Vox

The golf ball that made golfers too good

Golf’s distance debate, explained.

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These days, pro golfers are hitting the ball far. Really far. And it’s creating a problem: because modern golfers can reach the hole with fewer shots than before, older courses — like Augusta National Golf Club, Oakmont Country Club, and others — are becoming obsolete. Now, professional organizations, like the United States Golf Association, are struggling to find a solution for big powerful golfers like Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, and Tiger Woods. While the jump in distance is due to lots of factors, conversation is centering on the controversial possibility of redesigning the golf ball to reduce distance. It’d be the latest turn in the ball’s long history: Golf balls have evolved from “featheries,” to gutties, to balata balls, and eventually dimpled modern balls. But the biggest, and most recent change? The almost-instantaneous switch from wound balls to solid core multilayer balls like the Titleist Pro V1.

A previous version of this video contained an audio glitch at 2:35. The error has been corrected.

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