Reduced-Distance Golf Balls Could Sustain Our Game

Day two of the North American Golf Innovation Symposium in Vancouver, BC closed out with some interesting comments from USGAs executive director Mike Davis. In a room full of golf enthusiasts and sharp-minds, the mention of “Variable-distance golf balls” sparked interest and debate.

The USGA exec. didn’t implying that there will be a roll-back on golf balls but that a reduced-distance ball could be an alternative for golf’s future. Of course, the idea seems hokey at first glance but Davis backed up his argument with a couple thinking-points worth hearing.

Distance is a concern for the future of the game. “We all want to hit the ball farther. But distance is all relative. Shinnecock Hills went from 5500 to 7500 yards, what has that done good for the game? It’s increased the expenses to maintain it. It’s cost us time to walk an extra 2000 yards. What has it actually done?” Davis goes on by saying that people want to see pristine, over-watered courses but with the state of our water supply, it’s not sustainable and longer courses will increase that cost.

Equipment is dictating the playing field. “Think about baseball in the United States. If they were using titanium bats and a hot baseball, and they had to go to Fenway Park and say move the Green Monster out another 75 or 100 feet?” Davis makes reference of how the obvious advantage of aluminum vs. wood bats was overlooked by the MLB to keep the tradition of the game intact.

A reduced distance golf ball could potentially make older courses more relevant on tour without billions of dollars in renovations and while reducing overall time-of-play and cost of maintenance.

Sounds like the USGA is taking care of the future of our game and is willing to flip every stone in the process. Great to see!

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