Bobby Jones would roll over in his grave if he knew that Masters
officials have decided to lengthen Augusta National because
players are driving the ball farther. Jones was a purist who, in
my opinion, would not agree with any of the changes the club
intends to make.
Unlike the other three majors, the Masters is run by a golf club,
the Augusta National, which controls everything from who gets
invited to how fast you can drive your courtesy car down Magnolia
Lane. The club should use its clout to contribute to the game.
Only the Masters could require that every player use the same
type of ball, a decelerated one, and not have to worry about
lawsuits from ball manufacturers.
I don't believe players are hitting the ball greater distances
because they're better athletes. If that were true, today's
baseball players would be hitting the ball farther than Mickey
Mantle and Babe Ruth did in their primes. The truth is, pro
golfers are longer today because of the equipment.
Technologically advanced balls and clubs have taken many great
courses in our country out of play. Instead of watching Ben Hogan
hit a one-iron to the final green at Merion in the 1950 U.S.
Open, we see Tiger Woods hitting a wedge from the 18th fairway at
Augusta National. By lengthening the course, the club will make
it easier for the longer hitters to win.
Only Augusta National could call the ball makers and say,
"Listen, we're going to keep the great characteristics of our
course by making sure everyone use the same decelerated ball at
the Masters." That's the surest way to bring hazards like the
great white bunkers on 18 back into play.
Pete Dye was president of the American Society of Golf Course
COLOR PHOTO: KEN MAY