After 20-years of campaigning by myself and many, many others, the golf ball is at last to be ‘punctured’ and rolled back, but it is such a small rollback that it is far too little and far too late.
One will have to keep hammering on about the subject because the rollback is NOT about balls and drivers. It’s about golf courses; their sustainability and ability to present the big hitters with an appropriate challenge and containing costs for ‘ordinary’ golfers, like you and I.
The R&A and USGA have pleased nobody with their announcement. The only consolation is that 2030 is so far away that there is plenty of time for a change of heart and something better to emerge? To be super-sarcastic and ridiculous: moving the tees forward just a little will circumvent any shortage of hitting distance. Why did they bother?
Elite golf is not very interesting or exciting anymore; it’s about slamming the ball as far as possible and turning the game into a putting contest. There used to be a lot more to it than that. In modern golf, the ability to hit the same shot over and over is more important than the ability to play different (types of) shots. Top players must be bored to tears with the game they are asked to play for a living, and it is no fun to watch either. There was a time when the driver was the most difficult club in the bag to control. Now, it’s so forgiving one can blaze away without hardly a care in the world. The game has been manipulated by the ball and equipment manufacturers to a state where it has become too easy for pros while remaining more or less as difficult as ever for the club golfer.
Rory’s best drives would need to be 50 yards shorter for him to notice any difference, while amateur players who shoot 80+ should be left alone to use all of the game-improvement technology they can get their hands on. I don’t understand why the manufacturers campaigned against bifurcation. It’s the 80+ shooters who buy their over-priced products, while the elites are given it for free. Plus, they outnumber the pros by 100:1.
The manufacturers do not own the game and the game does not owe the manufacturers anything. It’s the manufactures who owe the game. The manufacturers must comply with whatever rules apply if they want to continue to exist. The USGA and R&A should make whatever rules they think are best for the whole game, not one cohort of it and certainly not for the manufacturers.
Meanwhile, the PGA Tour is fighting for its life. Having to deal with a super-rich, disruptive rival who is driving costs beyond what can be afforded. There is discontent everywhere. Amongst greedy pros who want to be paid more and more and sponsors who are being asked for more money for a diminished product. With charitable donations a certain casualty, what will the attitude of loyal, unpaid, and indispensable volunteers be? There is no doubt the PGA Tour model has been badly damaged, if not completely broken.
The US Congress is investigating it for ‘monopolistic practices’. Tiger won’t save it. Rory is quite right to be planning his exit from the USA and moving to London. I’m guessing Rory is so pissed off with Jay Monahan and his former fellow-player directors on the PGA Tour that it might inspire him to dominate the majors in 2024. If Rory doesn’t step up in the majors immediately, I do not see anybody on the PGA Tour capable of stopping LIV golfers from winning at least 50% of the four majors each year for the foreseeable future.
Diverting money from good causes to inflate the winnings of already wealthy athletes does not have much appeal. LPGA players across the board are frustrated too and are complaining about the universal ball rollback. They say, “leave the ball alone (for them)” and legislate for men having different driver heads. From a woman’s perspective, it is a fair point.
Why should anybody have been surprised or annoyed that Jon Rahm moved to LIV? His two closest golfing friends are Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia. He practices and talks with them constantly. How could anybody turn down such a humongous fee? A career-ending injury can strike anybody at any time. Jon will have full access into the majors for five years ahead and a lighter schedule that will help to keep him fresh. The PGA Tour may have deeper fields but the quality at the top in LIV tournaments is, now at least, its equal. The credibility of the OWGR Rankings have also been dealt a mortal blow.
When the PGA Tour leadership legitimised LIV and sports washing by negotiating with the Saudis on June 6th last, everything changed. Don’t be surprised if a mini-flood gate opens with Adrian Meronk, Patrick Cantlay, and Xander Schauffele sluicing through the gates very soon. The Saudis will ‘own’ all sports by the time they are finished. And, then, pro sports themselves will be finished.
Will it affect the humble club golfer? Not in the slightest! Think only about your own game, why you like golf, and, just enjoy it with your friends and even on your own. Hit the ball, walk after it and hit it again. Probably half of my rounds (especially the partial ones) are played solo. I love it – especially the silence. I can tune out the noise! Let’s all get back to basics, play the game for fun and relaxation as it was intended. Professional golf is no more than an entertainment that is no longer entertaining.
Ignore it! No longer is it worth a minute of my time.