In Sunday’s Irish Independent, Dermot Gilleece took an entertaining look at the golf ball, considering its role in the game as a precious piece of equipment compared to other sports.
He was inspired by comments from Rory McIlroy during last week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship at St. Andrews to revisit the idea of a tournament ball and recounted this exchange with Tiger Woods.
The comments were from the 2004 American Express Championship at Mount Juliet.
DG: “Would you be prepared to play with an official tournament ball designated for each event?”
TW: “What do you mean by ‘tournament ball’? Do you mean with the same spin rate, same launch angle, hover, same speed of core?”
DG: “I mean a uniform golf ball that would be the same for everybody.”
TW: “So everybody plays with the same spinning golf ball?”
DG: “Same golf ball.”
TW: “I don’t think that would be right because there’s too many guys have different games and different types of swing. But I think you should put a limit on the speed of a golf ball, the spin-rate of a golf ball. You can increase the spin of the golf ball and make it so that we don’t hit the ball as far. You can decrease the speed of the core. There’s different ways you can get around it so that we’re all playing under certain speed limits. Hopefully that will be the answer to a lot of the problems that we’re having with golf course design around the world.”
That was 2004!
As an aside to the speed limit comment, check out the shift in LPGA Tour leading driving distances from 2002 to 2017. While about a 10 yard limit, there is nothing going on like we’re seeing in the men’s game where optimization of launch conditions suggests gains are being made by top men that are out of proportion with gains the rest of the sport has enjoyed: