Jack's new ball whinge

Nicklaus on ball warpath again

Bob Warters's picture
Tue, 29 Jan 2002

Never one to miss a chance to expound his views about the lengths balls are being hit, Jack Nicklaus has climbed aboard his hobby horse...yet again.

Making his last appearance in Australia, at the Heineken Classic this week, he has warned - yet again - that technological advances in golf balls are threatening to make thousands of courses obsolete.

Jack Nicklaus - 'restrict ball distance.'

Winner of 18 major tournaments, he claims golf courses are being overpowered by the game's best players. Golf's rule-makers should limited the distance a golf ball can travel.

"Is it right to build 6,800-metre golf courses and make courses here like Royal Melbourne, obsolete?" he says.

Excuse me while I yawn, Mr Nicklaus, whose worldwide stadium-style designs, include some of the longest toughest courses in the world, with a range of tees to suit all handicaps, because I'm getting a bit tired of this thread.

He claims that in the US only 25 golf courses are long enough to stage major championships but all are becoming obsolete 'because of the ego of the ball manufacturer.'

Nicklaus says the game's custodians should make a stand and stop the trend.

"If the golf ball went back 10 percent (in distance) we'd have several thousand more courses available for majors."

Oh come on! Surely with a bit of imagination, designers like Nicklaus can make them narrower and more penal for the top players, toss in a few more doglegs and make good course management the key to low scoring.

Having just been made a member of the elite Augusta National Golf Club, Nicklaus warned that he could influence a decision for competitors to use one stipulated ball at the US Masters in the future.

"Augusta seriously thought about it. It could have got away with it but they did not want to put themselves in that position of putting the game in that position, " he claims.

Too right, Jack. With TV contracts worth so much even the green jackets can't afford to put their event at risk. It would be the first nail in their coffin on the way to making the US PGA Tour Players Championship at Sawgrass the first major of the year.

My view is that the Golden Bear has lost sight of the fact that initially, it's how far, not necessarily how many, that encourages youngsters to take up the game and if you start restricting the distances not only the pros can hit but weekend golfers, it could signal the beginning of the end for golf on TV, as we know it.

What do you think? Is Jack Nicklaus talking balls...or commonsense? Tell us on the Forum.



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