Very few amateur golfers would welcome the idea of creating a golf ball that would reduce the distance of their drives, but according to the Wall Street Journal that might be what is coming to the professionals who play the game.
The issue, at its heart, is how good these professionals have become at driving the traditional golf ball. When Tiger Woods burst onto the scene in 1996, for instance, not a single player could claim a 300-yard drive. However, last year’s season featured 43 such players. This is causing issues for courses that have been around for a hundred years that were never designed with this level of play in mind.
To combat this issue, many clubs have turned to expanding their courses to help provide more challenge to the best players of the game. The downside to this solution is that the clubs have to pass the costs of expansion, land purchases, development, upkeep, etc. to the average player as they are the ones responsible for the majority of their income. While professionals’ wallets won’t be affected much, amateurs will feel the hurt, and this could endanger the love of the game among its fans.
One idea, proposed by the U.S. Golf Association and endorsed by Tiger Woods, is to create different balls for different levels of the game. Similar to how weight classes work in some sports, the ball would help level the playing field between amateurs and professionals. The game’s highest levels would be played with the most challenging balls, and it would bring drive distances back in line with traditional norms.
The governing bodies want to be able to include as many people as possible in their sport, and they are willing to think outside the box to accomplish that goal. In addition to golf balls with different weights, some people are even tossing around the idea of a bigger, lighter ball that could let children get the hang of the game without getting overly frustrated with the standard gear. To really hit the mainstream, however, a prominent club or tournament would need to embrace the idea.