The impact of artificial intelligence on golf.
For several months now, technology, and in particular artificial intelligence, has been in the news.
Some praise its advent as heralding a new era for humanity. Others, more prosaic, are deeply concerned about the potentially job-destroying impact and even the harmful consequences on our way of life.
Without getting into this divisive debate, we can nevertheless see that technological advances are having an impact on all areas, including sport and particularly golf.
Technological advances in golf
The big brands have not been mistaken, they release every 3 or 6 months new series of clubs, each one more efficient than the other (which they sell to us at a high price!).
Whether it’s the materials used (carbon, titanium…) or the design using the ubiquitous artificial intelligence, they all promise exceptional power, increased forgiveness, unprecedented length… in short, golfers’ paradise.
The most important technological contribution to golf balls…
Surprisingly, it seems that the technology has been even more prominent in golf balls.
From leather bags stuffed with feathers, through heated tree sap and then rubber, the little ball that has become white is now the object of all attention.
Between the creation of cells (improving air penetration) and the use of synthetic materials in several layers, golf balls have enabled players and especially professionals to make phenomenal gains in distance.
… a “revolution” that raises issues!
Much more than the “revolutionary” golf club materials touted by the brands, it is actually the balls that are now causing problems for the world’s golf governing bodies.
To put it simply, between the physical preparation of pro players and the technological advances in equipment, the courses are no longer long enough!
It is true that with drive lengths of 300m, par 5s have become par 4s and some courses no longer have the means to defend themselves (you can’t make holes 30m longer every year!).
The steps to take
The world golfing authorities have therefore decided to act.
As of January 2026, any ball travelling more than 290m with a swing speed of 205km/h will be declared non-compliant.
So be it!
But will the “elite” players accept or be able to hit that ball smoother?
It is hard to see how!
The only solution is to modify the design of the ball so that it loses between 15 and 20 M of distance.
let’s put things into perspective.
By the end of 2021, there will be 67 million golfers in the world.
How many of these will be affected by this new measure?
A few thousand at most.
This will make us, the television viewers, perhaps less amazed by the superhuman performances of the pros, but it will not prevent us from continuing to follow these “golfing jousts” with passion.
On the other hand, as passionate amateurs whose goal is to send the ball straight rather than far (it being understood that we all aspire to do both!), one thing is clear.
Manufacturers can use Chat GPT and others to design clubs and balls using the same materials as Nasa or create GPS and other Trackman always more precise and efficient, there will always be (hopefully) humans to handle this equipment…
…men and women with their strengths and weaknesses that made the great Bobby Jones say: “competitive golf is played on a 25 cm course, the space between your ears” and of course: “the greatest victories are those that you win over yourself” … beyond any other consideration, the very essence of our sport !!!