Having campaigned diligently for over twenty years for the Governing Bodies to take some of the initial velocity out of the low spin, high trajectory, golf balls that were introduced to the market around the turn of the new millennium, I am relieved and delighted that something in that regard is going to happen at long last.
Having to defend myself against claims that I was a killjoy when, I can honestly say, I love the game more than my own self and ego was frustrating and difficult at times. Looking back, it was probably what motivated me to become a writer more than any other one issue. My several letters to the R&A over the same period would make interesting reading (for me, at least) if they ever see the light of day. You won’t be surprised to hear I never once received a reply but whenever I met some of the top brass, they knew about them and agreed that ‘something needed to be done and would be done’. Their problem was how?
Golf is the only game with vast, complicated, beautiful playing grounds of endless variety that is expected to continually adjust to equipment innovations just to boost the already obscene profits that benefit a handful of manufacturing companies and less than a hundred touring pros out of the millions of avid golfers worldwide who, it must be said, fill the coffers of the manufacturers. How much does a regular touring pro pay for equipment, may I ask?
The wellbeing of the game of golf does not hinge on the wonder of watching pros hit the ball further and further. To suggest that the game has not materially changed in any way over the last twenty years, and to gripe about poor timing because the PGA Tour is dealing with the LIV threat while giving the impression that the playing opportunities of a few hundred professional golfers trumps the needs of 70 million recreational players is grossly selfish and damaging.
The most important constituent in the game is the courses golfers play on – not the players, be they amateur or professional. Players will come and go but without golf courses to play on there can be no game. To protect golf courses (not to mention the traditional skills of the game and how it is played) the ruling bodies are absolutely correct to exert controls on players equipment that has allowed the current generation to hit the ball over 400-yards in certain conditions. A limit of 320-yards seems high to me but I’ll settle for it for now and would wish for further reductions in the future.
When a new, modified golf ball for the elite players only is introduced and doesn’t fly as far (15-20 yards is the estimate so I’ve heard) the game will become more skilful for the pros and the cost of upkeeping golf courses more manageable and less expensive. Where are the downsides to that?
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