It was announced this week by the United States Golf Association that Pinehurst #2 will be set up to encourage the men and the women to hit similar clubs into greens. If you’ve been under a big, sound-proofed umbrella for five years, here’s some news: the US Opens (women’s and men’s) will be contested at Pinehurst #2 over consecutive weeks this June.
In a quote from the USGA press release, the following statement is read: “On a given hole, if the men are hitting drivers, we want to see the women hit drivers. If the men are hitting 6- to 8-irons for approach shots, that’s what we want to see the women do.” There is a problem with this and I suspect that you saw it as readily as I did. If you didn’t catch on, I’ll wait…
All right, long enough. The dynamics of a 6-iron in the hands of a professional woman golfer are different from those of a professional male golfer. The ball flights differently and results in a different amount of spin. A female golfer would have to hit 7-iron (or perhaps even 8) to the man’s 6-iron, in order to replicate trajectory, flight peak and spin. Kudos to the USGA for recognizing that something beyond equal distances was needed.
What’s that you say?
All right, here’s what I mean. If the USGA had said that it wanted men and women coming in from 150 yards, the pundits and experts (not one and the same) would have cried out: Unfair! After all, the men would hit 9-iron to the women’s 7-iron and the men would control and spin the ball with more authority. In my estimation, not only do you need to go farther than this flawed model, but also a bit beyond the USGA’s model. In order to replicate a male 9-iron’s numbers, a female professional would need to come in with a wedge. That is not currently in the plans for this year’s event.
USGA, are you listening?