'Clubs must take action soon or they'll cease to exist'March 21, 2018 Golf News
Guest columnist Dave McCarthy focuses on how clubs, their members, manufacturers and the governing bodies should be helping golf move forward
Accept that the ball is not going too far. I read with annoyance the continued discussions about how far the ball is going.
Since 2003 there has been an increase of 6.6 yards on the PGA Tour, 5.4 yards on the European Tour, 3.6 yards on the Japan Tour and 10 yards on the Web.com Tour and eight yards for the amateur.
The average driving distance for an amateur is 208 yards.
If you take into account how club fitting has improved, the variations in head weight, lighter graphite shafts, launch angles, stronger lofts, material improvement, increases in clubhead speed, pros getting fitter and stronger, then all these factors surely have played their part towards increasing length?
We have moved from 43 to 46-inch drivers, which is far too long in my opinion. Occasionally the golfer will catch it out of the middle and hit a long one but generally, at that length of club, the average golfer will more than often not achieve an out-of-centre face hit which only increases his dispersion.
We had the issue about the ‘Trampoline Effect’ reaction off the clubface a few years ago, where are we with that now, does anyone really know? Is anyone at club level actually monitoring it, have all drivers in use actually been tested and listed? I doubt it. Square grooves on irons and especially wedges were banned some years ago, but has this really made a difference and was it good for the game? I’m not convinced.
Please let’s stop talking about length together with how far the golf ball is going.
Was it not one of the shortest holes, the 13th at Merion which measures 115 yards, that undid Mickelson in his quest to finally win the US Open?
Keep courses playable for the masses. In the past decade Merion has been the shortest US Open layout at 6,996 yards and played the toughest, producing the highest score against par of one over.
When the Open goes to Troon how many of the field would take 12 shots on the 123-yard Postage Stamp for the four days and run? 99.9 per cent I bet.
If we continue to increase lengths of courses what then for the amateur who averages it 208 yards off the tee – only frustration, annoyance, lack of enjoyment and, not to mention, higher scores and even longer to play the round.
Don’t open the gap between pros and amateurs. To the governing bodies I say please stop interfering with equipment to the degree you are and don’t make the top players in the world play equipment and balls that we amateurs cannot.
One of the great benefits to this wonderful game which is different to so many sports is that we can play the same equipment and courses the world’s best do.
Surely a solution is when a tournament comes to town is to tighten the fairways, stick pins in tricky positions and, if a pro then short sides himself, then real skill is required. And if he decides to launch a huge drive his landing area might be fraught with danger.
Bring golf home. I make a plea to the European Tour and Mr Pelley, please start focusing your efforts in Europe and bringing more tournaments to these shores.
It would be so beneficial to the game if we had more local events. Attendances prove it at the PGA Championship, British Masters, Scottish and Irish Opens and of course our own Open Championship.
How can we expect youngsters to be inspired to take up the game if they are unable to watch the best golfers in real life? Can you image the Premier League taking the majority of games to Dubai or wherever. What would happen? Interest would wane with the fans unable to see their heroes live.
What is the difference in golf?
Stop chasing the pot of gold. Finally, a plea also to the governing bodies. Be in it for the right reasons and that means a great deal of golf should be on terrestrial TV for the benefit of all and the future of the game.