Will the joint R&A-USGA report on the distance debate really make much difference the everyday golfer? Only time will tell. But the stars out making a living from this wonderful game of ours will certainly be affected. So what do they have to say about the possibility of golf equipment being reined in?
“I’ve always said that the game of golf, it’s fluid, it’s moving. The golf ball is certainly going a lot further than the balata days. We’ve changed it from using a tree to using high-tech metal. We’ve come a long way in this game. What’s been crazy, I’ve been a part of all that. My career when I first started, I beat Davis Love in a playoff and he was using a persimmon driver. To see the technology advance as fast as it has, the average distance was, from when I first came out on here, if you carry it 270, it took a lot of trouble out of play. Now guys are hitting their hybrids and 5-woods 270 in the air.
“So the game has evolved and it’s changed. We’re running out of property to try and design golf courses that are from the back 7,800 to 8,000 yards, it’s difficult. But on top of that, we want to keep the game so enjoyable and we’ve trying to get more participation, and having the larger heads, more forgiving clubs, it adds to the enjoyment of the game. So there’s a very delicate balancing act where we’re trying to keep the game at, but also as we’ve all recognised, the players have changed over the years, too. When I first came out it was just Vijay and myself in the gyms and now seems like everyone has their own trainer and physios and guys got bigger, stronger, faster, more athletic like all sports.”
– Tiger Woods
“The biggest thing that came out of the report for me, a lot of the stuff about the ball going too far and technology, really pertains to 0.1 percent of golfers out there. If they want to try to contain what we do as touring professionals, I’m all for that.”
– Rory McIlroy
The smaller driver would make a massive difference because you couldn’t swing hard at it correctly every time. That would take some enjoyment away from the game for the average guy, so it might have to be two sets of rules. Though I don’t like bifurcating. That’s a tough one.”
– Matt Kuchar
“I saw the e-mail and then I looked at how long it was and I did not read it. I mean, to be honest, I really did. I looked at it and it was like 18 pages or something and I said, yeah, I didn’t even try to read it. I didn’t read any of it.
“To be honest, it’s not like the scores are lower than they used to be or they’re any different. I don’t think it goes too far, and I don’t think we make this game too easy, or it sure is not easy for me.”
– Dustin Johnson
“I didn’t really read anything tangible from the report. I only saw that they didn’t want each generation to continue getting longer and longer. I don’t think that we have had massive equipment changes. We have just had athletes that have been able to take advantage of the equipment more so than in the past.
“You look at what Bryson has done getting in the gym, getting after it, lifting weights, and hitting bombs, and now you’re talking about trying to roll it back because he’s made himself a better athlete. So I don’t know if I agree with that. I just know from the small little bubble of the PGA Tour I hate seeing the athletes punished or discouraged from continuing to work and get better.”
– Phil Mickelson
“On the LPGA, I don’t know if it’s ever explained well enough, but the technologies designed for those guys, it’s not designed for even us. We get a little bit of benefit out of it, but it’s designed for guys that have swing speeds over 115 miles an hour and anyone that’s 120, 125 miles an hour, they’re the ones that can hit it 30 yards further with a certain driver or a certain golf ball.
“For the rest of us, we might find small incremental changes, but there has to be a limit at some point because golf’s going to run out of room. We can’t build bigger and longer golf courses. The great thing for women is that these great old golf courses in the States that never wanted us to play on them now can’t host a men’s event because they’re too short and now they actually want us to come and play their golf course.
“So for us, we’ve gotten the chance to play these great golf courses now because they’re too short for the guys, they can never hold a major championship again.”
– Karrie Webb
“That ship’s sailed. They’ve been doing that for a while. They’ve changed a whole bunch of golf courses now. I don’t know, it’s a game everybody’s got the same stuff, so it’s not like one person’s got something else and he’s using a different thing. Everybody’s got the same equipment. To be honest with you, I just think there’s better athletes now playing, and when you get better athletes, they’re going to hit it further. Just like any sport, they’re going to hit it further, they’re going to jump higher, they’re going to run faster. We don’t have any of the jumping and running, but we can hit it further.”
– JB Holmes
- Related: “I was hitting it 300 yards at 13”
“It’s not [a problem] for the amateur player. All the equipment is great for the amateur golfer and the ball can’t go too far for a 10 handicap. So in general I would say no [it’s not a problem], on tour, yes [it is].”
– Patrick Cantlay
“I haven’t been to Phoenix since 2006 because JB Holmes won back-to-back there and I thought, ‘Well that’s the end of this place for me.’
“Thankfully there is still more to golf than hitting it 350, but there’s certain golf courses that you feel like you are two shots behind per round standing on the 1st tee because guys are going to be getting on 5s that you can’t get on and you just you’ve got to do it a different way.
“It used to be there was only three or four uber long guys, now there’s like 34 of them. I feel like I’m long enough to compete 90 per cent of the time, and that’s OK, I’m OK with that. There’s going to be 10 per cent of the time where you’re just like, well, this is not really my kind of a joint this week, I’m going to have to either putt the eyes out of it or I’m probably not going to have a chance to compete this week.”
– Graeme McDowell
“Everyone has to ask themselves: ‘Is the game of golf in a good spot right now in regards to distance, or do we have to dial it back?’
“I don’t know why they would want us to hit it shorter.”
– Jason Day
“You’ve seen a difference in the last four, five years in distance on our tour. I mean, it’s crazy how far some of these girls hit it.
“My perspective is the golf balls have gotten so much better that your misses don’t go offline as much, which allows you to swing harder at it and it goes straighter. So the golf balls have helped the distance part and it’s helped just the freedom of being able to swing as hard as you want.
“And then the clubs, obviously, that’s the biggest factor. It’s literally go up there and hit it as hard as you can because your misses are going to be better that way. I mean, on our side we don’t talk about it as much, but I do think something needs to be done. Whether it’s a golf ball issue or a club or maybe a combination of the both, I do think something needs to be done because golf courses are going to become irrelevant pretty soon.”
– Stacy Lewis
“Selfishly, I wouldn’t mind seeing them make a ball that affects only the top guys. I would love to see where a drive of 300 yards is absolutely bombed. That’s the limit. It’s clear that the path golf is on is not sustainable in regards to courses that we’re building that all are approaching 8,000 yards. That seems crazy.”
– Peter Malnati
“It’s at a point now where you can’t be getting 10 yards extra out of a driver. If they’re going to make a change at all, if they’re going to make it any better, it’s one or two yards max. I think we’re at the limit now. It will be interesting to see where it all goes. Personally, I don’t have any issues if they want to try and change it and try and improve it.”
– Lucas Herbert
“If the USGA and R&A decide to make the guys that fly it 300+ use a limited ball while players like myself can continue as normal that would be ideal.”
– Chris Paisley
- Related: Read the full report here
“You want to see us dial back a little more, start putting stuff in our way. Don’t make the golf course easier at 320 than it is at 280.”
– Robert Garrigus
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We dive deep into the golf ball roll back plans!