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Ogilvy Talks Rollback: "Seems Like It's Going To Happen"

Geoff Ogilvy was in fine form on many topics in his pre-Emirates Australian Open press conference, but it was his commentary on distance that earned the most social media buzz.

His comments on that come at the 15:50 mark in response to a question from Mark Hayes. Ogilvy believes a "rollback" can be achieved in a way that slows down distance for his ilk, while not harming the recreational golfer. But he concedes that should bifurcation of the rules be the only way, then "it's the way we need to go."

He goes on to discuss how this is a complicated thing but that based on the players, manufacturers and influencers talking, that a rollback of some kind "seems like it’s going to happen."

Ogilvy's stances is to take action "purely so we don’t have to change our stadiums," noting that when he started playing major events 300 yards "was a massive hit" and is now "legitimately short. Mostly, he reiterates how the distance gains have "changed the way we play the great courses" and how it has made "Augusta not function" as it was intended, reminding us that "Brooks Koepka didn’t hit more than 7-iron on the longest course in history" when winning the 2017 U.S. Open.

But he also--Wally take note--points out the opportunity in this for manufacturers to sell more product and solidify their market position by making a great ball under specs different than the current rules. Though as he notes, "the implementation is going to be interesting."

Ogilvy was also asked about Brandel Chamblee's assertion this week that 8,500 yard courses are a must in golf to properly test today's players with strategic decisions (he still has not outlined who will pay for this expansion of major venues). Ogilvy agree that is the yardage to test players, but no with the idea of changing courses to fit today's player and equipment.

The full pre-Australian Open interview:

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Reader Comments (33)

Geoff Ogilvy has offered a range of comments on a myriad of topics, randomly fired at him in a half hour press conference following his practice round. Brandel has had loads of time to craft a single comment supportive of Wally's preposterous, self-serving and misguided assertions. I like Brandel, and not many people beat him 10 & 8 but Ogilvy didn't need the 11th tee on this occasion. Anyone incapable of accepting Geoff's view on the ball and the pro game needs real help.
11.22.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMatthewM
Brandel Chamblee's assertion this week that 8,500 yard courses are a must in golf

Read the exchanges in the link. Nothing will change BC's opinion even logic from GS.
The comment "Brooks Koepka didn’t hit more than 7-iron" should now stop any further discussion about fewer clubs (less than 14) being an equipment change.

Happy Thanksgiving
11.23.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMattS

Love the last sentence in your post. At the very least, they simply need to open their eyes and then they wouldn't need help.
For openers, I'm firmly in the roll-back camp. However, when taking said position one should understand how little it has to do with the reality of the situation. We're nothing but static and peripheral noise to the mechanism that has the power to rein in the ball. It's one of but not THE main reason golf is hurting. Matthew, what do you expect from the "self-serving" Wally? Unless I've missed it, did he ever say the duty of Titleist is to protect the game? His responsibility begins and ends with the health of the company and its employees. The product complies with the governing spec. The faux stance by Bridgestone might seem noble to those unfamiliar with sleight of hand; keep your eye on this ball while we're making the other one. Yeah, they'll do IF the governing bodies mandate it. And so will Titleist. Architects are in a similar situation. Although they moan & groan about the game being destroyed by length, have sympathy for the bottom of the pile, namely course operators taking the brunt in participation decline, modifications and the cost of maintaining, they never say no to a lengthening project or relocating bunkers as a principled stance based on their convictions. Why should they when the somebody is standing there with check in hand and the objective is to stay in business?

Ogilvy is correct in that bifurcation may be the only way. That said, IMO a game with two different balls does nothing but degrade its integrity. The result of a shortsighted USGA and R&A, refusing to drop trou, show some and protect golf's integrity at a time when the popularity of golf was at its peak. Instead it was never rock the distance boat when people are diggin' it. It's like they were unable to comprehend the long would still be longer than most and the lemmings would never have known otherwise if they weren't being bombarded with distance numbers to float the sales boat. The talking heads on televised golf will have to change their whole shtick: "Dan, remember when DJ used to drive it 340-360 on this hole before bifurcation? I do but I'll take this moment to remind our viewers they can still purchase that ball at their local retailer or club pro shop." Segue to Titleist or Callaway commercial.
11.23.2017 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
I do not understand all the hand wringing over bifurcation. It already exists with grooves and agronomy. I went to Phoenix CC for the final round of the SC and watched Freddie and Kelly shoot 62-65. That is 15 under. One of my golf friends is a member there and played it a week before the event. He had 24 putts on the front 9. Why? The greens were entirely different speed than usual. The fairway cut was the same as the fringe and the first cut was lower than the fairways I play. The bunker sand is different and more consistent. The only thing the same is the hole size. They only watered the greens so they would accept shots.
Their ball needs more spin so better shots stand out from average ones and great drives mean more because the poor ones are in the trees. The current balls are gyroscopic and should not be allowed. Until fear returns to the game for the best players it isn't very interesting.
11.23.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMunihack
I hope they go further than just the ball.

Max 270cc clubhead size
12 club limit
Lofts <60deg
Uniform Tournament ball
Shot Clocks
Ball boys to mark balls when they stop on the green (that’s for the backstopping issue Geoff passes a kitten over)

...and range more yardage books. Paper is passé.
11.23.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJohnnnycz
MLB has wood bats.

Every other form has aluminum/composite.

In a game that values it's tradition and history as much as golf, no one cares about this "bifurcation".

Anyone who thinks a pro and a 15 handicapper have remotely similar "games" is a fool.

The scratch players at private courses can buy the "tour" balls if it makes them happy.
11.23.2017 | Unregistered CommenterManku
if the ball flies too long and I make the courses longer everytime, am I not making this problem even greater?
Take the advantage out of the ball by playing shorter holes, smarter holes, more difficult holes

Making a golf course harder should never mean making it longer...

Longer just means longer, not difficult. Difficulty and Smart architecture is the way!
11.23.2017 | Unregistered CommenterCalamity Borja
@Calamity Borja

Smart design may well confuse many designers and players alike - for that is what has been missing from today's game. But the issues comes down from the top as the R&A have not been very smart for well over a century.

Rollback will work is we can again have designs for golf course and not players - by that I mean sporty courses with a wide range of hazards to combat the long shots.

Its will not happen - smart has gone the way of penal and it might stop over 50 % of todays players ever setting foot on a golf course again.
11.23.2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom Morris
How do manufacturers “make more money” by selling a boutique golf ball for .01% of the golf population?
Good thinker, dumb point.
11.23.2017 | Unregistered CommenterDoctor
We are not going to roll back equipment...stop with this falsity. But....if they wanted to....just make the pro's play surylen covered balls. Non urethane balls.
11.23.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarmooskapaul
Today during the Australian Open broadcast Mike Clayton called out Goeff Ogilvey for providing a backstop for Jason Day as a result of Jeoff not marking his ball on the putting green while Day was chipping.

Is this cheating?
A question that should have been asked to Mr. Ogilvy -

Geoff if the ball is going so far and the professional game has become so easy as many of the sky is falling distance crowd claims it to be why then do you and many of your touring brethern have so much trouble shooting enough low scores and earning enough money to stay exempt?

@Marmooskapaul ..... Do you really think having touring professionals playing a surlyn covered ball would make professional golf more difficult? If so I offer exhibit A as why it would not matter. In 1998 at the Hawaiian Open John Huston shot a then record score of 28 under par playing a 2 piece surlyn covered Maxfli golf ball. A record that had stood for 53 years. The Maxfli XS Tour to be exact. And BTW Huston shot a 61 @ The 1996 Memorial. The golf balls today are galaxies better. Professional golfers still struggle mightily with all of the souped up drivers, strong lofted irons and golf balls of today. Why is that?
11.23.2017 | Unregistered CommenterOWGR Fan

Geoff is struggling to retain a card because he's playing poorly, and there are 300 guys trying to get into the Top 125. The uniform distance standard that applies to the balls all players use is irrelevant. And you know that distance the ball travels is not proportionally related to ease of play. The first part of your response above is one of the more astounding comments on the pro ball issue I've ever read, and certainly well below what many here would expect from you.
11.24.2017 | Unregistered CommenterHope Hicks
A question for anyone that can answer it - Why is a tournament with a 102 years of history scheduled on a date that coincides with the ET Hong Kong Open? Spieth's $1MM appearance fee is larger than the Australian open purse, winners share in Hong Kong $396,000.

And what happened to Craig Parry? I have him for 280 and I'm not talking about his potential 4-round total. Still have a vivid memory of him holing out (6-iron?) at Doral in 2004 to win the playoff. One of the better shots I've ever witnessed.
11.24.2017 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
D mal, the Australian Tour, if you can call it that, seems in disarray. Their scheduling has been terrible for years. They are stuck in no man's land, with no co sanctioning from Europe, Asia or the US. A tight domestic schedule of other sports locally (horse racing, cricket, motorsport and others) admittedly doesn't help them. And, Craig Parry has been morbidly obese for some time.
11.24.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMatthewM
It is disappointing that Australian Open is not held in higher regard like it used to be by some of the great players in the game.

Whilst Adam Scott has been a wonderful ambassador for the game here, it is disappointing he is not here for the Open. Also, Marc Leishman needs to mend fences with Golf Australia and play.

By the way, total prize money is $1.25 million, not less than Jordan’s appearance fee. The reality is we need to pay apprearance money to get overseas stars here, especially Americans whom largely do not acknowledge there is a world of golf beyond their shores.
11.24.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJustin
@Justin what was the reason for Adam Scott not being in attendance? Are he and Leishman crossed up with Golf Australia in some way?
11.24.2017 | Unregistered CommenterB. Franklin
@Hope Hicks - I'm sorry I posted the truth. Care to point out what I posted was actually and/or factually incorrect? Not your opinion but actual facts.
11.24.2017 | Unregistered CommenterOWGR Fan
rumour is Day is getting $1m to play as well and Scott was offered nothing which is why he didn't show - disgusting if true, Adam has been great for Aus Golf and Day has not pulled his weight imo
11.25.2017 | Unregistered CommenterDJ21
Thanks, Justin. I read the purse was AUD $1.25 MM. However, Jordan's "stipend" of $1 MM was given in USD at a conversion rate of .7615.
11.25.2017 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
Thanks @DJ21.

What's more galling, having to pay Jordan Spieth to show up and play? Or having to pay Jason Day to show up and play?
11.25.2017 | Unregistered CommenterB. Franklin
Agree with him or not... Chamblee's 8000+ yardage POV proves out. I don't know how far back in time he goes to suggest "an equivalent test" a course needs to be 8500 yds... but the data suggests from 1980-2017 courses (on the pro level) today should be just shy of 8000 to be equivalent length test to 1980... that's AVERAGE... some could be 7500 others 8500.

Consider this comparison of REAL data from 1980 to 2017


257 yds - 1980 Tour average distance (measured drives from PGAT stats)
274 yds - 1980 Tour long Dan Pohl

293 yds - 2017 Tour average distance
317 yds - 2017 Tour long Rory McIlroy

14.1% = increase in distance average player
15.7% = increase in distance longest player


6941 yds = Average yardage for 31 Tour courses with listed yardage from 1980 (from PGAT tournament data, 14 of the 45 courses did not have listed yardage)

7273 yds = Average yardage for 47 Tour courses in 2017 (I have yds for all)

297 yds = increase in average course yardage from 1980-2017

7912 yds = Average yardage current courses would need to be to be the "same distance test" as it was in 1980 (using the 14% further players are hitting it today).

971 yds = increase course yardage "should be" today to be 1980 equivalent.

- - - - -

One thing that the above doesn't take into account... if you modify an existing 1980's par-4 up 14% from 420 yards to the 480 yards it would need to be today, then you are actually making the hole HARDER than it was in 1980. That is unless you widen fairways by 14% as well. A constant 25 yd wide fairway at 300 yds is "effectively" 15% narrower than the same FW at 260 yards... Same goes for greens, bunkers, etc... to be truly "equivalent"... they would need to expand as well.
11.25.2017 | Unregistered CommenterRobopz
@D.maculata... I don't know why bifurcation is such a "dirty word" either.

But I'm not sure the suggestion of the use of a USGA/R&A approved "tournament ball" is bifurcation anyway. There is already an Appendix I - Local Rules: Conditions of Competition in the rule book. These are "options" that committees (or Tours in this case) are allowed to incorporate for specific competitions. So if an option allowing a "tournament ball that meets x specification" is added to that section, it's not really bifurcation, is it?

Interesting though... at the very least the PGA Tour, Euro Tour and even the USGA actually "bifurcates" one on of the local rules now.

In section 3A of the Appendix 1, There is an embedded ball relief through the green option... It states: "Course conditions, including mud and extreme wetness, may interfere with proper playing of the game and warrant relief for an embedded ball anywhere through the green."

But the PGAT, ET and even the USGA (via hard card) bifurcates this rule by allowing committees to implement embedded ball relief through the green ALL the time. There is NOTHING in the rule as written that allows for ALL the time... it's supposed to be used ONLY when "... Course conditions, including mud and extreme wetness, may interfere with proper playing of the game...". I see nothing about playing say Bay Hill in normal dry tournament conditions as "interfering with the proper playing of the game". Yet the embedded ball through the green rule is in effect in every single PGAT tournament. (Open Championship it is NOT used)
11.25.2017 | Unregistered CommenterRobopz
It is beyond belief if Day has demanded appearance money to play in our national Open.

Surely not?
11.25.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJustin
If Spieth gets paid to fly from Dallas to play then is it unreasonable for Day to expect the same consideration before flying over from Columbus?
11.25.2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
Yes. Golf Australia paid it forward on Jason's behalf and now he needs to return the favor.
11.25.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJordan
The history of Aussies getting paid to play in the homeland is pretty deep.
Not all, but pretty darned deep
11.25.2017 | Unregistered CommenterP Thomas
He'll no doubt return for free in future years, given his apparent deep yearning to win this title, and the sting he'll feel from missing out this year.
11.26.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMatthewM
It shows how naive I am to think that some of Australia's richest sporting types could give a couple of weeks of their time to visit home and support the game, particularly when they don't really have any other major tournaments to play at this time of the year.

Both Day and Scott do not have to be playing the wraparound to ensure they can keep their cards and they should be back here for nothing more than expenses, acknowledging that with their riches comes a responsibility to be a custodian of the sport on these shores.
11.26.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJustin
Spot on Justin.
11.26.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJordan
@Justin +1
11.27.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter

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