Golf authorities launch formal investigation into driving distances

Golf Equipment

The project is seeking input from equipment manufacturers and golfers of all abilities, writes James Savage

The R&A and the USGA have launched a ‘comprehensive project’ into the impact driving distances are having on golf.

We reported earlier this year how authorities had become officially concerned about how far golfers were driving the ball after an increase in their year-on-year reporting.

Distance Insights project

Both the USGA and the R&A began compiling stats in 2015 in a bid to identify any worrying trends surrounding driving distances and golf equipment.

The 2015 and 2016 reports, which looked at driving distances from 2003 onwards, noted an increase of around 0.2 yards per year.

But the results of the 2017 edition, which looks at driving distances from seven worldwide tours, noted an average gain of three yards since 2016.

Distance Insights project

So they have now launched the Distance Insights project which will research the issue further with input from major stakeholders including golf equipment companies,  amateur and professional golfers, worldwide tours, golf course architects, owners and operators.

Distance Insights project: What are they actually going to do?

The organisations will seek distance-related data on pace of play, golf course construction and maintenance practices, the evolution of equipment, golf course design and player enjoyment and participation.

Discussion forums and focus groups will also be set up to give a wide-range of perspectives on the impact driving distances are having on the game.

The authorities are also asking anyone interested in the topic to provide them with feedback and comments directly.

Distance Insights project: What are the R&A and USGA saying?

“Distance in golf is a complex issue which is widely debated at all levels of the sport,” said Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A.

“It is important that we collate all of the relevant data and hear the many different perspectives on this issue that exist in the international golf community.

Distance Insights project

“We intend to conduct this process openly, comprehensively and promptly and will work with all of the key stakeholders to ensure we have a fully rounded view of distance and its implications.”

“The topic of increased distance and its effects on the game have been discussed for well over a century,” added USGA CEO Mike Davis.

“We believe that now is the time to examine this topic through a very wide and long lens, knowing it is critical to the future of the game.

Distance Insights project

“We look forward to delving deeply into this topic and learning more, led by doing right by golf, first and foremost.”

Distance Insights project: How can you get involved?

Anyone interested in the topic can provide feedback by visiting randa.org/distanceinsights or usga.org/distanceinsights or by emailing either organisation directly.

Distance Insights project: When will we see the results?

The R&A and the USGA say they will engage a range of golf industry stakeholders during 2018, with plans to deliver a report during 2019.

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