The debate over rolling back the ball is one of golf’s fiercest. Jack Nicklaus has been a vocal proponent of coming up with a shorter-flying ball in order to adjust to distance gains.
Now, it appears Tiger Woods is on his side.
The 14-time major champion, who recently announced he will return to golf at the Hero World Challenge, was the second guest on a podcast hosted by Geno Auriemma, the legendary head coach of UConn women’s basketball. The podcast is entitled, “Holding Court with Geno Auriemma.”
In the hour-plus conversation, Woods was asked his thoughts on the crisis of distance in professional golf. With better technology and athletes, courses have needed lengthening in recent years to keep up with the pros.
That means more money spent on altering and lengthening layouts and, for many, a turn away from how those courses should be played. A possible solution to that is rolling back the ball in professional golf.
How does Woods feel on this subject? He was unequivocal.
“We need to do something about the golf ball,” Woods told Auriemma. “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 7,400-7,800 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 type of golf courses and it just makes it so much more complicated.”
Strong words from Woods.
The 41-year-old noted that the U.S. Golf Association is already doing research on a reduced-distance ball (well that has actually been going on for more than a decade) and that players have talked with PGA Tour brass about this issue.
Those chats have also pointed out the difficulty of a “line of demarcation.” Is it a PGA Tour-only reduced ball? Do you use one on the Web.com Tour, too? How about mini-tours?
So anything here in professional golf wouldn’t happen overnight.
“I don’t see it happening in the near future, but at least there’s talks about it now,” Woods said.
In the end, though, Woods doesn’t ultimately see how rolling back the ball in pro golf would be a problem.
He pointed to professional tennis as an example. Serves were getting too fast for competitive play at one point, so the tennis balls were altered to slow things down at certain events. If it’s something that can be done there, Woods wondered why golf couldn’t follow.
“Why can’t we do the same thing with another ball sport, golf, and slow it down just a little bit?” Woods said.
Are the two greatest golfers of all-time on the right track? Or is this ball debate much ado about nothing?
Whatever the case, what a duo to have on one side.