8,000 Here We Come?

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Burt Graeff looks at the likelihood of 8,000 yard courses in the near future.

For years, the PGA Tour has pushed tees back - stretching courses to more than 7,000 yards in hopes of keeping the world's best golfers from shooting 22 under par at every stop.
Technology and players who are in better physical condition, parlayed with fairways so firm that balls roll as much as 100 yards, have turned 7,000-yard courses into ones that pros hit driver, sand wedge at 455-yard par-4s and driver, 3-iron on 550-yard par 5s.
100 yards? Maybe at Kapalua and where else?
Get ready for the 8,000-yard course on the PGA Tour.

"There is no doubt [the 8,000-yard course] is going to happen," said Sergio Garcia, one of the favorites in the $7.5 million Bridgestone Invitational that begins Thursday at Firestone's South Course.

"What do I think about it? It doesn't matter. I don't care."

Ah, that's the kind of player-architect we like. Considerate, thoughtful, pragmatic.
Suggesting in the 1950s that courses on the PGA Tour would some day top 8,000 yards in length was out of the question. 
"Everyone would have thought you were nuts," said Corey Pavin, whom, at 264.3 yards, is last among 199 players ranked for driving distance.

Pavin, a 5-9, 155-pounder, averages 55 fewer yards per drive than the tour's big hitter, Bubba Watson, who averages a whopping 319.3 yards off the tee.

And what does Pavin, a 15-time tour winner, think of the prospect of playing 8,000-yard courses?

"I think that I won't be playing golf anymore when that happens," he said, smiling.

And this just warms the heart...

Allenby, the world's 36th-ranked player who averages 294.8 yards off the tee, said he has no problem playing courses stretched to 8,000 yards. "It almost needs to happen," he said. "I'd love to see it. I hit my 3 woods close.

"The length of these courses doesn't matter to us. They feel shorter and shorter."

Ah, but thankfully there's a Pepperdine educated player out there to deliver perspective...

Jason Gore is a 6-1, 235-pounder who owns the tour's two longest measured drives - 427 yards. Yet he's not wild and crazy about playing 8,000-yard courses.

"Unfortunately," he said, "it would not surprise me to see it happen.

"If you get to that point, I think you are tricking it up and cheapening it. Take Firestone. This is an example of a classic course that doesn't need all that distance.

 "It is a good test the way it is."

And the final word on 8,000 yard courses...

"I can't see it," said South African Rory Sabbatini. "That would be excessive. That would be like putting speed bumps at Talladega."

Huh? Ah, forget it.