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The decision by golf’s governing bodies to limit the speed/distance of golf balls has sparked golfer rollback rage in some quarters. ‘How dare they put limits on how far the golf ball can travel,’ can be heard throughout the biosphere. The push back is mainly from men, however, as if it is contrary to something basic inside of them. The desire to hit the golf ball as far as humanly possible is rooted in the modern conception of golf. Indeed, for many guys this is what golf is primarily about for them. To smash that little white pill into a host of tomorrows is one of the game’s greatest satisfactions.

“Under the new proposals, golf balls struck at a robot-controlled swing speed of 125 mph – up from 120mph – must not exceed 317 yards to conform. The revision effectively keeps the ‘Overall Distance Standard’ (ODS) consistent, despite increasing swing speed by 5 mph. In addition to swing speed, the current testing conditions for spin rate and launch angle will be revised to 2200 rpm and 11 degrees, from 2520 rpm and 10 degrees respectively. These criteria are based on extensive analysis from worldwide tours over several years and are intended to ensure that the ODS (remaining unchanged at 317 yards with a 3-yard tolerance) continues to represent the ability of the game’s longest hitters.”

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Rolling Back The Yards & Metres For Golfers

The caveman within us enjoys beating that small dimpled rock as far down the fairway as we can. Even though golf is a multi-discipline sport, in that it demands as much finesse as brute strength in order to win, our testosterone soaked selves believe otherwise. If a challenge presents itself a lot of us blokes think kick the door down. The often infuriating thing about golf is that this approach hardly ever works. Still, we want to know that there are no limits on how far we can hit that golf ball, apart from our own physical ability.

“ “The longest hitters are expected to see a reduction of as much as 13-15 yards in drive distance. Average professional tour and elite male players are expected to see a reduction of 9-11 yards, with a 5-7-yard reduction for an average LET or LPGA player.

“The change in testing speed is expected to have a minimal distance impact, five yards or less, for most recreational golfers.”

Contrary to much of the initial online reaction, most everyday golfers are set to only see a 5- to 7-yard loss in total distance on their drives, according the governing bodies’ research.”

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Roll Back Or Lose It!

The truth of the situation is that golf courses are becoming contentious and obsolete because of the length that big hitters can hit it. The bigger picture is that land is much more expensive than it used to be around cities. Indeed, there is a global housing crisis going on with people struggling to find and afford accommodation. Golf will soon be in a battle for its life, with real estate folk crying out to subsume those golf courses vulnerable to such measures. More medium to higher density living demands more public green spaces for those denizens of apartment living.

Exclusive use golf courses are going to present as targets for governments, local councils, and angry people. It is going to be a case of not how far you can hit it but if at all!

Putting Limits On Stuff

I suspect that this curbing on how far the golf ball goes when you hit it is an example of the kind of stuff that will be more prevalent in the future. Humanity has reached it apogee, in terms of unrestrained development. White folk who have had things pretty much their own way for centuries are going to come up against some barriers going forward. Golf was a pastime for wealthy folk, in the main, at its inception. Golf courses were built around the town and then relocated to more spacious locales, as cities grew in size and population. Country clubs were the way to go for many decades and these exclusive clubs kept out coloured folk and Jews. Tiger Woods changed things for many, after black golfers like Charlie Sifford played on their own tour with occasional appearances on the PGA tour as a pioneer in this regard. Golf was wrested from the hands of white supremacists and became the people’s game – if you could afford it.

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Golf’s Odious Reputation In The World

Golf has a bad reputation in the minds of many non-golfers. American presidents are associated with the game of golf. These two things are not contrary statements. Golf, if you have ever noticed, is often portrayed as something the white collar criminals partake in in movies shown on the TV. Personally, I think that the game is slurred and defamed by this presented association. However, Donald Trump has cemented the negative association via his exposed cheating and various other character faults. Golf is seen as a recreation for the powerful and amoral/immoral. The exclusive pastime of the elites. This perception paints a target on the back of the game, especially during economic crises and extreme housing shortages.

The public don’t like to see some folks enjoying themselves on manicured strips of land when they cannot afford shelter.

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No Limits On Saudi Money

Now, add in professional golfers receiving hundreds of millions of dollars for competing. Plus, the men’s game at the highest level being bought by the Saudi Arabians and you have a smelly situation in the public eye. The PGA Tour always did their best to emphasise the charitable funds raised in concert with golfing tournaments. They did this consciously because they were aware of possible community backlash about obscene amounts of wealth blah blah blah. The greed factor is now at record levels in the game of golf with the bidding war between LIV Golf and the PGA. Jon Rahm is the latest golfing superstar to take the money. $500 million will buy you a lot of golf balls. Golfer rollback rage is in line with this childlike desire for no limitations to be imposed on anything. I predict that there will be public push back against golf and more golf courses will disappear.

The public opinion situation has never been more in the balance for the future of golf, as we know it.

Robert Sudha Hamilton is the author of The Stoic Golfer: Finding Inner Peace & Focus On The Fairway

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