Soly's Comments on the Ball (with Goydos/Sutherland)

At about 30:00 in to the Goydos/Sutherland podcast, @Soly said two things I’d like to talk about.

  1. He said that the time to legislate the ball was before the Pro V1. It’s a commonly said thing, but I have never actually been sure what people have meant by that. The ball WAS legislated prior to the Pro V1 - distance balls like Pinnacles and Top-Flites and even whatever Titleist (actually branded Titleist balls) were in compliance. They were solid core, with non-balata covers. The Pro V1 is basically a Pinnacle with a urethane cover. Distance balls were legal then and are still legal now - so my question is: what kind of legislation were they looking for? The only thing I can imagine is one where they have a standard driver and wedge type combo and they legislate the slope of the ball speed and spin line between those two clubs or something. Which, as we’ve discussed here in other topics, would be incredibly difficult to do. So what do people think “could” have been legislated in 1996 or whatever?

  2. He said that the “tolerances” on the ball have been looser (please correct me if my summarizing/paraphrasing is off) in recent years. I don’t understand this either. They added a new level to the Overall Distance Standard some number of years ago, but it basically extended the previous ODS to account for higher ball speeds, to make sure the “swing speed vs. ball speed/distance” graph didn’t actually begin to get steeper at a certain speed (as it is, it gets slightly shallower as swing speed increases - it’s not perfectly linear). So what did he mean by that, too, because from what I know the ODS still applies, and while they’ve changed their testing methods, nothing about the ball regulations has been “loosened.”

Asking honestly, and ideally, we can perhaps stick to just what’s technically sought here and even what’s literally possible. I hope to avoid discussing whether this is “best” or “golf courses are being made obsolete” or anything like that. Just the technical stuff, and what exactly @Soly meant.

I searched, @3wiggle, and could not find something quite similar enough, even ignoring that this was prompted by a recent podcast.

I’d have to go back and listen to how I phrased it, but I intended the conversation to be more than just about the golf ball. Driver size limits, coefficients, etc. have also spiraled in and around that timeframe, likely even more dramatically than the golf ball. Basically, the top came off the defense on distance in that time frame between a combination of the ProV1 and the drivers. And we’re clearly past a point of no return.

My question was intended to be, going back 25 years, what would those guys have done with equipment legislation. If I phrased it meaning just the golf ball, that was not intentional, but the point was that the ball goes too far, and that is attributed to both the golf ball and the makeup of the drivers.


carry on though


@3wiggle gonna @3wiggle


I can’t remember exactly what was said, but I think Soly suggested that all balls be rolled back to pre-2000 levels, except for Chromesofts with their incredible Triple Track technology.


To Soly’s point, I took it as a larger scope than just the golf ball. I can’t remember what was said specifically either, but when they talked about pushing limitations I assumed it meant as driver tech as well.

I also listened to the pod a week ago and going completely off memory.

No, I saw that topic too and it specifically didn’t really focus on/address the two things I wanted to focus this one on. It diverged far too much into whether there “was” a problem, and a bunch of other tangents.

Fair enough. I was driving in my car listening so maybe you hinted at that, too; the impression I got was that it was basically/entirely “the ball.”

Well, okay, so then that still asks the question I asked too: what would you do, so that the “distance balls” back then would still be legal (nobody seemed to have a problem with the old guys playing Pinnacles) then and now, and yet the new ball the pros would want to play would be legal but “restrained” as well?

Paul’s response - that when you make the pros think and even SHORTER courses and holes tend to bring the field together a bit - was similar to points I’ve made throughout the years. But that’s not related to the two specific points I hope to discuss here.

I think there’s a lot of things they could have done. I don’t know what would have been the easiest to do. Some combination of the following:

Once the ProV1 was put up for approval from the governing bodies, alarm bells should have been ringing. No one had any issue with the Pinnacles going far because no sensible player would actually use them. Pinnacles were not rendering courses obsolete. No one was obliterating doglegs and wedging it close to every hole with that golf ball.

But a ball that goes that far (and maybe even farther than the Pinnacle when factoring in how pros can compress it?) that also is soft, can launch high in the air at low spin, and dial up to high spin with wedges is like playing with a cheat code. The game of golf was set to change forever once this ball was approved. I think it’s fair to say that, at some level, how much it would change was going to be hard to predict, but this would have been the time to limit the velocity in which a ball could leave the club face. The USGA/R&A were not prepared for this day to come. Whether it was the collective policies that head lead up to that moment, or the decisions made in that moment, the evidence is clear that they had no plan for how to deal with this.

I’m honestly not well versed enough in the history of golf equipment to say what they should or shouldn’t have done. I would be preaching from Mt. Stupid.


I am confident though, that if the governing bodies had the appropriate foresight, they could have more tightly policed the velocity speed of the ball coming off the face. Whether that’s through driver head size, weight, COR limits, or straight up limit to the distance a golf ball could go, that’s the part I’m not knowledgeable enough to say with certainty. Maybe they could have regulated the ratio of spin to velocity off the club face so that players could have a ball that played as soft as the ProV did, but also went as far as the longest ball.

But I do know that there is a whole group of people whose job it is to monitor these things, and come up with the policies.

There have been many many many changes in technology over the years. Pros were getting balls to backspin out of the rough, so they changed the legality of the grooves of ALL IRONS about a decade ago and no one seemed to have even batted an eye. There are definitely things they could have done to slow down the rocket launching sequence.

Which is why I asked the question to these guys, who were a part of the professional golf scene during this period, and have had their careers affected by it. I think they’d be in a much better place to answer the question than I would.


That is an excellent chart. I spent a lot of my early 20s on the summit of Mt. Stupid.

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My one buddy (who’s now 30) must have a residency on Mt. Stupid.

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Isn’t Mt. Stupid the forever home of the refuge? It’s all we do here



I bolded the only part that’s really different between a Pinnacle and a Pro V1, and that’s basically just the cover. They took the solid core golf ball idea from a Pinnacle/Top-Flite/etc. and put a urethane cover on it. (And “Pinnacles” tend to launch higher with a bit less spin, off irons and often off drivers too.) (And yeah, I’m simplifying quite a bit, because they’ve continued to develop that core a bit… while there’s less money to develop the cores of the Pinnacle, etc. But I’m speaking more generally: solid core Pinnacles were wrapped in urethane and begot the Pro V1.)

So, I’m still not sure how you’re going to legislate this type of thing while the Pinnacles the old guys and hackers play with remain legal.

To that I’d say either…
a) You can’t do that without also regulating swing speed (which ain’t gonna happen), and
b) there are already rules about this. The ODS continues to be in place.

That’s just if I focus on the ball, though, and I continue to hear you in talking about other things: driver lengths, CoR, etc.

But getting back to the ball… please know the line with clubhead speed/ball speed isn’t even linear. The faster you swing, the less performance you get out of the ball. It’s very close to being linear, but there’s no such thing as a “boost” once you “compress” the golf ball. Many people think there is still a “boost.”

That’s fine, but that’s the type of conversation I wanted to have here. It’s easy to say something like “that’s the point where the ball should have been limited,” but I’m trying to discuss HOW - and likely, IMO, why that wouldn’t necessarily have been possible unless you give up on having all balls legal in 1998 still being legal in 2002. Including those Pinnacles.

From what I know and have read… good luck going that route. Probably nowhere near feasible. But yeah, this is the direction I’d like to go with this topic. HOW would people propose, if we had a time machine, going back to do this? (I still don’t agree with the premise that we’ve screwed the pooch here, but I’m happy to engage in the thought experiment.)

OT, but… I think part of the reason nobody cared is that it didn’t change much, and companies quickly found ways to keep spin rates at almost the same levels. :slight_smile:

Thank you for taking the time.

How would anyone else out there have done it, and would it have possibly worked?

With all due respect, I don’t think there’s anyone out here that can properly engage on this subject.

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but I’ll be damned if I don’t die trying


I’m not going to get into the ball debate again.

I enjoyed Goydos/Sutherland basic “so what?” response to Soly’s golf ball question. Usually the guests give the same canned “hurr durr yes ball go far” response when Soly brings up the subject (in every podcast), but it was nice to hear some players shrug it off for once.

Wait why? Because the governing bodies are cowards? The “threat” of legal action by the mfgs? That’s a cop out.

Regulations change in all industries all the time, and everybody has to deal with it. The idea that USGA/R&A can’t change the equipment specs, and or tolerances is complete malarkey.

oh, and @HashtagChad just because.

2 Likes*t2sx5h0UF-kljgC2sj2msw.jpeg

Professors Dunning and Kruger object to their curve being renamed mount stupid


It’s triply awesome because of the misspelled “no nothing” on the bottom left.