Just A Little More Masters
Thoughts on Ridley's distance stance. Plus, Scheffler and the Green Jacket, Scott celebrates with the 18th green flagstick and some tremendous (official) YouTube postings from The Masters.
With champion Scottie Scheffler taking the Green Jacket back to Dallas and enjoying a well-deserved week off, post-Masters news has been light.
The 25-year-old made no talk show appearances or posting anything on social media flaunting his new possessions. But there is some news on the jacket’s usage in response to calls to do the dishes, multiple social postings from caddie Ted Scott, a slew of creative YouTube postings from the Masters account and to kick things off, a review of Fred Ridley’s comments on distance.
Did Augusta National Already Cast The Deciding Distance Vote?
Chairman Ridley’s comments on distance initially struck me as safely vague. Both his prepared remarks and those in answer to press conference questions felt less assertive than 2021 when he issued full governing body support and even a mild threat to “look at other options” should no action be taken.
A year later, the USGA and R&A have zeroed in on a possible rule for elite competitions limiting spring like effect in driver faces and also signaled tougher golf ball testing that would render most of today’s pellets non-conforming. But as Ridley pointed out, we’re still years and any number of potential hiccups from implementation. The Masters chairman signaled no intention of forcing an expedited decision. Still, he said enough to make clear where the unofficial Five Family vote stands.
This year, after discussing the changes to the 11th and 15th holes, Ridley said, “We look forward to further discussions during the comment period this summer, as well as future recommendations and ultimately implementation.”
So, it’s safe to assume that if Augusta National Golf Club is going to play a role in the distance debate and the USGA and R&A decide to create Model Local Rules that could mandate golfers use distance-reducing equipment at an elite tournament, the Masters is going to adopt those Model Local Rules if Fred Ridley has a say in the matter. And as chairman, he’s got the biggest vote of them all.
Even if the PGA Tour and PGA of America were to balk at implementation, it’s currently 3-2 in favor of bifurcation. Excuse me, Model Local Rules.
Still, there was this answer to a question about the 13th hole suggests the Chairman expects little impact when the distance day comes.
“Well, we won't know for some time because there's sort of a process that sort of everyone has agreed to as to how any changes, equipment changes such as this are going to take place.
“So we really can't make any predictions as to what's going to happen, but I think if there are some marginal modifications to the equipment rules, from what I have observed over the past few years with the players and their athleticism, their strength, their size, the efficiency of their golf swings, I don't think that we are going to see courses being shortened.”
He went on to say the likelihood of “a ball going 50 yards shorter is not very great” and highlighted uncertainty about where distance “might come out” after implementation.
Yet a month removed from the USGA and R&A announcement revealing refined “areas of interest” that would deliver rules bifurcation long dreaded by manufacturers, there has been virtual silence. Maybe they know the vote stands at three majors to one?