5 *other* ways golf could stem the distance boom

The new proposed rules would reduce the distance for elite golfers.

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Welcome to another installment of the fully featured mailbag sponsored by Cleveland/Srixon Golf, an interactive GOLF.com series where we ask your hard-hitting gear questions.

Is the ball really what needs to be rolled back? There must be another way. —Thomas W., Oregon

No kidding Thomas. In case you haven’t heard the news about the latest possible golf ball rule bifurcations, you can read about them here, here and here. Here you can even listen and learn more about it. Phew, it’s a lot to process, and like you, we can’t help but wonder why the USGA decided to choose the ball to quell the distance boom and preserve the integrity of average to shorter length courses.

We understand why, and we also want golfers to be strategic – as opposed to simply overwhelming courses. But is the ball really the problem? Is there anything else that could be done to scale back the yards?

We’ve come up with five alternatives, which may or may not be better, to ensure that top golf competitions are still played on classic layouts without the need to build new tees and expand the golf course property beyond what is reasonable.

1. Lower the CT limit

Remember when a driver’s coefficient of restitution (COR) was all geeks like us could talk about? In case you forgot, COR is the measure of energy transfer when two objects collide, and for a long time the maximum allowable energy transfer (assuming 1.00 is perfect energy transfer) was 0.830. It was tested by shooting a ball out of a cannon and measuring the energy (or speed) of the ball as it bounced off the clubface. The USGA and equipment companies have since moved to what is called a characteristic time test (CT), which uses a steel ball on a pendulum to record how long the ball and face remain in contact with each other. The longer the face sticks to a ball, the springier it is, and currently the maximum CT for each club is 257 microseconds. A simple solution to reducing bombing with the rider is to require an even shorter CT time to reduce suspension, which would reduce overall distance.

2. Reduce the 460cc limit and deep/low center of gravity positions

Most modern riders are 440-460cc in size, making them easier to lead and swing at full speed. If we were to scale the max size allowed to around 360cc, that 100cc difference would force players to take slower, more controlled swings to ensure solid contact (maybe!). The same goes for CG locations. The further forward and higher the CG, the less forgiving the driver is, likely forcing players to slow down their swing speed to keep the ball in play.

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3. Reduce the allowable shank length

Here’s a simple one that the USGA has already tried: reduce the maximum allowable length of 48″ drivers to around 44 or even 42″. Granted, in 2022 the USGA created a model local rule that allowed tournament organizers to limit the length to 46 inches, but apparently that did little to change how far the tallest players can smash them.

Simply cutting the shaft length down to something more draconian like 42 inches will decrease a player’s launch by at least 20 yards or more. Problem solved.

4. Halve the fairways and let them get rougher

Getting out of the rough makes approaching a green much more difficult

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While narrower fairways can make the game more challenging, it’s no fun seeing Tour players miss the short material and being forced to pitch from deep rough. Rather than narrowing the fairways, perhaps shortening them could be a better solution to reduce the incentive to hit longer shots. For example, ending the fairways at 300 yards and strategically placing more bunkers, hazards, and deep rough in areas where long hitters land the ball could result in long shots And Straight-ahead driving more punishing. After all, who said fairways have to extend from the tee to the green? Breaking them up with rough or hazards/bunkers would make play more interesting and strategic without jeopardizing the integrity of some of the world’s most popular golf courses that have run out of room to expand.

5. Drop the tees (no, really!)

Batting the ball allows for a great upward shot

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Our own Dylan Dethier brought this idea to market, and while it may seem silly at first, the more you think about it, the more it might work. Eliminating tee shots would immediately shorten the distance from the tee and prevent golfers from achieving the high launch, low spin, long flight ball flight that every long hitter has. Throwing away tees would also greatly increase spin, making it much harder to hit the long ball.

Looking to overhaul your bag for 2023? Find a suitable location near you at the GOLF subsidiary True Spec Golf. For more on the latest gear news and information, check out our latest Fully Geared Podcast below!

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Ryan Noll

Golf.com Contributor

https://golf.com/gear/golf-balls/golf-ball-rollback-other-solutions/ 5 *other* ways golf could stem the distance boom

Ian Walker

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