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Monday
Nov062017

Veteran Looper Explains How A Masters Ball Could Work

When we talk bifurcation and a Masters ball, incredulous golfers always ask, "but how could it ever work?" This, despite living in a country that put men on the moon nearly five decades ago and solving to all but the most basic problems.

Nonetheless, I understand the concerns with multiple manufacturers and the propensity for cheating in today's sports. So I give you John Wood, caddie for Matt Kuchar, keen observer of the game and regular contributor to Golf.com's weekly roundtable.

The gang was kicking around Tiger's distance comments and as most of us bifurcation talkers are prone to do, looked toward Augusta, Georgia for guidance. Here's how Wood thinks it would work:

I’ve been saying this about Augusta for years. "Gentleman, you are cordially invited to participate in the Masters Invitational for the year ____. Under a new Invitational requirement, we have forwarded our specifications for a legal golf ball for our tournament to your equipment companies. Should they like to design a ball for you under these specifications, we would be more than pleased for you to play it. If they choose not to, we will provide you with three options of a ball meeting our requirements. One will launch high, one will launch low, and one will launch in the middle of those two. We wish you the best of luck." The long ball, for lack of a better word, is sexy...to the USGA, to the R&A, to the PGA Tour...and to be honest, it sells tickets, so they aren’t about to do anything about it. Last year, the statistics say the driving distance leader on the PGA Tour averaged 317 yards. That sounds out of control. But anyone who has spent any time at all out here knows that, weather depending, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau and countless others hit their driver 330-plus every time they bring it out of the bag. That’s the truth that statistics don’t show. When Tiger was one of the longest on Tour, averaging around 300 yards per drive, he was way out front, AND he was using a 43-inch steel-shafted driver and what was known to be one of the softest and spinniest balls on Tour. So, yes, hopefully Tiger’s words now will have some impact on the future.

I just hope we can buy them in the shop to show the doubting manufacturers that there can be other markets besides longer and straighter. Some people actually want to play courses as they were meant to be played.

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Reader Comments (25)

Excellent.
The Masters can show that it can be done.
Then they can deliver some boxes of balls to St Andrews so that the par is 72 instead of 6? on a still day. And breaking 70 very hard on a windy day.

"The long ball, for lack of a better word, is sexy...to the USGA, to the R&A, to the PGA Tour...and ..."
Having watched many mens and womens tournaments live, I disagree. It's hard to tell how far a ball has gone and live you don't know what club the pro is using just where it goes.
The ball should float. Dr. Alister Mackenzie, The Spirit of St. Andrews.
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterGraeme Hancock
Clubs should sink. Try dropping your metal wood in a pond.
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPABoy
Interesting that Tiger was fine with the ball when he outdrove everyone by 30 yards. Now, as an average length hitter on tour, he wants the ball distance rolled back.
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterTL
Would love for someone to post what the average carry distances are on Tour and how those have changed over the years, kind of sick of reading about total length.

My wife and I had the privilege of spending two practice rounds at the Players this year. IMO the conditioning of these courses has just as much to do with the ball. Who cares about a 400 yard drive at....Firestone for example, when you know the fairways are as hard as concrete. At the Players, the 16th fairway is so hard and the grass is so short you can legitimately slip on it if you're walking on an angle.

So, I'd really love to know how the average carry distance has progressed over the years. I'm sure its gone up, not going to argue that. But this idea that everyone flies it 300 is absurd.

And I'm glad Geoff is still waving people off his lawn but for the 99.99999% of golfers that still aren't all that great, we're not buying a ball that actually flies LESS. Sorry, we're not. I'm sure some posters here would, I'm sure some on golf message boards would. But do you think the general public is going to go into their pro shop and say oh yeah, I've been driving it too well lately, give me the ball that flies less. No. A select few will, most will not.
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMC
TL:

Tiger was advocating a roll back of the ball as far back as 2005, as one of Geoff’s other posts pointed out. In 2005, of course, he was #2 in driving distance. Plus, a roll back would still give an advantage to the longer hitters.
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterSari
MC: I’m with you. That’s why there should be bifurcation.
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterSari
A real purdy letter. Whether it's a wet or dry dream is yet to be determined. So lets fire a few pretend questions at new chairman, Fred Ridley.

Regarding the recent land purchase deal with ACC, does it represent a Plan B if nothing is done to reduce the distance of the current ball?

Have conversations taken place with the Big 4 ball manufactures and if so, are they: 1) Amenable to producing a reduced distance ball that conflicts with their #1 sales message? 2) Are they at all concerned about saving the Masters from itself or do they really care as long as it sells balls and ANGC picks up the tab for the R&D? 3) Will ANGC be prepared to foot the entire cost to retain a second-tier ball manufacturer to produce said ball should the Big 4 say no?

Given your previous connection to the USGA and its association with the R&A, are there any misgivings within the ranks in taking the lead on reducing distance since the governing bodies refused to address it in the presence of facts?

In your heart of hearts, do you believe the USGA and R&A will view it as: a) A noble endeavor to save the game from itself or b) Usurping their authority?

One final question before we let you go back to planning the 2018 tournament, Fred. In the event ANGC decides to proceed with mandating a Masters Tournament Ball, in the interest of ratings do you plan on running selected old tournament footage 24/7 on the website as an informative service for millennials to illustrate what creative golf shots looked like?
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
Great post @MC.

When all of the balls conform and are shorter I'll buy them. Until then I'm sure not showing up on Saturday mornings knowing that I've chosen a ball that, by design, will put me at a disadvantage against my buddies. Who would do that?

And lots of people mentioned tennis and few other sports in a similar post a few days ago but no one mentioned the fact that baseball doesn't allow aluminum bats at their highest levels. I think they should do away with them at the college level as well; for safety and to better prepare the players for the next level.

Let us play whatever balls we want as weekend warriors but the Tour should be able to dictate what balls are used at their events. Let's face it... they just don't want to.
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
The challenge with an ANGC ball is it would be a one event piece of equipment. This would be like Wimbledon having its own tennis ball. Sadly due the the governing bodies being out thought and out engineered this is what pro golf has become- a plea from caddies to a private club to step up and intervene so the balance of skills in the game can return to what it once was. When the Vegas event scores resemble a major due to wind and the majors resemble Vegas due to a lack of wind the issue is more apparent. A lot of the players score better than their talent should allow. Add the cheat sheets they are given on the course and greens and someone always goes low. Long term it just becomes monotony not worth watching.
11.7.2017 | Unregistered Commentermunihack
Had that conversation 25 years ago
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJim Lipe
I bet Dean Snell would work on a contract basis to construct a prototype ball for the folks at the Masters if so requested. He, Vice, and a number of other smaller "artisanal" ball manufacturers would likely be happy to supply the base ball.
11.7.2017 | Unregistered Commenterheavenwood
How about growing the fairways up a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of an inch more so these guys aren't getting 40-50 yards of roll on every drive? The fairways at Augusta are like runways. So, you want to have shaved down, hard as rock fairways....but you want the guys hitting the ball shorter and hitting longer irons into the greens to "protect the course".

Can you have ultra hard and fast fairways and at the same time complain that the ball goes too far? I don't know. Can you really have both?

I honestly don't know. Serious question.

But I don't think any company is going to want to give away free millions and millions in R+D for this "new ball". I just don't see it. Companies use the tour as a way to market equipment to the public but for a specific product like this, I really don't see it. Only thing I could see is Augusta or whoever buying cores from a company that's already made them - IE range balls, some cheapo two piece ball etc. Just don't see any company signing on for this if there's no backend for them.
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMC
How great would it be for all the golfers to roll into ANGC in 2022 and see a giant tub of one specific type of golf ball with the Masters logo and numbers and be told "These are your golf balls for the week...enjoy"!
11.7.2017 | Unregistered Commenterjjshaka
Just call Costco and pre-order all K-Sig's and give to all.

The 2018 Masters sponsored by Costco has a nice ring to it yeah?
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrandon
Jupiter-
In 2011 college baseball legislated a change in the aluminum (reduced COR) bat to make it perform similar to a wooden bat, and batting stats went down pretty much across the board.
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterWJ
Over it all. Not interested.
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterThebigdad
@Graeme Hancock

The Ball did float - there is a pictures and letters on the subject. One picture showing Sir Guy Campbell playing the floating ball from the 9thApril 1921.
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom Morris
@WJ -

Nice!

@Jupiter -

The aluminum bat comparison has been brought forth many times on here ... at least a couple by myself. ;)
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterConfused
@Confused... sorry about that I must have missed your post(s). Been a little busy lately & not getting on here as often as I'd like to.

The aluminum bat comparison seems to be a good one. And why not a "tour" ball for the pros? Football uses different balls for high school, college and pros. Yes I know it's more a size issue but they do use different balls at each level.
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
Little league baseball is changing the bat standards for this coming season. The tech had gotten so strong that come backers were a serious risk for pitchers and infielders. As the father of three young sons, I now have to lay out $$ for new compliant bats.
11.7.2017 | Unregistered Commentermr miltonite
Is the aluminum bat issue primarily about safety?
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJS
Any current ball out there now (with feel) that would go reasonably well with a persimmon wood?

Wouldn't mind breaking those out but Pro V1s don't go well with them (I think).
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJohn C
The aluminum bat comparison works...when talking about clubs not golf balls. And why are fairways so nauseatingly firm and short on tour? Why can't the media talk about roll when considering distance?
11.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterLarry Lurker
The number of players who “want to play the golf course the way it was meant to be played“ is negligible. It’s not a valid market. You’re all so entrenched that you’ve lost sight of the forest or something.
11.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterErik J. Barzeski

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