IT’S GONE TOO FAR
After just reading the Distance Report in your June issue, I found the data very interesting. It is hard to disagree with the notion that a 3.5-yard increase in driving distance since 2016 is worrying. It is also hard to disagree with the idea that this is generally as a result of the technological developments of golf ball production.
That said, I very much doubt many amateurs hit regular drives that go near 300 yards and straight down the fairway. Surely technological advances are good for the amateur game as this gives the regular player a chance to play the game better, thus increasing enjoyment and hopefully encouraging younger players to stay interested in the game.
The obvious solution seems to be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ ball for the tours. As you said though, this will cause all sorts of legal issues and will not be received well with equipment manufacturers who rely on technological advances in their products to make profits and continue to be successful as companies.
It seems like an issue that will run and run. I just hope the resolution does not impact on the amateur game and creates a fair playing field for the professionals. Tom Curtiss, Email
LESS IS MORE
I had a thought after watching the Indian Open and the Arnold Palmer Invitational tournaments recently. I was so engrossed watching both final rounds play out to a close and exciting finale that I realised afterwards that it was watching players competing to win which was exciting, not marvelling how far they hit the ball. Far more than their vast drives, I was excited at how close they hit their approach shots, and when the long putts rolled in.
If others shared the same view as me, then it doesn’t really matter how far the professionals hit the ball so long as it is exciting. I would
much prefer to see the ruling bodies and the equipment manufacturers acknowledge this and limit the distance the ball will fly.
Otherwise, courses have to get longer, time to complete a round gets ever more tedious and the game becomes slower and even more one dimensional.
Am I the only one who values close competition over power and distance? David Forfar, Email
HUNTED BY TIGER
So, Rory’s finally won again, this time the Arnold Palmer Invitational. I wonder why. Would it have anything to do with the proximity of a certain Tiger Woods?
Yes, that’s exactly what it is. Rory knows that when he plays at his best, he can beat anyone in the world, even when they’re playing at their best. He also knows that facing Tiger at his best is another thing completely – and I think that spurs him on.
It’s amazing what real motivation can do. Rory needs Tiger and golf needs them both. Jeff Smith, Sheffield
GROW THE GAME
I have to disagree with Brian Wacker in his review of the Waste Management Open in your May issue. The whole Phoenix Open experience is great for golf, with record crowds really enjoying themselves, including lots of non-golfers. It’s wonderful to encourage those non-golfers to discover the game and the Phoenix Open does that.
Professional golfers are entertainers and having crowds enjoy themselves should be a big aim. Yes, a few drunks let it down, but they can and have been removed.
More importantly, as the great sage John Huggan keeps pointing out, the Tour should concentrate on finding a solution to the issue of slow play, as that’s a bigger problem. Peter Dazeley, Parsons Green
DUMBING IT DOWN
How enlightening to read the Prize Letter from A. Kennedy last month. Someone who the USGA and R&A targeted to benefit from the change in handicap (to 54) actually opposed to it. Waiting while someone putts for 6 on a par 3 to gain one stableford point will delight those single figure golfers waiting on the tee.
Some of the new rules being introduced will serve only to ‘dumb down’ the game. For example, instead of playing a second ball off the tee when OB, which might also go out of bounds, you get to drop it in the fairway with a two stroke penalty. How much time will it take to assess/ agree exactly where the ball crossed the OB line?
Also, putting with the flagstick in seems very anomalous. If somebody overhits their putt to where it would have sailed 10ft past the pin, but it hits the pin and drops in the hole, surely that just rewards incompetence.
The authorities are so desperate to attract anybody into the game, regardless of competence, they risk discouraging even further those who want to play good, fair-paced golf. Stan Frith, Bath
The Phoenix Open: is this good or bad for growing the game?