Call for measures to reduce golf hitting distances

By Alistair September 14, 2020 10:35

A new survey of golf course designers across the world has found almost unanimous support for measures to reduce hitting distances in golf.

An EIGCA (the European Institute of Golf Course Architects) poll of its members, which includes several course designers who aren’t based in Europe, found that the increasing lengths golfers are driving the ball is having a negative impact on the game for a range of reasons including safety, the environment, ‘land grab’ and threats to the integrity of historic courses.

Ninety-five percent of architects said some form action now needs to be taken.

“We surveyed the EIGCA membership for their thoughts on a range of factors relating to increased hitting distances, forged through their experience of designing golf courses around the world. The most eye-catching result is that 95 percent of respondents agreed that action needs to be taken to reduce hitting distances,” said Christoph Städler, president of EIGCA.

Paul Lawrie, after a drive. (Photo by Phil Inglis/Getty Images)

“The vast majority of respondents, 75 percent, believed that increasing ball flight length and advances in equipment technology are diminishing the skill of the game which is leading to a simplification of golf course strategy. Eighty-eight percent of respondents considered a reduction in driving distance of between 10 and 15 percent would be appropriate.”

The survey also showed that 34 percent of EIGCA members felt that any action to reduce hitting distances should only be applied to tournament professionals, whilst 62 percent thought that amateurs should be largely spared any regulatory effects. Importantly, 76 percent thought that hitting distances were having a negative impact on golf course design.

Summing up the results, Städler commented: “Golf course architects are clearly concerned about a number of factors influenced by hitting distances, including safety, negative impacts on the environment, land grab and threats to the integrity of historic courses. Reducing hitting distances could lead to shorter courses which are quicker to play, cheaper to maintain, need less land, are more sustainable, more accessible and potentially more profitable. At a time when we are looking to increase player participation surely these should be our objectives.

“By the clever use of design, skilled golf course architects are able to achieve a certain balance between the challenge for the best players and fun and playability for weaker and shorter players. With ever increasing hitting distances, this becomes increasingly difficult.”


By Alistair September 14, 2020 10:35

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