Fansplaining: The Distance Debate


You are already playing a different ball than the pros play, you just don’t know it.

Kevin Na posted about his tour only Pro V1s on instagram yesterday that have higher compression and more ball speed than a retail Pro V1. Check it out, unless Titleist made him delete the post by now.


ANGC is becoming obsolete, which is why they just paid $25M for the 9th hole at neighboring ACC to lengthen a hole and are in the process of moving a freaking road to lengthen another hole.


You missed my point. Amateurs were already using distance balls back in 1998, so of course they’re not going to see the same distance gains as the pros. So the talk of a 20% rollback not affecting amateurs doesn’t really make sense to me.

There are some people that are talking about a rollback for amateurs (just look at some of the replies here), but you’re right that it’s definitely not a mainstream position.


Yes, 20% is just stupid, which is why the people against the rollback keep pushing that number out there as a straw man argument. 5-10% would be best, nothing more than 10%.


Here’s the dirty secret: Most amateurs should not be playing the Pro V1 because they cannot compress them properly! But your friends at Titleist would never tell you that or it would kill sales.


you are also not playing the same clubs as a pro either, they are all playing customized tour models


Good explanation on a complex topic. Thanks as always NLU!

While I say that it is complicated, I don’t think it’s as complicated as Matt Adams made it sound to be. Quick tangent, props to Shack for bringing up Adams love for having pros playing old courses during the debate. Shack can be an absolute savage when he wants. Ok back to my point.

This whole process starts with bifurcation. Why people or the governing bodies don’t want bifurcation baffles me. In all seriousness, how many amateurs are going to keep re-teeing drivers until they get one in play? For most ams, if you hit it out of bounds or in the woods and you can’t find it, drop where you think it should be or where it went in, take your penalty, play on. Thinks makes the game move faster, more enjoyable, and you want have an 20 handicapper holding up 2 groups because he has to play by USGA rules but can’t keep the ball in the park. Bifurcation then allows the USGA/R&A to implement a professional ball. Like was said in the post, many major sports have different rules and equipment for the professionals than the amateurs. If you got the chance to play Shinny, would it really cheapen your experience to be playing with a normal ball and not the same ball as Dustin Johnson? Sorry guys but DJ could be using hickory shafts and 1970s balls and still hit it past us all. Simple fact. Next, how would a pro-only ball really affect the manufacturers? They spend millions of dollars on projects that get scraped all the time. How many versions did Callaway go through to get to the Rouge or the Chrome Soft ball? Ams are still going to buy just as many golf balls as we normally would have, isn’t that where they make their money? Titleist can still say it’s the number one ball in golf every week, which is all Wally really cares about. Finally, the pros complaining about having to get used to a new ball need to zip it. This past week in Mexico, everyone had their Trackman on the range and by Wednesday had their new distances down. I’m not buying that argument.


This is ridiculous. Nobody’s talking about going back to 1930.

  1. 230 yard hitting Joe Blow can go buy whatever he wants
  2. 230 yard hitting Joe Blow isn’t good enough/can’t generate enough club head speed to be playing a premium ball anyway.


Agree with every part of this.


lol no amateur plays a pro v1 because he expects to get the same performance out of it as the pros do, but that doesn’t mean amateurs “should not be playing the pro v1”


Nicklaus says he would see like to see a ball in the pro game that flies about 80 percent as far as the modern ball.

“If you bring it back 20 percent, that will bring it back to about what it was in about 1995 when we last played a wound golf ball,” he said.


If we assume that the USGA/R&A will remain opposed to bifurcation, while I understand the point of wanting to preserve the viability of the architectural classics, I don’t think that should come of the expense of everyone having to play a rolled back ball. Even if the rolled back ball doesn’t end up hurting the vast majority of amateurs in terms of distance, they may be stuck having to choose between the softer, spinnier ball that they can’t keep on the golf course but are much better around the green, or the old Top Flight rock that gives you nothing in the short game. It will be 1997 all over again.

I also think the notion of professional distance gains leading to increased length of courses (and hence more time, costs, etc…) is a golf course management stupidity problem, not a golf-wide issue that requires sweeping rule changes to address. Increased length is an issue for the <1% of courses that host top tier professional events. For the other 99%, 6500 yards from the tips is plenty long enough.


Point is, there are better balls for 99% of the hacks that play the Pro V1. Balls they can actually compress/control/spin better. But they don’t choose those balls because it’s not “what the pros play.”


So which balls should I be playing and saving my money on opposed to buying strictly Pro V’s? Just please don’t say Volvik


I urge anyone who hasn’t listened to the Clayton NLU podcast to do so. Know your history. Then watch some old golf on Youtube. I’m not tlaking about the 1930s, I’m talking 92, 93, 94. Totally different game.

Feels like this thread has 2 kinds of people in it. Those who have played the older ball and those that haven’t. The difference is not just distance, but also lateral movement/spin.

The argument that guys are “bigger stronger” just isn’t holding much water with me. Faldo/Spieth have similar frames. Langer/JT look about the same. And Norman, Payne, Seve, DL3 all would fit in just fine in today’s game. As would Craig Stadler with Pat Perez, Ted Potter Jr, Patton Kizzire and the other finely tuned athletes that have won this year. I’d say there’s more good players today, but the athleticism been there for decades.


The pride and joy of US golden age architecture - Cypress Point. This beauty is obsolete at 6600 yards.

Other classic championship courses that are obsolete due to distance:
Prairie Dunes
San Francisco Golf Course
Chicago Golf


The list goes on. And between your list and the courses I listed above, we’ve wiped out almost half of the Top 10 in the world. But yeah, the ball is fine…


this is completely off topic for this thread - but you think cheaper balls would be better for, say a 14 index, than a pro v1? i dont think im on board with that. i would agree a 14 shouldn’t be justifying spending the money on a pro v1 over an nxt or even a velocity… but to say they would actually play better with a cheaper ball i think is off-base.

but re: the distance debate… just so we’re clear im 100% in favor of limiting the golf ball


Potential lawsuits?? I don’t understand that one, OEM’s will sue golf authorities for regulating a roll back on balls? Every other sports governing body has specifications on the instrument used to play the game and Wilson, Spalding, Rawlings, etc. and generally all of those manufacturers have pro versions and amateur versions on the shelves. And all the balls used in the professional competitions are highly scrutinized (#deflategate). The OEM’s will find a way to continue to market their innovations. If I play ProV’s I’m not going to suddenly stop buying ProV’s because tour pros can’t play them.

Let’s not kid ourselves that golf is a level playing field for pros and ams (tennis passes that test much higher than golf…I digress). It’s a different game for the pros. Courses, set up, playing distance is all different for pros than it is for most amateurs. They are professional athletes, they can/will adapt. I am all about the tradition and the the charm of playing a similar game. However, golf’s charm will not be lost because pros are playing a different ball. No one is going to turn down a round at a tour venue because they can’t use the same ball the pros do. Just getting to walk and play the game at those venues is extremely special opportunity golf provides and your experience likely won’t be ruined because the pros didn’t play the same ball you are. How much more rare is it to stand on the field at Fenway? But no one would deny that opportunity because they can’t hit the same bat and ball then run the bases.


I agree with your second paragraph. The most important crossover piece from the pro game and amateur game is playing the same courses, not the same equipment. When I stood on the 7th tee at Pebble, I didn’t fret that my ProV1x and spin milled wedge wasn’t set-up the same as JT’s, I thought about all the famous shots hit there before.