McCARTHY: Golf is my life, why don't I care about the ball rollback?

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Can somebody remind me which existential golf crisis we are talking about today?

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Ah yes, the golf ball rollback. This time it’s official. At least it will be in 2028. For pros that is, and then two years later for the rest of us.

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Remember back when golf’s biggest problems were that it was boring and every once in a while someone’s shirt came untucked?

Today, we put the war for the future of professional golf aside and find ourselves in a full-throated, pick-a-side argument over potentially losing five or so yards off our own best drives seven years from now.

Spoiler alert: We are going to lose more than five yards because when our current Pro V1s become illegal in 2030, we are going to look as old as that dusty golf bag in our garage. Can’t change that though, but what we can hopefully change in the meantime is the level and temperature of discourse on these hot topics.

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I have an admission to make: I don’t really care about the golf ball rollback.

It’s crazy, I know, especially considering this is the fourth story I’ve written on the topic today.

The ball rollback isn’t a new topic and I made the decision earlier this year to listen to different arguments before picking a side, because there are a lot of people on both sides who have a passion for this subject that I just can’t seem to muster. And, after today’s announcement, many of them are angry that the game’s governing bodies have done too much, or perhaps too little.

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What I’ve heard from one camp is that we can’t keep expanding golf courses and if we want to keep the connection to the history and spirit of the game — and some of the world’s greatest courses — something needs to be done about distance.

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I’ve seen first-hand what can happen at the Old Course when the wind is down or when softer turf refuses to send balls bounding off fairways and into trouble. I’ve prayed annually for hot, dry weeks for Canadian Opens so our classic parklands will present a worthy challenge.

I’m also not sure that the measures announced on Wednesday are enough to change any of that.

I do tend to agree that the balance of skill in the game has tipped too far in the direction of power at the expense of finesse and creativity, but I find some truth in the argument that nobody has ever complained that golf is too easy or that they hit the ball too far.

I’ve also witnessed a fundamental change with the game in a new generation of golfers and instructors who dive into swing and shot data (much of which might need an overhaul with a new tour ball) and who seem to get as much satisfaction from hitting personal bests on launch monitors as they do on a golf course. For many in that camp, reining in progress is both backward and absurd.

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Unfortunately, outrage has become something of a default emotion these days so it’s not always easy to differentiate honest opinion from attention-seekers. Also, the current level of mistrust in authority figures across wide swaths of society has many quick to reject any and all missives bestowed on them from above. All of which muddies the waters and makes friendly debate harder to come by, which is a shame.

There are intelligent and honest reasons both for and against rolling the ball back, and one of the difficulties of the information age is that with all opinions at our fingertips, we are realizing that every complicated decision involves a level of risk and requires some sort of leap of faith, including if you decide to do nothing.

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I have loved the game my entire life, I play what is surely described by those in my house as “a ridiculous amount of golf,” and I’m obsessed with continuing to improve.

Yet, somehow, the best I can come up with on what seems to be an inflection point in the game is a shoulder shrug and a ‘meh,’ so I began trying to figure out why.

When my father was my age, he was a three handicap who played in every tournament at his club. Now he’s 75 years old and plays a weekly game in Florida.

When we talked about the rollback, it was his eyes that were rolling. None of his friends play tour balls and, if they do find one, they tuck it into their bags to give to someone who might use it, if they remember.

Dad prefers to play something soft because it reminds him of his old balata and, odds are, whatever ball he is using today is in no threat of failing any test, old or new.

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His bright idea for the governing bodies is that if they are going to monkey with the golf ball, they should invent one that’s easier for him to see because that seems to be the biggest concern within his group.

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Here at home, one of my regular golf partners is battling serious health issues and has permanently lost 100 yards from his drives. Not five yards. Not 10 yards. A hundred yards.

Despite that, he played close to 100 rounds this year and, if I had to guess, his joy and frustration level on the course hasn’t changed much from before. His scores and expectations have, obviously, but he quickly adapted. That’s what people do.

Yes, he’s an extraordinary person and it’s an extraordinary case, but the nature of golf lends itself to stories like his because the beauty of the game is that the measuring stick is always within and is constantly changing.

The game of golf might be endlessly complicated, but its lesson is simple and has remained the same from featheries to balatas to whatever ball comes next: Try to be better today than you were yesterday.

If you fail, try again tomorrow.

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