Jack Nicklaus may be one of golf’s most astute observers and it was back in the 1990s when Jack expressed concern over the direction that the golf ball was headed.
That direction was “too far.”
Jack voiced that concern again last year at the HSBC Business Forum:
“Fact is, more golf courses have closed in the U.S. in each of the last 10 years than have opened,” Nicklaus said. “This is thanks in great part to changes in the golf ball and the distance it travels. Courses have had to change along with it. It’s now a slower game and more expensive than before, and that can’t be a good thing.”
Nicklaus’ solution is a creative one: create golf balls specifically tailored to each course instead of forcing courses to add length in response to longer-traveling golf balls.
“We don’t want to change the game for the core golfer, but we need to make every effort to offer alternatives to bring more people into the game and keep them in the game,” Nicklaus said. “I think we need to develop a golf ball to suit the golf course, rather than build courses to suit a golf ball. Whether it’s a ball that goes 50 percent, 75 percent, or 100 percent, you play a ball that fits the course and your game.”
According to Nicklaus, it’s an easy fix for a very real problem for the game.
“It’s not that big a deal,” Nicklaus said. “We used to do it when traveling to play the Open and switching from the large ball to the small. It took us only a day to get used to a different ball. But when land is a dear commodity and water is scarce, you need to do something to respond to today’s situation.”
Yes, Jack has been pushing that for nearly 30 years now.
So who’s coming to the party now?
How about Tiger Woods?
Woods was doing some kind of funky podcast with Gino Auriemma, the legendary UConn women’s basketball coach and put in his two cents regarding the ball.
“We need to do something about the golf ball,” Woods said. “I just think it’s going too far because we’re having to build golf courses, if they want to have a championship venue, they’ve got to be 7,400 to 7,800 yards long. And if the game keeps progressing the way it is with technology, I think the 8,000-yard golf course is not too far away.
“And that’s pretty scary because we don’t have enough property to start designing these types of golf courses, and it just makes it so much more complicated.”
Woods failed to mention that these modern, supersonic golf balls helped him win 14 majors and hit the ball longer than anyone else in the field.
Now with an aging, surgically-repaired body, Woods probably knows that a lot of young guys will be hitting it 30-40 past him.