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Tuesday
Jan092018

The Uh, "Greatest Shot Ever Hit" Is Another Reminder Of The Looming War Over Silly Distances

Proclaimed the greatest shot ever hit(!?!?!!?!?!?!?!?) and subsequently defended with various rationales from the statement author, Brandel Chamblee, the fun social threads were in response to his highlighting of Dustin Johnson's spectacular 12th hole drive. But the 433-yarder awoke GolfChannel.com's Randall Mell to take a different view.

While it was a special shot that hit just the right speed slot, it might not have even been the greatest shot Johnson hit in winning at Kapalua, much less compare to anything hit in a major championship last year. It was, however, 433 yards mostly great fun to watch because of the way DJ's ball interacted with the ground (not the actual carry distance).

Nonetheless, as any rational human knows, trying to design a fun challenge for a game played at these distances is expensive and leads to longer rounds. Prompting this rant from Mell.

It was another irritating example of how much the game has been corrupted by high-tech witchery, of how scientifically hot-wired drivers and balls are making the game way too easy.

So was Johnson hitting 15 drives of 375 yards or more on the week.

Yes, the Plantation Course at Kapalua isn’t your ordinary venue, with all those hills and high winds boosting big hits, but today’s players are dramatically shrinking the dimensions of venues everywhere.

Johnson’s savage lash at the 12th couldn’t have been better timed, coming in the year’s opening event, because it sets up what finally may be the year golf’s governing bodies force a showdown with golf ball manufacturers.

FYI, the May 2002 Joint Statement of Principles is coming up on its 16th anniversary!

The question today is whether Dustin Johnson’s monster drive was good for the game or bad for the game, whether it was something to celebrate or something to disparage.

The war on the ball starts with the nature of that question.

It's both something to celebrate that a player of his ability can put all of the tools at his disposal together to hit such a drive. It's the inability to make the case that he can display his skill at 10-20% less distance, and maybe even reap more of a skill advantage, that is something to disparage.

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Reader Comments (29)

"it sets up what finally may be the year golf’s governing bodies force a showdown with golf ball manufacturers " for the ball to be used by PGATour and European Tour professionals playing at specified courses and events.
As an amateur golfer, I need all the distance I can get. Golf is hard enough with the ball we have now. Why go back and make it even more difficult?
I can see a ball being reduced by 10% for professionals. But I can't see the average weekend warrior embracing a limited ball. It wouldn't exactly "grow the game."
01.9.2018 | Unregistered CommenterBrian
Brian,

Why do you need all the distance you can get? If course length is an issue, play off the forward tees.
01.9.2018 | Unregistered CommenterBradO
Silly, inflammatory stuff from.Chamblee. He's better than this.
01.9.2018 | Unregistered CommenterMatthewM
If Brandel had put this kind of nonsense out there his first day on the job, they would have checked to make sure the ink on his contract was dry. It’s the single dumbest thing I’ve heard a commentator say. Debating it at all is a sure-fire way to lose IQ points.
01.9.2018 | Unregistered CommenterDoctor
Do you 'need' that distance Brian? If my second shot is a short club I always feel a bit cheated, but I guess I'm not too bothered about my score.
01.10.2018 | Unregistered Commenterbs
Many a modern players spends way to much time concentration on the distance of the single shot instead of the combinations of shots that will take the ball to the Hole. This single drive to achieve distance has forced the game to travel down an alien route, with questionable consequences in that it has affected the player, the game, and course design with it's ongoing maintenance, while in return it has offered up very little. In fact it has done more harm than good by defining golf by distance instead of combination of shot to the Hole i.e. a game of golf.

The R&A took their eye off the ball way back when the Haskell was introduced and alas they have never been able to resolve the ball issue over these 121 years. Yes, they have tried but in all things they have failed to protect the game of golf throughout this period, leaving us or many in the belief that Golf is about the aerial shot and that hazards are just an unwanted expense. This inability of the R&A to define the game of golf, not to mention the equipment of the game, has allowed the game to fracture and lose much which was golf when it went worldwide. Worse still, it has a direct affect upon modern designs, in that courses have become more player friendly with its smooth fairways, short roughs, shallow bunkers many with compacted linings offering more a continuation of the fairways than a conventional bunker.

The result today is that distance has become an issue, with no mention of design or how it could combat the aerial game, because that single long drive defines the player but not the game of golf, to the point that it has debased the very values that golfers put upon their game and the courses they play – what a legacy the R&A have given to the game of golf – its one of failure, the only success is The Open but that was of Prestwick origin. Perhaps that too proves the R&A are as shallow as some of today’s shallow bunkers, which leave one to wonder if roll-back should also encompass the R&A authority.

We must remember that it’s the Game of Golf that is the subject matter and not driving ranges. Perhaps these important issues could then be addressed – my feeling, nothing will happen until we reform the R&A and they are forced to be accountable for their actions.
01.10.2018 | Unregistered CommenterTom Morris
The Taylor Made driver that he was using reduced dispersion between high toe and low heel hits to about 1 or 2 yards. The previous driver had a dispersion of 14 to 16 yards. The reaction from the players was- brilliant!! This means we can hit it even harder without fearing it will go off line. They will see FAR more benefit from this driver than the club golfer. Even Taylor Made's presentation at their product launch concentrated more on their tour pros than it did club golfers. If we accept that today's tour pro is bigger, fitter, stronger and better coached than previously and they probably as a group prepare better than before then why do we need to provide them with equipment which puts almost all of them on a level playing field? And makes them tedious to watch?
01.10.2018 | Unregistered CommenterChico
The Most Impressive 409 Yard Drive in Golf History
https://www.golfdigest.com/story/decide-for-yourself-if-this-is

Would love to see a list of the Top Ten drives in golf history, ParaLong Drive World Champion Jared Brentz should be high on the list. Another candidate for the Top Ten is the 401 yard drive by Brendon Jacks, the first ParaLong Drive hitter to eclipse 400 yards.
01.10.2018 | Unregistered CommenterDean Jarvis
I’m with Chico on this one. Modern drivers don’t grow the game, they just grow the golf course.

We all want the technology to hit the ball farther? Well, we have met the enemy, and the enemy is us.
01.10.2018 | Unregistered CommenterHardy Greaves
Plunk me down in the disparage camp.
01.10.2018 | Unregistered CommenterShivas
Good players never hit it on the high toe or the low heel with a 460CC driver anyway. I don't know if I'm speaking for the minority here, but I've never felt hitting it somewhere near the middle of the clubface was too much of a challenge; getting the clubface square at impact is the real skill. Where's the driver that helps you do that???
01.10.2018 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
What BradO says. I should be up a set of tees at my age, and having begun playing semi-seriously with persimmon and wound balls, I am not fooled by Mr. EPIC and the Domesticated Pinnacle.

Something I do recommend, however, after reading Phil Blackmar: Take your Cleveland Classic driver and ancient blades out of the closet and buy a dozen of the new DT TrueSoft ($20 at Dick's). Then move up a set of tees from wherever you currently play. Golf as it was meant to be. And more fun. But hard to compete with those who think 300 off the tee with that swing at that age is normal.
01.10.2018 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Anyone test yet to determine how much it's the Indian v the arrow?

As Claude Harmon says, despite his bias, the equipment gets more credit than the player.
01.10.2018 | Unregistered CommenterPaul
because a few people say it's ok, versus SO MANY OTHERS including people like Jack, Tiger, etc., the stupidity regarding the the ball continues......the situation makes no sense at all

it's time for someone/some group to TAKE SOME ACTION about this....like Augusta mandating a shorter ball for the Masters, instead of waiting around more for the damned USGA to do something about it
01.10.2018 | Unregistered Commenterchicago pt
Sorry Brian, I’m with BradO. You are clearly playing the incorrect set of tees. Check your ego at the door and move up.

MatthewM- uh, no he’s not
01.10.2018 | Unregistered CommenterThinking Out Loud
Can someone please answer this question - how far would Dustin Johnson average off the tee if he used the same clubs as Jack. I would have to assume AT LEAST 290....
01.10.2018 | Unregistered CommenterBernieinTampa
Mell wrote this:" It was another irritating example of how much the game has been corrupted by high-tech witchery, of how scientifically hot-wired drivers and balls are making the game way too easy." He should have added " for the professional golfer" I'm not a pro. The game is not " way too easy" for me . At my advanced age, if I hit a 225y drive, it's a miracle and I "play it forward."
01.10.2018 | Unregistered CommenterSteven T.
Hawkeye- I supose our high toe and low heel is different to theirs! However- DJ said his bad shot was a hook from high toe -as did Day and McIlroy said his bad one was low heel but he thought that was the better of the two.They all said that although they probably hit 10 good drives a round onl a couple were right out the middle. High Standards. These figures were based on over 300000 bits of Trackman data and were not for extreme mis-hits. Wish I could do a drawing but I cant!
01.10.2018 | Unregistered Commenterchico
What KLG said. And do it in match play with a friend. While walking and carrying your bag.
01.10.2018 | Unregistered CommenterGinGHIN
MatthewM, ToL is absolutely correct Brandel is not better than this. Google Steve Kerr comments on Lavar Ball and ESPN, Brandel fits well into the decline of sports journalism.

BTW, the Aoki shot above (to win) ranks higher than DJ's shot while he had a 5 shot lead. I bet DJ would say his tee shot on 18 at Oakmont was better. But, Brandel needed clicks and Twitter attention
01.10.2018 | Unregistered CommenterConvert
@Brian -

Golf would grow if people learned how to play it better/properly ... distance doesn't really factor into that too much (and you can get more distance from learning how to contact the ball better). Best player I ever saw in person was pretty short overall (approx 240-250 off the tee), but he shot a 64 that day. He was 66yrs old at the time, lol.

That being said - separate balls (and clubs) for the pros would allow you to play whatever ball you felt gave you the bonus you need. There would be no need for you to play the same ball as a Tour pro.

If "growing the game" just means making it easier/dumbing it down ... why are we restricting ANYTHING (clubs, distance aids, etc). I should be able to have my juiced balls, juiced clubs ... and let my homegrown robot swing for me too!

I guess I just find it interesting that the guys selling soap (equipment) are driving the converation about the game itself. "grow the game"??? how about we (as golfers) just endeavor to "keep it around"?? I don't need to grow it .... I have no vested interest in "growing it".

Why don't we "grow Baseball" by everybody using aluminum bats and juiced balls??
01.10.2018 | Unregistered CommenterConfused
They've always hit the ball a long way at Kapalua. Some of the holes afford 100 yards of roll. Or are steeply downhill. Or downwind.

The other topic with the stats from 2006 show all three members of one group driving it over 400 yards, and one of the players is a "Short" hitter. ;-)
01.10.2018 | Unregistered CommenterErik J. Barzeski
@Erik -

Keep growin' the game baby. :)
01.10.2018 | Unregistered CommenterConfused
Someone please ask Brandel what risks were involved in hitting:

a) too long
b) too short
c) offline left
d) offline right
e) a complete mis-hit

It was an utterly low-risk shot, wasn't it? Especially with a 5-stroke lead in a yawner of a tournament.
01.10.2018 | Unregistered Commenter3foot1
Regarding that shot by Aoki, I was watching at the time. And I still feel for Jack Renner, who came back and won the thing the next year IIRC.
01.10.2018 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
I think the issue is about DJ's ability to drive it off the tee...kinda like no other. And the future of his ability to continue to use that as a key to get an advantage. Get the putter going and he'll remain on top.
01.10.2018 | Unregistered Commenternancy
Confused, I simply posted a factual statement.

I grow the game every day. I teach, I publish my own site with conversations and discussions, I coach junior camps, my daughter and I help with the USGA/PGA/LPGA/Girls Golf… etc. The list goes on. I've devoted my life to the game.

But I'm sure you thought your comment was clever at the time.
01.11.2018 | Unregistered CommenterErik J. Barzeski
@Chico: Of course you're right! My main point is just that I think that getting the clubface square at impact requires more skill than hitting the center of the clubface, especially at swing speeds around 120 mph. Again, maybe it's just me - I got down to single digits at age 12 with a used set of MacGregor Muirfields but today I can't keep it within the county line off the tee with a Titleist 913D. I doubt a newer model will help me with that...
01.11.2018 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye

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