One thing we’re sure about about the golf ball setback by the United States Golf Association and the R&A this week is that there’s no need to run out and start hoarding the golf ball from today to ensure more distance on your shots.
Indeed, the new golf ball regulations will not come into force until 2028 at the earliest, so golfers will be able to buy the current golf ball from their favorite manufacturer for another four years without seeing any change in distance .
What else will happen over the next four years is pretty much uncertain. Indeed, despite all the effort and research that the USGA and R&A have put into the new regulations, golf manufacturers will understandably applaud the pushback. And the golfers themselves may not be very enthusiastic.
No golfer in the history of golf has ever said, “You know, I wish I hit the ball shorter off the tee.” » the last decades. The challenge for the USGA and the R&A has been how to enable golfers to reap the benefits of technological advances without letting technology take over the game and reduce the importance of the skill.
Some of the biggest names in golf – think Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus – have shouted that the golf ball should be moved back. As today’s golfers began hitting drives of 350 yards or more, more and more people listened.
But for an average weekend foursome at your local club, the problem with distance is that there isn’t enough distance. The PGA Tour could feature players hitting the ball so long that some older golf courses risk becoming obsolete. But you’re not going to make your local municipal golf courses obsolete anytime soon.
Losing distance isn’t that bad
The USGA says the average male golfer will lose three to five yards of distance with the new golf ball, while the average professional will lose nine to 11 yards and the LPGA player will lose five to seven yards. This hardly seems to be a cause for complaint. But unlike, for example, the ban on anchored putting, the new golf ball cannot be ignored since all manufacturers will start making the new ball under new regulations.
In other words, the new golf ball will be the ball you can buy at your local golf store unless manufacturers decide to start marking compliant and non-compliant balls. Don’t think the manufacturers don’t think about it, knowing that you and your weekend friends probably won’t be trying to qualify for the USGA championship.
Could all of this be avoided by having two golf balls, one for elite players and one for average recreational players? Sure, but the USGA and R&A love the idea that golf, from Tiger Woods to novice, is played under a single set of rules and regulations. It may be an illusion, and the golf powers that be certainly understand it, but golf remains one of the few sports that treats amateurs and professionals at all levels equally.
Is five yards for the average male golfer at a country club something exciting? Of course not. But what will manufacturers do in the years to come? Will there be any lawsuits against the USGA? Will manufacturers adopt the two-ball idea without USGA approval?
More important is the idea that the USGA could then go after the drivers. For all the talk about inflated golf balls, drivers have also played a major role in increasing distances. If the USGA tries to reduce the number of golf clubs as well as golf balls, this may be where recreational golfers will have the most problems. And maybe that’s when manufacturers will fight back, too.
Larry Bohannan is the golf writer for The Desert Sun. You can contact him at (760) 778-4633 or email@example.com. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter at @larry_bohannan. Support local journalism. Subscribe to Desert Sun.