Whicker On Scoring, Distance And A Changing Game

Mark Whicker talked to players at the Careerbuilder Challenge about Justin Thomas' record scoring in Hawaii and what the increase in 59s all means for the game.

Many things stood out, so I'm just clipping the most intriguing. The entire piece is worth your time.

From Jason Dufner:

“Larry Nelson won the U.S. Open at Oakmont (in 1993),” Dufner said. “He told me that on the first hole, he’d hit four-iron into the green. Last year I hit pitching wedge three days, sand wedge the other day.”

William McGirt has many great insights about distance and Trackman.

In 1998, John Daly led the tour by averaging 298 yards. Last year, there were 27 pros who topped 300. This year, Smylie Kaufman leads with an impossible average drive of 322.

Any course with mundane par-5s is helpless. Luke List is already 50-under-par on the long holes this season.

“People will say the golf ball doesn’t go any farther, but they’re wrong,” McGirt said. “The drivers can’t get hotter. The ball is the only common denominator with all the shots.

“They’ve basically taken an old two-piece, hard-brick ball and made it spin. That benefits the bombers. They can get to the core and compress it better than anyone. I can’t do that, but I have a ball I know I can control.”

Oh boy, blaming the ball. That'll get you sleeping with Luca Brazi and the fishes!

But as I noted this week on Golf Central (below), Trackman is now an underrated element in the overall improvement of player skill and distance.

“It detects a flaw before it gets out of control,” McGirt said. “If your swing is a degree and a half steeper than it should be, you can fix it before it becomes four degrees. You look at it and scratch your head and say it looks the same, but it’s not. Video doesn’t pick everything up.

“Because of this, I don’t have to have my teacher (John Tillery) with me all the time. I can hit 40 shots and e-mail them, and he can pull the numbers and say, here’s what the problem is. But some guys get caught up in it. They might start playing numbers instead of playing golf.”

John Feinstein and I discussed this very topic on Golf Central, including the Trackman component in today's improved scoring.