By Mike Stevens
So, the USGA and the R&A have decided to study all aspects concerning the effect of golf ball distance in golf. It includes amateur and professional golfers worldwide, golf course owners and operators, golf equipment manufacturers, golf course architects and golf course superintendents.
It wasn’t that long ago that they concluded that distance was not an issue. I wonder what changed. I have no idea how much they are going to spend on this research, but in the end, I’ll bet it comes down to something simple. In fact, I can save them a lot of time and effort. The only issues concerning distance is the added cost of maintenance due to lengthening and toughening up golf courses, plus the hour or so longer it takes to play them. Think about it. Fifty years ago, I paid an average of $20 to play the local municipal courses I grew up around. Today in Florida, I pay an average of about $30. Yet, maintenance costs have significantly increased over those same years,
Other than maintenance costs, distance has been extremely lucrative for the other aspects of the game. The professional tours are doing very well. People love the long ball. Average players all want more. As the Geico commercials say, there’s a lot to be said about more. Manufacturers get top dollar for clubs and balls that go farther. Is pulling back really what people are going to want? Doubtful! Here is my bottom line: Roll back the playing surface to a reasonable length and make them easier to maintain. Distance just changes strategy. Instead of laying up, the new norm will be going for it. So what if I can drive a par-four? It is always about who shoots the lowest score. Does it really matter how it is done? The quest for distance has been a staple of golf since its origin. Why stop now?