Sorry Jack - I Disagree
I tread carefully here because I'm about to rail on the G.O.A.T. - Jack Nicklaus is again in the news and once again blaming virtually all of the woes of the current game on the length of modern golf balls - Back in the day says Jack, championship courses were played at 6,500 yards - Now they play to 7,500 yards - Consequently more land is needed to build courses, which means more water and fertilizer, which equates to higher maintenance costs, which of course means higher greens fees for Joe public golfer - Bigger courses also take longer to play, and says Jack, people today don't have 5-hours to spend playing golf - Longer courses also make the game harder for amateurs, thus increasing frustration and turning people away from the game
So there you go - In one fell swoop, the "Golden Bear" has managed to blame every perceived problem facing our game today on the golf ball - His solution is simple, reduce the distance of the ball for tour players by 20% but allow amateurs to play the balls of current distances - Again, Jack represents golf royalty and I respect all he has done for the game, but honestly...How can he be so friggin' single-minded! - The short answer I think, is that Jack is only capable of viewing the issues from the perspective of a guy who has spent very little time playing recreational "buddy" golf
First of all, current distances achieved by today's players are a culmination of many factors - For starters, modern tour players are simply bigger and stronger than those of Jack's day - Hours in the gym with personal trainers, focusing on those exercises specifically aimed at increasing flexibility and swing speeds will have that effect - The advanced equipment used by the pros also adds to the distance issue - And if that weren't enough, tight fairways mown to the height of putting surfaces back in the day add many more yards of roll once the ball is on the ground - So Jack, while I'll address the distance issue here in a minute, it's short sighted to blame the entire problem on only the ball - But the confusing part for me, is that he obviously knows all of this stuff???
Ball Shmall...He hit it far!
Now to be clear, I have no problem with the idea of dumbing-down the golf ball - Doing so might well address at least some of the issues that Jack points out - But by far my biggest problem with Jack's thinking (or lack thereof) is that it's ok to let the tour pros play with a reduced-flight ball while I hack away with my beloved Bridgestone - I flippin' hate that idea! - Apparently from his perch on golf's throne, Jack has lost touch with the peasants - Don't know about the rest of you, but I love the fact that I play with the same gear as the best guys in the world - Now don't start ranting just yet - I'm acutely aware that Dustin Johnson plays clubs perfectly fitted, bent, and tweaked to his ideal swing mechanics, while my Titleist's are standard length, lie, and loft straight off the rack - But at least they are made of the same materials and aren't banned from DJ's bag - It is only because of the consistency in gear that I can have a true appreciation of how good the pro's really are - Creating different specifications for tour players while letting the rest of us play away from the kiddy table would be a huge mistake - If the powers that be want to dummy-down the golf ball (or any other piece of equipment) then do it for all of us
And aside from my personal feelings on the issue, the logistics of splitting equipment specifications would create a nightmare - For example, would the dummied-down gear be only for those possessing a PGA Tour card? - What about the LPGA? - What about the 2-handicapper at your local club? - He may hit it nearly as far as some guys playing for money, should he then be playing a stupid ball? - And what kind of havoc would that wreak on the handicapping system - One handicap for short ball & one for regular? - C'mon man...
Like I said, Jack is golfing royalty - But in this case he sounds like a guy with a very narrow perspective and perhaps even a twinge of bitterness - In my opinion it's real simple - If golf is afraid of the distance issue, then play shorter courses and grow the rough to waist high - Ahhh...but that won't happen cuz "chicks dig the long ball" - And in the age of millennials, golf needs all of the "wow factor" it can get - Just my thoughts, what say the rest of you?