader Comments (58)

Guess what folks, if there's official tournament ball, chances are, Titleist will be the manufacturer.
the ball is only a real issue when swing speeds hit 115mph - the fact that there is a significant additional benefit for those very fast wings is crazy and has spilt golf, a tournament ball would be great and could bring back some of the great courses into the mix
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterDJ21
That's a game-changer and a vote for bifurcation if ever I saw one. DJ21's point about the 115mph split is the nub of the matter.
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterIvan Morris
Yet another nail in the coffin of golf.

There is only one game - its golf and the ball should be the same for all - stop screwing with golf to make the Pro Game more entertaining, perhaps if courses were designed for golf we would see more skill and enjoy the game more.
All being done not for golf but to make the Pro game more appealing in other words it’s all about money not skill which is again not being promoted.

Proving yet again that so many just don’t get golf or understand it
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom Morris
Tom Morris,

Many times I don't understand you.
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterHardy Greaves
There's too much of a gap in what IIagan calls "Tour and casual." Sales to whom? Professionals won't be reaching for the checkbook. Tour level only doesn't cut it. What does the USGA mandate for its three Open events where both amateur and pro participate? Do they provide tournament spec balls free to amateurs? God knows they can afford it. What about the bulk its events for amateurs only? I wouldn't call those casual by any means.
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
@Hardy Greaves

We keep refusing to address the real issues destroying Golf - the refusal to control technology - result longer and longer courses which cost money. The refusal to address the ball, its flight and access to ALL i.e. we use the same ball no matter what the game maybe i.e. Championship, PGA or just a club match.

Redress of the ball by say 10% will still retains very long courses and 10% can be overcome by clubs/super smooth courses, so we need a rollback of some 30-40% _ I would like to see 40% with more design input to defeat the long ball. Something along the lines of fairway width bunkers low to the Tees while high to the Pin forcing the player to use skill to get to the flag rather that a wham bam thank you Mam shot. These style of bunkers would catch the unskilled shot forcing the golfer to plan his way to the Green.

I seek to see skill again being the way the game is played, removing all aids that have made golf boring to play and watch. Worst of all is this idea that golf courses should be super green and super smooth - this just aids the player and his ball with hazards being side lined.

Then it all depends on what it is you want to watch and play - for me its all about golf and the skill (no matter what level) of the Golfer. Start offering different equipment to each level and you start to destroy what we had that and made us want to play the game in the first place.
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom Morris
If limits on the COR and size of a driver head can be set by the USGA why cannot they simply set limits on the carry and spin of any ball when it is hit by a machine at an arbitrary speed, say somewhere between 120 and 130 mph?
And balls meeting those and any other USGA ball standards are "legal" for all golfers. Why something just for the pros?
Finally, someone with some common sense. Thank you sir.
11.17.2017 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
Tom, Tom, Tom, a roll back of 40 % is laughable! 300 yard drives would go 180. 150 yard 7 irons would go 90! A 6,000 yard golf course would effectively play 8,400 yards. This would require massive costs to build "forward tees" so players could hit a par 4 in regulation. Please check what you're smoking in your pipe.
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterSay what?
Strategic move there by the Bridgestone boss. There's no way that one manufacturer will be "the official tournament ball" but they'll all be rushing to be the "first" so weekend hackers can follow suit.
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJohn
This is just a clever marketing strategy - Bridgestone has no real interest in rolling back the golf ball. Calling attention to how technically advanced the new ball is just makes amateurs want to run out and buy it more.

Its an old trick that we all would recognize in an infomercial - "This ball is so good, it should be ILLEGAL!!!"
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMatt
I still don't get why this rollback is a good thing. So the long hitters that hit it 340 will only be able to hit it 300 but the guy that hits it 280 will be only be able to hit it 240. Instead of driver-wedge for a very few it will now be driver-7 iron but the short knocker will be hitting driver 3 iron. So this penalizes the short hitters but the long hitters will still have an advantage. All of this to make a very few "old classics" playable for the pros. Why is this a good thing if shorter hitters are now at an even bigger disadvantage? It all sounds good on paper and makes a good discussion but to me its is a fallacious argument.
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBill Wilson
Between the rapid technology improvements in clubs and shafts, this is going to have to happen. Hell, they reduced an 8000 yard Erin Hills to a muni.
The added benefit will be not having to put pins in corners, stimpmeters running at 14 and stopping play for a stiff breeze.
11.17.2017 | Unregistered Commenterjjshaka
Long hitters in 1980 averaged 265. The game was popular. Super long hitting hasn't made the game any more popular ,exciting or interesting. Has made it a lot more expensive though/
11.17.2017 | Unregistered Commenterchico
@Tom Morris... sir I have to say that your shtick is getting rather old and lame. It would seem to me that you would embrace this as a move in the right direction but instead you continue to whine like a child and preach to the rest of us like we don't know anything about the game. Although I will compliment you on keeping your response to Mr Greaves to 4 paragraphs. Normally when you tell one of us what we don't know about the game, its history or its future you're good for at least 6 paragraphs. So for that sir I thank you.

I for one am glad to see a leader of a ball manufacturer openly discuss this topic. And as I stated last week I like the idea of a tournament ball.
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
If the current ball isn't reigned in the game is doomed but if it is done across the board it will need to be by about 40%, which will affect amateurs (like me) too much - it will be like playing with a Cayman ball. It would be the end of golf for me. Would 'Tom Morris' be in favour of smaller less technologically advantaged driver heads for the pros? That would help somewhat but the low spinning, souped up golf ball is the big offender. I second what Chico said. Turn the clock back to 1980 - that would do me nicely But it is a shock to realise 1980 is half a lifetime ago.
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterIvan Morris
@Ivan Morris

The problem in the world today is the lack of future planning - everything is orientated around money and not much else. If we do things by half measures we threated the very things we enjoy. I believe we have to grasp the nettle firmly thus make plans that will survive more than just a few years.

The result of a 40% ball rollback including controlling technology, and overfriendly courses (so much loved by our American friends) will enhance the game, encouraging many to start playing golf. It’s not a single adjustment we need, we must develop golf course design to present the golfer with the hazards that require thought and skill to play - without this the ball rollback would not work.

By all means return to the 1980, but watch as not much will improve and soon we will see a trend back into what we have – it’s a question of thinking outside the box as well as understanding just what the game is about and more so the golf course design. We seem to have lost the sporty courses, we no longer have multi hazards, preferring to have as few as possible. And what about the backside of Greens, why have bunkers - why not allow the ball to travel - rear bunkers assist the poor shot.

I accept that my opinions are not shared, however using my knowledge from my research back to the early days of golf and golf course architecture - I have been able to draw on more information that those who just look back to Harry Colt, Dr A Mackenzie etc.

Distance does not define the game of golf, it never has because it is about orienteering using a ball - we have, it seem forgotten the very
basics. If you hit 170 yards, it can be as much fun as any other shot more so if it is a very sporting course.

Then, I suppose who gives a sh~t about golf - clearly not many these days otherwise they would not wear their ignorance so well upon their sleeve.
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom Morris
I honestly don't think any old style championship courses will ever be back in the mix. I play hickories with time period balls and hit it 280. With a restricted ball I bet DJ could still hit it 320.
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBernieinTampa
DJ21, false. There's no "bonus" once you hit 115 MPH. In fact, performance declines below a linear level.
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterErik J. Barzeski
Let's say 20%

160 yard 7 iron, now flies 128
250 yard drive, now flies 200

Now, business is NOT theme of golf, but golf courses need players and fees.

How many golfers realistically would be lost to this?

I've heard a lot of numbers, but what percentage of ACTUAL golfers, hits it too far, making their regular course obsolete?
We have 900+ members, in Southern CA and I teach at the club. we have 5, maybe 6 guys who COULD be considered crazy long (tour standard length). Pretty small percentage in a stupid sample size, but why are we changing the game for say..2%?
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterP Thomas
Geoff,

Why, and how, would Titleist retain its market share in a standard ball world?
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJS
P Thomas,

I play at a club with a little under 500 members and the number of players who I would consider crazy long, i.e. tour standard length, is easily 25 or more.
Keep things the way they are. I wanna see balls go far.
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterFC
" I play hickories with time period balls and hit it 280. "

That's really funny, thanks.
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterKPK
Maybe it's time just to higher the standards for a professional golfer.
You higher the bar and qualifications to become a pro golfer.
Your trying to stop progress. If that's the case go back to hickory sticks.
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterSidvicius
At some point, it may be reasonable to consider standardizing the courses the pros play rather than the equipment they use. The likelihood of a tournament ball is, in my view, considerably less than the 50-50 Angel Ilagan suggests. Resistance from the manufacturers, legal maneuvers, resistance from players, etc. make this unlikely. And it also seems obvious that some of the classic courses will be or already are at jeopardy or face the incredible expense and bother of major renovation. So maybe the future is with most play at Tour controlled/owned courses where setups, length, crowd management and the like are managed directly by the Tour.

I think it's naive to think the USGA/R&A and the manufacturers are going to fix this. So let them play at mostly TPC courses. The Masters? Those guys have enough money to figure it out for their course. The Old Course? Nice place, just not for the highest level of professional golf unless you can guarantee a 40mph wind each day. Please see Ross Fisher.

I'll await your withering blasts. Remember: I cry easily.
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPops
Omg. Make greens bumpy. Scores will go higher. Or better yet like I have said a million times. Golf architects are too blame for this.... design better short holes. Why are the so called classic courses best holes mostly on the shorter side?’ Why are you so dense on this? Ball go far so what?
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterV60
Pops, have you been taking Diggers' meds?
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterKPK
KPK, Digger won't share. I'm in negotiations with BernieinTampa for some of that stuff that he uses to hit hickories 280...
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPops
Would be interested to see the growth in PGA Tour purses versus the S&P500 since 1980. This might be an indication of whether or not golf has or hasn't gotten more popular as per chico's observations.
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBenchmarking
Nice Pops!!
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterKPK
V60.

It's nothing to do with the scores - you can manipulate them with silly fast greens and long grass. Nor is it about great short holes. Modern architects have built plenty of them. It's about the clubs they hit to formerly long 4s and the par 5s - and no one wants to see 540 yard par 4s and 670 yard par fives - which they were still hitting in two at the US Open.
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMike Clayton
@Chico and Ivan: Funny how everyone always thinks the ”golden period” happened exactly when they themselves were in their physical prime...
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
true Hawkeye!-though that's not really my point. (I actually hit the ball further now than I did in my "prime") People talk as if the game would be impossible without modern equipment but golfers still managed with smaller heads, wound balls a nd blades etc and lots of people played and enjoyed it! Purses in pro golf are no indication as to a game's popularity at grass roots level-all sports prize money has rocketed with tv money. I just don't think the game is any better for all the gazillions we have wasted on it-in fact as a viewing spectacle to me its much worse.
11.17.2017 | Unregistered Commenterchico
Never mentioned any golden period, Hawkeye. I will say this if I play with my 100-year old hickories and the modern ball I can hit it further (and play better golf including short game) better than if I play with my 21st century clubs and one of the gutty balls I happen to have in my collection.
11.17.2017 | Unregistered CommenterIvan Morris
North Texas Golfer
Must be a heck of a tough club to win a bet!!!

ok, so say 5%.

And that long still doesn't mean dismantling a course by all of them I'd assume?

I do understand the concern and need to reign in the ball speeds.....but like many issues, it gets out of hand, and over reactions can make it worse (unintended consequences)
11.18.2017 | Unregistered CommenterP Thomas
@Chico & Ivan: I should have ended my post with a “;)”, as I’m as guilty of the same thing - my frame of reference is a 200 CC metal head and a 384 Tour 100. I just don’t think that equipment technology is in any way responsible for the supposed decline in golf’s popularity. It’s multi-faceted - increased gender equality (not as acceptable to spend five or six hours away from home on weekends), changed consumer behaviour in the digital age, over-saturation of televised “product”, etc., are more likely factors IMO.
11.18.2017 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
@Hawkeye

What about boring easy courses that offer no real test to the player - they are designed to promote low scores, not golf - until we get our head around the fact that golf is 'sick' we will not be able to find a fix that works for all - and I mean ALL.
11.18.2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom Morris
Speaking from a recreational (and average player) POV, golf's decline has absolutely ZERO to do with the distance/technology increases. If anything, they should be expanding the popularity.

1. GPS/rangefinders...make game easier to play and faster (especially a gps watch).
2. Bigger clubs/hybrids/more forgiving irons...again make it easier to hit the ball.
3. Cheaper, softer balls...for 15, I can get a dozen balls that probably outperform the $40 balatas from the 80s.
4. Swing aids (like trackman)...aid in club fitting and teaching.

05, or maybe even 99%, of golfers in this country don't have a problem with courses being "too short"!

Why should the game be dictated by the top 1%?
11.18.2017 | Unregistered CommenterManku

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