Thursday, August 03, 2006

New Golf Ball Flies 50 Yards Farther

How many times have you heard or read a claim about a new golf ball adding 10, 20, or more yards to your drive? I wouldn't be surprised if pretty soon you see a golf ball manufacturer claim that their golf ball will travel 50 yards further than any other golf ball.

Has technology played too much of a role in the game of golf? The materials they use today to create drivers, irons, shoes, golf balls, etc... has become a science. The golf manufacturers are coming out with very sophisticated materials to create clubs, balls, etc... The golf manufacturing industry has taken on a life of it's own by using space age metals and technology to create an edge on their competitors.

There has been a lot of discussion among some of big golf names about the distance the golf ball flies today. Gary Player has been advocating a change as well as Butch Harmon. Harmon has been quoted as saying "I think the ball is the big thing and the R&A and the USGA have got to step up to the plate and make a decision on what they're going to do with it."

I personally like crushing the ball 280 to 300 yards and I like seeing the pro's hitting it 300 to 340 yards. I also like seeing the low scores the golf pros are making these days, and watching them reach the majority of the par 5's in two with a putt for eagle. It makes the game of golf more exciting to see all the birdies being made.

What do you think? Should the USGA put additional limits on how far a golf ball can travel?

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1 comment:

Todd Kos said...

There's a caveat here...Once a ball leaves the clubface, the ball's distance is governed by the launch conditions at the time, dimple patterning, and any atmospheric conditions that may lengthen or shorten the drive. To achieve ultra long distances, the most influential variable to achieving it is ball speed. Dimple changes and formulation will continue to be tweaked. Ball core and cover hardness will begin to favor players who can achieve the higher ball speed. Unfortunately, these higher ball speeds are achieved by less than 1% of the golf population. There's a reason why I can't play the ProVx as well as the ProV1 or HX Tour. IThe new Taylormade balls are able to produce a slight increase of 1-4 mph ball speed and is realized only with higher swing speeds. I just don't have the power to generate the higher ball speeds. However, I do have the option of getting there with a higher level of commitment to the game by going through conditioning and strength development to create more power in the driver swing. Most pro's now realize they have to be stronger and more in shape to be competitive. The LDA long drive professionals who can belt out 350-400+ yards for a living pushes that upper envelope of what PGA pro's can do but all that power isn't really necessary. They're simply paving the way for what PGA guys can do for physical conditioning and maintenance to maintain or increase their ball speed.

On a similar line of thinking, the high launch and low spin approach helps achieve longer drives for players who can generate the required high ball speed. For average golfers, they will not realize an extra 30-50 yard benefit because they need spin to optimize their ball flight and keep the ball in the air. A drive that is all carry (no roll) is a frustrating one and is the result of sub-optimal launch conditions. Most golfers like to see some roll to get addtional distance. An area that is getting more attention now is how the ball lands to maximize total distance. For example, a ball that lands steeply won't roll very far (ballooned flight). OptimalFlight helps the golfer and club-fitter realize that there are different ways of landing the ball due to initial launch conditions.

So in answer to your questions - Has technology played too much of a role in the game of golf?
No. Things are getting a bit better all around, but it ultimately comes down to the golfer and their conditioning (mind and physical) to play a higher game.

and Should the USGA put more limits on how far a ball should travel?
No, there is little they can do nothing to stop a more conditioned athlete to hit the ball harder than anyone else. We have a tendency to overfocus on the 'extremes' to create an illusion of a problem. For example: driving performance on 2 holes is really not representative of a player's driving game for the rest of the golf round. In fact, those 2 holes actually encourage players let it all out in their swing and cater to the fans for a bit of entertainment. If those numbers are a bit amped up, it feeds into the hype that things are getting out of hand when we're actually witnessing the result of a well conditioned athlete excercising their power with equipment customized and optimized for their game. The media overly-focuses on one thing, the ball and longer results, when in reality it is a sum of small significant things and a bit of luck working in concert.