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GolfClubAtlas.com => Golf Course Architecture => Topic started by: Patrick_Mucci on June 08, 2003, 01:45:41 PM

Title: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it right
Post by: Patrick_Mucci on June 08, 2003, 01:45:41 PM
Watching the greatest players in the world, the PGA Tour golfers on TV, I noticed how often they take clubs other than drivers, off the tee.

Does the USGA have it right ?

By lengthening the USOPEN courses are they denying the players of the comfort of safe play by testing their driving abilities and forcing them to hit their drivers, or suffer the consequence of long approach shots ?

Shouldn't a premium be placed on driving accuracy and driving distance in a National Championship ?
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Tommy_Naccarato on June 08, 2003, 03:07:38 PM
Pat,
Instead of waiting to see who posts and then attacking their ideas and opinions, why don't you post your opinion FIRST and see where the discussion goes.  :o

T
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: tonyt on June 08, 2003, 04:42:02 PM
Yes, I do believe they at least partially change the players' strategy, away from choosing a club from every tee, towards increasing the number of holes where the decision is made for them.

The USGA preaches that it's championship must be the ultimate test of the golfer. In their opinion, they feel that being able to hit consistently straight and long tee shots is the challenge they want to present the player with. If that is their aim, they are succeeding.

Personally, I like the fact that not all four majors present exactly the same type of test. The US Open has it's character of long tee shots to narrow fairways framed by deep rough. And all of us know it is coming, be it this year at Olympia Fields, or any other Open in the near future. So players know what they face. By making all the majors a little different to each other (whether by design or not), only the complete players who are greats in their era will have a chance to win more than one or two different majors.

Yes, I like the width and strategy version of the game. But I am comfortable with the US Open placing a premium on accuracy and length, being the significant National Championship that it is.
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Patrick_Mucci on June 08, 2003, 05:27:14 PM
Tommy Naccarato,

You're free to start a thread on any subject and in any form you desire.

 I choose to pose questions, and to sometimes ask questions of respondents.  

Some responses I agree with, like Chris B and bunker depth, and other responses I disagree with.

I know this site has their favorites with respect to how they feel architects should design golf courses, must I now design my questions to your specifications as well ?   ;D
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Tommy_Naccarato on June 08, 2003, 05:31:52 PM
Yes Pat, It is all about what I want.

Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: JakaB on June 08, 2003, 05:32:31 PM
Funny how the most worst hole of last years open wasn't a driver hole at all...and still the 18th at Bethpage is disparaged by scholars and purists alike..
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Patrick_Mucci on June 08, 2003, 05:40:25 PM
Tommy Naccarato,

I understand.

Now, can we get back to the question ?

Shouldn't the ability to wield a driver be a requirement in the test to determine the National Champion ?

And if so, how do you administer that test ?
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Tommy_Naccarato on June 08, 2003, 06:25:45 PM
Absolutely it should.

The First Step is that has to be a belief that the golf ball is out of control, and for the greater good of the Game; to maintain its popularity as well as its concern for future sales, that there is a wide spread understanding that the golf ball is utilizing distortion to literally turn itself into a airfoil, and that this occurrance is happening "some" distance away from the clubhead where the weight of the golf ball itself is spread to out to its outermost circumference, which then creates even more ball speed. This is where the Titliest term "Drop and Stop Technology" happens; when the ball loses this speed from distortion and starts to regain its original shape, becoming less aerodynamic proportionally to its bottom side spin ratio.

Also, there has to be a solid decision on what length and what size of the head a driver can be,because if wehaven't learned anything from professional tennis, and how that sport/activity for the public is waning from its Bobby Riggs/BJ King/Jimmy Connor/Chrissie Everett years. I can almost assure you that 20-Williams sisters ain't going to bring it back either.

Now, I would guess your probably scratching your head about now wondering what any of this has to do with the original question put forth in your opening thread, which has to be somewhat about set-up, and I have a theory for that too.

But what difference is it going to make if no one is listening or that at least two that have contributed to this thread are standing by for the attack?

Not one bit of difference, so, I'll go about my business and say, "On to the next thread!"

Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: tonyt on June 08, 2003, 06:44:41 PM
Tommy,

If you're game, I'd like to hear it  :)

that's how I'm learning. I won't disparage the comments of the Emperor. And we have all by now learnt to develop thicker skin to Pat's more interrogative posts.

Please?
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Jamie_Duffner on June 08, 2003, 07:14:19 PM
JakaB - an interesting thought about BB 18, but I'm not sure the problem with the hole is that it does not require a driver. 1,2,6,and 9 do not require a driver, but are better holes than 18. The problem with 18 is twofold (at least in my very humble opinion). One, it plays across a valley, rather than down a valley, unlike some of the better holes at BB. Two, the fairway bunkering is out of character with the rest of the course. The stern driving test that is BB, is in large part due to diagonal routes across cross bunkers, other obstacles, or to fairways running at diagonals to the tee. BB asks the player, almost dares, to take risky lines that reward the well executed tee shot. 18 is the only hole with two large "blobs" of bunkers flank the fairway, begging the player to layup.
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Tommy_Naccarato on June 08, 2003, 07:20:30 PM
Tony,

In my opinion, the USGA has removed most of the quirky element of luck from its major championship. They do it in the name of testing the abilities of the players, and justlike th design of many modern golf courses, the influx of controlled elements is what eliminates the unnatural occurances that could occur with play.

Take for instance fairway lines and rough. The typical US Open set-up means really narrow fairways and very thick rough. It also comes with the thinking that they are going to make the competitor pay for missing the fairway. But whqt happens if you get a player that doesn't hit a lot of fairways, but has an exceptional recovery game from normal to heavy rough?  To me, the USGA is penalizing that player because he isn't accurate from the tee, but is accurate from the rough.  As viewers, we are robbed of seeing exciting recoveries from these areas simply because it isn't part of the set-up  Don't get me wrong, I think that testing a player for his abilities is what the US Open is all about, but what happens if a player can play a certain shot real well, and his opponents play it real bad?  I guess what I'm saying most is that it favors only one kind of play--long, staight and down the middle. So, in an effort to keep the ball in the fairway, and as Pat has hi-lighted, the competitor uses a long iron off of the tee, which in most cases, they hit straight and long in terms of modern ball flight. With they're swing speeds and golf ball, what competitor wouldn't? What about the exceptional competitor that can putt, chip and pitch like the wind? The one whose game is in his short lofted irons and sraight blade?  The current set-ups eliminate a lot of unique play to produce one champion, and this is why you have had some pretty obscure ones over the years. Even the British Open tried the extreme set-up only to wisly get rid of it. The tried it again at Carnoustie, which in my opinion is one of the toughest Championship courses in the game on a normal day. They wisely changed that thinking, and hopefully it will stay.

That's my take.

Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Phil_the_Author on June 08, 2003, 08:30:04 PM
I must defend the 18th hole of the Black!

How often it has been maligned so that now aspersions can be cast upon it and they ebaccepted as fact.

JakaB, you make this statement so cavalierly, "Funny how the most worst hole of last years open wasn't a driver hole at all...and still the 18th at Bethpage is disparaged by scholars and purists alike.."

Please define what you mean by "the worst hole." Do you mean the easiest? Surprise, it wasn't. Did you know that it ranked the 11th most dificult hole for the four rounds? That means that 7 holes played easier in relation to par.

Did you know that for the final round, it ranked as the 3rd MOST DIFICULT HOLE in relation to par? Think about it for a second. Who wouldn't be satisfied to see a major championship decide on the 3rd most dificult hole on the golf course, if it had come down to it? The only holes ranked more dificult on Sunday were 11(#2) & 12(#1). On Sunday, the 18th ranked harder than 15 & 17, and was tied for 3rd with 16.

I'd say that wasn't so bad for a hole that everyone claims is "Too Easy."


Jamie Duffner, you wrote "One, it plays across a valley, rather than down a valley, unlike some of the better holes at BB" #4 plays from a hillside down across a valley to a plateau. It then plays up to another plateau. Oh yes, let's not forget the "signature hole" as it has been called over the years, #5. This plays from an elevated tee, down a plateau and up to a green that sits above the valley floor. Both these holes play in a similar (not exact) but very similar fashion to 18.

You also wrote, "Two, the fairway  bunkering is out of character with the rest of the course." & "18 is the only hole with two large "blobs" of bunkers flanking the fairway."

Jamie, what are those things that are between 10 & 11? I think you need to re-think your view of exactly how the Black plays.

So I say, Long Live the 18th! It is a VERY underappreciated hole!
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: JakaB on June 09, 2003, 05:18:32 AM
PTA,

My statement was not cavalier and it was in the context of this thread......no matter how much you love a course one hole must be most worst...can you make a case for any hole but the 18th...please do.   I thought the bunker work was stunning and found it most pleasing when looking back from the 18th green or from overhead...I personally would hit driver on that hole...but all that is moot in the Open because I am neither qualified to play or to opine about the beauty of a bunker...thus the boring aspect of seeing pros lay up when I would rather see a blast and cast strategy for a strong finish is what makes it the most worst for me.   Least best for you most worst for me...if not let me know.

Btw..I saw that other guy who wrote a book about Bethpage on the Tony's last night...no wonder he is such a good writer with that funny voice....and to note...out of respect for you I have boycotted that book because you are the one source for information on the Black.
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Tim_Weiman on June 09, 2003, 05:28:42 AM
Pat Mucci:

Assuming the golf course has four par 3s, how many of the remaining holes would you like to see the majority of the players hit driver?

Is something in the 10-12 range about right?

Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Phil_the_Author on June 09, 2003, 06:52:31 AM
JakaB,

You wrote, "no matter how much you love a course one hole must be most worst...can you make a case for any hole but the 18th...please do."
 
I will be pleased to make a case when you define the phrase "most worst" in this context.

The reason I ask this of you first, is because I've already made a pretty strong case that it isn't the easiest hole, or even the easiest par four. So, in what way is it defineable as the worst?

Also, consider what is implied by the term "worst." It implies something is not good, poor, of little value. For example, if you walked into a room with the Mona Lisa by DaVinci, the Irises by Van Gogh, Guernica by Picasso, and a Rembrandt portrait, would you say the Rembrandt was the "worst?" No, of course not. You might say you like it LEAST, but Worst? never. You know that word has no application there.

There is a Least hole on the Black, but not a WORST hole. For me, the least hole is the sixth.

And, by the way, don't boycott his book. Any book that quotes from mine must be good! (he did). My Open book will be out late this year.

  
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Jamie_Duffner on June 09, 2003, 07:10:21 AM
Phil -

The 5th plays right down the valley. There are hillsides on both sides, really more on the left side and is a very naturally flowing hole. The 5th is one of the more natural holes you'll ever see and while it does play from plateau to plateau, the land flow works extremely well.

10 and 11 I disagree with your assertion. 11 is one of the more awkward tee shots since you can't see the fairway. It requires a draw due to how the fairway is situated. 10 is a brute, but the bunkering doesn't pinch the fairway at the 280 yard mark. The bunkering between the two holes is hardly a "blob" and only catches a badly pulled ball. I'm not sure that bunker complex saw many balls during the open week. 10 also favors a tee shot up the right side which helps view the green and guess what is up the right side? A bunker, only it was unreachable for most of the field when the hole played 492.   I think the hole is actually harder at 470 to 480, it brings the right side bunker into play.  At 492 that bunker is something like 310 to 320 yards to reach.

18 tee is forced into a hillside, almost around the back of it, the green complex is decent, but I think it could be better. The line off the tee does not favor a particular side. The fairway bunkering lacks any strategic importance. It's difficulty on Sunday of the US Open is irrelevant to it's design merits. Strategically it is a weak hole and out of character with the rest of the course.

Having played the course a couple hundred times I think I am quite intimate with how it plays.
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: JakaB on June 09, 2003, 07:23:02 AM
PTA,

Would you agree that the 18th would be a better hole if it forced the Open player to hit driver off of the tee...not better day to day..just better in the Open.
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Rick Shefchik on June 09, 2003, 07:34:53 AM
If you think of a major championship as a decathalon -- a collection of individual examinations of skills such as wedge play, putting, bunker play, driver play, fairway wood play, long iron play, middle iron play, etc. -- then I guess it would not seem sufficient for someone to win without hitting the driver.

But I don't look at the Open or any other golf tournament that way. I see it as a test of who can get the ball in the hole in the fewest strokes, and if the winner decides to carry only 7 clubs, more power to him. The driver isn't required, it's just the most useful club under certain circumstances. I think U.S. Open courses should be extremely resistent to scoring, but it doesn't particularly matter to me how they go about making that happen.

If you insist that length and accuracy with the driver be a requirement for the winner, you're probably de-emphasizing other skills, such as putting and shot shaping.

In any regard, I don't think we have to worry about the USGA turning away from length as a primary feature of their course set-ups. I don't agree that an Open course ought to be set up in such a way that a third of the field can't even reach the beginning of some of the fairways, but the USGA seems to think that's an acceptable examination.
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Gary_Smith on June 09, 2003, 07:49:42 AM
I don't think length off the tee in the U.S. Open, with the probable exception of last year, is as big as factor as some of you apparently think it is.

I would like to see the driver get tested somewhere around 8 or 9 times per round on an Open course.

Tiger, of course, will hit less drivers than that at OF.



Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Matt_Ward on June 09, 2003, 08:19:18 AM
Pat:

I've covered nearly every US Open as a media person since 1980 and have seen the evolution of what the USGA does to various sites that have held the championship. In 1983 the USGA narrowed the fairways at Oakmont to such a degree that irons were being routinely hit and the rough was off the charts for its length and overall density. Since that Open there's been a desire to insist upon the "half-shot penalty" for balls that find the rough. Sometimes it works as well as can be expected -- Pinehurst in '99 and PB in '00 worked quite well.

Clearly, the USGA places a premimum on accuracy off the tee. Just check out the winners of the event over the years and you'll find plenty of people who control the ball off the tee and were not exceptionally long hitters (i.e. Hale Irwin, Larry Nelson, Scott Simpson, Payne Stewart, Corey Pavin).

I can relate to what Fuzzy Zoeller said to me back in '84 at WF when he said the set-up of a U.S. Open is really about "defensive" golf. The whole theory is that players must rein in their desire to hit full out because of the nature of the set-up.

Clearly, there have been courses (Bethpage Black is a prominent example) where the bulk of the field literally had to hit drivers on nearly all the holes that were non par-3's with the exception of just a few.

I wish there was a way to "tempt" players to hit the driver more because it creates an excitement for the gallery that players are willing to go full out. However, the gist of a US Open, is fundamentally about accuracy and position. It's for that reason that many people have said, and I tend to agree, that watching the US Open can be a difficult chore as play becomes utterly conservative and quite tentative. However, to be fair, that's the nature of what separates a US Open from the other major events during the year so watching such a spectacle once a year isn't really that bad considerign what's at stake.

P.S. One last thing -- despite what Phil says the 18th at BB is really a dog of a hole that needs an overhaul. We've debated this point a number of times but I agree with Jamie that the bunkering creation in the driving zone is quite elementary and ti simply creates a non-option for players who will simply lay-up before them and go from there.
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Gary_Smith on June 09, 2003, 08:43:10 AM
Matt,

Do you mind naming some Open courses you have seen, other than Bethpage, where the bulk of the field had to hit driver off of nearly every tee? Not quibbling, just curious.

If the name Medinah comes up, I recall an average length hitter like Faldo teeing off with an iron on every hole the final day.
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Matt_Ward on June 09, 2003, 08:57:25 AM
Gary:

If memory serves -- Medinah was not played at full length for the '90 event and with a number of holes dog-legging it became necessary for players to gear down to reach certain optimum locations in the fairways.

P.S. If memory serves most players had to hit driver during the '84 Open and '97 PGA at WF / West. Ditto Hazletine in '91 and Baltusrol in '93.

My point was simple -- I'd like to see more players "tempted" to play driver but given the nature of the event that seems unlikely because the world's best players are not fools or idiots. They understand that a mid-iron from the fairway will usually trump a short iron from the hay or its equivalent.
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Dan Kelly on June 09, 2003, 10:30:02 AM
At the '91 Open at Hazeltine, and at last year's PGA there, I believe most players used Driver on 1, 2, 3, 7, 9, 11, 12, 15 (though the OB right made many choose 3-wood in '91; the hole was straightened between 91 and 02), 16 (in '91, at least when it was into the wind; there were probably more 3-woods last year) and 18.

They didn't mostly use Driver on 5 (mid-length dogleg right), 6 (mid-length dogleg left) 10 (mid-length dogleg left) and 14 (straightaway short par-4) -- though some did use driver on all of those holes but 14.

I'm with Matt: Tempt away, USGA!
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Patrick_Mucci on June 09, 2003, 05:00:28 PM
Rick Shefchik,

How does emphasizing the driver de-emphasize the putter ?
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Tim_Weiman on June 09, 2003, 05:20:12 PM
Gary Smith,

I'm wondering if you can share your thoughts on why 8 or 9 times is about right for players using driver off the tee during a US Open round.

Honestly, I threw out 10-12 without thinking about it too much. I'm probably closer to the 10 number than 12, but can't base it on much other than thinking about twice per side I'd like to see a fairway wood or long iron be the smarter play. On the other hand, it some point it seems like there is not enough emphasis on the driver.

Why do you like 8 or 9?

Matt Ward:

Do you know whether the USGA keeps statistics on the number of drivers used? Do they have a number in mind for drivers used per round?
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Steve Lang on June 09, 2003, 05:45:09 PM
::)

Maybe its the heat, but in this one and maybe the older one and maybe the ladies' one, I think the USGA does have it right.. If 450 yds means a 2 iron 245 yd layup and a 6 iron 205 yd approach with spin, then so be it.. I'm just interested in who scores the lowest, typically by not losing their concentration and mental health in the process. I don't care what clubs they use or abuse.

And as for TV, I just like to watch the highlights or what's left after the day's round(s) and a float in the pool..

Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Gary_Smith on June 09, 2003, 06:15:03 PM
Tim,

Assuming the course has 4 par 3s, then you have 14 left where a player could use a wood or long iron to tee off. 8 or 9 out of 14 possible seems enough use of the driver to me, and that leaves room to help get those long irons examined.

What I'm saying is I like balance, and if the woods, long irons, mid-irons, and short iron groups each got used 8-10 times per round on the full shots then that would be the ideal test to me. Probably a pipe dream, however,with technology, We are not seeing enough long iron 2nd shots into long par 4s as it was in the Hogan era, so I'm just leaving a little room for the long irons to get examined elsewhere. My ideal course would have one long iron par 3, and 4 long iron second shot par 4s. Others may call that a slog.

My guess is that somewhere around 9 drivers per round would be what the average pro is using in the average Open round.










Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Forrest Richardson on June 09, 2003, 07:57:01 PM
Before I post I must relate a funny happening while playing Apache Stronghold with Clayman yesterday:

At the par-3 No. 15 I reached for holed putt and heard a loud buzz. At first I thought it was a rattlesnake but then my thought turned to Clayman, who I figured may have slipped a hand buzzer, somehow, into the hole. It scared the daylights out of me. Turned out to be a cicida a large bug that makes a loud and I mean loud! buzzing noise when it wants to mate. It has borrowed into the sand beneath the cup and was desiring to attract a mate. Very funny.

- - -

I think it matters more how many times we question the golfer at the tee of a par-4 or -5 not how many times he actually reached for the non-driver. I feel that 1/2 of the non-par-3s must make the golfer question his otherwise quick grab for the socked long shafted club.
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Rick Shefchik on June 10, 2003, 06:55:37 AM
Patrick -- If length off the tee eliminates three-quarters of the field, I'd have to guess that those players make their living more with the putter than with the driver.

Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Patrick_Mucci on June 10, 2003, 07:20:50 AM
Rick,

How do you establish the qualifier that length off the tee eliminates 3/4 of the field ?

Have you looked at the tour driving statistics lately ?

They're all long.

There is no correlation between being a long driver and a bad putter, just ask John Daly, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson or Jack Nicklaus.
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Rick Shefchik on June 10, 2003, 07:35:39 AM
Patrick --

I didn't say the long drivers were bad putters (some aren't among the best, but it's pretty clear Tiger, Phil and Jack can roll their ball.)

My point was that the guys who aren't as long get by more on their putting than on their driving, and if you stretch and narrow a course, those guys are the ones who are going to be most affected.
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Patrick_Mucci on June 10, 2003, 12:10:08 PM
Since the USGA is not about to make any significant announcements regarding the ball before the tournament,
The question remains, in an examination of skills in a National Championship, how do you test the players ability to use their driver ?
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Forrest Richardson on June 10, 2003, 12:39:21 PM
You focus on testing the player's ability to decide whether to use the driver first and foremost. You do this by offering the risk of hitting driver at 6-7 holes (for the average of the players competing) and you allow the other 6-7 driver tee shots to go off without much thought as to club selection, but half of these must require above average skill relative to the playing field. Except on Saturdays before 9:00am when any marshall is wearing a red derby hat with any vowell showing larger than 3/8-inch. Then...
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: W.H. Cosgrove on June 10, 2003, 12:52:46 PM
You all seem to think the USGA is attempting to decide who hits the ball best.

What I think the USGA is attempting to determine is which golfer is able to play his way around the golf course.  After the qualification process, there is a full field of players who hit the heck out of it.  What differentiates the winner from the rest is his ability to make appropriate decisions and then carrying them out under pressure.  

This isn't about the driver or the putter.....its about the BRAIN.
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Matt_Ward on June 10, 2003, 02:21:11 PM
Tim W:

The set-up determines how much the driver is used -- particularly by the longer players.

Take for example the 10th at Oakmont -- in '83 and '94 many players used three-metals or irons because the fairway was so pinched in by the USGA that hitting driver was all but eliminated. Keep in mind the hole plays roughly 465 yards. The same situation repeated itself at other venues -- the 4th and 5th at the Lake Course at OIympic is another case in point.

I don't doubt that clearly the contest of the US Open is to reward the player with the best thought making ability BUT I will also add that hitting driver is one of the primary clubs in the bag. In my mind -- you have to have holes where the "temptation" is there for even people like Tiger, Phil, Ernie, et al, to pull the big stick out.

Like I said before the world's best are not fools or idiots and if necessary they will WITHOUT HESITATION club down. I don't mind seeing club downs on a few holes but when the contest is reduced to nothing more than a routinization of choice without any real possibility for the use of the driver then I have to question the intent of the set-up.
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: CHrisB on June 10, 2003, 02:21:21 PM
Quote
Since the USGA is not about to make any significant announcements regarding the ball before the tournament,
The question remains, in an examination of skills in a National Championship, how do you test the players ability to use their driver ?
I just fundamentally disagree with the notion of a golf tournament as an "examination of skills". It is simply not a contest to see who is the most skilled, but rather who can hole out in the fewest number of strokes. It is not to identify the best player, but to see who shoots the lowest.

It's not a contest to see who can hit 9 drivers, 3 fairway woods, 2 long iron tee shots, 4 long iron approach shots, 5 mid-iron approach shots, etc.

In the 1990 U.S. Open, trailing by one on the 72nd tee at Medinah and needing birdie, Nick Faldo chose to hit iron off the tee even though it left him with a long iron into the green. He was able to hit a great shot and have a makeable birdie putt. He missed the putt, but he was allowed to tackle the hole his way and live with the consequences. Conversely, at Bethpage last year, a couple of the par fours were so long that if a player hit iron off the tee, he wouldn't be able to reach the green in two (or the fairway off the tee on #10).

Yes, the course and set-up should be challenging, but the course/set-up should allow the players to make the club choices that best suit their game, instead of forcing them into an "examination" where choices are taken away.

If you want to see who is the most skilled with the driver, I say go to a range or course somewhere and have a driving contest.
Title: Re: Use of The Driver - Does the USGA have it righ
Post by: Matt_Ward on June 10, 2003, 02:36:45 PM
Chris B:

I don't doubt players should make choices on what club they wish to hit. HOWEVER, when the course set-up is done in such a way that clubbing down is the only SENSIBLE ALTERNATIVE then I have a problem with that.

The driver is a important club in anyone's bag and it requires a deft touch to handle it correctly. It should be tested -- including the elite players. When a course is set-up deliberately to eliminate that option (see Bethpage Black 18th as just one of many examples) you have a situation that leads the audience to yawn rather than pay attention oevr the long haul IMHO.