Bomb and Gouge!?!?!

bombers1.jpgPeter Morrice has the first Golf Digest feature/instruction story on flogging, only he employs Chuck Cook's "Bomb and Gouge" label instead of Johnny Millers' "just flog it out there" line. 

I guess flog does have that negative semordnilap thing going against it, after all, it backwards. And why ever contemplate the negative when you can milk it for an instruction piece AND run photos of pros from the 18-34 demo! 

Today's tour bombers are not only crushing drives, they're establishing a new style of play: Bomb & Gouge. The thinking goes, bomb driver as far as you can and, if need be, gouge the ball out of the rough and onto the green. Golf's long-held ideal--fairways and greens--is giving way to this aggressive new style. Even from the rough, these power hitters say they can take advantage of shorter approach shots and create more birdie opportunities.

"I like hitting driver as much as possible because it gets me closer to the hole," says J.B. Holmes, another super-long rookie and winner of the FBR Open in February in just his fourth start on tour. "Hitting driver gives me the advantage of being 50 yards past other guys. If I hit 3-wood, I'm back where everybody else is."

Here's where it gets fun:

"The biggest factor in distance is that players are just now learning how to launch the ball at optimum conditions," says Tom Stites, chief of product creation at Nike Golf. "It's the technology of the equipment, yes, but it's also the technology of the selection process."

Another major factor is the modern ball. Tour players today hit multilayer, urethane-cover balls that spin less off the tee than wound balls of a decade ago. With the right impact conditions, players launch the ball high but with a lower spin rate, which lengthens but also straightens the flight (reducing spin reduces sidespin as well).

"With the [Titleist] Pro V1, the longest hitters went to bed one day and woke up the next 20 yards longer," says Jim McLean. Ball manufacturers continue to isolate the best flight characteristics, and ball-fitting has become a standard part of the equipment-fitting process. "Matching the ball to the driver being used has been a bigger variable than the equipment itself," says Dave Phillips, co-founder of the Titleist Performance Institute.

Of course, these people are all delusional if you believe the USGA. bomberchart.jpg

Speaking of them, to your right is a Golf Digest chart that the Far Hills group would look at and say, "it's the grooves." (Instead of understanding that greens in regulation will go up when you are hitting more lofted clubs into the holes!):

Then there's this from Morrice and Jack Nicklaus:

As hot as the power game is, it's hardly new. Top players have often had a distance advantage, but they've usually used it cautiously. Jack Nicklaus was the bomber of his generation, but he played a decidedly conservative game. Nicklaus was famous for plodding his way around with 3-woods and 1-irons off the tee until he needed a big drive. Then he'd hammer one 50 yards by his playing partners. "I played a power game," Nicklaus says, "but I always believed the game of golf was a game of power when you need it, but placement and positioning was the more important part of that game. Today, the game to me is power. I don't think the other part is even there."

And this from Hank Haney:

"A few wild shots have always been an acceptable price for Tiger to pay in exchange for dominant length," says Woods' coach, Hank Haney. "The top players play the power game--and prove over and over that distance is king, especially when you have the ability to hit great recovery shots."

This is where things get weird:

Many golf insiders argue that course setups play right into the power player's hands. "Until the tour and other events narrow the fairways to 25 yards and grow the rough to four or five inches, they'll continue to bomb it," says Butch Harmon. "Golf used to be driving and putting, and it still is, only getting the ball in play doesn't matter anymore."

I guess Butch hasn't been watching, but uh, the more they narrow the fairways and grow the rough, the more it encourages flogging!

Don't you just love watching golf turn inward on itself, all to protect the...ah I won't go there.

One idea for putting a premium back on driving accuracy would be to "lower the floors of fairway bunkers so that they're real hazards," says White. "We can't just grow up the rough to six inches. The members at [our tournament sites] would not be able to play their own golf course."

Hey, those will drain well!

Really, how long before we start putting alligators and snakes in the roughs all to protect the...I said I wouldn't go there, and I won't.

Television analyst David Feherty, a former Ryder Cup player, agrees that shotmaking has changed but thinks it's for the better. "I stand up on the tee [at tour events] and look out at a fairway 350 yards out. I put my thumb on one edge of the fairway and my finger on the other--it's like 2 1/2 inches, and these guys are ripping it down the middle," says Feherty. "If that's not shotmaking, I don't know what is."

Now, wasn't he the guy who just last week advocated changing the ball to restore shotmaking?