ROLL EQUIP­MENT BACK FOR EVERY­ONE

Golf World (UK) - - PRIZE DRAW -

The fi­nal op­tion, as we see it, is that the gov­ern­ing bod­ies limit the golf ball’s flight – and they roll it back across the board. “Ab­so­lutely not,” says Rick Young. “Most club golfers wouldn’t lose much dis­tance, some might not even no­tice at all, but the per­cep­tion of los­ing dis­tance and re­vers­ing tech­nol­ogy gains, would be dread­ful.”

When the R&A fi­nally out­lawed the 1.62” ball in 1990 and the 1.68” ball be­came stan­dard, those who had been play­ing the smaller ball lost plenty of dis­tance. But the game per­se­vered. Young as­serts you can’t com­pare that sit­u­a­tion with to­day’s, how­ever. “Just imag­ine the out­cry if some­thing sim­i­lar hap­pened now,” he says. “Golf has sur­vived some sem­i­nal mo­ments – be­ing banned by Scot­tish kings, two world wars, the Great De­pres­sion... but cir­cum­stances are dif­fer­ent now. We have so­cial me­dia, and there are so many other ac­tiv­i­ties com­pet­ing for peo­ple’s time. A lot of am­a­teur golfers would be in­censed. Golf, the golf in­dus­try at least, might not en­dure.”

It’s hard to dis­agree with Young on this point. Re­vers­ing tech­nol­ogy and im­pound­ing the recre­ational golfer’s equip­ment would be a very un­wel­come move. Am­a­teurs could al­ways use their out­lawed equip­ment, like users of the non-con­form­ing Callaway ERC II did af­ter it was launched in Oc­to­ber 2000. But how would a size­able per­cent­age of golfers choos­ing not to abide by rules im­posed by the game’s gov­ern­ing bod­ies look?

Other pos­si­ble out­comes that sug­gest a univer­sal roll­back would have dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences are the long, drawn-out, and messy lit­i­ga­tion Titleist would likely take against the gov­ern­ing bod­ies, the po­ten­tial rift be­tween those gov­ern­ing bod­ies and pro­fes­sional tours, and the likely drop in TV rat­ings and

tour­na­ment at­ten­dances.

There’s also a sug­ges­tion that man­u­fac­tur­ers’ prod­uct cy­cles might be­come even shorter. “Most golf balls are on two-year cy­cle right now,” says

MyGolfSpy’s Tony Covey. “That might not change much, but it’s cer­tainly pos­si­ble we could see an ac­cel­er­a­tion in the first few years as OEMs try to fig­ure out how to make a bet­ter short ball.”

Covey also notes that some of the smaller ball brands that have emerged in re­cent years could dis­ap­pear as they don’t have R&D de­part­ments and would strug­gle to keep pace with the big brands with the big­gest bud­gets.

On the plus side, if a shorter, but higher-spin­ning ball was in­tro­duced, bet­ter ball-strik­ers would gain a sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tage off the tee, and there would be no need to con­tin­u­ally lengthen cour­ses. In time, Mike Davis might ac­tu­ally com­ment on how much more af­ford­able the game had be­come.

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