Augusta National is often cited as a reason to rein the ball back but, on The NCG Golf Podcast, performance coach Lou Stagner wasn’t persuaded
It’s the poster child for those who want to roll back the golf ball.
Augusta National is the classic course we’re told must be saved – the one that advocates yearn to be ‘played as the architect intended’.
It’s also the layout that’s always trying to find new ways to stretch its confines, striving to add length in the face of the super-human big-hitting professionals.
The R&A and USGA’s decision to roll back the ball for everyone from 2030 was hailed by golf course architects as protecting the “intended design strategies of older golf courses”.
But that’s not an argument that found favour with renowned performance coach, and data expert, Lou Stagner, on an episode of The NCG Golf Podcast.
‘I don’t really care what Augusta National does, and where it ends up’
Advocating against a roll back, and asked how it could all end for Augusta if efforts weren’t made to rein in distance, he said: “I don’t care where it ends. We’re talking about a golf course that literally bought a neighbourhood and overpaid for every house in the neighbourhood – except one – and knocked them all down so they could have a parking lot.
“I don’t really care what Augusta does, and where it ends up. I still enjoy watching it. I’ve always enjoyed watching it and that’s not going to change. I don’t care where it ends up and I’m not sure what we’re protecting it from.
“And we’re only focussed on the professional game here. We’re not even talking about amateurs, and amateurs make up 99.9 per cent or more of golfers. We’re talking about a fraction, of a fraction, of a fraction.
“What does it mean? I still don’t understand ‘how it was intended to be played’. If we’re really trying to get back to the intention of the game, are you an advocate for going back to not being able to clean your ball on the green? Because that’s how it used to be. You used to not be able to take something like an unplayable lie.
“That’s how the game was played for many, many, many years – hundreds of years. Are we advocating going back to that, if that’s how the game was intended to be played?
“Or do we pick and choose what we think the intentions are that matter to us. How does that work?”
Now listen to the whole debate
On The NCG Golf Podcast, Tom Irwin and Steve Carroll were joined by Lou, along with James Day, co-founder of Urban Golf and SounderGolf, to discuss the R&A and USGA decision to roll back the golf ball for everyone.
You can listen to the episode by clicking here.
What do you think? Will Augusta National benefit from the golf ball roll back plans? Or should we care about how the pros play a course most of us will never get to play ourselves? Let me know with a comment on X.