This week, the R&A and USGA published a joint paper on driving distances on golf’s professional tours. It was a long, jargon-crammed report, which basically served only to reinforce the organisations’ obdurate opinion that driving distances are not increasing.
Quick question: if that really is the case, why has the R&A had to lengthen every single course on the Open rota since the turn of the century?
The devil, of course, is in the detail. Look at the period of time its study has examined: everything from 2003 onwards... a matter of years after the advent of some of the most significant technological advances the game has seen.
Read more -> The R&A rebuts driving distance critics
In short, they’ve written a report about what happened after the horse bolted through the stable doors. It’s like going to the cinema and only getting to see the end credits. It’s completely pointless and, dare I say it, deliberately misleading.
In any case, and as a few people have already pointed out, why are we giving this report any credibility? The R&A and USGA have a shared vested interest in this matter. Surely, an independent report would be more credible?
Until such times, I’d encourage you all to look at all the available data on the PGA Tour website. You’ll find that the driving distance average of its players in 1995 was 264.3 yards. By 2015, it was 289.1 yards. But driving distances aren’t increasing.
Between 1995 and 2015, the distance of the longest recorded drive on the PGA Tour increased by almost 100 yards.
In 2000, there was only one recorded drive of more than 300 yards on the Tour. Since then, there have been over 400 recorded drives of more than 400- yes, 400 - yards. But driving distances aren’t increasing.
Between 1995 and 2015, the distance of the longest recorded drive on the PGA Tour increased by almost 100 yards, from 315 to 409 yards. But driving distances aren’t increasing.
The R&A and USGA can frame their argument any way they like and certainly, the way they have done so, they are able to present a compelling case for the conclusion they want you to reach.
It’s called propaganda. And I’m not buying it.
“Gary Player is a legend and a very special man”. So began an email I received this morning… from Gary Player’s own company. I like Player. He’s funny, articulate and always gives you something to write about. But you know what proper legends don’t do? Go around telling people that they’re legends.
This week, I have been… getting a fair amount of stick on social media. I’ve been called a ‘sycophant’, an ‘apologist’ and been told I ‘should be ashamed’ of myself.
Why? Because I had the audacity to follow my boss’s orders and play the re-designed Ailsa Course at Trump Turnberry. The outrage! Worse still, I enjoyed it. The scandal!
Read more -> The First Review of the 'Reborn' Ailsa
Let me be clear on this. Playing a course that Donald Trump’s money has improved is not the same as sharing or endorsing the US presidential candidate’s political opinions. For what it’s worth, if I were an American citizen, he wouldn’t be getting my vote.
But that’s not important. What is important, to me as a golf writer, is that one of the most famous courses in the world (a course on the Open rota, lest we forget) has been significantly changed – and changed for the better.
Why wouldn’t a golf writer report on that?
Vijay Singh is quite right to hit out at the PGA Tour for its handling of his use of deer antler spray. Seems to me that it tried to use the Fijian as a scapegoat to prove to the world that it has doping under control. Except it doesn’t. He didn’t fail a test and the spray was subsequently found to have not enough of the banned growth hormone IGF-1 to make it ‘performance enhancing’. Still, that didn’t stop the PGA Tour from banning Singh for 90 days and creating a mismanaged, bungled furore that cost the former world No.1 a long-standing deal with his equipment backers. The PGA Tour messed up – and it was Singh who suffered the most. In no way is that right.
And finally… Davis Love III thinks Tiger Woods can still make his Ryder Cup team this year? Not being funny, Davis, but doesn’t he need to start playing again first?
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Michael McEwan / The Cut Line
Log-on every Friday morning to read The Cut Line, a new weekly blog by bunkered's Michael McEwan.