Q. We've seen so much of a tug o'war going on in the game about the power game and bombs away versus skill and precision. Do you feel like it's evolved to a point where power is going to be a requisite skill?
FRED FUNK: Yeah, I feel bad right now. My son loves the game of golf. He's a little guy. He's obviously not going to be physically very big. Not that little guys don't hit the ball a long way, but most little guys don't hit the ball a long way. There's always the exception.
I don't feel with where the game has gone that he will ever have a chance to play on the PGA Tour because he doesn't hit the ball far enough. The kids coming up now are hitting the ball miles. With today's equipment, you just have to it's so forgiving, the driver, I don't think it's the driver so much that's allowing you to hit it a long way; it's the more golf swing givability of the driver that allows you to swing at it. If you're blessed with that swing speed, the ball takes off for you and doesn't come down. Guys are flying it 330, 340 yards right now, which is a joke. It's made designing golf courses a nightmare. It's changed the whole philosophy of the game.
I met with [Arnold] Palmer's group a couple weeks ago, and talking to them about how they design a golf course that's fair for a guy that can hit it 330 and a guy that hits it 270 and where they have to place their corners and place the bunkers and everything else. You can't make it fair.
I really believe, and I know I'm one of the short guys barking with the guys hitting it a long way, so it doesn't get much attention; he's just jealous that he doesn't hit it that far. I truly believe if you're blessed with that kind of ability that you get the benefit of the golf ball, you don't need as much talent as the old players did because you can hit it so far. Just bomb it over all the trouble and you have a wedge or 9 iron into the green, and you're going to hit a lot of greens. I don't care how deep the rough is. And they're strong already, they're going to get it on the green out of the rough, or somewhere around it. I just don't see the skill level, other than just clubhead speed being a big factor in the future.
Q. Some people argue it would be a good thing to have bigger, better athletes, maybe the next wave you'll see a Tour full of 6'4", 240-pounders.
FRED FUNK: That's naturally going to happen because for one, the game of golf has become a great game to play as a kid. Now it's looked upon as a sport; I blame Tiger Woods for it because he's made the game cool. It's a cool game to play as a kid.
The kids are seeing the money we're playing for, they're seeing the personalities we have out here, especially with well, when Tiger came out and was No. 1, but right now our rookie class with Camilo [Villegas] and J. B. Holmes and Bubba [Watson] and numerous others, but those three guys are remarkable guys, unbelievable talent. They hit the ball miles, and they see that, and how can a kid that has a lot of athletic ability and he's fortunate enough to get introduced to the game of golf and doesn't pursue it? He ends up with a linebacker's body and he's playing golf. It's going to happen.
And why it's going to happen it is because it's a cool sport and we're going to have more and more kids playing it at a young age and they're going to develop into some big kids and they're going to be really powerful players. The ball already goes a long way, so the sky is the limit for how far the ball may go in the future with the future golfer.
But it's sad because I think they've lost control of the game. I'll swear to that. I mean, I'll argue that until nobody can prove me different. I'll argue that with every USGA guy that tests every equipment and everything else. They can throw the ShotLink stats out, they can throw everything at me and they cannot change my mind on that. I'm just adamant about the way the game has gone really since 2002, since this last generation of golf ball.
All they really have to do, they don't have to do anything, bring one golf ball back that's talked about or bring the golf ball back, just go back to the golf ball we had before this last change, and it would narrow down that gap between the long and the short.
I don't mind being the shortest guy. I never minded being one of the shortest guys on Tour and competing with a guy that could on the stats he was 295, 300, but when you have guys at 320, 330, 335, I mean, those guys that are averaging that can actually hit it 350; that's a long way. You can't beat that on a lot of golf courses now, and the design guys have no idea what to do.
So they do one thing, they jack the tees back and they don't change the greens. They say, okay, we've got to jack the tees back to protect the golf course from the long guys. You just took all the short guys completely out of it, so now all the long guys are up at the top, unless you have a great putting week, chipping week. I'll get in trouble for that, but that's all right.
Q. I hate to stop you. You skipped the Zurich Classic [in New Orleans] last year, and I understand you're going back this year. How much did the impact of [Hurricane] Katrina have on your decision?
Hey, at least he was an admitted Rally Killer.