Fansplaining: The Distance Debate


Can we agree that by restricting increases in distance, we help to keep the hazards in play? Especially with regards to shots off the tee.


Put down your niblick pitch fork for a second and really think about the importance of design intention vs PGA tour. The PGA tour doesnt represent golf as a whole.


Agree, but I think restriction can affect performance in a way that doesn’t only affect distance. Flight, spin, etc., all massively inflated in the last decade.5 due to the solid core golf ball, have nearly as much impact on scoring as distance does.


Sure. This made me immediately think of DJ’s tee shot at the Northern Trust last year.


Cool word. I even had to look it up.

I, uh, did think about the importance of architectural intent vs. PGA Tour. My opinions remain the same.


I’m perfectly fine with opinions. I’m a little tired of people acting like maintaining architectural design on the PGA tour is a factual necessity.


I am totally out on rolling the ball back and being upset that classic courses are not playing ‘as intended’ anymore. Are the majority of people really upset that guys are hitting it so far that courses are becoming too easy for pros? If you’re a pro and you have the talent, worth ethic, and strength to control the club through impact in such a way that you can hit it far and straight consistently (Rory, Dustin) then all the credit to you and your golfing ability. Taking insane lines off dogleg par 4s and pulling it off does not offend me, it amazes me. Having Rory go around in 63 at the Old Course by blowing it over bunkers, driving greens, and spinning shots back to tight pins is great I think. The 13th at Augusta is still as exciting to watch now as it was in the 90s and 2000s. You still have guys hitting it in the pine straw and going for it in two, and guys laying up, and guys having 9 iron in.

I get that it would be nice to see pros have longer clubs in to greens like they did before the distance boom, but that’s just not going to happen unless you build longer courses across the board which is a dumb thing to do. It just seems like people are making a big deal about it and getting upset, but in reality it’s not a big deal and people are not as upset as they come across. Can we just do nothing and enjoy the good golf?


A desire to maintain shot integrity is not a “factual necessity” - it’s one of those pesky opinions you’re talking about, and it’s driven by a desire to keep some historical continuity between generations in the game. That feeling is held by many, across multiple sports (See Baseball, Steroids Era). And clearly you’re not “fine” with it - you’re “tired” of it. You’re certainly still entitled to disagree - a lot of people liked the steroid era in baseball. I don’t.


What are your thoughts on every course on tour becoming the same thing week in and week out? Without architectural intent and intrigue, we will have the same experience, as fans, every week.


I think the comparisons to baseball are perfect. I’m so far on the other side of “historical continuity”, I’d put metal bats at the pro level. But that’s just my opinion :slight_smile:


I want more variety in courses, not the same old same old. I dont think architecture comes across on telecasts anyway. The tour is limited more by fan accommodation than architectural design IMO.


@ANTIFAldo perhaps made the appropriate point that this discussion wasn’t fit for the Contrarian Takes thread.

I don’t, however, necessarily agree that conversation on the topic is beating a dead horse - that would mean that any consensus existed.

For all of the inconsistencies stated above, I really don’t think that’s the case. The distance debate hovers over the topic of preserving old courses, whereas the idea that “par is arbitrary” and doesn’t “take into account the skill of the field” hovers elsewhere, and people don’t confront that idea or reconcile it with their own thoughts on restricting the golf ball. I really think they’re part of the same discussion, and if the distance debate rages on, I certainly don’t think that “par is irrelevant” is a dead horse.

I happen to think par is an important barometer for how those at the highest level play relative to a very difficult setup. For the most part, we want to see the course test the player in a manner similar to the way that it did in the past, and par is a big part of that past. I made the steroids era baseball comparison above, but it’s even more offensive than that - in baseball, pitchers could theoretically also take steroids. Our championship golf courses, for the most part, can’t, and if the ball continues to fly farther and straighter, the past becomes obsolete.

But I also think par is fundamentally relevant to the game outside of tournament golf - it impacts how average amateurs play, discuss, and view the game.

It also influences architecture. Architects, in large part, have an idea in their head for how a hole should be played that includes either one, two, or three full shots, and two putts on the green. An architect doesn’t just arbitrarily lay grass across property for you to hit a ball across, find it, and hit it again - if they did, then we’d see huge 900-2,000 yard holes across interesting land, but with no relationship to any sort of par 3/4/5.

Par may be irrelevant in terms of competition, as all shots count equally. Par also may be irrelevant as a summation of the expected number of shots across a golf course (Par 67s shouldn’t necessarily offend the senses). But it’s certainly not irrelevant overall to how the game is built, conceived, and ultimately played. That being the case, it shouldn’t be discarded.


You don’t have the swing speed, ball speed, or compression ability of a tour pro, that’s why amateurs distance has only increased 2 yards in 20 years. 99.9% of amateur golfers need to move up a set of tees anyway…


I think the biggest problem is that eventually you will lose the ability to use old courses that are built on smaller pieces of land and don’t have the room to lengthen the course. Merion is a prime example, there’s just no room for them to make it any longer. Augusta can just keep paying 5 million/acre every year and make the course long enough that it never really changes. For courses that do have the room to make back tees longer that’s fine, if they’r hosting a tour event or major they have the money to do it, and if you’re playing those courses it’s a good bet you have no business playing from those tees anyway. I loved seeing the members tees at Augusta and thinking, from those tees the course looks really fun, length doesn’t really matter much there anyway because it’s all in the green complexes.


To me the key word here is “setup.” If you’re taking into account the setup of a course when looking for a barometer, ‘par’ is not your answer. The course rating and slope are, however, a comprehensive look at the course and its difficulty.

Courses change constantly. They’re lengthened, hazards are added and removed, greens reshaped. All of this affects the rating and slope of a course. Par is a very convenient way to track your score in real time. It is not indicative of what a player should shoot.

I don’t know where I stand on the “par is irrelevant” debate. Mainly because I don’t know what the irrelevant/relevant sides actually even mean. What I do know is that the handicap system works. Really really well actually. It’s just not as easy to talk about as par.