It’s no secret some believe the ball distance should be rolled back and the list includes prominent and no so prominent names from Jack Nicklaus to Gary Player to Tiger Woods to a fourteen-handicap with whom I happened to be paired. All have voiced their opinions for, among other reasons, the need to diminish the effects of courses having to expand to accommodate the increased distance. USGA Executive Director Mike Davis in fact was quoted in the Wall Street Journal saying, “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

The USGA and the R&A have launched a project called Distance Insights to solicit opinions about the distance the golf ball goes with no stated purpose other than opening a dialog within the game. With the Association’s Executive Director having already made his “horrible” comment one can choose to believe there is no hidden agenda.

Announcing the Distance Insights project Davis said, “The topic of increased distance and its effects on the game have been discussed for well over a century. We believe that now is the time to examine this topic through a very wide and long lens, knowing it is critical to the future of the game. We look forward to delving deeply into this topic and learning more, led by doing right by golf, first and foremost.”

Dr. Rand Jerris, the Senior Managing Director of the USGA, during an interview in the video explaining the project pointed out though there is an enormous amount of data on the professional game (presumably referring to the data derived from ShotLink) very little data exists about the recreational game. He went on to say the Ruling bodies want to identify the “key stakeholder groups” such as architects, owners, superintendents, players, etc. and set up conversations for input and feedback.

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of the R&A, said, “Distance in golf is a complex issue which is widely debated at all levels of the sport. It is important that we collate all of the relevant data and hear the many different perspectives on this issue that exist in the international golf community. We intend to conduct this process openly, comprehensively and promptly and will work with all of the key stakeholders to ensure we have a fully rounded view of distance and its implications.”

Asking average golfers how the distance question effects them is commendable but after watching the video explaining the Distance Insights project it could be construed the question is being asked with a decided slant. The only factors mentioned in the presentation are the need for more irrigation water and the length of time it takes to play the longer courses. The facts that golfers have more fun being able to hit the ball farther and that fans enjoy seeing professionals smash a long drive were left out.

Golfers wishing to be part of this projected dialogue can visit the link below, watch the video and either send an email with their thoughts or fill in the survey form. A third party will review the data and the USGA and R&A “will engage various golf industry stakeholders through 2018.” A Distance Insights report will be ready in 2019.

USGA Distance Insight

In Case Anyone Should Ask:

Club & Ball Counts at the Byron Nelson: Titleist had 113 of the 156 in the field playing either the Pro V1 or Pro V1x and Callaway had 17 players using the Chrome Soft or Chrome Soft X. The hybrid and iron counts also went to Titleist with 25 and 43 respectively while their Vokey wedges were tops in the approach, sand and lob wedge categories with 202.  Sixty Scotty Cameron putters were in play, the most of any manufacturer. TaylorMade Golf had the greatest number of drivers, either their M3 or M4, with 55. Titleist was second (35) with Callaway and Ping tied for third with 27 each.

Operator from PXG: PXG has added the Operator putter to its lineup. Selling for $450 there are three versions available, all with an aluminum body and stainless steel face backed by a TPE insert to improve the sound, feel and response.