There is a 100 year trend of ‘Ball Flight Distance Increases’ as well as a corresponding increase in the length of golf courses, across the game globally. The USGA, the R&A and professionals who stand on the grass every day, teaching and playng, believe this continuing cycle is detrimental to the game’s long-term future. Changes must be made! “What might they be?” you ask. One that is long overdue is ‘Ready Golf’. (see ‘Pace Of Play’) Next, we must ‘Cool The Golf Ball’. Any projectile going 350+ yards is circus! A second necessity is to ‘Play It Forward’. At some point in time ‘Playing From The Tips’ is more fantasy than reality. ‘Up Front’ makes us happier! Do you want #5 Irons to the fat of a green or a soft ‘Approach Wedge’ to the 5 Foot Circle? Scoring better consistently matters!
The inherent strategic challenge presented to many golf courses is a serious compromise, especially when those courses have not or cannot become long enough to keep up with increases in the hitting distances of the golfers who play from their longest tees. This can lead to a risk of many courses becoming less challenging or obsolete. Some of the golfing jewels are being decommissioned! How sad! How many average golfers hit tour distance Drivers? We had better build and manage golf properties for the ‘Hoi Polloi Of Golf’ or we shall feel the mounting penalty of reduced play and tighter annual budgets! The nation is over built in courses but that too shall be fixed over time!
Increased hitting distance can begin to undermine Golf’s core principles. The challenge of golf is about needing to demonstrate a broad range of skills to be successful. Taking that away shall produce even more decline in play!
If courses continue to have to be longer, this trend is at odds with growing societal and environmental concerns about the use of raw land, water, chemicals and other resources. There shall be a big footprint price!
Longer courses, bigger strikes off the tees and longer times to play 18 holes are taking golf in the wrong direction and are not necessary for a challenging, enjoyable and a sustainable game. We must think about ‘Executive Golf’!
A concern has been identified that many recreational golfers are playing from longer tees than is necessarily relative to their hitting distances and skill levels. The Pro Shop must intervene herein and assign appropriate tees. The forward tees on many golf courses are still quite long for many of the golfers who play from them. ‘Play It Forward’ until you are getting on the green in regulation! That will make fewer ‘Flat Stick Strokes’ and more ‘Smiley Faces’!
“This is not about the last few years or the next few years but rather about the long-term future of the game,” said Mike Davis, chief executive officer of the USGA. “Reports clearly show a consistent increase in hitting distance and golf course lengths over the last 100 plus years. These increases have had a profound impact on costs to build, modify and operate golf courses and they have impacted golfers at all levels. We believe the problem will continue unless this cycle is managed to a smart end. With collaboration from the entire golf community, we have an opportunity to stem this tide and help ensurgolf remains sustainable and enjoyable for generations to come.”
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