Equipment review planned to curb 'detrimental' increase in hitting distance

By Tom Webber 5 February 2020 1
Equipment review planned to curb 'detrimental' increase in hitting distance

Golf's governing bodies are planning a review of equipment rules in a bid to curb increasing hitting distances, which they see as "undesirable and detrimental".

In their latest Distance Insights Report, the R&A and USGA declared action is needed to reduce the length the ball travels if the sport is to thrive in the future.

The report states the average hitting distance across the European Tour and PGA Tour has increased at a rate of about one yard per year since 2013.

The R&A and USGA were concerned the developments could compromise the challenges presented by many courses, while citing that longer set-ups are more expensive to build, operate, maintain and place greater pressure on the environment.

Outlining how they will challenge increasing hitting distances, the report said: "We expect the main topic for research and assessment to be potential changes in the Equipment Rules, along with further inquiry into the effects of course design, conditions and set-up on hitting distance.

"With this background in mind, our Equipment Standards teams and Committees will be conducting a broad review of both clubs and balls to understand and assess a full range of options for addressing these issues relating to hitting distance."

The report added: "We believe that it is time to break the cycle of increasingly longer hitting distances and golf courses and to work to build a long-term future that reinforces golf's essential challenge and enhances the viability of both existing courses and courses yet to be built.

"In reaching this conclusion, we recognise that some have the view that the governing bodies might have done more in addressing the implications of the continuing increases in hitting distances and course lengths.

"Our views have evolved as events have unfolded and new information has become available, just as they may evolve in the future, and we believe that it is never too late to do the right thing for the future of the game.

"By stepping back to take this long-term view in the Distance Insights Project, we believe that we are in position to address this set of issues from all perspectives and to search for effective long-term solutions."

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Tom Webber