Finchem Discusses Use of “Deadened” Golf Ball

The ability of the world’s top golf professional players to hit the ball farther and farther into the stratosphere is, once again, getting the attention of one of the sport’s leaders. At a recent news conference, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem discussed using a “deadened” ball to counter the more athletic golfers who are hitting longer shots each year.

Prior to the start of the recently concluded Tour Championship in Atlanta, Finchem urged golf’s governing bodies in the U.S. and Europe to finish up their studies on golf ball and club technology and provide him with the results.

Several of the top golf courses – including the home of the Masters Tournament, Augusta National Golf Club – have been lengthened as the average driving distance on the PGA Tour has reached 287 yards, up from 263 yards in 1995. Through the Chrysler Championship, held a week prior to the Tour Championship, 10 players averaged more than 300 yards with their tee shots.

“There is simply no more room (on the older courses),” Finchem said. “I’m not suggesting that (a dead ball) is something we necessarily need to do, but we need to realize that there are reasons why that might become necessary and be prepared to do it.”

As more players focus on fitness and power, driving distances will increase slightly each year, commented Finchem, who has discussed the issue for the past few years. Golf’s governing bodies – the U.S. Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland – have opposed the idea of pro and amateur golfers using different balls in competition.

Manufacturers, including Fortune Brands Inc., maker of the game’s most-used ball, Titleist, and Callaway Golf Co., the sport’s leading equipment maker, are also opposed to the development of a separate, reduced-distance ball. But as the world’s premier golf courses are being reduced to pitch-and-putt layouts by the world’s top players, something may need to be done.