When we talk bifurcation and a Masters ball, incredulous golfers always ask, "but how could it ever work?" This, despite living in a country that put men on the moon nearly five decades ago and solving to all but the most basic problems.
Nonetheless, I understand the concerns with multiple manufacturers and the propensity for cheating in today's sports. So I give you John Wood, caddie for Matt Kuchar, keen observer of the game and regular contributor to Golf.com's weekly roundtable.
The gang was kicking around Tiger's distance comments and as most of us bifurcation talkers are prone to do, looked toward Augusta, Georgia for guidance. Here's how Wood thinks it would work:
I’ve been saying this about Augusta for years. "Gentleman, you are cordially invited to participate in the Masters Invitational for the year ____. Under a new Invitational requirement, we have forwarded our specifications for a legal golf ball for our tournament to your equipment companies. Should they like to design a ball for you under these specifications, we would be more than pleased for you to play it. If they choose not to, we will provide you with three options of a ball meeting our requirements. One will launch high, one will launch low, and one will launch in the middle of those two. We wish you the best of luck." The long ball, for lack of a better word, is sexy...to the USGA, to the R&A, to the PGA Tour...and to be honest, it sells tickets, so they aren’t about to do anything about it. Last year, the statistics say the driving distance leader on the PGA Tour averaged 317 yards. That sounds out of control. But anyone who has spent any time at all out here knows that, weather depending, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau and countless others hit their driver 330-plus every time they bring it out of the bag. That’s the truth that statistics don’t show. When Tiger was one of the longest on Tour, averaging around 300 yards per drive, he was way out front, AND he was using a 43-inch steel-shafted driver and what was known to be one of the softest and spinniest balls on Tour. So, yes, hopefully Tiger’s words now will have some impact on the future.
I just hope we can buy them in the shop to show the doubting manufacturers that there can be other markets besides longer and straighter. Some people actually want to play courses as they were meant to be played.