By Bruce Penton
Titleist advertises itself as the company which produces the “No. 1 ball in golf.” The stats prove it; more PGA Tour players use the ball than any other, and it isn’t even close.
But according to golf legend Jack Nicklaus, the company that produces the Titleist ball is also the No. 1 culprit when it comes to preventing golf’s ruling bodies from rolling back the distance the ball is travelling these days, and he maintains it’s leading to the ruination of the game.
Nicklaus told Randell Mell of the Golf Channel that the “great distance gains players enjoy today is stretching courses, and that’s slowing play.” In the Golf Channel story, he singled out Titleist when asked about pushback from manufacturers over proposals to roll back the distance balls can fly.
“Titleist controls the game,” Nicklaus told Mell. “And I don’t understand why Titleist would be against it. I know they are, but I don’t understand why you would be against it. They make probably the best product. If they make the best product, whether it’s 20 per cent shorter … What difference would it make? Their market share isn’t going to change a bit. They are still going to dominate the game.”
In a later interview with GolfWorld.com’s Joel Beall, Nicklaus pointed to the great distances Tour players are crushing the ball these days and said the game is suffering. Golf body officials “can’t just keep burying their heads on this. They see it, they watch television, they see where these guys hit the golf ball. It isn’t about how far they hit it. You just can’t keep making golf courses longer. You just don’t have enough land, you don’t have enough money to do it.”
The topic has raged even more this year since Bryson DeChambeau bulked up in the gym during the Tour’s pandemic hiatus and started getting astonishing distance from his drives. He hit one drive 423 yards at the Memorial, a tournament hosted by Nicklaus, and belted drives of 353, 362 and 404 yards on other occasions. The host just shook his head in amazement — and dismay.
Veteran Tour player Charley Hoffman said hard workers like DeChambeau shouldn’t be penalized by rolling back the ball. “The guy was average to long hitter prior and he went and worked his (butt) off and found a way to hit it further,” Hoffman told golf.com. “That is a perfect example of getting better. Why would you want to roll it back?”
• Patti Dawn Swansson, the River City Renegade, on Jets’ Paul Maurice, whose teams have missed the playoffs four of the past seven years: “Yet he has a new, three-year, $9-million contract tucked in his hip pocket. You know, right beside the horseshoe, the four-leaf clover, the rabbit’s foot, the smoke and the mirrors.”
• Sportswriter Eric Adelson, on Twitter: “We had the Washington Bullets and now we have the Washington Blanks.”
• Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg: “Southern California had an earthquake. It was so strong it actually shook somebody into the L.A. Chargers’ gift shop.”
• Swansson again, on the orphaned Blue Jays getting rejected by Toronto, Baltimore and Pittsburgh before finding a 2020 home in Buffalo: “That’s kind of like trying to book John Lennon or Paul McCartney or George Harrison to play your birthday gig, but settling for Ringo.”
• From the Seattle Kraken Twitter feed: “Fun fact: We are the only team that Connor McDavid has not scored against.”
• Greg Cote of the Miami Herald: “Still hanging onto that nickname, Indians? I hear ‘Cleveland Baseball Team’ is still available.”
• A golden oldie from Ex-Cardinals pitcher Joaquin Andujar, as recounted by caddie John Wood in a golf.com feature: “There is one word in America that says it all, and that one word is, ‘You never know.’”
• PGA player Brooks Koepka, at a post-round press conference when asked about changing drivers, from a Callaway to a TaylorMade: “They don’t pay me, so I’m not mentioning their name.”
• Paul Bromby on Twitter, after the Leafs blew a 3-0 lead against Columbus (before returning the favour in the next game): “Let’s look at the bright side of things here for a minute. The Leafs giving up a three-goal lead might mean 2020 is starting to get back to normal.”
• Comedy writer Brad Dickson of Omaha: “Rutgers is going to limit stadium capacity to 500 fans. That’s down from the normal 525 fans who normally attend Rutgers games.”
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