The Ball Debate


News flash. A shorter hitter will always be a shorter hitter out of the rough or the fairway. They are at a disadvantage period. However it stands to reason that the shorter hitters on tour are makin up strokes somewhere. Possibilities are more accuracy off the tee, better short games, putters or mental acuity. Rough and firmer greens to me is a better solution than roll back he Ball.

Using the 18th at Honda as a small example. JT hit his drive into the rough while List hit the fairway. List was able to go for the green and barely hold the shot on because of green firmness. JT meanwhile had to lay up even though his drive was 15yards farther. His lie was questionable. To me List was rewarded for his drive while Justin was penalized only slightly by having to lay up. Now he didn’t have to lay up because but it was questionable enough he had to alter his intended strategy. Now JT was still able to make birdie by hitting a fantastic wedge. The reverse happened in the playoff and List was not bale to wedge it close enough to make birdie while JT hit on in 2 and 2 putted for birdie. The rough doesn’t have to be smothering or 4 inches tall. It just has to be enough to penalize someone for missing the fairway. That equalizes the distance advantage enough for me. Again it’s not ideal but I still thinks it’s a much better answer than rolling the ball back.


I think you interpret the wishes of some roll-backers to punish or limit the long hitter.

I certainly don’t wish for that. Long hitting is a skill. The long guy is always the long guy with any ball, and should be rewarded for it, especially so if he is accurate.

A roll back that had DJ hitting 275 yds sees Zac Blair hit it 235yds and makes sub 7000yd courses playable again for pro players, and long skilled am players. It still has many weekend players 75 yards behind DJ. But we hackers go up a set of tees. Result is all of us play more quickly, on classic courses, and more affordably so. As it should be.


This will always be a hot topic debate with no clear black or white answer…
If we put a uniform roll back on today’s ball, say 10-15% to save courses from having to go to 8000, the DJ & Rory crowd is still going to be at an advantage as they will still hit it farther than guys like Zach Johnson or ZB and still have shorter irons into greens. Not to mention the general public and skilled amateurs alike will suffer that same penalty.
Also, making golf courses 8000 yards with 4-inch rough and 8-10 yard wide fairways doesn’t seem to be much of a viable option either - the industry of golf and golf participation is struggling as-is and to make the game more difficult and force guys to hit it shorter and from ‘a tee up’ would drive more people away from the game.
So where does that leave us? Seems to be a lose - lose situation…However, one option we don’t hear much talked about is the size of the ball. We have already made the ball larger before to increase the size of the ball could bring that element of skill and finesse back instead of the current state of ‘launch it 340 and wedge up’ game.
Wouldn’t be too difficult to create a ‘Tour Ball’ or a ‘Championship Ball’ that is slightly larger, say 1.72" instead of 1.68", so not only would this make a larger surface area the ball has to travel thru and thus traveling less distance it also would create more drag and spin which would make it again more important to work shots and skilled players would see a more level playing field against guys that can bomb it 50 by them. We can keep the ball the same for 95% of the general public and weekend warriors so they don’t have to move up a tee and hit it 20% shorter than they already do and wouldn’t need to rush to making places 8000 yards…


You got this idea from Feherty ayy?


Why?? Why is that “ridiculous”? Maybe he is in better shape… Maybe the shaft is better… Maybe it may have nothing to do with the ball… Maybe, he’s just hitting it on the screws better.


It’s ridiculous that a professional athlete does anything in the game physically better at 47 than 27. Will Lebron have a higher vertical or Mike Trout improve his plate to 1st base time in that span? Come on.


Most on the Seniors tour are -

10mph slower
20lbs heavier
30yrs older
40yds longer



100% agree with all of this. I do not understand why most people don’t get this.


So you think penalize the faster swing speed player more than the slower swing speed player is the answer? I’m sorry but that is silly. Swing speed is a skill. Where does this line of thinking stop? Do we start penalizing players that make too many putts next?


Huh? a 10% rollback affects everyone by 10%, I’m not sure how that is penalizing a higher speed player more. Conversely lengthening courses adversely impacts low speed players at a marginally higher rate than long hitters.


Not according to ScottW. You can read his full post in the thread but I disagree with his conclusion. Also nobody says we need to make courses longer.


Well ya that’s how percentages work… The last sentence is likely due to a better fit but that’s irrelevant to tour players as they’ll be able to get back into the launch zone they prefer.


People are saying courses need to be longer. That has shown in the yardage of almost every PGA Tour course. Also as @ScottW mentions, Augusta is buying up land on other courses. We may not be saying it, but Tour courses and Augusta are. That is the problem. And while yes, longer hitters may be punished a bit more, they are still well past shorter players and still have that advantage. Not to mention they will still be hitting shorter clubs, which adds to their advantage. The idea is to have pros think a bit instead of smashing it over all the trouble.


Chiming into this conversation very late (Was out of the country for a month) but I am interested in your statement. I think the difference between golf and the NBA or NFL is that there is no regulation of the “playing field” other than the cup being 4.25 inches. That in and of itself is the beauty in golf: the fact that you could play the exact same golf course every day and theoretically play it differently every day. Now I have no clue how I feel about the roll back and agree with you that par means nothing but making the rough thicker, fairways tighter, bunkers more penal, and doglegs sharper would take away from the beauty of the game. It would make every single course on tour the exact same and take more away from the spirit of the game than a guy just hitting it over some trees ever would…

On a side note: is anyone else like me and have no clue where they stand in this debate? I feel like everyone is very set in their ways and I am very lonely on my island over here


This is not ball specific but more distance specific. What I don’t understand is that the only focus is the ball. Take Callaway for example, Jailbreak supposedly increases ball speed and thus distance, so how can the ball be the only factor here? Am I just naive or is the claims of callaway around Jailbreak just marketing spin. Can anyone enlighten me?


No totally fact here but Brandel has talked about this and makes some good points. It sounds like the speed the ball comes off the driver is and has been maxed out for the last 10+ years. Basically, no driver is “hotter” than another for the last 10 years. Manufacturers are making improvements with aerodynamics, but all the advancements we have seen in the last 10+ years are mostly forgiveness (which does directly play into average distance going up across the board). My impression of jailbreak was that it is a forgiveness tool that Callaway is selling as distance advancements due to a bigger sweet-spot. Ball technology has continued to advance during that time, however.


True the trampoline effect of the golf club has been maxed out for some years. But That is selling the manufacturers short on the other improvements. They have figured out how to move weight around for higher ball speeds on off center hits. More optimized spin characteristics, better launch conditions etc. all has led to significant gains. But so has the ball and the training. All of these factors have contributed which is why targeting the ball is not a solution.


Yes, COR has been maxed for some time now, it could help with ball speed across the face but the max has been maxed for almost two decades.

Hopefully no one from the C-suite comes after me for this.


See and I would argue that that is why we should absolutely target the ball. We now know the ideal launch conditions, players as a whole are picking up some speed but the peak speed it is relatively flat. So with all that knowledge they could make an adequate roll back without having to go back 10 years later and change something again. So yes I agree optimization has lead to some gains, you can compare the carry efficiency numbers from 07 and this year but those gains are minimal compared to the ball jump.


Targeting the ball is a solution. To think otherwise is misguided, and out of step with some of the greatest minds in golf over the last century.

There are lots of variables in this @Brendan. Weight training, club head speed, driver design, trackman, taller golfers with longer levers, the ball, swing technique and instruction, nutrition, agronomy, and others.

The ball is not the only cause of burgeoning distances but addressing the ball is the single most pragmatic solution. Nicklaus says it. Tiger says it. Palmer said it. William Flynn said it after designing Shinnecock. Bobby Jones said it. Max Behr said it.

You can’t make golfers shorter or weaker. Or rob them of trackman, or good instruction. Or good food. Agronomy doesn’t make that much difference. Today’s drivers could be modified / reconfigured but I feel manufacturers would resist that more so than any proposed ball change. Turning attention to graphite shafts and driver heads also doesn’t address the large distance players hit irons.

Therefore, the ball is the focus of the issue. It is not the sole cause, but it is a solution.