Is it time for the USGA and the PGA Tour to have different rules, at least for equipment? There are some compelling arguments for at least limiting the distance of the golf ball according to Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller and Jeff Sluman.
Johnny Miller asserted the USGA is “afraid to stand up for what they should be standing up (mandating a golf ball that goes shorter distances for touring pros). With that kind of ball (more spin, less distance) you can hit all kinds of cool shots.”
According to Jack Nicklaus, “If we went back and left equipment alone but changed the golf ball and brought it back, you played a shorter golf course, not only from the Tour standpoint would it be good, but a shorter golf course all through the game would mean less maintenance cost, less cost to play the game, quicker play, less land, less fertilizer, less everything, which would make the game more economical.”
Jeff Sluman put it another way, “It’s just like Formula One cars, the governing bodies set up rules and regulations to slow the cars down. Race car teams hire more and better engineers to get around the limits that have been set. Cars are going faster.”
“Ball companies are the same,” he said. “Titleist is going to hire better engineers. The bottom line is the ball is going to go farther under whatever parameters they’ve got. How do you slow that down? Tell them they can’t hire engineers?”
The equipment companies definitely have much more at stake financially than the USGA and are willing to invest more money in research and development, carried out by rocket scientists.
The executive director of the USGA, David Fay, had this to say, “As the gap between the best players and the rest of us widens, there are more and more discussions about whether the game can survive with one set of rules. I’m still hanging to the set of beliefs we can.”
With PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem talking about a “line in the sand” for how far the ball travels, the tour may take matters into their own hands.
It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out and how Titleist would react to having to change their advertising to “The Number One Limited Distance Ball on Tour.” I can see the lawyers having a feeding frenzy already.