Tiger On A Rollback

Kelly Tilghman interviewed Tiger Woods September 28th. Because a transcript was slow to appear and I was more interested in his surprising comments that he'll be getting in the course design business soon than expected, I missed this bit where he says there is "no doubt" that Hootie, the USGA and R&A want to roll the ball back. Thanks to reader Tom for the reminder.

And credit Tilghman for asking some fine questions in a tough environment (Nike plugfest). The entire interview is much more interesting than Tiger's usual game of press room Dodgeball. (Not that I blame him.)

Anyway, here's what should have made headlines:

Tiger Woods: Here's the deal, I have talked to Hootie and talked to the heads of USGA, also to Peter Dawson, they want to roll the ball back, no doubt about that. They want to put a speed limit and there is one now but they are making golf courses so long that you can't play some of the old championship venues. That's what they are afraid of. They are trying to protect the integrity of some of these major championship venues and the great golf courses, where they can still provide a great championship but not have us shoot 20 under par. But also to have it so that the average golfer can enjoy a round of golf. Well, that's the dilemma. New technology has helped the average golfer hitting balls slightly further and slightly more accurate. But for professionals, we have made leaps and bounds because our proficiency and to be able to make contact and launch the ball correctly each and every time. If you take the average consumer and they hit a driver, they have probably got old equipment five years ago to now maybe 10 yards, 12 yards carry, and we're carrying it to 25, 30 yards further than some of the guys. The further you hit, the more technology is going to help you. That's what they are looking at. They have got all these lists of numbers especially at Augusta, where we're landing the golf ball versus three years ago, and three years ago guys are hitting it 12 to 15 further in the air easily, everybody. That's what they are afraid of. That's one of the reasons why Augusta made some changes each and every year and are probably a leader in that.

I am sure there will come a point in time where they will have to slow it down because we can't play Merion anymore. You can play U.S. Amateur but a professional I think would probably shoot a little lower scores than they did. St. Andrews, if they have to change the course there to accommodate us, then you know things are changing. Hey, I am one of the guys that if they did roll the ball back, it would help me out a little bit. I would have an advantage. Any long guy who hits the ball long and high would have more of an advantage because now we're having to hit longer irons in the greens, other guys are having to hit hybrids and woods, so you have an advantage.

From a personal standpoint and competitive standpoint, I won't mind them rolling the ball back because I would have an advantage.