Ping’s Solheim: What to Do About Distance

Ping’s Solheim: What to Do About Distance
Ping’s Solheim: What to Do About Distance

It’s fair to say there is a certain tension between the golf’s ruling bodies; the U.S. Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews and golf course operators and equipment manufacturers about potential golf rule changes going into the future.

As an example John Solheim, chairman & CEO of Ping continues to be concerned about the issue of PGA Tour driving distance average surging well past the 290-yard barrier. He expressed that concern at the recent 2016 APGS in Hua Hin. Solheim’s proposal, which he has presented to manufac- turers and sent to golf’s ruling bodies, calls for changing from just one overall distance standard for all balls to a “ball
distance rating,” or BDR, system that would include three types of balls.

“It worries me what might happen with our rulemakers when they see something and how they’re going to react to it,” Solheim said in a recent interview. “I wanted to put this idea out there to give them something to think about.” The three balls in Solheim’s proposal include one that is the same as today’s current standard, a second ball that would be as much as 30 yards longer and a third ball that would produce distances 30 yards shorter than current balls. Courses, tournaments, tours and even individual players could choose their ball based on the course they’re playing or the skill level of the players in the event. Solheim equated the BDR system to varying tee boxes.

He envisioned a system which even might allow opportunities for average golfers playing their home course to have slower swingers using the longer-distance-standard ball while faster swingers would play the shorter-distance-standard ball with both players teeing off from the same marker. Solheim concedes that the specifics of the limits on a shorter ball will take time for the ruling bodies to determine, and he freely admits that his proposal is merely a starting point in any discussion.

His main motivation, however, is that the game’s ruling bodies open a dialog on  distance rather than unilaterally implement another club rollback or a new, shorter overall distance standard for the ball. “I think something is going to happen, and I tried to give them a way that wouldn’t hurt everybody, especially the average golfer,” Solheim said. “Unfortunately, in the past, many actions have often been short sighted, costly and/or controversial-such as altering some of golf’s most revered courses and adopting restrictive golf club rules.”