The Forecaddie: William McGirt encouraged USGA listening on distance

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The Forecaddie: William McGirt encouraged USGA listening on distance

Forecaddie

The Forecaddie: William McGirt encouraged USGA listening on distance

When Jack Nicklaus discussed a recent dinner with U.S. Golf Association CEO Mike Davis, The Forecaddie assumed his invitation must have been lost in the mail. Davis told Nicklaus that the USGA is getting closer on the reduced-flight golf ball issue, which the Golden Bear has been harping on since Tiger Woods was in diapers.

The Man Out Front kept his ears open this week at the Honda Classic and learned of another conversation between current PGA Tour player William McGirt, director of U.S. Open Player Services Robbie Zalzneck and USGA Senior Managing Director John Bodenhamer.

“I told them, ‘Look, if you honestly believe that the ball doesn’t go any farther than it did 20 years ago, you’re in denial,’” McGirt told TMOF. “If that’s the case, why am I hitting my 7-iron 10 yards farther in the air today than when I was 23 years old? They finally admitted the ball goes farther. The big thing is, I just wish they’d make it curve again. Let foul balls be foul balls.”

Rather than tell the 38-year-old McGirt to get lost and save his concerns for the Airing of Grievances at the annual Festivus dinner table, TMOF was intrigued to hear that Zalzneck and Bodenhamer agreed to discuss several of McGirt’s talking points with him next week.

McGirt is one of the shortest hitters on Tour, but his concerns went beyond the distance issue. He had questions about proposed rules changes and expressed his worries about five-hour rounds and added maintenance costs with course expansion driving the public away from the game.

“It’s nice to see them being proactive for a change instead of reactive,” McGirt said. “I still think there’s a few things they need to take a look at, but the best thing right now is they’re actually willing to listen. For years they were never willing to listen. So, it’s a step in the right direction.”

Why now.

“They got beat up so bad over the last few U.S. Opens, I think that’s had a lot to do with it,” McGirt said.

Indeed, TMOF was thrilled to see the USGA take action last year and do away with penalties when a player’s ball moves a millimeter or two on the green after address. Thank you, Dustin Johnson.

McGirt’s impassioned plea largely came down to preserving the future of the game, something he says more and more Tour players are beginning to take interest in.

“If people aren’t playing the game, then they can’t pay us,” McGirt said. “If they’re not buying equipment, they can’t pay us. There’s a lot more guys that think about it and care about it then you’d really think.”

 

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