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Some of the biggest names in the sport have had their say on the latest Distance Insights Project, but what does the club golfer think of the possibility that the tour pros will be playing one piece of kit while the rest of us continue with what's already in our bags?
Would You Like To See Bifurcation?
We put it to the vote on the Golf Monthly Forum and it couldn’t have been much closer with a split of 51.1-48.9% in favour of it. As the following opinions show there are plenty of ways to look at one of the game’s hottest topics.
It’s the most sensible route than to have to keep increasing the size of the park, as they are hitting it out the park. I would be happy for balls that spin more.... to reduce the distance we all hit it by say 15 per cent. TBH I don't care whether I play the same equipment or balls as pros (do they play DDHs?) - DRW
Start by introducing a tournament ball. Player endorsements are largely about brand awareness rather than specific product promotion. After all most, not all, of the top players in the OWGR are still using blades yet such irons represent a very small proportion of sales to Joe Public.
And very few will be influenced by the pros’ apparent choice of driver as the shaft and other specs are going to be way different to the one on the shelf at AG.
Why do the manufacturers insist upon contracted players displaying logos on caps and bags? Don't think it's to promote sales of baseball caps but it is about getting the brand name front and centre. But we don't have what they have and never will do. - MetalMickie
Make the pros use blades and restrict wedges to 56°, and make driver heads smaller. - JamesR
My gear is already nowhere near the level that pros use but then it doesn't need to be. Pros in most sports get a leg up in terms of equipment they have on tap; it's daft that golf feels it needs to be exactly the same. Do people think they can really buy Roger Federer's model of tennis racket, Chris Froome's spec of bike, Kohli's cricket bat etc?
Have a pro version of a Pro V1 and an amateur version, other balls are available. They do it with rally cars and no-one blinks. It won't damage the game one jot and might bring back into play some fabulous courses which have been beaten into submission. It may also help end the monotonous lengthening of courses which is simply dull. If bomb and gouge on long and bland courses floats your boat then leave all alone. If you want more shot variety, different tests on different courses then some small changes are needed. - Lord Tyrion
The whole thing still seems a bit disjointed. If you aim regulations at the clubs then you have to draw up all sorts of rules, specifications etc, test dozens of makes and models. If you aimed the rules at the ball, what would you need to do, test maybe a dozen variants with one set of new parameters. The testing could be done in a couple of days. - GB72
Why not have everyone in professional golf use the same ball, made in the same plant? They could have manufacturers bid for the rights to supply the ball for one or two seasons and get the right to say, ‘the official ball of professional golf’. - GuyInLyon
Go to 10 clubs for pros, limit driver loft to 9˚, bin off anything over a 56, and re-introduce some shot making. Play a spinnier ball, give the best a real chance of showing just how good they can be. It's only the journeymen who will struggle, and who turns on the telly to watch them?
Pro level golf has become one-dimensional. Bomb it, and wedge into the green. Even par 5s are rarely more than driver 8i.
Grow the rough, narrow the fairways? Yep, it'll be a bore fest. Everyone reduced to the same. Hacking it out. It's terrible to watch, and the punters will switch off in droves. Most on here revere Seve. He wouldn't feature in today's game. The way he played would be impossible with modern balls and clubs.
The horse bolted long ago, the game is the worst for it, and the governing bodies ignored it till it was way too late. - murphthemog
Because the pros do not have handicaps there is already a small amount of bifurcation, e.g. tees are put wherever the organisers want them; lift, clean and place is a club length. There are drop zones for water hazards. On a personal level I do not see the problem. It happens in other 'sports' such as snooker with the 'miss' rule. - jim8flog
Probably against the principle. I want to see a pro belt a ball with equipment in the same governance tolerance that I use, so I can marvel at how much better they are than me! - IanM
No issue with the pro game. Players work, train and grind to hit it that far and tee box moving accommodates that. Add more hazards rather than playing on wide open fields. - Jamesbrown
I don’t see the reason to change. If it’s all reigned in then it’s for all golfers and it will revitalise a lot of older courses.
I wonder how manufacturers would handle bifurcation? Two different sets need extra R&D, I doubt the pros will end up shelling out for the additional research. Also, how would they showcase their gear if the sponsored pro is using a different club to the target audience? - captainron
The long hitters will still be the long hitters even if you shorten the driver shaft and mess around with the ball. Tighten up the courses, firm up the fairways and also make the max loft allowed 56 degrees. Get some thought, skill and creativity around the short game. - Junior
Leave everything as it is. I don't find watching or playing golf boring. I don't care if someone hits the ball 400 yards, I find that intriguing and love the idea that someone who works harder at their game can be better than other players. I'm not that interested in watching all the players 'cross the line' at the same time (like a horse race handicap system). - JustOne
They have spent years making a ball go further that I think making it shorter is just a matter of going back to a 1980/90s ball. I can’t see it happening, just too much money involved. Would be like making footballers play with leather balls with laces in them. - clubchamp98
The pros play a totally different game to me anyway, if they're able to hit it 400 yards and not lose the ball fair play to them. I also don't care if they do make changes to the pro game in terms of balls and clubs as long as it doesn't affect me at all.
I'm just not sure tying one hand behind their backs is the answer. I'm more of subscriber to the theory that you make the courses tougher for bombers; narrow the fairways the further up you go, put the fairway bunkers higher up and make the rough much harder to get out of. If someone can still hit it 360 yards and land it on a sixpence then they absolutely deserve the advantage of doing so. - Orikoru
The beauty of our great game is we get to tee it up on the same venues as the elite and pro players, using roughly the same equipment. How many other games are you able to do this and genuinely compare your skills to those of the world’s best?
Bottleneck fairways at landing zones of the longer hitters. Grow penal rough. Add bunkers at landing zones of the longest hitters. Certainly make driver shaft length a max of 45” & head 440cc for the entire industry. If a player gets ball speed up above 200mph, good luck to them & well done. There is a reason Joe Miller isn’t plying his trade on European Tour (not just that he earns more on Long Drive circuit). It’s not just about distance. Skill has to have it’s say too. Reign the technology in across the entire spectrum of golf. No to bifurcation - Radbourne2010
OTHER TALKING POINTS
I wonder how equipment bifurcation would affect prices. If manufacturers are having to develop clubs for two markets, surely that's going to cost more and who is going to pay for that? At the same time, surely manufacturers will pay pros less to use their clubs as amateurs won't be able to buy the same clubs 'as used by' Bryson Dechambeau? - Yorkhacker
It will be interesting to understand whether the R&A would apply the local rules to elite amateur events and also whether they would apply to women's golf? Also how it would be policed after the findings last year when drivers were tested before an event. - mikejohnchapman
Personally I don't like BDC but why penalise everyone just because he's bulked up and plays ugly golf. If he was winning week in week out, maybe have a look at it, but he's not. Even if you dial back the ball, limit the shaft length etc. he's still gonna hit it further than those that are behind him right now. The example stated was along the lines of dialling back the gear by 10 per cent. BDC now hits it 300 instead of 340, but Zach Johnson now hits it 240 instead of 270. On a par 5, BDC is still gonna get there in two, whilst ZJ now has no chance of getting there in two, it doesn't change BDC's big-hitting advantage.
Perhaps they should introduce weight categories on tour and have different prizes for the heavyweights, middleweights, flyweights etc.... - need_my_wedge
It's all well and good saying that amateurs should use the pro ball if they want to turn pro, but what do you use in the English Amateur, or County Am - where do you draw the line? What balls do they play in US colleges? What about our university system, where less people are looking to 'make it’?
If elite ams need to move over to the 'pro' ball, what ball does my local pro play? We've got lads of +2 that are already 30 yards longer than our pro, and our pro played in the Walker Cup! What happens in a pro-am? Not just your local club pro-am, but things like the Pebble Beach pro-am?
How does the pro get his 'pro' ball? Does he have to buy them for his own use? Will there be just one pro ball to standardise it, or will every company have their own?
What facilities are there to test people aren't sneakily using the wrong ball? Pretty easy to cover a logo with a sharpie etc? - jimbob.someroo
If we reined in the ball and possibly clubs for pros, it would save an awful lot of currently good courses wasting money Tiger-proofing themselves; sadly it's too late for a number of them. The game the pros play is now so far removed from mine I don't see that it matters one jot if they played with different equipment, however those selling the equipment would view it differently and I think that's where the money and influence lie, so I don't see it changing. - Blue in Munich
This has already happened in the 1960s. As a young assistant pro playing against amateurs in winter alliance meetings I had to use a 1.64 size ball and the amateurs could use a 1.62. Made a hell of a difference round Dunbar in an easterly gale. - Doon frae Troon
Mark has worked in golf for over 20 years having started off his journalistic life at the Press Association and BBC Sport before moving to Sky Sports where he became their golf editor on skysports.com. He then worked at National Club Golfer and Lady Golfer where he was the deputy editor and he has interviewed many of the leading names in the game, both male and female, ghosted columns for the likes of Robert Rock, Charley Hull and Dame Laura Davies, as well as playing the vast majority of our Top 100 GB&I courses. He loves links golf with a particular love of Royal Dornoch and Kingsbarns. He is now a freelance, also working for the PGA and Robert Rock. Loves tour golf, both men and women and he remains the long-standing owner of an horrific short game. He plays at Moortown with a handicap of 6.
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