Equipment Changes and the "Decline" in Golfer Population

Two tangentially related issues to bring up for discussion.

First, the USGA informed all its members that Mike Davis will succeed David Fay as executive director. Does anyone know Davis’s opinion on equipment regulation? Does anyone think the USGA will have another “rollback” in club specifications or introduction of a “standard ball?”

Second, former USGA technical director Frank Thomas responds to someone questioning whether “equipment rules regulations … are contributing to the decline in [golfer] participation?”

I find it unfortunate that so many hackers believe that it is only the USGA’s “cor” restrictions and “groove rollback” keeping them from improving. After eight years of buying all sorts of clubs, this hacker can personally attest that it is not the clubs holding people back. In fact, I’ve had my best ball striking with some old hogan blades I picked up for ABS.

I read an article about Davis, although it wasn’t very flattering. Can’t remember what it said.

We’ve been talking about ‘rollback’ for years and years, but they’ve never really stopped OEM’s with golf balls or drivers for the most part. They did with the stupid groove rule, which didn’t make a lick of difference. Particularly since golfers could just get high spin wedge shafts and be just fine. I could be wrong, but I don’t remember a lot of fliers with the old grooves either. All it did was force serious golfers to go out and buy new wedges, another coup for the OEM’s.

Honestly, I think they need to not allow the ball to go any further than it is now. I think they’ve stretched it as far as they should and probably a bit too far. I know that many of us here don’t like the titanium driver, but more people love them in golf than they hate them. And I’m okay with that as I don’t necessarily hate the frying pans, but I do think that persimmon helps my swing much more.

Nobody ever really rolls anything back for whatever reason. So I just don’t see it happening. But I don’t think we render great golf courses as obsolete anymore so IMO…we need to let this be the stopping point for power advancements and if golfers get longer, it’s because of their swing mechanics and athleticism.


Too right…that’s pretty much how it used to be…guys could still smash persimmon clubs out there…but you had better have a superior technique and confidence to do it…they ended up in the name of technology making equipment too basic for everyone to hit and there has hardly been a standout ball striker the past 10-15 years because of it…it evened up the group…made the average good. the good a little better, and didn’t help the flusher…so it pretty much became a putting contest most weeks

All true, but for most people, this is not even a “persimmon versus titanium” debate. I think there is a segment of the golfing population that honestly believes that the USGA’s limited restrictions on drivers and the grooves are preventing them from improving and are making the game harder.

I think for the USGA to adopt a “standard ball” or make a final cap on equipment distance, the average hacker’s perception of equipment needs to change. Otherwise the OEMs will use the hacker as their standard bearer to oppose any changes.