Does The Ball Really Go Too Far?

As golf’s governing bodies wrestle with the problem of players hitting the ball too far, I thought that a little historical perspective might be in order:

Recently, I’ve been reading Mark Frost’s The Grand Slam : Bobby Jones, America, and the Story of Golf. In the book, Frost recounts some of the great golf matches of the time, and two of the shots caught my eye and got me to thinking about golf and driving distances:

Bobby (Jones) paired up with Jock (Hutchinson) on the first day of the (1921 British) Open and saw an astonishing performance. Jock aced the par three eighth, then teed up his ball on the 306 yard par four ninth and clobbered a drive that ran all the way to the hole, lipped out and stopped three inches away.

and this one, about the visit of Harry Vardon and Ted Ray to Atlanta’s Brookhaven golf club:

Ted thrilled the crowd again by hitting his drive on the ninth across a swamp, a forced carry of over two hundred eighty yards …

Now, granted that I am talking about some of the game’s best players ever—and in Ted Ray, a golfing immortal—but keep in mind that they were playing with hickory shafts, wood club heads, and pathetic excuses for balls.

And they still were hitting the ball 300 yards.

Apparently the problem of big hitters has been around for longer than we care to think.

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