THE BAR­RI­ERS TO CHANGE

Golf World (UK) - - THE SPIN -

Dustin John­son may av­er­age 315 yards off the tee, but you don’t. Not even down­hill and with a tail­wind. The av­er­age driv­ing dis­tance among av­er­age golfers is 219.55 yards, ac­cord­ing to data re­leased last year. So how much of a prob­lem is it re­ally, that a tiny per­cent­age of golfers hit the ball 350+ yards? “The USGA’s look­ing at it,” says Woods. “They’re do­ing some re­search on what would the world look like if you rolled back 10, 15, 20 per cent.” The USGA is con­stantly look­ing at it, but that doesn’t mean they have an ap­petite to change the ball, not when their num­bers tell them there is no prob­lem and that even if there is, when it af­fects only a tiny per­cent­age of elite play­ers. If there comes a time when the USGA feels the need to act, ex­pect stiff re­sis­tance — and an almighty le­gal bat­tle — from the golf ball mar­ket leader Titleist. Hav­ing spent decades and bil­lions de­vel­op­ing a Pro V1 that flies fur­ther and straighter than their com­peti­tors, if the USGA de­mand a roll back, they’d be lev­el­ling the play­ing field for ev­ery golf ball man­u­fac­turer. Lit­tle won­der that in the af­ter­math of Tiger’s com­ments, Wally Uih­lein (left), pres­i­dent and CEO of Titleist’s par­ent com­pany, Acush­net, dis­missed talk of a roll back and pointed out Woods is con­tracted to a Bridge­stone golf ball. And then, of course, there is the is­sue of bi­fur­ca­tion. Part of golf’s uni­ver­sal ap­peal is that we all get to play by the same set of rules. Create a tour­na­ment ball and you’re on the road from which there may be no com­ing back. “Once you open Pan­dora’s box, it will for­ever change the game,” warned the USGA’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Mike Davis. “We are stead­fast on this one. Peo­ple who want to bi­fur­cate don’t un­der­stand what they’re ask­ing.”

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