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PGA golfers can no longer use drivers that extend over 46 inches because golfers have been hitting the ball too far. Phil Mickelson is not happy about this move, and frankly, he shouldn’t be, as that driver length has helped him create an upward tick in speed that’s prolonged his career.
Word is USGA is soon rolling back driver length to 46inches.This is PATHETIC.1st it promotes a shorter more violent swing (injury prone,) doesn’t allow for length of arc to create speed,and during our 1st golf boom in 40 years,our amateur gov body keeps trying to make it less fun
— Phil Mickelson (@PhilMickelson) August 27, 2021
It should be noted that those who regulate the sport are doing everything they can — and this is nothing new — to reduce a player’s abilities to overpower the sport. Drive averages have spiked more than usual the last couple years, and now golf is in damage control. Most fans agree that it’s not enjoyable watching golfers in major tournaments hit a driver-wedge into a par-5. It creates little to no challenge and presents too much of a window for error off the tee.
It’s not like Phil doesn’t understand the art in the challenge of golf — he’s just talking about the physical dangers of this change and he’s right. I’m not here to argue whether or not Phil’s science checks out, but it’s clear that driver length improves speed. There’s a reason long drive competitors use shafts as long as their bodies, and now Mickelson is making a prediction on how golfers will respond to the change.
When players have less power in their hands, they’re naturally going to try harder to create speed. While it’s cool to watch athletes push their bodies, it’s no fun when our favorite athletes hurt themselves. It’s no coincidence that Tiger Woods swung vicious for two decades and then suddenly needed a back transfusion. Efforts to create speed and natural athleticism increase the risk of injury, and Phil Mickelson is trying to soften the burden.
Maybe golf can find other remedies?
Perhaps the USGA can find a way for courses to narrow their fairways? Or is it feasible for golf to put trees and water hazards further up the fairway as opposed to more open for more average tour drivers? Many golfers have complained that today’s PGA features golf balls with unfair performance. Maybe tone down the spin to force players into tighter windows rather than affording them unlimited control?
I’m trying to say that I agree with Phil Mickelson, even though I also understand the premise of the USGA’s decision. Pro golfers showing up and ripping course at 20-under isn’t as fun as the way golf used to be played, and hoping Phil’s 50-year-old body can hold up with the new equipment isn’t what we have in mind either. Golf needs to find other ways to make their sport harder, but shortening driver lengths just ain’t it.