Just a few weeks after insisting that, USGA CEO Mike Davis is offering what some might consider a radical solution to, well, what his organization said was a non-problem.
A “variable distance” golf ball is what Davis called it at the North American Golf Innovation Symposium, according to Golf Channel.
“If you think about it, we already bifurcate distance,” Davis said at the symposium. “We bifurcate distance because we play from different teeing grounds. But what happens if all of a sudden I want to play with Dustin Johnson and say, ‘Dustin, here’s an 80 percent golf ball, I’m going to use a 100 percent golf ball and we’re going to play the same tees.’ It sounds radical, but it might not.”
I love this idea. The golf ball is out of control., there was only one golfer in 2000 averaging 300 yards. This year, there are currently 39.
“Throw Dustin an 80 percent golf ball and say, ‘Let’s go play the back tees,’ and guess what? It would be a great experience for him,” Davis continued. “He’d be able to play this wonderful, historic golf course that, by and large, he can’t play anymore.”
I know we all love distance, and 80 percent might be too much (Johnson would average about 252 yards at 80 percent of his current average). But at least the governing bodies are talking about it instead of looking the other way as courses are burned to the ground.
One problem that Davis and Co. will run into is how many top-tier courses have already expanded to compensate for the increase in long hitters. Can they now contract if in fact the ball is rolled back like Davis is suggesting? Will that be cost-prohibitive?
Davis has one of the most important voices in golf on his side, too. Jack Nicklaus has been trumpeting this very thing for years, never more loudly.
“I think with the length the guys hit today ... I tell you, the simplest solution is change the frigging golf ball,” said Nicklaus. “The golf ball goes so far. Augusta National is about the only place, the only golf course in the world that financially can afford to make the changes that they have to make to keep up with the golf ball. I don’t think anybody else could ever do it.”