From The Inbox

Amateurs shouldn’t fret about losing distance

Golfers with slower swing speeds likely aren’t realizing the full potential of the modern golf ball anyway, reader contends

I never have had a problem with players who can hit their drives farther than I can (“USGA, R&A release ‘Distance Insights’ project,” Feb. 5). If I'm playing them off handicap, then other parts of our games will balance it up as, more often than not, I'll be giving them strokes. I get to play to the greens first, so it's up to me to make life difficult for them. If it's a scratch game, then the better player on the day will win.

Until the past decade or so, the extra distance that a long hitter gained was roughly proportionate to the extra force he was able to apply to the ball. More recently, there seems to be an exaggerated benefit. At a guess, each mile per hour of clubhead speed used to result in perhaps a couple of yards; now, it might be 4 or 5, so this can't be down to the player but is probably the construction of the ball as the driver was limited several years ago.

If this could be confirmed, then the authorities would be justified in changing the specification rules as it would be clear evidence that this item of equipment has been deliberately developed to favor one way of playing the game and disadvantaging another. That conflicts with the stated objective of not emphasizing one particular skill.

Some of Morning Read’s “inbox” correspondents are concerned about losing valuable distance. They needn't be. If their swing speed is less than 110 mph, a change of ball specification probably would make no difference as they aren't gaining any extra yards using current balls anyway.

The solution for touring professionals is simple even using the current balls: narrow fairways, heavy rough, and new penalty areas at about the 300-350-yard zone on some, not all, of the vulnerable holes. Give a safe and a daring option, and make them decide.

Terry Wall
Winchester, England

Creative solutions exist to counter golf’s long ball
If you want to take some of the stupendous distances out of the pro game, there are several ways to do this other than changing the ball (“USGA, R&A release ‘Distance Insights’ project,” Feb. 5).

Fairway bunkers that are deeper, rough that is longer and narrower fairways, just for starts. Also, slower green speeds, which force a harder hit and give more chance not to keep the putter face absolutely square like most amateurs have to play. Also, deeper greenside bunkers that are smaller, such as what we see at the British Open.

Michael Merrill
McKinney, Texas

Norman had his chance
It is time for Greg Norman to move on (“Greg Norman likes chances of world golf tour,” Feb. 3).

True, that the PGA Tour’s elite players are very good.

Simple smarts: You do not cut off the hand that feeds you.

Bill Bamber
Edmonton, Alberta

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