Insights for sore eyes

The governing bodies drop a distance report, men and women compete side-by-side in Australia, and the PGA Tour gears up for the Pebble Beach


We rewrote this intro paragraph about 30 times. There are just so many exciting stories to talk about today! Let’s get right to it.

In today’s newsletter…

  • The USGA releases its long-awaited Distance Insights report.
  • The Vic Open makes us wonder why there aren’t more tournaments like it.

The Storylines

Well, well, well…

Yesterday the USGA and R&A released their highly anticipated Distance Insights study. Full conclusions can be found HERE, but here’s the main takeaway: the governing bodies finally recognize that golf has a distance problem. Huzzah!

From the report:

“In summary, we believe that golf will best thrive over the next decades and beyond if this continuing cycle of ever-increasing hitting distances and golf course lengths is brought to an end. Longer distances, longer courses, playing from longer tees and longer times to play are taking golf in the wrong direction and are not necessary to make golf challenging, enjoyable or sustainable in the future”

In spite of what certain hysterical voices on Twitter might imply, the report makes no specific recommendations for changes to equipment regulations. In fact, it states that the USGA and R&A do not currently intend “to consider revising the overall [conformance] specifications in a way that would produce substantial reductions in hitting distances at all levels of the game.” Your titanium frying pans and solid-core bullets are safe, guys.

Runaway distance gains in golf aren’t new. As the USGA and R&A found (and as we all knew), courses have been adding length to accommodate the longest golfers for over a century. But it is encouraging that the governing bodies are finally acknowledging the issue now. Let’s hope their words lead to deeds, and that they choose the future of golf, not manufacturers’ bottom lines, as their primary concern.

Very cool golf tournament

At the ISPS Handa Vic Open, men and women will play the same courses, at the same time, for the equal prize money. That’s very cool. And weirdly rare.

Played at 13th Beach Golf Links in Victoria, Australia, the Vic Open has reinvigorated itself by taking a risk on a fresh idea. The European Tour, the Ladies European Tour, and the LPGA all recognize the event, which has resulted in a strong field. On the men’s side, we’ll see Henrik Stenson, Haotong Li, Min Woo Lee, and Geoff Ogilvy; and on the women’s side, Minjee Lee, Jeongeun Lee6, Inbee Park, Cristie Kerr, and Anne van Dam.

The European Tour has shown a willingness to get behind innovative formats, including the Belgian Knockout and Shot Clock Masters, but this one is especially intriguing. The unusual opportunity to see a direct comparison of the men’s and women’s games should make for excellent late-night TV.

We’ve added a second day to The Dog Bowl!

The first day sold out pretty fast, and some of you were disappointed not to get a spot.

Day 2 will happen at Yale Golf Course on June 23. Registration will open on Thursday, 2/6, at 12 p.m. CT in our pro shop. Newsletter subscribers will get a reminder at 11:45 a.m. CT. Mark your calendars!

Shotgun Start February pool

The February Shotgun Start pool is open for business. Choose your team, listen to the podcast for updates, and win prizes! The contest runs through the Honda Classic, and registration closes Thursday morning at 10 a.m. ET. Sign up now

The Roundup

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am (PGA Tour)

  • Tee Times
  • Players will rotate through Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, and Monterey Peninsula Country Club over the first three rounds before playing Pebble Beach for the final round on Sunday.
  • Dustin Johnson makes his first PGA Tour start since the Sentry Tournament of Champions. DJ won both the 2009 and 2010 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Ams.
  • Need some fantasy help? Check out Paulie’s Picks

ISPS Handa Vic Open (European Tour)

Golfweek’s Adam Schupak cobbled together some PGA Tour player reactions on the USGA distance report. Some are reasonable; others are insane, like Paul Casey’s housing development theory (co-signed by Billy Horschel in a since-deleted tweet). Full Story

Rory McIlroy will return to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking next week. It will be Rory’s 96th week as the top-ranked player, fourth most of all time.

The Must-Sees of Public Golf Architecture in America

Northwood Golf Club (Monte Rio, California)


Admittedly, the nine-hole Northwood Golf Club, built in 1928 by Alister MacKenzie and Robert Hunter, has lost a bit of polish over the years. While some lovely green shapes and contours remain (especially on Nos. 2, 4, 7, and 8), a few holes lack their original bunkering and strategy. When you visit this place, however, any academic quibbles evaporate into the morning fog. The atmosphere is humble and casual, in the manner of a lightly tended outpost. The redwoods overwhelm the senses, and the clever, coiled routing returns to certain spots without feeling repetitive. Part of me dreams about a restoration of this 92-year-old municipal course; another part of me wishes for it to stay just as it is. Full profile

Insider tip: There’s plenty to do in nearby Guerneville (fun restaurants, a float down the Russian River), but a 30-minute drive back toward the main highway will deliver you to Russian River Brewery, which makes some of the best beer anywhere. -Garrett Morrison

Photo credit: Andy Johnson

The Latest from The Fried Egg

The Shotgun Start: “Break the cycle” jubilation, the Billy Ho POV, and J-Day’s paradise

The Shotgun Start goes back to its roots for a short and sweet Wednesday episode brought on by Brendan’s lack of a voice. We begin with the news of the day and perhaps the news of the next decade: the USGA and R&A distance report. Andy rejoices in some of the language used in the report and we discuss what it might mean in the instant and in the long term. What does the “local rule” sentence open the door for and where? How messy is this going to get and how long will it take for actions? We discuss how in our lifetimes we’ve perhaps never seen such a moment of tension and potential conflict among governing bodies and leagues, especially with the PGL now on the table. Billy Horschel’s befuddling tweet is also thrown into the discussion. The report gets the lion’s share of the first half of the podcast before the usual business occupies the back half. We hit on the schedule for the week, event of the week, one-and-done picks, and a refresher on why Jason Day loves the Pebble Pro-Am so much. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.