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Bring Back the Rough Hoch Says

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The subject was par-4s and par-5s. The issue was whether they are getting too long. The speaker was one of the Tour's relatively short knockers, Scott Hoch.
 
Hoch has been around a long, long time, since way back in 1980. He thinks the 4s and 5s are getting longer - 'bombers' courses,' he calls them. And there isn't enough rough to protect them. Tiger Woods et al, step right up. Your paycheck is waiting.
 
It's a ready-made formula for success for the bombers. Drive it into the next county and go find it. Without any rough to worry about, there isn't much reason to fear not reaching the green. The divide keeps growing between the bomber and the sniper - the little guy who hits it short but straight.
 
'Just look at the dominant players now,' said Hoch. 'If you go down the list - almost all those guys are long. And if you're long, then you have the advantages on the par-5s. I think that's why - or at least one of the reasons - why they're in the top 20.'
 
Hoch, in other words, thinks courses are losing their balance. Courses used to be set up to favor middle-of-the-road hitters. They were tight in the driving area, meaning that the big boys were going to knock it in the rough the majority of the time. And the rough was thick enough that it was going to hang up your club. There wasn't much sense in going for the green from such lies because it was going to be useless. You just couldn't get enough power through the hitting area to whip the ball up there.
 
Conversely, Hoch says, the big hitters today are at liberty to can launch it as far as their cannons will throw it. The rough just isn't thick enough to cause second thoughts. Hit it as far as you can, the reasoning seems to be, and you can knock it on the green in two shots because the rough isn't going to be a problem.
 
Incidentally, Tiger Woods isn't the only one who has benefited from this reasoning. The top 50 or so benefit, too. Woods benefits, certainly, but he could play the other way just as well because he is such a good putter.
 
'I'm talking about everybody,' said Hoch. 'You still have to hit the fairway. He's done some things other people can't do. It's amazing how he's played.'
 
'But you know, it's essentially still a par-72 golf course. The par is really 69 for him, because he can probably reach some of the par-5s.'
 
Bring back the rough - that's the mantra he's preaching.
 
'I think I'd like to see it where either you make the fairways a little more narrow, or you have a little rough to protect it,' he said. 'I've seen so many times this year where guys, even on par-5s, drive it in the rough and still hit the green with their second shot. To me, that should not happen.'
 
Hoch says a lot of pros on the Tour support his position. Either/or, with the emphasis on 'either.'
 
''The consensus, when I talked about it with the Tour, is they decided they'd rather have the length of the flier rough, so you can't judge it coming out,' he said.
 
'But then, who does that favor? That favors the long hitter that's got the shorter iron to the green. There is a softer shot than hitting a flying 4-iron with no way to stop it. They're hitting 7-irons or whatever.'
 
'I think that's really the only way that they can protect some of the courses now. Either firm greens, or more rough, or just tighten the fairways.'