Podcast Episode 184 – Is the Golf Ball Rollback a Good Idea?

In this week’s episode, Matt dives into the USGA and R&A proposal for a reduced distance golf ball for elite competitions.  He gives you his stance, tips for how to evaluate arguments on this issue, and predictions for where we end up.

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Matt Saternus

Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Plugged In Golf. He's worked in nearly every job in the golf industry from club fitting to instruction to writing and speaking. Matt lives in the northwest suburbs of Chicago with his wife and two daughters.

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11 Comments

  1. Sven Olsen

    Why change golf balls?
    Roll back the traditional lofts instead – more effektive and we get rid of irons with the wrong lofts

  2. John Maxwell

    I don’t really care about the second ball. However, I would see it as a disaster for the golf industry. 25 handicappers play top line golf balls (insert your favorite company). They play them not because they know the difference in performance characteristics, but purely because it must be good for my game because my favorite pro is using it and thus spends an extra $20 per dozen with no impact on their game. Max Homa can beat me with a ball made out of bird feathers and I am a single digit handicap. Let the pros hit what they want and smash it all over the place. It is impressive.

  3. Patrick Kilcoyne

    Hi Matt:

    I enjoyed your viewpoints on the proposed changes to the golf ball. I’m not sure that reducing the yardage by 14 yards is really going to make a difference given the skills and the commitment of most players to a physical workout routine. I also feel that most people that watch golf would prefer to see more birdies and eagles than a scorecard of pars. The US Open is the exception because of the narrower fairways, faster greens and ultimate mental strength test. Regardless of whatever is decided, it won’t affect my love for the game.

  4. Rolling back the ball has been a thought in the background for many years. The current balls and club technology have rendered many great courses obsolete under those circumstances. I’d like to see the pros play a ball that gave them less distance if it brought those classic courses back into play. However, club technology would soon override it in just a very few years I think.

  5. Norman Kaunitz

    I would like to keep golf balls the way they are now. I don’t want the elite players golf balls to be modified to fly less distance. I enjoy seeing the elite players go for birdies on narrow fairways!

  6. Just mow and roll the fairways down to where they’re rolling about about a 10 and bake the greens out and roll them to about a 13. They’re absolutely great athletes and golfers, show it! Sure they could go to any of our home courses and beat the brakes off of most any of us, but they’re PROs and elite, so set the course up to challenge them. I don’t want to hear them crying about it either. They make a couple million to win a tournament, they should be able to back one up on a landing strip and putt panes of glass.

  7. They should look at other sports that have tried to impact the scoring. Professional bowling did this years ago with heavier gold pins, too help lower scores. They did it for year or 2, and went back to the standard pins. They changed the oil patterns and oil lengths and volume, to make it more challenging. They haven’t tried to change the ball.

  8. Matt, interesting podcast. Couple of points:

    1) You say the players & manufacturers “will catch up in a few years”. Given that, why go thru this silliness just to roll a drive back “14 yards” & then revisit it in a few years. Does the ball get rolled back again?

    We probably have different base philosophical views. I don’t care if someone shoots -15 & wins a Major. Actually, I don’t care what score the winner shoots. They still have to shoot ONE shot better than everyone else. There are folks who like 3-0 football games & 1-0 baseball games. But I don’t think the majority of people, including myself, are like that. I want to see folks win tournaments by making birdies & occasional eagles, not struggling to not make a bogey or double

    3) Augusta just lengthened holes 13 & 15. Don’t think there were any eagles at 15 last year. A total snoozefest. So with a shorter ball they’ll be even fewer people going for those greens in 2. Sorry, but that just makes my Saturday & especially Sunday back 9 Masters-watching much more boring.

    4) When does this spill over into the LPGA? Lots of these younger women now coming on the tour can knock it 250 -280 even without the shaved-down fairways that the men play. Remember, they’re playing at only 6,300 to 6,700 yards & at times their scores are really low. But no one complains about that.

    So even though we disagree on many points, enjoyed the podcast, thanks!

    • Matt Saternus

      Mike,

      Thanks for your thoughts.
      Regarding the OEMs and players “catching up”, I don’t know if that’s true, it’s just something I’ve heard suggested. My fix would be a stronger rollback, which is part of why I’m only modestly in favor of this proposal.

      Have a great day,

      Matt

  9. One point I didn’t hear mentioned is to be cautious or skeptical of comments from tour players who have major ball contracts. Justin Thomas is certainly being influenced – coached – by Titleist for example when he provides his “opinion.”

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