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One of golf’s leading analysts has outlined what he believes to be the best solution to golf’s distance debate.

Brandel Chamblee reckons that rolling back equipment is not the answer. Instead, the former PGA Tour pro believes that tougher course set-ups are the way forward – starting with growing out the rough.

In a lengthy piece for GolfChannel.com, Chamblee wrote: “Players are better out of the rough – in fact, they hit 12% more greens from the thick stuff than they did 40 years ago – which stands to reason, given that the players are using much shorter clubs and can more easily cut through taller grass with a steeper angle of attack.

“The delta between a hit fairway and a missed fairway on the PGA Tour today is 0.3 shots when the rough is just two inches thick. But grow the rough to four inches and the cost of missing a fairway goes up to .55 shots.”

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He added: “We do not need the ball to fly shorter and nor do we need the clock to be rolled-back on equipment, just to make ‘more relevant’ a few holes or a few courses in the golf world. 

“Those who think we should remind me of merchants of a coastal city who are against the building of a lighthouse because it will injure the wrecking business. 

“What we need, is not to make golf balls shorter or golf courses longer, but to make the fairway heights, the rough heights and the green heights longer, and almost every single problem in this game will be solved.”

Whilst by no means a new issue for golf to contend with, the distance that modern players are able to hit the golf ball came into sharper focus in 2020 thanks to the exploits of Bryson DeChambeau. 

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The American went from 34th in Driving Distance on the PGA Tour in 2019, with an average poke of 302.5 yards, to first in 2020, averaging 322.1 yards and knocking off his first major championship win in the process.

However, according to Chamblee, it would be wrong to attribute those gains to equipment. 

“DeChambeau didn’t become the longest hitter in PGA Tour history solely or even largely because of advancements in equipment,” he reasoned. “He became the longest hitter in PGA Tour history because of advancements in his athleticism and his technique.

“His 2019-20 before-and-after pictures would, if he were alive, send Charles Darwin back to the Galapagos Islands.”


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Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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