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Tiger: "We need to do something about the golf ball."

As we had heard previewed a few weeks ago, Tiger Woods appears on Coach Geno Auriemma’s second “Holding Court” podcast and he gets much more insight than the traditional Tiger television interview.

Woods opens up about everything from technology to fly fishing to how he pays his caddie. Huge props to Coach Auriemma for asking great questions (and knowing the game and Tiger), but also to Tiger for doing a podcast where the conversational atmosphere leads to better insights. More than any interview I can recall, you hear him go into the kind of depth that shows how smart he is and how much thought he gives to all subjects.

I most enjoyed his thoughts on technology and the ball. Transcribed here for proper documentation as I'm sure his support of any effort to create a tournament ball will be very important.

After talking about persimmon and the differences in spin and accuracy of contact for his generation and today's stars, Coach asks "if they had to play with persimmon and the old balata balls, would they still be able to do it?"

No. Because we were taught to knock off spin and the new balls don’t spin a whole hell of a lot. They go a lot further and a lot straighter but they don’t spin. Well, now these guys, let’s say Bubba Watson, who curves the ball a ton with these harder balls. If he played a balata it might be coming back at him. Like a complete boomerang.

Auriemma then asks if Tiger would be in favor of any equipment changes in the game right now?

The only thing I would say is that we need to do something about the golf ball. I just think it’s going too far because we’re having to build golf courses…if you want to have a championship venue, they’ve got to be 73, 7400 yards long and if the game keeps progressing the way it is with technology, I think that the 8,000 yard golf course is not too far away. And that’s pretty scary. We don’t have enough property to be designing these types of golf courses. And it just makes it so much more complicated.

Oh to have been there when one of Tiger's really cool routings was spoiled by having to get more yardage. Welcome to the architectural migraine maker!

Coach asks if there is "any consensus on tour of how, is there some feeling on tour among the guys?"

Some of the guys say yes. The USGA is already looking at it. They’re doing some research on what the world would look like if you rolled it back 10 percent, 15 percent and 20 percent…the game of golf is on the kind of, there’s a down cycle as far as participation. We don’t have a whole lot of new golfers coming into the game. We don’t have any sustainability in the game as well. So, with that being said, you don’t want to give up the amateurs from hitting the ball further and straighter. But with the tour pros you might want to roll the ball back. The talks we’ve had on tour with the Commissioner and our board is where is the line of demarcation. Do we have it at PGA Tour levels, do we have it at the Tour level, do we have it at the mini-tour level, so there is that debate as well. I don’t see it happening in the near future but at least there’s talks about it now.

Keep talking Tiger, you are helping to make it happen.

Auriemma then talks about the modifications made in auto racing to keep tracks safe and relevant. Tiger offers this Wimbledon analogy:

I think a good analogy, or good comparison would be tennis. Back in 2001, 2000, somewhere in there, Goran Ivanisevic served over 200 aces for the fortnight, since then they’ve rolled the ball back, more fuzzy, a little heavier so the ball doesn’t travel as fast. They did the same thing at the U.S. Open, and the Australian Open. So they’ve made alterations to the ball to accommodate the strength and the power of the equipment and the strings and the racket as well as the pure athleticism of the bigger servers. Well that’s the ball analogy with another sport so why can’t we do the same thing with another ball sport, golf, and slow it down just a little bit.



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Reader Comments (24)

This actually is classic Tiger. He opens the curtain a little to show something he’s never shown, and actually puts out zero—nothing—that hasn’t been said before. And commentatorsutterly cowed, praises him for illumination he doesn’t really provide.
— Ball rollback for pros, but not amateurs? It’s been said, many times.
— Modern ball spins less? Some revelation.
— Courses are being rendered obsolete, and lengthening them is an issue? Captain obvious.
— They rolled the ball back in tennis? We know that. We KNOW that.
If there is one thing he says that isn’t strictly repeating points that have been made ad nauseum...what did I miss?
Bottom line, it was very “thoughtful”—for Tiger Woods. It’s the hope he might, just maybe, say something more, is more than enough to keep the sycophants throwing flowe petals at his feet..
11.3.2017 | Unregistered CommenterSea Hag
Ahhh, Tiger is entering the statesman phase of his career. He's now a "keeper of the game", even throwing in classical terms such as fortnight to sound high minded. Where was he on the ball question when he had game? Just like Jack, Arnie, Shark, etc, they call for a ball rollback when they can no longer compete against guys who blow it right past them. Tell us more uncle Tiger, please.
11.3.2017 | Unregistered Commenterjimbo
Sea Hag:

I assume you didn’t listen to the podcast? Because if you had, you would have seen there was a whole bunch of insight that Tiger has never shared with conventional media. Like for example, the mistakes that President’s Cup players were playing on the 10th hole by not teeing up on the right side of the box to give them a better angle, or how he pays his caddie, or that his short game was good when he was good not necessarily because of his short game, but rather because he was a good enough ball striker to always miss on the correct side to give himself an easier short, or for example his views on who the best ball strikers were in his day and now, and so on. I have listened to countless boring and meaningless drivel from Tiger in his press conferences, and this was miles different. Too bad it’s come so late.
11.3.2017 | Unregistered CommenterSari
@Sari - Very good take. Tiger has stated over the years that the ball goes too far. IIRC Geoff has posted about it in the past. Many just post the same old criticisms over and over about Tiger. Likely to make themselves feel better.
11.3.2017 | Unregistered CommenterOWGR Fan
The ball has to be changed – also it must be the same ball for all or we start to split the game.

We need to think 'outside the box', it’s not just ball roll back but a new ball that allows course design to reduce the length of golf courses while offering a sustainability with the equipment and the limited lengths of the course.

For too long the aerial game has for the last 80 years plus been undermining the game of golf. It has seen off many hazards in the pursuit for distance - but why, in the end its not down to skill which IS all about golf, but being macho, of prick size, of being a Man's man - all in fact alien to the game of golf.

Small courses will encourage more hazards thus promoting the development of skill and may, just may reinvent the game to the youth who feel golf is all about being rich and so the reserve of the rich.

What surprises me most of all is the likes of the R&A who seem unable to see the damage done by allowing the ball (and equipment) to keep extending the length of the game to the point that is has become boring, mainly due to the lack of skill. Add to that today’s players insistence of have super smooth very green fairways and Greens and you just about eliminate skill altogether.

The problem is that not many have studied the game, the thoughts behind the game, its courses or the future. Many just look to money and today, and to Hell if its destroys great courses in the process. However, with the closure of more and more clubs/courses due to costs, the penny is starting to drop that golf can't afford long courses and must get to grips with its costings and I would add those relating to its construction, which seems to be expanding faster than the course or players can afford.

We need to think, because the game, designs and courses over the last 50 years have really not cut it. They have for the most part rendered the game of golf infertile, for numbers playing are falling and look set to continue to decrease at alarming rates.

It just takes a little thought, to put the game first instead of your pricks, money or egos. In truth, I do not think we can, I do not think there is any clear understand of the problems facing golf today, because so many don't understand where it is the game has come from and why it was played.

It’s like a Professor trying to teach a class, but his studies have only gone back 50 years - he is passing on very little of real substance because he does not realise his own shortcomings.
11.3.2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom Morris
I say , let them build longer course for the pros. That's what they do ! If you can hit it far you might want to change clubs to keep it in the fairway.
Yes;we do have the land if someone is willing to pay for it.
Equipment wise , we came this far why change now. Build what you can ,it will be all weeded out.
For the average person / customer, it's cost cost cost !
Depending where you are at in this country you have seen some small price drop but not much. A set of new clubs are still expensive
The clothes now are outrageous.
Few more things to think about, I really don't care that the course was built by so in so or the pros play here every other year or some major star has their fundraiser here, big deal.
Here in the Chicagoland area I ask a course owner why he hasn't dropped he price because he was complaining. His answer was , hey I haven't raise it since 2007. So my response was if you made it through all those years , were you over charging prior to 2007.
11.3.2017 | Unregistered CommenterSidvicius
Didn't Arnie and Jack point this out years ago. Now that it affects the "great" drama Queen, Tiger. it is big news. Will finish in bottom 10 at the Hero's (all because of the ball).
11.3.2017 | Unregistered Commentertourimage
A fortnight? Standford dropouts using olde english!
11.3.2017 | Unregistered CommenterAmen Coroner
Good interview. Worth listening.
11.3.2017 | Unregistered CommenterDon
Forget the ball. Limit the pros. to six clubs and a putter. Most of us only use that many anyway.
11.3.2017 | Unregistered Commenterhornblower
Good stuff from Eldrick.
Interesting how some classic courses have pretty much been immune to advances in ball technology. Riviera always comes to mind. It's a study in design genius (or luck?). If they grew the rough up there, it would be a true US Open venue. Augusta has kind of been the opposite. Rough, length, etc all added. It's still Agusta but it's been tweaked a lot because of equipment in my view.
Other thoughts:
Baseball has pulled a bizarro golf/tennis with its ball
Tiger says he's hitting it long, can't wait until Hero, all these other dudes are cool & all but Tiger has panache..Norman had it, not many guys do & it's fun to watch
11.3.2017 | Unregistered CommenterYMCA
I'd like to know what is so exciting about Tiger offering up insight, on anything, at this stage of his life? it's a no-brainer. He was a dick the entire time he was playing at his peak and a good portion of the slide down the other side. The business of golf went along for the ride and pretty much didn't care. Not to say all involved wouldn't have been better off if he had been more congenial. Think what you may about his poor life decisions away from the golf course, up to and including the DUI incident. The golf community didn't abandon him. In fact the current wave of players made him one of the guys. Only a dunce with a OWGR of 1180 would believe they can still act the dick, be in the business of golf and not offer something relevant to the conversation.
11.4.2017 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
Good to see Tiger talking sense.
Amazing the USGA has to "study it" again.
Really simple issue.
Really simple solution.
Other sports control the scale of their game.
The $$ conflicts of interest are the only reason it's been allowed to continue.
Good on Tiger,,Good on Jack ,Good on Gary Player.
Finally this conversation is taking place.

In other news Greg Norman is introducing a cart experience.....
Scary when Tiger is the voice of reason.
11.4.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Warne
I always said that the reason Tiger never opened up to the media was because he was burned by the GQ article where he said a couple of "off color" jokes that he assumed were off the record. This format was unedited and he trusted that Gene was not playing "gotcha journalism" that is prevalent with "traditional" media hacks.
11.4.2017 | Unregistered CommenterConvert
@Convert... glad to know that it was the GQ article that made him into suck a jerk when It came to the media and public in general. I assumed that he was just a jerk period. I'm so glad for him that he has something other than himself to blame it on. I knew it couldn't be him he's so perfect in every other way.
11.4.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
Jupiter, in which issue of GQ were you profiled?
11.4.2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
What he said was true, you'll have to have a 8200 yard course in a few years to take wedges out of these guys hands, the added costs are tremendous and add the extra time to walk a course that long, most amateurs don't have time to walk a 5 hour plus round.
I haven't lost any distance at all as I grow older and less fit, the ball is juiced big time.
11.4.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBogey
Hero odds.

I'll take Rose.
11.4.2017 | Unregistered CommenterFC
So, the guy that played the shortest, spinniest ball wants everyone to play a shorter ball possibly??

Screw it, roll the damned equipment back 20% and wait for the hand wringing articles about the USGA and golf going the way of the Dodo At least Melvyn and Geoff could play together
11.4.2017 | Unregistered CommenterP Thomas
Geno, the UConn coach has a podcast and lands TW...

Wonder what the salary for Joe is, include a % and bonus? Joe must have been getting paid in this time off to hang or otherwise he's near retirement or doesn't need the cash because he could've landed one of the young studs and be making a fortune. Or he's losing his marbles if he's holding on to TW thinking he's going to win 4x year again.
11.4.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPaul
@P Thomas

I am not surprised by your comment - - it show just how much you understand about the game - To think of all the years you have put into the game, yet today you are more ignorant of what golf is all about, that when you started.

Shame really, because you have missed the real magic of what Golf is all about - then you don't really care, because had you, you would have discovered what it is we are talking about.

So Sorry for your loss.
11.5.2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom Morris
Jupiter, I never said that the GQ article made TW a jerk. If you read my post again, slowly this time, I said that the GQ article was the reason he never opened up to the media. His was burned by a gotcha journalist and decided not to let it happen again, Not a commentary on any other aspect of Tiger's personality. Would have happened sooner or later, gotcha journalism is the norm.
11.5.2017 | Unregistered CommenterConvert
Tennis has a shared ball. Golf does not.
11.5.2017 | Unregistered CommenterErik J. Barzeski

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