Do we need to Rory-proof golf courses, or should we do something smarter?

Where is the game of golf going if the ball is travelling further and further?

Rory McIlroy is now streets ahead of the rest as the world’s best golfer after winning last week’s Wells Fargo Championship by a whopping seven strokes.

The Northern Irishman has gone 1st, T8, 1st, 4th, T11 and T9 in his last 6 starts and despite golf experts often claiming the latest tournament winner is the best going around, Rory McIlroy IS the best golfer going around, whether he wins next week or not.

We’re often a little too quick to jump to conclusions when it comes to proclaiming the current best golfer and we all and should look at form over the past few months, or years, as the golf world rankings do rather than as a week to week proposition. But where is the fun in that?

One of the most talked about aspects of McIlroy’s comprehensive victory last week was the discussion about the prestigious, ‘never-before-seen’ distances he is hitting the golf ball.

Geoff Shackelford drew attention to the fact that “on a 7500 yard golf course Rory McIlroy hit 9-iron or less into 15 of 18 holes” and the video above shows that even the commentators were surprised at where some of McIlroy’s drives finished.

By all reports, Quail Hollow Club was dry, with plenty of run in the fairways and not every hole was played from the very back tees, but the fact that McIlroy had little or no use for his long irons does raise a few eyebrows.

And McIlroy is not even the longest hitter on the PGA Tour. He is only ranked eighth for average driving distance on the PGA Tour this year sitting behind seven other golfers including Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and Adam Scott.

I’m not the first to say that the distances these guys are hitting the golf ball is worrying and rendering many golf courses obsolete.

If we are to continue to see an incremental increase in the distances the professionals hit the golf ball, we’re going to run out of fairway. You only have to look at the changes made to St.Andrews over the past decade to know something isn’t right. The home of golf should be off-limits to any major changes and be as playable today as it was hundreds of years ago.

Whether it’s due to better equipment or as Billy Payne would have you believe, “better golfer conditioning”, there are two things that can be done – lengthen the golf course or roll-back the golf ball.

Perhaps golf courses that host PGA Tour events can afford (and have room) to lengthen their golf holes, but most golf courses can’t and it seems more logical to do something about the golf ball. The question is: how long before the R&A and USGA do something about it?

Rory McIlroy’s golf game is incredible to watch, but the distinct lack of variety in what was a comprehensive target-golf performance at the Wells Fargo Championship took the shine off it.

McIlroy’s swing would still be a thing of beauty even if the golf ball wasn’t going as far but I’d get a lot more satisfaction in seeing the world number one win by seven shots after making full use of every club in his bag.

One thought on “Do we need to Rory-proof golf courses, or should we do something smarter?

  • To limit the ball is fine,but apply it to PGA events ONLY. The heirarchy of golf did not consider the amateur golfer when it reached its decision on the longer putter, thus taking enjoyment from the game for a number of older golfers who started to putt better. A decision that seemed to me and a lot of my friends to placate the likes of Tiger Woods. USGA and R and A need to remember that professional golfers are a minuscule percentage of the world’s golfers. Make a decision for the majority!


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