Ohio Golf Assn: Trying A Competition Ball

logo_oga_big.gifThanks to reader George for the heads on Jim Achenbach reporting in the new Golfweek that the Ohio Golf Association will provide a designated golf ball to competitors in this summer’s Ohio Champions Tournament.

A new event on the OGA schedule, "it will be an event unlike any other."

That's for sure. From the online entry form

The Board of Trustees of the Ohio Golf Association has decided to take a stand against the eroding playability of our old courses due to the length of the modern golf ball. The Champions Tournament will be unique in the fact that the committee will identify a golf ball for use by all contestants.

The ball to be used will be a modern ball, with specifications as similar as possible to most popular balls, the only exception will be a lower compression. The ball to be used will be on the USGA’s approved ball list.

Like a tour event, the Champions Tournament will have several stations where ball flight, distance and swing speeds will be measured and documented for the entire field. The purpose is to extrapolate information that will prove useful in the ultimate goal of identifying a tournament golf ball.

If you wish to be part of this exciting experiment, contact the OGA at: tournaments@ohiogolf.org and you may be included in what will be the most revolutionary change in tournament golf since Softspikes.

According to OGA director Jim Popa, the 36-hole event will be played August 22-23 at Windy Knoll Golf Club in Springfield, Ohio, where the Ohio State Mid-Am was played last year. The field will be comprised of Ohio club champions, city champions and local golf association champions, many of whom played the previous year's state amateur.

Alan Fadel, a one-time PGA Tour player and top amateur golfer is chairman of the OGA ball committee and says this is the culmination of several years of research and contemplation by the association.

Though no ball has been selected, both Fadel and Popa revealed that the group is close to selecting one that likely will not significantly favor clubhead speeds over 105 m.p.h. as today's balls tend to do. It will be a 3-piece ball, with a compression of around 70 with a soft cover.

Fadel says they will likely share the name of the ball maker at some point, but both confirmed that the ball to be used is on the USGA's Conforming Ball List.

In phone calls today, both Fadel and Popa emphasized that the impetus behind this project is to create a starting point for dialogue and to amass some information, but ultimately, to find a way to restore relevancy to many of Ohio's classic courses and also to deal with pace of play issues brought on by today's driving distances.

"Here in Ohio we have 800 golf courses and 25-30 just fantastic, world class older courses," said Popa. "And we can't use them anymore."

And he added, "it's time to get this game back where its supposed to be, a game of skill."

The OGA has a history of bold moves that may not exactly be popular in Far Hills (perhaps explaining why so few Ohio residents have served on the Executive Committee). 

The OGA was the first golf association in the country to endorse the use of SoftSpikes.

Could they be influencing another potentially significant trend?

Let's hope so.