For most sports out there, the professional level requires that there is a standard ball that is used. This is different for the sport of golf, however, as players can choose whatever ball they want to play with (so long as it conforms to USGA standards). But that may be coming to an end.
Ever since the beginning of the PGA TOUR and golf itself, players have been choosing what type of ball they want to play on the course. From Titleist to Nike, soft to firm, and two piece to five piece, players chose their balls for different purposes. Now, in an age where players are driving the ball further than ever before, there have been more and more players coming out in favor of a standardized golf ball.
Because some players are able to hit a ball almost 400 yards, the length of courses is becoming almost uncompetitive. Players with that ability to bomb the ball can turn a 550-yard par five into a simple drive and mid-iron into the green for an eagle. That puts several players at a disadvantage and allows for the long bombers to dominate the sport. It also causes problems for course designers, who have to keep adding length to every hole.
Matt Kuchar catches a ball on the practice range during the final round of the World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club South Course on July 3, 2016 in Akron,… Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
Tiger Woods has been one of the most vocal players on this issue and the sponsors of the ball he used in 2016, Bridgestone, seems to agree with his concerns. In a recent interview, Bridgestone Golf president and CEO Angel Ilagan stated that “As it relates to the Tour…there needs to be something to standardize [the ball] because the guys are hitting it way too long.”
Now, this would only be something used at the professional level. In the same interview, Ilagan makes a strong distinction between having a distance-limited ball for PGA professionals while still allowing casual golfers to choose their own ball in order to enhance their game. The distinction makes sense since casual golfers are playing merely for fun and it doesn’t matter as much if they are using performance-enhancing balls.
This issue has been a tad overlooked lately but now that a major golf ball producer has taken a side, changes could be on the horizon. Only time will tell if professional golf will entertain the idea instituting a standard, limited-flight golf ball for tournaments.
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